Monday, January 14, 2013

Thoughts on 1967

I was listening to George Wallace on the radio today and his speech of 1963 in which he said "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever" or some such. It made me think of 1967 when my wife and I first came to America. I went to work in a workshop at Koppers company as a machinist. I guess I had heard of the segregation thing, but it was not anything that I was familiar with really. I was 26 years old, we had black people in England of course but I had not really noticed them! Believe it or not I don't think I really noticed that they were a different color (Colour in England!) I guess I must have but I definitely don't remember it being anything that I took any notice of. They were just people like everyone else.
So when I started work at Koppers and one of the guys in the workshop was black i just talked to him the same as all the other guys.
It was a while before I realized that I was, "Doing something wrong", the other guys in the shop who were all white were sort of ignoring me.
I guess it sank in after a while. I used to eat lunch with John - the black guy - and we got on quite well I remember. I think we were talking about a trip to the beach once and it occurred to me to ask him about sunbathing! There didn't seem to be much point in it for him! And it was strange that I would want to go darker - by now I had realized that the others in the shop didn't like black people! Anyway he told me that if he lay in the sun he would go darker, and yes he would burn if he stayed out in it too long.
One day when I was talking to one of the white men I mentioned that I had heard that when a black man met a white man on a sidewalk the black man used to have to step off the kerb. I said it sort of like it was funny or a joke and was surprised when he replied visciously "Yes, and that is the way that it should still be."
John left soon after, I think it may have been difficult for him. I think I may have been the only person who talked to him.
Things are undoubtably different now. But those thoughts came to me about my first real interaction with a black man and the treatment that he received and the way that the white men treated him.
Back in 1967.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

30 days since Sandy Hook.

It has now been 30 days since the Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut school shooting on Dec 13 2012. Since then there have been more than 1,000 murders with guns in the US - more than in the next 100 countries COMBINED.

There are over 11,000 murders with guns a year in the US (39 in the UK last year.) Including accidents and suicides, that number rises to over 25,000 a year.

As we all know, the rights of a Nutcase to own an assault gun with a 100 round magazine beats the rights of an 8 year old girl to attend school without being shot and killed so that she does not get to grow up, have birthday parties, boyfriends, trips, get married, have children of her own and generally have the chance at a happy life during which she has the chance to add something to help the US and the World.

Yes, we know that the gun is much more important than the thousands of children that are killed by them every year in the US. The right of the Drunken Alcoholic, The Drug Addict, The Criminal and The wife-Beater to own a deadly assault gun whose only purpose to exist is to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.

In fact we MUST defend their right to own these killing machines with our own lives if necessary.

Oh, by the way 85% of all children killed by guns in the world are killed in the US.

But defending our nutcases rights is of course MUCH more important than defending our children's lives.

Yes the words of a few men spoken almost 250 years ago in a different age in different circumstances must be defended over the lives of our children. So that men and women with inferiority complexes can own big sticks that make them feel big and strong. Sticks that make loud bangs and enable them to kill people who confront them and call them names or who have different opinions to theirs. And of course as a last resort if people still won't listen to them and they get really pissed off they can go to a Church or a Movie Theater, or a Mall or a School and kill as many of those people as possible.

Yes, we MUST defend that right.