The importance of history and being human

With rising racial tensions in the USA exacerbated by bigots like Trump and easy availability of weapons, I wanted to share my friend Jaspal Singh’s recent ‘Reflections’ that he emailed to a few friends from his base in Cambridge MA (visuals added). Also see this post by Partha Banerjee, an activist friend in New York City, on the racism of South Asians (he talks about Indians but it applies equally to others in the region) and the need to contexualise injustice and violence and demand “justice for all the sufferers” and “punishment for all the criminals”.

Andover PD-Jul 8-2016

#Edhism #BlackLivesMatter #Kashmir #Police We could all use a bit more humanity. A powerful little story shared on Facebook by the Andover Police Department about what happens when we see each other as human beings first.


July 10,2016

By Jaspal Singh

A wave of protests against police brutality has engulfed the US. Thousands of people have come out in the streets against the killing of black men by police in several cities. In Dallas Texas, a sniper killed five police officers.People are demanding that these police officers who are killing black men with impunity , be brought to justice and be punished. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the plight of the black people in the US.They can be killed by the law enforcement officers without any accountability as black lives are not considered to have any value. Every year hundreds of black men are killed in police shootings and nothing comes out of it, no police officer is punished. People are incensed against this kind of impunity.

In a country which preaches to the whole world about virtues of human rights and rule of law, institutionalized racism is a fact of life and is normalized. It is pervasive and fills the air. As a young black man was heard saying the other day, “they kill us like flies”. This is also happening under the watch of a black president. It shows that institutional racism is alive and kicking inspite of some black faces in high places.

Why is that the ” greatest democracy” in the world cannot end the institutional racism?how long can the anachronistic notions of the empire builders keep the whole society in shackles in which some lives have no value?

The United States has not really settled scores with its old conscience of genocide and slavery. It is generally whitewashed, written out of the history books, but it is all around us. Every time I look at a building at Harvard, I think of a slave owner or a slave trader, to whom it must have belonged or who owned it by making his money through genocide, slave trade and plunder. All these hallowed halls of high learning  and “freedom” scream loudly about the bloodshed and misery inflicted on so many by so few.

As a result liberal whites carry a great deal of guilt and are on an edge about it and like to ignore this history. But history like facts is very stubborn. It is constantly with you. It haunts you. You have to settle scores with it. Black Lives Matter and Movement for Reparations is trying to settle scores with this sordid history of slavery that the US prefers to ignore and deny. But reality keeps asserting itself.

American society is in urgent need of renewal and renovation. Twenty first century demands that all humans and all life be affirmed. But the structure of power and institutions are based on anachronistic notions of 18th and 19th century, with hierarchy or beings and rights. A sharp conflict has arisen between conditions and authority. While conditions demand transformation, the authority, by its act of being wants to continue the old conditions. A sharp conflict between legal will and popular will has also arisen. The rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is symptomatic of this condition. Society is going from crisis to crisis, bringing devastation and destruction on humans and nature.

Will the people resolve these crises in their favour or the powers that be will be able to resolve them in their favour? This is an open question, as history remains open . Depending on the organization and consciousness of the various forces in society and their preparedness and alignment of various forces, outcomes will be impacted. One thing is for sure that there is great unrest under the surface in the US which needs resolution.


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