Top leaders in the Texas county where George Floyd grew up supported a resolution Tuesday calling for him to be posthumously pardoned for a 2004 drug arrest by a former Houston police officer now facing murder charges in a separate case. The five members of Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved the resolution in support of the pardon request, which was submitted last month to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board still must decide whether to recommend a pardon, and Gov. Greg Abbott will have the final say. “I think this is a phenomenal opportunity to fix a miscarriage of justice in George’s case,” Tera Brown, a cousin of Floyd, told commissioners before they approved the resolution. The May 2020 killing of Floyd, who was black, by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, prompted worldwide protests against racial injustice. Chauvin was convicted last month of murder and manslaughter for Floyd’s killing and also faces federal civil rights charges.
Culture & Race
The controversial statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in downtown Charlottetown will remain, but with some modifications. Monday evening, Charlottetown city council voted 8-1 in favour of adopting five recommendations presented by the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, a joint forum that includes the councils of both Abegweit First Nation and Lennox Island First Nation. The assembly said it had made five suggestions to the city to amend the art installation and “tell the true story of this individual and begin to address the trauma that its presence is continuing to perpetuate,” the statement said. Those recommendations are: Add another figure, such as an Indigenous child or elder. Fill in or seal off the empty space on the bench so it can’t be used for photo opportunities. Install signage so viewers understand “the devastating role that Sir John A. Macdonald played in the Indigenous history of Canada.” If the artist engaged is not Indigenous, a Mi’kmaw artist should be hired as a consultant. Complete the work as soon as reasonably possible. Only Coun. Mike Duffy voted against the resolution Monday, referencing a survey last summer that indicated the majority of respondents wanted the statue to remain as is.
Columbia professor, linguist and author John McWhorter has no time for black fragility. He sees the new anti-racism movement, hyped by writers like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi, to be playing on the bigotry of low expectations. Speaking to Bill Maher on Friday, McWhorter said the way anti-racism is being perpetuated now doesn’t make any sense. “If you are a good black person,” McWhorter told Maher, “you’re often told that when it comes to certain race issues, you’re supposed to not quite make sense, and that you’re supposed to deal with a certain kind of word magic. I have never felt that. I’ve always felt that I’m black and I would like that to make sense too. And that’s why I end up looking brave when I’m really just obsessive.” McWhorter said that the new anti-racism movement leaves him feeling condescended to. DiAngelo’s book White Fragility, which he said would be best used to even out the leg on a wobbly table, portrays “black people as these hot house flowers,” he said, “where everyone has to tiptoe around us…” “I don’t feel like that person,” he said.
Queen’s University professors Margaret Walker and Robin Attas wrote a guest editorial for the Canadian Music Society, in which they argue for “decolonizing” music. In their editorial, addressed “to all who should be concerned,” the co-authors argue that Canada’s music education systems contain “white supremacist and settler colonial structures.” “As the continuation of anti-black and anti-Indigenous violence of the past months, years and lifetimes has made evident, the time has ended for further working groups and “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion recommendation committees on how we as educators across all scholarly disciplines must work toward systemic forms of change that are decolonial and anti-racist,” they write. In a section labeled “Instructions for structural change,” the pair write that the current configuration of entrance requirements, including the “entrance audition,” are “white supremacist forms of gate-keeping.” Other “white supremacist” structures include “learning scales,” which they say “perpetuate and solidify the hegemony of Euro-American repertoire, music history, and analysis.”
Just before National Police Week, the president seemingly just couldn’t miss yet another chance to wrongly slam peace officers. In a statement Friday, two days before the start of National Police Week, President Joe Biden expressed gratitude to the country’s fallen police officers and stated that his administration would work to support local law enforcement through the aftermath of COVID-19, following in the footsteps of those who came before him. And yet, as promising as the first part of his statement was, the president almost immediately used it to unceremoniously slam law enforcement. Just after declaring that his administration would work to ensure law enforcement has “the resources and research tools they need to do their jobs successfully,” and that it would “continue to bolster initiatives that protect our law enforcement officers’ physical safety,” “This year,” Biden said, “we also recognize that in many of our communities, especially black and brown communities, there is a deep sense of distrust towards law enforcement; a distrust that has been exacerbated by the recent deaths of several black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement.”
Ottawa trying to divert racialized youth from courts, create national Indigenous justice strategy Advocates for justice system reform are welcoming new proposals from the federal government to address the overrepresentation of black and Indigenous individuals and other racialized groups in the criminal justice system. In the recent federal budget, the government pledged $216.4 million over five years, and $43.3 million each year after that, to divert black and Indigenous youth and young people of colour from the courts. The government also is proposing to give $21.5 million over five years to organizations that offer free public legal education and services to racialized communities, and to spend $26.8 million to help provinces maintain immigration and refugee legal aid support for asylum seekers.