“I CAN’T BREATHE”, are the words that today represent the violent choking of the African descended community in the United States of America.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets, in big cities and small towns, from coast to coast, marking one of the the most expansive mobilizations yet in the nationwide protests against police violence and systemic racism sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In Barbados, ” The Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration” sought to show solidarity with protesting Americans by staging a peaceful protest in front the American embassy.
They made application to the relevant authorities for permission to hold the protest, and were given the green light to do so, with conditions. The conditions included the limiting of protesters to 10 people. This condition given by the Attorney General shows strong solidarity, but not with the hundreds of thousands protesting, and thus not with the essence of the protest.
It would seem to me that once again the old colonial choker collar used to train Barbadians has been drawn tight around the neck of our “leaders”. As good Barbadians heel to their masa’s side, the distraction of racially based protest in America has caused some to turn their heads in that direction. Some even started heading in the direction of the distraction, which caused the correction by masa. Our handler’s, to ensure emotional mass solidarity against racism and white supremacy did not cause any Bajan societal introspection, the number of allowed protesters were limited to 10.
The excuse of COVID-19 safety measures holds no water. Numerous places during the height of strict restrictions and lockdown were allowed to conduct essential businesses. Supermarkets saw lines of people that stretched for good distances;this was also the case with banks, credit unions, post offices and such. I ask the question, why could this not be done for this show of solidarity against racial injustice? I am sure a line of people socially distanced from one another stretching for miles would have be a power filled protest. I could just imagine that line of people going all down the highway to Bussa and moving. What a sight that would have been!
However such a protest would have revolutionary residue. It would have carried the power of pricking the conscience of some, causing a dread introspection of the space we call home. I can safely say that it is the same mentality that prohibited Marcus Garvey from entering Barbados at that time; that sought in this time to violently squash all possible emotional racial backlash from a mass protest, by limiting the protesters to 10.
With all the pompasetting of the Barbadian Prime Minister as it relates to her African agenda, the government cannot afford to truly have the light of freethinking revolutionaries shine upon the people they corral for others. People may start to ask how is she flying to Africa, and speaking of closing the gap between Africa and Barbados when she can’t move Nelson? Do they (the government) not choke African spirituality when they uphold a racists colonial law that prohibits the use of cannabis, and by extension criminalizing and degrading an entire community of people? God forbid we take a look at education in Barbados and its system of implementation; one that has bred revised racism, illusionary prejudice and holds in high esteem, “Classism”. I can safely say I am still awaiting a Barbadian government that is actually strong enough in character to address racism in Barbados and the residue of colonialism and slavery.
I myself can’t breathe as this colonial Barbadian government CONTINUES TO VIOLATE MY ( Rastafari community) RIGHTS, as it pertains to my holistic use of the cannabis plant (includes sacramental use). In parliament the Attorney General said his government could ill afford to continue such violations. So what did they do? They continued, and as such I am headed to the courts of law to address this.
In closing this short meditation, I share with you an article I read earlier that is related to my shortness of breath and the protest taking place in America at present.
No matter where in the world you live, the odds are that news coverage near you has focused on the protests taking place across the US, and, in solidarity, other parts of the world, from Germany to New Zealand.
Our team wanted to dedicate our newsletter this week to considering the myriad issues and threads that have led to this moment, and that could result from it.
As we are a newsroom focused on cannabis, the thread we will focus on involves former President Ronald Reagan, police militarization, and the drug war. Even with legalization in a number of states today, there are still more arrests for cannabis, by far, than for any other illegal drug. And the bulk of those arrests are for possession alone.
Before founding Cannabis Wire, we co-authored a book, A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition, which was published in 2014 by The New Press. (They also published The New Jim Crow, which is a must-read.)
The following is an edited excerpt from our book:
“Although the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 had been written explicitly to limit U.S. military interference in local law enforcement, in December 1981 Reagan amended it to allow for unprecedented military involvement in ‘civilian’ (federal, state, and local) law enforcement efforts.
According to a 1983 hearing, ‘Underlying the action of the Congress was the notion that even though the times called for fiscal restraint, all possible resources should be utilized to combat narcotics trafficking all involved agencies should cooperate, and perhaps the greatest untapped resource was the Department of Defense.’
With Reagan’s amendment to the act, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force increasingly lent troops, facilities, and aircrafts previously marked for international defense to domestic drug law enforcement.
Reagan also reintroduced and increased the mandatory minimums that had all but disappeared under the original Controlled Substances Act, including mandatory life imprisonment.
In a move that targeted minority communities, five grams of crack cocaine led to a minimum of five years in prison, while it would take five hundred grams of powder cocaine to warrant the same sentence.
As a result of penalties introduced during Reagan’s administration, anyone convicted of a drug offense, even simple possession, could be denied federal benefits—including student loan aid, subsidized housing, and access to welfare—over their lifetime. In many cases, drug charges can also revoke one’s right to vote.
According to Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, these new drug policies served as a way to foment race-based fear and build a solid, white working-class voting bloc, as well as a backdoor way to disadvantage and disenfranchise minority populations over the long term.”
This is, as we said, only one of many issues that have led to this moment. But we hope this bit of history contributes meaningful context to your understanding of the events unfolding today.
Alyson and Nushin – Cannabis Wire
Thanks much for taking the time to share this meditation with me. How many more will have to suffer, how many more will have to die? It is international morality time, rise and shine.
Title image taken by Mekkaman Films and Images
Simba – African Heritage Foundation