young people have lost fear of authority's fist new freedom riders
n.b. During my recent travels in the US I saw a statue of a woman sitting calmly. I saw the image repeatedly: in the Capitol in Washington DC; in Memphis TN; in Birmingham AL.
The woman was Rosa Parks. Her determined protest, to sit where she wanted to on a bus, regardless of the state law at that time that segregated people by skin coloration, fired up people tired of being oppressed, tired of being downtrodden. Her sitting down was a signal to others to stand up to inhuman authority.
In Iran, the people most oppressed by the theocracy, women, particularly young women, are tired of giving in too.
Birmingham's children could not be silenced by hate nor Iran's school girls
n.b. School girls being beaten to death by Iranian security forces for refusing to be told what to wear and what to sing.
The Birmingham ‘Children’s Crusade’, equally spontaneous, filled Alabama’s police cells. The children knew that theirprotests, against violent racism, would clog up the legal system, without affecting the economics of their family homes, as a working parent being incarcerated would have done.
In Iran, the vicious treatment of women, is the response of men who have been told “No.”
take the freedom walk firehoses, dogs, prison bars four girls as angels
n.b. Birmingham, Alabama, once the frontline of the hate line, a victory for love.
I studied at Birmingham Polytechnic in the period 1978 – 82. Coming to its namesake city has been an education. Real friendly place, as the locals might say, but do not walk down specific streets after dark they advise in all sincerity.
IN YUNG GUNS WE TRUST threat? self-determination? people get ready
n.b. Graffito on a low-rise social housing development in a beautiful, wooded district on the north side of Birmingham, Alabama. Not just scrawled on a wall, but painted large across the building.
At first, my response to these words was that this slogan, for it is big and prominent enough to be a political slogan, was an act of immature bravado, possibly delineating gang territory. However, this is not necessarily the case. Gang signs are usually more subtle, more discreet, almost meaningless to the naïve passerby, instantly recognisable to friend and foe.
Here in Birmingham Alabama, (the neatest, tidiest city centre in the whole of the USA as far as I have seen),there has been a long history of open warfare on people of colour by racist whites.
As a civil war was fought, as legislation was introduced, as civil rights were argued for and established, the racists have beaten, bombed and murderedpeople in this small city for speaking up for their basic rights as citizens of the USA. The racists in this city, made it a point to openly and brutally resist the changes USA society needed to go through to begin to live up to its constitutional promise, “all men are created equal.”
Birmingham, Alabama is a place of pilgrimage. A place to pay respect to the church-going children fire-bombed, the Freedom Riders set upon, the brave people whoendured attacks by police dogs, batons and boots, our fellow human beings who were treated worse than dogsfor boycotting, travelling, marching, sitting in, or simply praying.
This history of living memory does not just disappear overnight. It might be, given the attack on the Capitol Building in Washington DC on 6th January 2021, that some people do not feel entirely at ease with the increasing aggression of the extreme right.
It might be that the public murder of George Floyd and the deadly shootings of so many other black young people by police officers around the USA, has provoked some to thinkthat if the ghastly NRA can argue guns are for defence, then these young people are not going to be sitting on their hands and hanging about for official help in policing their community.
In the USA those, who have made sure accessto firearms is so easy, need to appreciate thatself-defence means everyone has the right to be armed. These trusting in “YUNG GUNS” are taking the freedom to carry deadly weapons argument for defence to its obvious conclusion. If you believe you can’t trust the police, courts and the prison system to act humanely, who can you trust?
Then, after asking who do you trust, the next question needs to be “Who do you love?”
Unfortunately, sadly, awfully, I have since heard that the YUNG GUNS who had sprayed the blue paint on the wall, (barely visible on the brickwork in the photo above), had been enforcing their own form of terrifying justice locally.
never walk alone with hope in your hearts Iranian blues
n.b. Music-maker, Shervin Hajipour; poet, Mona Borzoi; footballer, Hossain Mahini; all arrested for voicing protest at the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa had been arrested for failing to meet the strict dress code for women in Iran. She died three days after being taken from her family on their way to visit relatives in Tehran. She had been beaten on being taken into a police van, witnesses reported.
A song ‘Baraye’, released on social media comprising words from the voices crying out at this murder, is integral to the continuing protests. Change has got to come and music keeps the flame of hope alive.
You can hear it here. Every word has been taken from social media messages of protest beginning with “because…”