It is National Hate Crime Awareness Week. A week in which we saw a child in a wheelchair intimidated and abused, because of different medical beliefs. October is also Black Lives Matter month in the UK. Nobody should suffer fear, intimidation or abuse simply because of who they are or the life they lead. People need to realise we are interconnected. We need to spread love not hate or pathogens. Choosing to wear a mask or get vaccinated will effect others. It is not about you. It is about us.
The 6th worst pandemic in history has highlighted one of humanities greatest challengers: ableism. It has also unfortunately brought hatred, ignorance, prejudice and fear into the limelight too.
Hate crime is when someone targets you because of part of your identity. This can be your gender identity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
I read the story of 15-year-old Grace Baker-Earle yesterday, which made my blood boil.
Grace uses a wheelchair after contracting Covid. She was confronted by the mob after receiving her jab at Cardiff’s Bayside mass vaccination centre. Her mum Angela said protesters accused her of using Grace “as a lab rat”.
The anti-vaccine protestors, many of whom are ‘fighting for medical freedom’, are once again intimidating and threatening nurses and doctors.
On 10th July 2021, in Brighton anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protestors carried “Freedom” banners. The nurses on the vaccine bus had to be escorted away by Police for their own safety. The protestors chanted “scum” at them.
Now, it would seem some plague enthusiasts are trying to intimidate children in wheelchairs.
Ignorance and fear
In their ignorant belief, the vaccines are ‘untested’, ‘poison’ or ‘loaded with 5G nanobots, and/or demons’. They are acting inhumanly, unkindly and irrationally, because of their ignorance. Which is helping to drive fear. Fear stoked by some twisted algorithms.
Wellness advocates are also promoting ‘natural immunity building’ rather than vaccines. This is ableism.
And also a wrong belief. If diet and lifestyle changes were natural cures, people wouldn’t be disabled, living with chronic illness or pain.
Ableism (/ˈeɪbəlɪzəm/; also known as ablism, disablism (British English), anapirophobia, anapirism, and disability discrimination) is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled.
The Biggest Issue with Natural Immunity. No one gets Rich. And it doesn’t protect you from novel viruses, like Covid-19.
Disability Hate Crime
I only recently learnt just how bad the problem of disabled hate crime is. A friend of mine Mik Scarlet explained just how prevalent disability hate crime is.
Mik is a broadcaster, journalist, presenter, actor, musician, commentator and bon viveur. He is also disabled, and proud of it. Mik runs a small access and inclusion consultancy.
He shared with me some of the horrific experiences of hate crime he has experienced as a wheelchair user.
I was shocked to discover how horribly people can treat their fellow human beings. Genuinely gobsmacked that adults could treat anyone, let alone people with disabilities so cruelly.
Hate crime can take many forms:
- physical attacks such as assault, damage to property or arson
- attacks on assistance dogs
- threat of attack including offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, texts or intimidation
- harassment, such as dumping of rubbish or name calling
- bullying and abuse at school, online or in the workplace
Which is why my blood boiled when I heard about the intimidation that Grace Baker-Earle experienced.
Why do they do this? Because they are ‘different’.
Disability hate crime: Rise in reports of online abuse
A lack of understanding
Hate crime against disabled people is often due to resentment borne out of a lack of understanding.
It could be skin colour, gender, sexual preferences or religious beliefs. Whatever. Hate is hate.
Some parts of the media drive and fuel these divisions. Some politicians make a career out of it.
For example, by focusing on ‘disabled scroungers’, immigrants, or refugees as the ‘problem’ a skilled liar can divert the focus of attention away from the ‘Super Elite’ who are stealing off all of us.
The reason for these hate crimes are often due to the prejudice an individual or individuals have against that disability. It is viewed politically as an extreme of ableism, or disablism, and this is carried through and projected into criminal acts against the person with a disability.
We naturally fear the unknown. People who are different are somewhat unknown. Hate, however may come from fear, trauma, or indoctrination.
Social media companies encourage people like Russell Brand to make videos during a global pandemic. He is doing nothing ‘wrong’ legally. The non-medical expert come comedian is ‘just asking questions’ about vaccines, science, Big Pharma, Fauci and Bill Gates. It is certainly not harming his YouTube views. Or harming his bank balance. These questions one could argue are increasing vaccine hesitancy. And fear.
Content creators like Brand can make money from shared ad revenue from YouTube plays.
Of course Brand may also win fans over to buy some of his merchandise or tickets to see his shows.
Anti-vaxxers make up to $1.1 billion for social media companies
Anti-vaxxers are not necessarily stupid. Some of course are. Most are ‘normal’ people, like you and I. Many will be super-intelligent. But all are perhaps lacking in critical thinking skills to stop them being dragged down addictive rabbit holes designed by social media.
We are interconnected. Like it or not, we are dependant on each other. From the smallest tribe to huge societies we help and compliment each other. Every religion teaches it. Some know it as God, others feel it in the wind. Some call it Love.
Without our mothers, we would have died. Their unselfish kindness and nurturing helped us grow. They wiped are butts, fed us, and picked us up when we fell. Not everyone had a loving mother, but most of us have have at one time experienced the kindness of others.
We also benefit from the diversity of expertise. From the mechanics, to the midwifes, to the postman to the teacher. We all are important. The pandemic has taught us just how important our shopkeepers are. And the many other key workers.
Thanking a Thousand People for a Single Cup of Coffee
Did you thank the guy that painted the road markings for the delivery truck driver to follow? The captain of the ship that delivered the beans into the port? Or tip the farmer for his nurturing and expertise? Maybe you just tipped the barista?
But, without all of these people. And the people that made the coffee cup, or the guy that designed the lorry tyre’s air pump, you would not be able to enjoy your java.
Why are humans so hateful towards those that are different?
People with different religions, homosexuals, different races, etc.
Sociologists call this “In group” and “out group” and apparently it is a very important part of our social identity.
I think that the main reason for “hating” those who are different is the fear of the unknown and the inherent tendency that we, as humans, have to feel that what we do, choose, believe in and the way we lead our lives is the best possible way to do so.
Black History Month
October marks Black History Month in Ireland and the UK. This annual observance started in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
In a discussion a couple of days ago, on why basketball players would miss games if they were unvaccinated. Someone wrote:
“Maybe what they should have done the first place is have good medical care and not vaccinated black people with syphilis.”
Which is wrong, but points to the truth which is sometimes more complicated. Less clear. Less black. Less white.
“I haven’t heard of people being vaccinated with syphilis before. I have heard of the Tuskagee Syphilis Study and it was abhorrent, abusive and just wrong. But the participants were not injected with anything. They were not treated, for the syphilis they had. When they could have been from 1947 when effective antibiotics became available.
It was disgusting what was done. But I think a good doctor could talk someone through what happened, and why anything similar would not happen again.
The Vaxxers book opened my eyes to some of the mistakes and bad practices that the medical profession did. But it also reassured me as to why this wouldn’t happen again. I think it is a question of education in my non-medical expert opinion…
The study started 89 years ago. Twenty years before Rosa Parks. 32 years before the Civil Rights Act. National lynching rates started declining at the start of the study. But the first full year without a recorded lynching occurred in 1952. 20 years after the start of the study.
It was a very brutal and unjust period. I am not excusing it. I am just trying to show that racial prejudice and medical practices have both improved greatly in the last 50 years since the end of the study, in my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor even been to the States though! Of course, the study has had a huge effect on vaccine hesitancy.”
Billie Holiday said her father, Clarence Holiday, was denied medical treatment for a fatal lung disorder because of racial prejudice, and that singing “Strange Fruit” reminded her of the incident.
Billie Holiday was introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” a horrific depiction of lynching in the Southern United States. It’s considered by scholars to be the first protest song of the civil rights era. The lyric was so controversial that her record label wouldn’t record it. So she jumped over to the independent Commodore Records where she could record and sing as she pleased. “Strange Fruit” immediately became a cultural spark-point and a hit record too.
She performed it at the club in 1939, with some trepidation, fearing possible retaliation. She later said that the imagery of the song reminded her of her father’s death and that this played a role in her resistance to performing it.
Performance of the song was banned in some US cities for fear of provoking civil unrest. It was blocked From U.S. Radio stations.
Time magazine in 1999 named “Strange Fruit” as “Best Song of the Century”
Ahmet Ertegun, who later co-founded Atlantic Records, called it “a declaration of war… the beginning of the civil rights movement”.
British singer Rebecca Ferguson was invited to perform at Donald’s Trump’s inauguration in 2017. She didn’t attend.
Of course some musicians spread hate too. Elton John responded to DaBaby’s homophobic comments and HIV misinformation:
Maybe we need an anti-hate song, like Strange Fruit?
Perhaps we could ask a young gifted musician to write and perform a song against hate? I reckon Nandi Bushell would smash it. She released this song to raise awareness of climate change a couple of days ago.
Which reminds me of ‘Witch Hunt’ a song by the Canadian band Rush. Jack Black is a big Rush fan too. The song is a gruesome and twisted image painted by Neal Peart’s evocative lyrics:
Vocalist Geddy Lee told The Plain Dealer newspaper in a 2011 interview the song’s message is even more relevant today than when it was first recorded: “It’s one of those songs that means as much today, if not more, considering what’s gone on in the world with racial profiling and all these different issues. The sentiment of that song is as appropriate as ever.”
The song was recorded the same night that John Lennon was shot in New York. The band was right in the middle of laying down the tune when they heard the tragic news.
We are all Strange Fruit
Without meaning to diminish or twist the meaning of Holiday’s masterpiece, aren’t we all strange fruit?
We all have different strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. We all, if we are fortunate will get old, and more susceptible to
illness. We may lose the mobility that some of us are used to now.
Wouldn’t you wish to grow old in a society which looks after all members of society, regardless of age, colour, disability, gender or race?
Sir, it’s not about you, but others
Someone used the above phrase in a discussion today. I think it perfectly reflects what wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is really about. It is about doing our best to help stop those more vulnerable than ourselves from getting seriously ill or dying.
Hate needs to be replaced with love, knowledge and equality. We need to work on our intolerances and divisions. And realise we are one. Interconnected on a single planet hurtling through space.
It is not about YOU. It is about US.