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I wish we had Twitter back in the day. When I was a kid, I would sometimes spend playtime alone in my room, singing to the radio. Between the pop station and WLOU – the Black station which cut off around five or six in the evening – I could’ve tweeted the mix-tapes I made. I’d take momma or my grandparents’ radio alarm-clock, and put it face-to-face with my tape recorder to record songs from the radio. I even got pretty good at cutting the recording off before the radio DJ started talking over the end of the song. That’s why the Black station was better for recording because they always played the adlibbed outro/coda, the sweetest part of the song where the story and storyteller reached a resolution. The songs were always resolved, despite the dilemma at the start, especially love songs – either falling in or out of love. I had to play the record to listen to the full song.
Even though no singer sang about the love I knew I had inside of me, I could identify with others feelings – human feelings. My aunt Shirley still laments about the times we’d be riding in her car, listening to the radio, and “your song would come on.” She says I loved Dionne Warwick’s I’ll Never Love This Way Again, such adult themes, too, she adds. Or: “Reunited… and it feels so good.” Shirley says I sang as if this were my love affair. “And you was still small’nough to stand up in the back seat of the car.” Billboard ranks that Peaches and Herb’s jam as fifth out of the hundred hottest songs of ’79 – amid all the Disco greats I loved. I must have been four. Shirley often tells me about my precocious empathy as a child. I kept a diary from an early age, but by the time I was a teen, I was ready to share with the world the things I knew needed to change.
I’d tweet about all the singers and songs that meant so much to me – how their lyrics and artistry changed me. I’d make videos of me practicing combinations we’d learned in dance class, or choreographing my own music videos. “Video killed the radio star,” had no good dance moves yet was the very first video to play on MTV when the channel debuted in ’81. That that format quickly came to dominate how music was consumed and promoted. Otherwise, I was just alone in my artistic world, thinking I was the only boy who danced like a girl.
At home, it wasn’t ever taboo to talk about Jim Crow. Prince and Michael Jackson had to dress a bit femme to disarm the wider/whiter masses; as did Jackie Wilson back in the day. I could see Motown was a white-washed version of the hymns my grandaddy sang from his book at home. This is what these artists did to crossover to the pop ‘genre’ and earn consequent pop radio circulation, pop sales, pop accolades and pop cash! Even now, Beyonce still gets over-nominated only in the Black categories. People tweet about that sort of stuff now, but I didn’t even have those words at that age; still I sensed something was off about cultural appropriation and its economic consequences for all involved. I also knew that I was doing was taboo. Back in the day, I’d suppress any femme in me in order to crossover. I’d have tweeted about that.
Tweeting ole dirty work.
I wish we had Twitter back in the day. Imagine Nat Turner proselytizing and organizing through Black Twitter. They’d still have had to use coded language, just like they used Negro Spirituals to encode messages of freedom: ‘Follow the drinking gourde’ would probably still fool folks now, just as much as today a murderous police officer’s defense attorney can claim that bodycam shows George Floyd saying, “I ate too many drugs,” when he actually said “I ain’t do no drugs.” Who eats drugs? Not in any Black English I know, and thanks to Black twitter, there’s an ivy-league sociolinguist who’s published a research paper on this very matter while we watch the overseer’s trial like we used to watch Video Soul. Ole uncle Nat would’ve gotten pretty far on his rebellion had he had Twitter back in the day. Tweet tweet, MF! We’ve got Twitter today, so: “Let’s get in-formation.”
When I think back to thinking about choosing a degree, way back when, I remember thinking Criminology would be a good choice because it is specific in terms of a field: mainly the Criminal Justice System (CJS). I remember, naively, thinking once I achieved my degree I could go into the Police (a view I quickly abandoned after my first year of studies), then I thought I could be involved in the Youth Justice System in some capacity (again a position abandoned but this time after year 2). And in third year I remember talking to my partner about the possibility of working in prisons: Crime and Punishment, and Violence: from domestic to institutional (both year 3 modules) kicked that idea to the curb! I remember originally thinking Criminology was quite narrow and specific in terms of its focus and range: and oh my was I wrong!
Whilst the skills acquired through any degree transcend to a number of career paths, what I find most satisfying about Criminology, is how it infiltrates everything! A recent example to prove my point which on the outside may have nothing to do with Criminology, when in actual fact it could be argued it has criminological concepts and ideas at its heart is the 2015 film: Jurassic World. It is no secret that I am a huge lover of Crichton novels but also dinosaurs. But what I hope to illustrate is how this film is excellent, not just in relation to dinosaur content: but also in relation to one of my interests in Criminology.
Jurassic World, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing, focuses on the re-creation of a Jurassic Park, sporting new attractions, rides and dinosaurs in line with the 21st century. The Indominus Rex is a genetically modified hybrid which is ‘cooked-up’ in the lab, and is the focus of this film. Long story short, she escapes, hunts dinosaurs and people for sport, and is finally killed by a joint effort from the Tyrannosaurus, Blue the Velociraptor and the Mosasaurus: YAY! But what is particularly Criminological, in my humble opinion, is the focus and issues associated with the Indominus Rex being raised in isolation with no companionship in a steeled cage. Realistically, she lives her whole life in solitary confinement, and the rangers, scientists and management are then shocked that she has 0 social skills, and goes on a hunting spree. She is portrayed in the film as a villain of sorts, but is she really?
Recently in Violence: from domestic to institutional, we looked at the dangers and harms of placing individuals in solitary confinement or segregation. Jurassic World demonstrates this: albeit with a hybrid dinosaur which is fictitious. The dangers, and behaviours associated with the Indominus Rex are symbolic to the harms caused when we place individuals in prison. The space is too small, there is no interaction, empathy or relationships formed with the dinosaur apart from with the machine that feeds it. The same issues exist when we look at the prison system and it raises questions around why society is shocked when individuals re-offend. The Indominus Rex is a product of her surroundings and lack of relationships: there are some problematic genes thrown in there too but we shall leave that to one side for now.
There are a number of criminological issues evident in Jurassic World, (have a watch and see) and all of the Jurassic Park movies. Criminology is everywhere: in obvious forms and not so obvious forms. The issues with the prison system, segregation specifically, transcend to schools and hospitals, society in general and to dinosaurs in a fictional movie. Criminology, and with it critical thinking, is everywhere: even in the Lego Movie where everything is awesome! Conformity and deviance wrapped up in colourful bricks and catchy tunes: have a watch and see…
Laughter is a great healer; it makes us forget miserable situations, fill us with endorphins, decreases our stress and make us feel better. Laughter is good and we like people that make us laugh. Comedians are like ugly rock-stars bringing their version of satire to everyday situations. Some people enjoy situational comedy, with a little bit of slapstick, others like jokes, others enjoy parodies on familiar situations. Hard to find a person across the planet that does not enjoy a form of comedy. In recent years entertainment opened more venues for comedy, programmes on television and shows on the theatres becoming quite popular among so many of us.
In comedy, political satire plays an important part to control authority and question the power held by those in government. People like to laugh at people in power, as a mechanism of distancing themselves from the control, they are under. The corrosive property of power is so potent that even the wisest leaders in power are likely to lose control or become more authoritarian. Against that, satire offers some much needed relief on cases of everyday political aggression. To some people, politics have become so toxic that they can only follow the every day events through the lens of a comedian to make it bearable.
People lose their work, homes and even their right to stay in a country on political decisions made about them. Against these situations, comedy has been an antidote to the immense pain they face. Some politicians are becoming aware of the power comedy has and employ it, whilst others embrace the parody they receive. It was well known that a US president that accepted parody well was Ronald Reagan. On the other end, Boris Johnson embraced comedy, joining the panel of comedy programmes, as he was building his political profile. Tony Blair and David Cameron participated in comedy programmes for charity “taking the piss” out of themselves. These actions endear the leaders to the public who accept the self-deprecating attitude as an acknowledgment of their fallibility.
The ability to humanise leaders is not new, but mass media, including social media, make it more possible now. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is something that, like smoking, should come with some health warnings. The politicians are human, but their politics can sometimes be unfair, unjust or outright inhuman. A person in power can make the decision to send people to war and ultimately lead numerous people to death. A politician can take the “sensible option” to cut funding to public spending directed at people who may suffer consequently. A leader can decide on people’s future and their impact will be long lasting. The most important consequence of power is the devastation that it can cause as the unanticipated consequence of actions. A leader makes the decision to move people back into agriculture and moves millions to farms. The consequence; famine. A leader makes the decision not to accept the results of an election; a militia emerges to defend that leader. The political system is trying to defend itself, but the unexpected consequences will emerge in the future.
What is to do then? To laugh at those in power is important, because it controls the volume of power, but to simply laugh at politicians as if they were comedians, is wrong. They are not equivalent and most importantly we can “take the piss” at their demeanour, mannerisms or political ideology, but we need to observe and take their actions seriously. A bad comedian can simply ruin your night, a bad politician can ruin your life.
Perhaps this entry needs to start with a declaration; there is no novelty in the term fake news. In fact, fake news is not a term but a description. Odd to start with something as obvious as this but given the boastful claims for those inventing the (non) terms is only logical to start with that. It is true that in news, the term that usually relates to deliberate dissemination of information, is propaganda. It aims at misinformation and as it is reproduced over and over it can even become part of indoctrination.
The 20th century introduced the world to speed. Mass consumption, marketing and two world wars that devastated countries and populations. In the century of speed, mass media and the availability of information became a reality. The world heard, on the radio first and on the television later, world leaders making statements in what seemed to be the spectacle of politics. Interestingly some countries, political parties and professionals realised the value of controlling news, managing information. The representation of positions became an integral part of modern politics. Information became a commodity and the management of the news became big business with social implications.
When we talk deliberate misinformation, we are probably reminded of the Third Reich and the “ministry of public enlightenment and propaganda”. Even now media analysts consider the Nuremberg Rally a clear example of media manipulation and deliberate misinformation. This however was only one of many ministries around the world set up for that purpose. In some countries even censorship laws and restrictions emanate from a relevant ministry or department. The protection of the public was the main justification even when the stories promoted were wrong or even fictitious.
The need to set up some standards on journalism became apparent and awards like the Pulitzer Prize became ways of awarding those who hold journalistic values high. National broadcasting corporations became the voice of their nation and many adopted the voice of neutrality. Post war the crimes of the Nazi regime became apparent and the work of the propaganda machine in contract demonstrated how easy it was to misinform whilst committing atrocities. The United Nations even took a resolution on the issue “Condemns all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” General Assembly, November 3 1947.
Unfortunately, this resolution remains mostly a paper exercise as the ideological split of the founding members led to a war of attrition of who tells the truth and who is using propaganda. Since then mass media became part of everyday life and an inseparable part of modern living. News became evidence and programmes presented decisive information in the court of public opinion. Documentaries claimed honest realism and news programmes set the tone of political and social dialogue.
In 1988 Chomsky and Herman in Manufacturing Consent: the political economy of mass media, proclaim that propaganda is not the reserve of a totalitarian state but of all states in their attempt to maintain order imposed by the establishment. Under this guise misinformation is part of the mass media’s raison d’etre. It can partly explain why the UN resolutions were not followed up further. So far, we are considering the sociological dimensions of news and information. Nothing thus far is clearly criminological or making the case for criminalising the deliberate misinformation in the news. (interestingly, the deliberate misinformation of a consumer is a criminal offence, well established).
One can ask rhetorically if it is so bad to misinform, spread fake news and manipulate the news through a systematic propaganda process. We presume that most citizens can find a variety of forums to be informed and the internet has democratised media even further. The reality however is quite different. People rely on specific sources even when they go online, finding voices that speak to them. In some ways this kind of behaviour is expected. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Back in the 1990s a radio station in Rwanda was talking about cockroaches and snakes; this led into a modern-day genocide, a crime that the UN aimed to extinguish. In the early 2000s the western world went into war on reports and news about weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, leaving thousands dead and millions displaced. In the mid-2010s a series of populist politicians got into office making claims on news, fake news, utilising their propaganda machine against anyone who tried to take them to account. More recently people, having felt deceived by mainstream media, do not believe anything, even the pandemic. The difficulty in critically evaluating information is obvious but it is also obvious how destructive it can be. In short, yes fake news should be a crime, because they cause lives in so many ways. Question is: Can we differentiate the truth from the fake or is it too late?
One of the most surprising conversations to have emerged from the BLM protests is representation. On the news outlets I follow in my liberal bubble, items around the protestors’ demands led to implicit bias, and the media cited as a primary arena for such instruction. Chomsky, as we all know from his Propaganda model, contends that it’s media’s “function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.” Consent to white supremacy is what’s being manufactured here. Whether the nightly news or the entertainment, deconstructionists have long since called out the white supremacist propaganda. We know that the propaganda is a comprehensive representation of the dominant hegemony, what bell hooks describes as the white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy.
Ain’t your momma on the pancake box?
Aunt Jemima, gone! Uncle Ben! Gone with the Wind, swept away! Representation matters. These iconic images survived an era when white supremacy was on parade – literally- the height the K.K. Klan marches and minstrelsy. We know NOW that these images were based on racist stereotypes. And thankfully that analysis has extended into the modern day: They canceled Cops, and are going after entire franchises of cop dramas that have busily perpetuated racist propaganda.
These TV shows are all chock full of Black criminality, Black Best Friends and white saviors! And they’re lovely. Consider the Law and Order franchise, which is comprised of over half a dozen different shows, including the longest-running cop drama ever, L&O Special Victims Unit – sex crimes! Activists writers and cultural critics are popping up everywhere discussing this mess. Jim and Jane Crow must be shaking in their boots.
What’s interesting, and feels unique about this particular moment is the earnest effort with which emotions are confronted. This includes terror and rage. The grief with which Black people watch reels of Black bodies falling is horrendous. We’re over a decade into massive social media saturation, so it’s safe to say, you can see a nigger die daily – looped if you like. As Evelyn From the Internets said, we need a day off from this trauma: I’m calling in ‘black’.
Then there’s rage. Of course, it’s enraging to see no justice sought or found in the majority of these cases. What’s worse, we’re not talking about actual criminals that the law already outlaws- no one has forgotten about gang violence, like that 15-year-old Chicago girl in who caught a stray bullet in her back just days after returning from the White House where she’d performed at Obama’s second inauguration. Yes, we wept as we watched that tragic story of Hadiya Pendleton.
Yet, there’s a particular sting around “justified homicide,” by law enforcement officers. Who can we turn to for lawn enforcement? Who secures our justice? Not the United States! We’ve watched that for decades throughout many evolutions of media technology. We have Black and white photos of ET’s brutalized young body in 55. We see Rosa Parks sitting in a segregated bus that December. We have newsreels of over a decade long of different acts of civil disobedience that culminated in what we call the Civil Rights Movement. We watched Bloody Sunday in Selma, live, in Black and White TV.
We watched Rodney King get beat down by a mob of LAPD! We watched the trial and the slurs and the acquittal of his killers. So, we watched the riots a year after the police beating, and we watched as justice yet again slipped away – from Black people.
Now, in the age of social media, we can watch a live-streamed murder – such as that of Philando Castile who was shot by a cop within seven seconds of informing the cop he was legally carrying a gun! Thanks to many citizen-journalists, we see all of it, every excruciating second – each second where a sense of humanity might have intervened.
Have you taken the Implicit Bias test yet?
We’re now talking about the implications of implicit bias. In health, Ms. Corona showed us all the biases not only in treatment, but also in systemic differences in housing that impact wealth, education and, sadly health. Red Lining is real. And Corona has shown that those biases lead to our morbidity.
In corporate America, if you have a Black sounding name on your resume, you’re 50% less likely to get a callback – fact! And if you get the job, you have to deal with micro-aggressions.
From Spectacle to Spectacular
Social media has made the most mundane spectacles of public life spectacular through the lens of racism. There’s a whole hashtag, #LivingWhileBlack- that will show white people calling the police on Black people just for being ‘suspicious’ and making them ‘uncomfortable’. We know that white discomfort has led to many deaths at the hands of the police because we’ve heard the 9-11 calls, too. But, now, we can also see BBQBecky, PoolPatrolPaul, PermitPatty, HotelEarl call the police. We see a white woman in a bodega charge a 14-year old Black boy with sexual assault because his backpack swiped against her. We see that white woman calling the police on a little black girl selling bottled water in front of their apartment complex on a hot sunny day. There are loads, loads more of such incidents, now caught on camera by citizen-journalists. Under these conditions, Black sanity is a spectacular feat!
Recently, we watched that white woman in Central Park threaten to call the police and tell them a “Black man in threatening her,” and moments later, because the brother stayed calm enough to record the spectacle on his phone, we see her feign terror on the phone to the emergency services. She nearly strangles her newly adopted dog with the leash the birdwatcher had asked her to use in the first place. She was readily prepared to weaponize her white tears in a situation that she knew could end in this Black man’s death! She knew she existed in a system that would support her, yet the wider/whiter masses either refused to believe that any of this was happening, despite our consistent, collective protestations. So, here we are, locked in a battle of wills: Will the world finally affirm that BLM?
We are all living in very strange times, not sure when life will return to normal...but if you're thinking about studying criminology, here is some advice from those best placed to know! The most important module to my understanding of criminology is: All of them! Every module contributes to your understanding of Criminology and all are different and enjoyable. Personally, my favourite module was Violence: From Domestic to Institutional in Year 3; this module ties together everything you know about Criminology; the reasons why we are subjective as criminologists and our ability to look beyond the scope of what we know. The academic criminology book you must read: Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance (1963) by Howard Becker. Albeit a dated book, its ideas are relevant and relate to many criminological such as; how and why criminals are labelled and stigmatised; why are the youth demonised; why people reject the norms and values of society and become criminals in doing so. The academic journal article you must read: This is a hard one. Articles are great for discovering new ideas and methodologically testing theories. I would recommend reading: Arrigo, J. (2004). A Utilitarian Argument Against Torture, Interrogation of Terrorists. Science and Engineering Ethics. 10(3), pp. 543-572. This article poses many questions for a criminologist which enlightens you to think subjectively and challenge your own views; which is what Criminology is all about. From reading this article you will learn to think critically when faced with a challenging dilemma; the rights of a terrorist and how can the law can be tailored to fit the crime. The criminology documentary you must watch: Where do I begin? Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley are both great journalists and documentary makers. If I had to pick one, I would recommend watching the BBC’s documentary on Grenfell If you watch this documentary you must consider; the government’s response; who is accountable; why are the residents of Grenfell still in temporary accommodation. These are the sorts of questions you should be asking as someone studying Criminology. The most important criminologist you must read: Familiarise yourself with the ideas of Lombroso, this will aid your understanding on how criminological theory and ideas have developed overtime through biological, psychological and sociological standpoints. Something criminological that fascinates me: Domestic abuse. I had done my dissertation on this as I have a great interest in male dominance and power over women, especially in intimate relationships. Gender plays a key role in this which when examined in depth, will change your view on gender paradigms. The most surprising thing I know about criminology is: Criminality was believed by Lombroso to be inherited and that criminals possessed physical defects, criminality would be measured by the size and shape of particular body parts; this was later discredited. I can remember learning this in first year and it fascinated me. The most important thing I've learnt from studying criminology is: To not judge a book by its cover and to not take everything at face value. Do not be afraid to challenge other’s standpoints and beliefs. Thinking critically is the most important skill to have, search deeper into issues and apply your own thoughts and experiences. The most pressing criminological problem facing society is: Mass incarceration and reoffending rates. The UK is yet to move away from the ‘tough on crime’ approach favouring law and order and punishment. The penal system needs to be reformed to ensure offenders are rehabilitated to break the cycle of criminality; definitely educate yourself on political party’s manifesto’s and what they say about crime and justice before voting. When family and friends ask, I tell them criminology is: I tell family and friends that criminology is such a broad field of study; we look at law, psychology, science, sociology, politics, penal systems, criminal justice organisations, media and much more. From this, you attain the ability to think critically and reflect, it can help you in many situations not just criminological issues. It is an incredibly insightful and enlightening field to study; it opens up many opportunities.
I watched Fox News today.
For 6 full minutes.
They had a panel of 3 cops to discuss the current unrest…or so it seemed.
Of course, a token negro in uniform was amongst them.
“Defund the police” is the headline of this comical sketch.
That’s not the actual proposition; proponents promote funding “public safety” measures.
But shutting down the police is all the sly Fox heard, and
Cunningly called on these cops to comment upon THAT, only.
The first white cop went off: “We’re here for business owners and hard-working people.”
He didn’t address the threat to Black life, espcially cops’ roots and roles in terrorism.
The host nods knowingly, and they summarily reduce all this unrest to law-n-order.
No mention of the brutality of cops.
No discussion of their pattern.
Predictably, the other white cop gave a worst-case scenario about Domestic violence.
What would citizens do without cops?
He says this as if cops have some awesome reputation of domestic intervention.
Also, I’m thinking: But…
Wasn’t that black chick just killed in Texas last year,
Inside her own house,
In response to a neighbor calling the police for care one night.
The neighbor hadn’t even called 9-1-1, but rang the non-emergency number, and
They still came in blazing as they are wont to do in Black households.
“I just wanted them to check on her…
Her front door was open… it was late…
So, I was concerned,” the neighbor later says matter-of-factly on the nightly news.
Atatiana Jefferson was a law-abiding citizen,
Playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew.
She got shot dead.
Black people cannot call the police.
Not even a concerned citizen.
Check this: In my hometown, Breonna Taylor was also a so-called law-abiding citizen.
Not only was Breonna law-abiding, but she was a medical worker –
Essential during a global pandemic!
But, she was Black.
She was shot to death in her own house,
Moments after the police arrived.
Fox don’t talk about none of this.
They go on with the implicit assumption that
Either Black people are not law-abiding,
Or, Black citizens never need the police.
“Cops need to be more sensitive, sure…” the other white cop says, then adds 12 butts!
He looks like an ass.
This whole faux news channel reduces today’s protests to rioting and looting, law-n-order.
They have met every effort at Black liberation with the same hostility.
Though openly devoted to non-violence,
Those pundits called the good Reverend Dr. King a “radical,” an “outside agitator,” and
Much, much worse!
When we peacefully took a knee just a few years back for the same cause,
These same pundits were quick to diss us,
Dissed Beyoncé for taking over the Superbowl in Black Power fashion!
Dissed Nike for sighing Collin Kaepernick – posting videos of them burning their own Nike gear.
They diss every Black person killed by the police as “disobedient” and “non-compliant.”
They consistently diss our resistance as unpatriotic – the oldest race card,
Because for them, racism is a game.
As if they didn’t twist their Bible to say slaves had to be loyal to their masters.
As if our efforts to breathe life into the Constitution weren’t patriotic!
As if Crispus Attucks wasn’t the first American to die for Independence!
As if this weren’t some strange and rotten fruit!
These pundits said the same about Martin Luther King, the FBI’s “an enemy of the state.”
They said all of this, of course, until he was martyred.
Then eventually, they called him a hero.
Now, even this faux news channel quotes Dr. King regularly.
Cleverly, Martin Luther da King gets pulled out of the Fox’s hat at the sign of any racial trouble!
The token negro cop gets asked the token question:
He’s asked to speak on behalf of all Black people.
Perform for your master, [N-word]!
Luckily, this man changes the narrative from dissing these hasty solutions to
Talking about real, systemic change to a systemic problem.
It’s not even clear that the other guests command this level of vocabulary, keeping it so simple.
The other cops were set up to denounce this solution, and
They were neither asked, nor chose to address any single way of improving policing.
All responsibility is implicitly shifted to individual citizens:
‘Policing is fine, Black people just don’t act right!’
I wish they’d just gon’head and say it!
Luckily, this Black man is neither stepping nor fetching their white supremacy for them today.
Not today, Satan!
Again, the faux media pundit circles back to defunding the po-po.
At present, this is only the legislative solution presented by any lawmaker thus far.
Weeks later, that message emanating from Minneapolis had spread,
Even to Congress, although
Aunty Maxine had already reclaimed her time on this one.
Predictably, this incites the white cop to repeat his singular talking point like a quacking duck:
“We’re here for business owners and hard-working people,” again, in THAT order.
‘We’re not to be called upon as citizens’, as Toni Morrison said after 9-11.
Fox then seamlessly shifts back to “Agent Orange’s” economic talking points.
Cut to commercial.
After the ads, 45 comes back railing about saving Wall Street.
The faux host asks rhetorically if this will be “the greatest economic comeback ever!”
It’s like they can only ever speak in superlatives.
Finally, the host is optimistic in otherwise dreary times.
God bless America, and F everybody else!
I really wish they’d just gon’head and say it!
They gon’ be alright.
The weekend just gone has mirrored many weekends we have experienced in lockdown: glorious sunshine, hot temperatures, and longing to spend time with family and friends! However this weekend marked the beginning of an attempt at normalcy for our household, as we spent the weekend in London serving hotdogs, burgers, ice creams and cold drinks to park visitors. Something we have done year on year, summer after summer, weekend after weekend: yet this weekend was remarkably different. Therefore the notion that we can return to normalcy soon, doesn’t seem to be ringing true.
For some context: my partner works in/runs a takeaway kiosk by a park in London. It has been closed during lockdown, but re-opened this weekend. This time last year, there were 3, sometimes 4 members of staff (including myself in the summer and on weekends when an extra pair of hands are required), serving customers and giving directions to residents, visitors and tourists of London. This year, there is my partner and I: in a 4metre kiosk it is not possible to safely maintain a 2metre distance so the other members of staff are left waiting until it is safe and viable for them to come to work. They know this, and are happy with the decision as in times like these, safety should be at the forefront of all decisions.
And the added safety precautions are what makes this weekend so unrecognisable at the little kiosk in London (albeit rightly so). It is and has always been a cash business: cash is quicker to process, easier to return should it be required and safer with regards to checking for counterfeit (no issues of hacking machines or someone using stolen cards). In line with the current climate, the decision was made to try and move to contactless payments in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This in itself was hassle and problematic, but I shall not bore you with those details. Alas the machine is here, and off we go. But it requires a steady 4G signal, which by a park is hit and miss, it also disconnects when it has not been used for periods of 30minutes, which happened frequently over the weekend, and there is a minimum spend in order to make the interest rate/payment of the machine justifiable. It is also slow when customer’s contactless does not work, in which case they have to hold and touch the machine, which then results in us having to clean down the machine after this has happened before we can move on to the next transaction, which is certainly not quicker than cash. And whilst most customers I must say have been patient and understanding, this has resulted in several getting quite verbal at the time it is taking to serve them (we are talking a matter of minutes instead of what used to be seconds with cash).
The differences are not just with the use of card, but also how the hot food is done (my area of expertise). Usually customers could apply their own sauces, but now in order to prevent lots of people touching the various sauces on offer and potentially spreading anything, it is left to me to apply. This has resulted in a whole host of comments relating to being stingy with sauces: ‘I know times are hard but come on’, or ‘I actually want to be able to taste the mustard’. I, personally, like to drown food in sauce, no actually mayo, not that fussed about other sauces. However my partner is the complete opposite, the smallest most pathetic amount of sauce you could imagine: that is what he applies to his food! But it is safer and easier to apply too little and add more than the other way, so I am justified in using a little amount of sauce! It has nothing to do with what the sauce costs! Grrrrrr! Cold drinks used to be placed on the top counter, which customers could take themselves, and then once all their selected items have been placed on top, we would charge them and handle the money. Now at the risk of people touching and then returning the item (which results in us having to clean down the bottle or can, slowing everything down), we are asking for money first: which people apparently are not pleased about. They want to feel how cold the drink is: it has come out of the fridge, which it has been in overnight and business is so slow the drinks are not being re-stocked: so trust me it is cold! (Face hitting emoji!)
All in all, it was a stressful weekend, when the amount of customers we served should not have meant it was stressful. I do not mind change and I appreciate that the changes in place are needed to keep everyone safer, which is fine. But things will be slower, things will be different. The media has pushed at the 15th June to resemble something we recognise as ‘normal’: but I do not think this is the case. ‘Normal’ whatever that really means, will not return and maybe this is not such a bad thing. But I will be grateful when it is safe again for customers to apply their own blooming sauces!
By now, we’ve all seen all 8 minutes and 46 seconds of
A Minneapolis officer using his full-body weight
To press his knee on a handcuffed Black man against the ground.
Several cops stood around, rather calmly shooing bystanders away.
With the cop’s knee on his neck, we watch a grown man cry out for his momma,
Which some have said showed the man was already crossing over to the other side to see her.
The killer cop, the one pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, was training the other cops.
These junior officers were just days on the job, so
It’s safe to assume the head officers was showing off his skills:
He may have thought that he was showing the rookies how to put down a n*gger!
He actually showed them how to perform a. Modern day lynching.
The Minneapolis mayor didn’t bother watching the video until Mr. Floyd died.
Da mayor’d been told about the incident while the man lay dying in the hospital and
The murderous cops roamed free.
This is what’s carefully declared in a public radio interview.
Da mayor can’t be fake in the face of this very disarming journalist, who is also white.
There is absolutely no anger in the journalist’s voice.
Da mayor was animate that this was a pattern, when
The journalist disarmingly confronted him with statements by local Black leaders who’ve told Da mayor the city would burn if the cops’ behavior continued unabated.
Oh, now Da mayor wants to separate himself from 45!
45 is calling for complete suppression,
Even bullying governors and mayors into said suppression.
Folks in his flock are breaking ranks, denouncing his deployment of the military against Americans.
Social media rated 45’s words incendiary.
Facebook employees even staged a walk-out!
George Wallace couldn’t tweet in those days!
Yet, then and now, all your silence is complicity.
Silence = Death!
The journalist presses on: You were warned.
Da mayor conceded: He’d ignored explicit, non-violent warnings, neglected evident signs.
Chronic poverty kills.
Police murders maim families.
Racist stereotypes murder souls, and
Breaks the social contract.
The journalist asks Da mayor if he felt any responsibility for the riots.
Again, there is absolutely no emotion at all in the journalist’s voice.
He asks flatly, fumbling through his words, just as he always does.
He simply applies the critical questions to this issue, just as he has countless other topics.
This has gone on for years.
They’ve covered this issue before, but not like this.
Are they only covering it now because of the horrific video of Mr. Floyd’s murder?
Now, they want to uncover the truth that’s been staring them in the face all these years.
We watched Rodney King get beat, and
We waited a year for the trial on mediocre charges, and
We rioted when the officers who beat him were set as free as Emmet Till’s killers!
NOW, now, now THEY wanna stop the violence!
Where were you back when?
Even this liberal journalist can’t claim to have raised the alarm before today.
These murders eerily echo one another.
Amadou Diallo was at his front door.
There are no videos of the 1999 incident.
No 9-11 calls to replay.
Just giant headlines: 41 shots!
We DO even have surveillance footage of the 2014 murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice,
Shot playing in a park.
The surveillance video is lengthy, and
From the video we can see from his movement and stature.
He’s playing with what we now know was a toy gun, and
On the 9-11 call, we hear the caller calmly explain:
Probably a juvenile, you know.
“The guy keeps pulling it out of his pants…is probably fake, but you know what? It’s scaring the sh*t outta me”
“He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people… He’s probably a juvenile, you know?”
This (white) man can’t even talk to a (Black) kid.
‘He’s in the park by the youth center…’
Apparently, that was all they needed to hear: Black guy, gun.
We see cops rush up on him in the park and shoot Tamir dead within seconds.
In dispatch recording after the incident, when officers are standing just feet away from Tamir’s body, they say: “Shots fired. Male down. Black Male. Probably 20.”
Later officers claimed to have commanded Tamir to show his hands in those split seconds.
Two officers responding to a routine, white citizen’s call about a potential Black threat.
But we know it’s BEEN going on since emancipation.
‘Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck.’