I have just come from the Philly Queer March for Black Lives. The fight for the rights of one group is intersected with the fight for the rights of other groups; the same forces are arrayed against them. Here are some photos I took at the opening rally, at Love Park:
Today, June 19, is celebrated as Juneteenth, they day that, in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, Union troops under the command of Major General Gordon Granger occupied Galveston, Texas, and Granger told the slaves of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which ended slavery; it was only then that the slaves were informed about the Proclamation ending their slavery-their owners made sure they never heard about it. From then on, Juneteenth is proclaimed in the African-American community as its Independence Day. ( http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm)
On June 16, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed a proclamation declaring Juneteenth a City holiday. (https://www.phila.gov/2020-06-16-juneteenth-is-an-official-city-holiday/) Recent episodes around the continuing racial strife in the United States have brought Juneteenth back into public consciousness, along with questions about which historic figures should be honored with statues, such as Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, and how they should be remembered. These individuals attempted to destroy the United States and form their own country, simply to perpetuate the ownership of one race over another. Let’s take the time to learn the real history our country, so we can better deal with our contemporary problems.
The Philly Queer March for Black Lives, a demonstration of the LGBTQ community’s solidarity with the African-American community, will take place at Love Park in Philadelphia, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, from 1:30-4:00 PM, on Sunday, June 21, 2020.
This march is to honor the intersection between the African-American and LGBTQ communities, and to remember the struggles, and the interconnection, of the two movements.
Sponsors of the march include:
Liberty City LGBTQ Democratic Club, https://www.libertycity.org/
Mazzoni Center, https://www.mazzonicenter.org/
Attic Youth Center, https://www.atticyouthcenter.org/
Mosaic Medical, https://www.mosaicmedicalcenter.org/
William Way LGBTQ Community Center, https://www.waygay.org/
Penn LGBT Center, https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/lgbtc/
Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association, https://www.philalgbtqbar.org/
ACT UP Philadelphia, http://www.actupphilly.org/
Philadelphia Family Pride, https://www.philadelphiafamilypride.org/
Philadelphia Dyke March, http://phillydykemarch.com/
Philadelphia Black Pride, http://phillyblackpride.org/
Participants are encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Today, I saw this sticker on Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia:
Racism has always been with us, but with trump it’s more blatant, and they are emboldened to show it off. The recent scandals of law-enforcement violence, along with the COVID pandemic, has intensified it. Let’s be wary of this, and get ready to resist.
Stores are starting to open up slowly in Philadelphia, although we must remain cautious about the COVID-19 still around. I believe in supporting small, independent stores over the big chains, particularly small bookstores, which are great for supporting new writers and poets, and are closer to the community. Here are a sample of locally based bookstores in Philadelphia, please check them out:
A Novel Idea on Passyunk, 1726 E. Passyunk Avenue, https://anovelideaphilly.com/
Head House Books, 619 South 2nd Street, https://www.headhousebooks.com/
Harriet’s Bookshop, 258 E. Girard Avenue, https://www.harriettsbookshop.com/
Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane (West Mount Airy), https://www.bigbluemarblebooks.com/
Joseph Fox Bookshop, 1724 Sansom Street, https://www.foxbookshop.com/
Greetings! I hope we continue to stay safe in this crisis.
We have now surpassed the 100,000 mark in Coronavirus fatalities in this country, all thanks to the incompetence on the weird per lurking in the White House. He and his minions have failed to show leadership in organizing the manufacture of vaccines, test kits, PPEs, respirators, etc. trump’s preferred method to deal with the crisis is the old tactic of failed regimes, the scapegoat, blaming China for the virus, and the Republican Party has ordered its candidates to blame China-and so Chinese-Americans, and Asian-Americans in general, have been subjected to racist assaults. This is what passes for statesmanship currently in DC-and let’s not forget the constant golf trips trump takes to his resorts (and the taxpayers pay for these), the encouraging of white-supremacist maniacs parading at state capitols with assault rifles demanding that their favorite bars, hair salons, etc. be reopened, pandemic or no pandemic.
This would demand workers risk their lives from the pandemic to do the work, coinciding with demands from right-wing pundits and politicians that factories and other worksites reopen, to “stimulate the economy.” To corporations and their political pets-like the one squatting in the White House-the stock market IS the economy, and not the paychecks of workers or the prosperity of local communities. For TOO long, economic policy has been in favor of corporations and the wealthy as opposed to working and low-income people, the real generators of wealth in our economy; hence the skewing of the trillion-dollar stimulus payments, supposedly to “small businesses,” going to billion-dollar corporations-$30 billion going to Amazon’s head Jeff Bezos, already worth $130 BILLION.
But Kevin Hassett, a trump economic advisor, referred to workers as “human capital stock”-they’re like livestock, cattle that can be slaughtered. ( https://www.vox.com/2020/5/26/21270863/kevin-hassett-human-capital-stock-coronavirus) In public discourse about the economy, Americans have been reduced to their function in the economy, as “producers” making stuff for the corporations, and “consumers” buying the corporations’ stuff; not as citizens participating in the community’s affairs. That’s all working and low-income people are to them, and that’s the way they want us to remain. That is also why they want unions to stay powerless, economically and politically, and to prevent consumers of goods and services from protesting shoddy corporate practices.
We have seen the blatant assaults upon African-Americans, showing that racism is alive in this country, fueled by trump and his pet media. Ahmaud Aubrey, in Georgia, was killed while jogging in a residential area, in February, and his killers, Gregory McMichael (father) and Travis McMichael (son), were only arrested late in May; the McMichaels and their companion William Bryan (who videotaped the whole killing), had the idea of capturing Aubrey by themselves and detaining him, in a citizens’ arrest, but it turned into a killing. It’s as if white people have some sort of police power over people of color. ( https://www.nytimes.com/article/ahmaud-arbery-shooting-georgia.html)
Amy Cooper, who worked in an investment company, took her dog into Central Park in May; Christopher Cooper, an African-American man going bird-watching, urged Amy Cooper to leash her dog, as required by the park’s rules, but she got on her cell, all hysterical (why?) and threatened to tell police that Christopher Cooper was threatening her. For that she lost her dog and her job in the investment firm. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amy-cooper-christian-cooper-central-park-karen-video-uncomfortable-hate/) Breonna Taylor, an EMT in Louisville, was shot in March by plainclothes police armed with a “no-knock” search warrant. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/15/minute-minute-account-breonna-taylor-fatal-shooting-louisville-police/5196867002/)
And now there is the case of George Floyd, killed while a Minneapolis police officer sat his knee on Floyd’s neck and choked him to death, out in the open, while a cellphone camera was on him. That was the trigger of a national movement addressing police abuse within communities of color, and racism in this country in general.
Let me be clear: I do NOT think ALL police officers are horrible or racist, and so many of them go out of their way for the community. However, racism in law enforcement is a reality and a danger to be cut out of our society root and branch, in law enforcement and in other areas of our community, such as education, with city schools dilapidating and underfunded by state legislatures filled with rural hacks who hate the people of the cities; medical care, with minority communities having the worst rates in infection of COVID-19, diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks; and higher rates of unemployment.
Let us not forget that June is the month for several great demonstrations; the Tiananmen Square incident in China in 1989, which was put down by a government at war with its own young people seeking a change in the system, a repression trump at that time, in a Playboy interview in March 1990, applauded: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world…” (https://www.playboy.com/read/playboy-interview-donald-trump-1990)
Another event was the Stonewall uprising in June 1969, when patrons of a crappy bar owned by a Mob associate rioted against the police harassment they endured forever, saying “Enough is enough of this!”, thereby jumpstarting the LGBT rights movement. Fighting for freedom in an ongoing process, it is not something that happens just in one particular season of the year, and not always in the view of the news media. One little thing can happen to finally trigger national discussion of a longstanding injustice-Rosa Parks challenging racial segregation by simply not giving up her seat on the bus; young gay men in a skuzzy bar fighting off police harassment; or jobless military veterans who, in 1932 during the Great Depression, peacefully camped out near the White House to attain some help from President Herbert Hoover, but instead were forced out of their camp by soldiers under the command of General Douglas MacArthur (yep, that one).
That has been the trump response to the peaceful demonstrators-and the VAST-est majority of them HAVE been peaceful-to have police and Guard troops assault them, and trump-in his bunker talking bad-ass on Twitter, then ordering peaceful protestors attacked by police so he can hold a bible in front of St. John’s Church for a photo op- threatened to deploy the regular military if state governors did not “dominate” their streets against protestors. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/03/insurrection-act-trump-history/) Here is trump impersonating his role models Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi of China.
I have been reading Bruce Catton’s centennial history of the American Civil War, published on the hundredth anniversary of the terrible conflict that finally ended the shame and scourge of chattel slavery in this country. Some many of the southern men threatened for at least a decade before the war to secede from the Union if it didn’t do their bidding in defending slavery, and the northern men, to preserve the Union and avoid war, constantly accommodated the southern men, like indulging spoiled kids; but at the election of Lincoln in 1860, instead of waiting to see what he would do, the southern states began to secede.
It was all bold talk at the beginning, and it ended up in war; what about today? trump and his disciples talk big and bold, threatening to not accept the election results of 2020 if it doesn’t go their way; If another civil war, God forbid, in the offing? Bullies are like that; they talk all tough as opposed to doing anything, but what if they feel threatened by people standing up to them, challenging their alleged power?
Here, Americans, is a watershed moment in our history, akin to the Civil War, the 1929 Depression, and the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements of the 1960s-when we decide where our country is to go. Let us not falter, but let us take this chance to save our freedom, and deal finally with the ills of our country-systemic racism, extremes of wealth and poverty, poor medical and educational services, and corrupt government.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together-bye!