Before you say anything, I understand that a New Zealander with no affiliation to Republican or Democrat writing a blog about an issue that isn’t even taking place in his own country will probably draw a few eye rolls. Furthermore, I’m not African American and I’ve got no understanding of the deep sadness, anger and frustration that this portion of people are feeling right now.
I understand all of that. I’m simply writing this blog as a fellow human being, albeit most likely an uneducated one.
What’s happening across America this weekend is so troubling that it drew me to tears. As a self-confessed news addict, not much phases me these days. In the last year alone, we’ve lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, the mosque attacks in Christchurch, White Island erupting, earthquakes and an economy which has seen hundreds of thousands lose their jobs.
Most of that is just in New Zealand. What’s happening in America is much worse, or at least that’s how it feels to me.
Would this have happened under any other president than Donald Trump? Yes, in fact it’s happened many times before.
This is not about Trump and his precedency and to label it is such makes a mockery of the pain being felt in America right now. Trump is a symptom of a system in that country which has been broken for decades, it’s just appearing to erupt at the time when he is at the helm.
What Trump can be accused of both a lack of leadership and fueling the fire of not just a racial divide, but a societal divide. The president has made no effort to heal those wounds, as exampled by some of his antics on Twitter during the riots which are leaving cities in America literally on fire.
Trump has called the rioters “radical lefties” in a bid to make this deep pain a political issue. It’s almost as if Trump is trying to say that the riots are a personal attack from the left against his bid for another term of presidency.
And then there is Joe Biden and the democrat party, many of whom have been pretty silent while all this has been going down. Biden, nor anyone backing him on the democratic side, have the capability of fixing this issue. Ask the rioters on the streets of LA and Minneapolis this weekend, they’ve all said it’s about racism, not a particular political party or a particular politician.
Sadly, the answer isn’t simply voting Trump out and Biden in this November. Arguably, there shouldn’t even be an election at this point. I say that because it’s my sense, as a curious bystander, that the issues which the repressed Black America are facing can’t even begin to be addressed in an election campaign or policy.
That’s exactly why Trump, the man many blame for this chaos, hasn’t been able to enact any change, regardless of the lack of effort shown.
Racism is political, but not only political. Fixing it goes beyond politics, it requires people being able to find a bit of common ground. Good politicians can do that, but only if they’ve got good parties behind them. In America right now, both the Democrat and the Republican parties are unlikely to come together and agree on any appropriate response to the utterly heartbreaking scenes we’ve all seen this past weekend.
Doing that requires an acknowledgment that the issue actually exists. If you go back to the rioters for a moment, what are they all feeling and saying? Most of them, according to what we’ve seen anyway, are all saying they feel unheard and unacknowledged.
On that note, I don’t really know what else to say. I can’t listen to those who want to blame this all on Trump, nor can I disagree that he has to go come the November election, but I’m also sitting here and looking at everything I’m seeing and I shake my head when I hear that anyone else in American politics can solve this.
Biden can’t, in the eyes of many the incumbent Democratic nominee has a proven track record of racism.
America needs calm, composed and thoughtful leadership right now. But what it needs a bit more is empathy and a willingness to listen. Otherwise, you’ll get more Trumps in the White House in future years, you’ll get more politics instead of basic human decency, and you’ll get more examples of the tragic, racist death of George Floyd.