I make no apology for the strength of feeling or language I may use in this post.
The murder of George Floyd is undoubtably a tragedy. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel horror towards this situation. As I write this I feel pain, a great sadness. To black and minority folks across the world who suffer as a result of the great injustices that are happening because of racism, I am with you in solidarity. My heart goes out to George Floyd’s friends, family and indeed all communities who are suffering and have suffered from this and other, abhorrent, murders because of systemic racism.
There was a part of me who did not, and is still not comfortable about writing this. Why? Believe it or not I can’t stand conflict and controversy. I hate the psuedo-intellectual “debates” on social media. I hate the gaslighting by racist individuals trying to claim that black people are, by their own genetics, criminals with some dodgy statistics. I hate the lies and I hate the hate. I was brought up with the idea that we were past this kind of behaviour. I recognise this was a result of growing up in an area choc full of white privilege. Over the years, the haunting reality is that racism is still a problem, an awful one – to put it mildly.
I feel if I do not speak out or write something I would be a hypocrite to all the black artists whose music I have enjoyed, learned from and continues to inspire me. Even at a base level, I was named after the legendary Jazz artist, Miles Davis. I wholeheartedly agree with Mrs Smith that the very community the music I play birthed is the same community that is suffering today – “Electric guitar music is black music“.
From the end of 2018 to around this time last year, I was in Atlanta, GA. The very place where today, we are seeing mass protests against racism. During my time out there, I saw and heard things that made me uncomfortable. I was not silent about this. I made it very clear to folks that I thought it was not only strange to me, but also excessive that to pull over a black man in a pickup truck it took two police cars and four police officers to just talk to the guy (I was in a car driving past at the time). I made my views clear that it was NOT OKAY for someone I knew to use racial slurs to express their road rage (N****r and C***k to be precise). When I first got there in November 2018, I was fortunate enough to go to a “birthday show” by Emmanuel “Chops” Smith. Upon leaving the excellent show, a white man came up to me and said “Bet it feels weird to be in the minority, huh?” I replied “I didn’t even notice and now you mention it – what’s the problem?” without hesitation.
The scourge of racism is not unique to America, even though the whole country was founded on racial oppression. We here in the UK have our own problems with race, extremist Far-Right terror organisations hellbent on white supremacy have already murdered an MP (Have we forgotten Jo Cox?). Whilst also expressing solidarity with communities in the US, we must also do better ourselves too.
As I wrap this up, I want to make clear that my intention about this article is to speak out about racism and quite frankly I couldn’t give a flying shit about your dissenting opinion because Racism is never justified.
Black Lives Matter.
“Yes, all lives matter. But we’re focused on the BLACK ones now, OK? Because it is very apparent that our judicial system DOESN’T KNOW THAT. Plus, if you can’t see why we’re exclaiming #BLACKLIVESMATTER – YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM” – (A protestor’s sign in the USA)