Personal Note: I always say check a variety of sources for information and listen to formal government advice in the time of a crisis, but right now I can’t find any suitable sources holding together logical reporting and the governments are seemingly the enemy trying to block access to good information. This is my personal blog piece, not a factual report or ‘news’. Please do not judge it on any other level. I’m a middle-aged white guy and, I will very happily engage and be corrected by anybody from any ethnic minority if I’ve said anything out of line here. I hope we’re all here to learn together and I’ll gladly take criticism where it’s due. This article is not related to mining, but I feel the need to distance what we do and who we are from some of our peer’s comments of late. We are here as a business to do professional work, but we employ colleagues from minority groups and, It would not be right to stand by silent when they call in their hour of need. As such, our stance remains strongly against all racism and any actions that promote division, rather than seeking peace and equality.
Human history is filled with bloodshed, massacre, and misery, we have been at war since our Australopithecan ancestors walked the plains of Africa and spread everything ‘human’ that surrounds us. We are all products of, great journeys, wars, battles, and violence between nations, races, religions, genders and classes. In the UK we gained our relative riches through colonisation and genocide of 172 of the 186 nations on earth, in the US power and prosperity came from British slavery through to today’s military industrial complex, profiting from warheads dropping on children in the Middle-East.
In 1645 Oliver Cromwell was partly responsible for founding the ‘New Model Army’, a group of lunatic Presbyterians who disliked King Charles’ I handling of the prior civil war and wanted to establish an army without regional political ties and separate the powers of church and state across the British Isles. He first attempted to establish political and peaceful resolutions but was ignored. He thus raised an impressive force to strengthen the powers of parliament in the United Kingdom, ultimately beginning the dissolution of the British monarchical system. A lot of the principles of Cromwell’s campaign are still in place today, with parliamentary democracy (somewhat) in power and the Queen having no purpose whatsoever.
When Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement in the ‘women’s social and political union’ began peaceful protests in 1903, they were ignored, laughed at and locked up in asylums. The very concept of ‘women’s rights’ was laughable in the era… A throwaway novelty. When these protests were ignored, the women moved onto direct action and won their right to vote (albeit only the beginning of the long feminist road).
Mass protests began in Tunisia in 2011 then spread to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain against poor living standards and oppressive regimes. Governments met these protests with force, often military, and sparked one of the biggest uprisings in living memory as regimes were toppled and absolute chaos filled the Arabian states. International armed intervention arguably stopped any good coming of these uprisings (although this is my view, not a referenced one).
In 2008 Iceland faced a significant financial crisis with mass withdrawals of cash in panic and a hasty government announcement to guarantee all Icelandic resident’s funds required to calm the population. In doing this, they essentially destroyed international investment accounts at Landsbankinn, mainly from the UK and Netherlands. This resulted in the UK utilizing anti-terrorism laws to freeze the assets of Icelandic citizens in the UK. Bailouts were organised for Brits and the Dutch with the Icelandic government asked to foot the bill to some $5.3b… Put to referendum (due to the huge cost in relation to the islands 350k inhabitants) Iceland voted 93:7 to middle-finger the debts. A later referendum achieved a 60:40 result with a smaller deal and led to the resignation of several officials. Iceland then went on to dissolve it’s government peacefully and hold open elections with nominations from the public, not parties and completely reform it’s system.
In Birmingham Alabama, the houses of 60 African Americans were bombed in the 1950-60s. Peaceful protests began in 1963 and were met by attack dogs, water canons and violence from local police forces. One man arrested that day was Martin Luther King Jr. after which he delivered his famous ‘I have a dream speech’ leading to the civil rights act of 1964. In 1965 a peaceful march was attacked by cattle prods and tear gas in Alabama leading to further arrests of African Americans, but no reprisals for the white police forces. In 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. truly suffered for his dreams, when a white supremacist shot him. He was posthumously credited with presidential medal of freedom, Time ‘man of the year’ and a Nobel peace prize describing him as "the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence”.
What do these stories have in common? Their protagonists were all branded terrorists and met with violence and force by governments of the time, but later celebrated as fundamental to the development of each of their associated causes.
Today we are in the middle of another battle. After 50 years of peaceful protest through art, music, marches and (more recently) Twitter, African Americans in the United States are (again) fighting for their civil liberties after the murder of another innocent man. The Government of the United states has branded these actions just like Charles did of Cromwell, Mubarak did of the Spring and Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith did of the suffragettes.
Protestors are being attacked by Black Hawk helicopters, as I type. The president has begun to attack and supress media outlets and there is widespread chaos as some try to reinforce traditional peaceful values of protest and others use this as an excuse to rebalance their wealth inequality their own fast way… by looting Bvlgari gems and flatscreens.
The tragedy is pronounced by other recent protests, which saw white conservative Americans attacking political figures and destroying property, because they felt their freedoms were being infringed. The redneck-anti-science protesters were celebrated by the president for their courage.
Today, facing desperate cries from Non-white Americans, the president has responded with military force and hidden in a bunker. While potentially unrelated to any views on race, the timing and polarised responses are breath-taking.
So who’s in the right here…? Which side of history are we supposed to fall on…? Should we do anything etc…?
History has shown that in 9.99/10 conflicts, the oppressed people who fought with violence and blood for their freedoms were (probably) in the right (although the victors always get to write the textbooks). We look back on every act of historic inequality today with anger about our pasts, we have national independence days worldwide (except for the UK) where we celebrate our most recent revolutions and escapes from (what we considered) our oppressive masters. In the USA (and most of the English-speaking world) it was the British, in Eastern Europe, the Soviets and in LATAM the Spanish/Portuguese. We hold huge commemorations for those who lost their lives fighting against oppression and the USA holds Martin Luther King Jr. day every January to remember those lost in their struggle.
My opinion doesn’t matter here, you do you. Do what you believe is right. For me, my greatest outlet for protest is writing, which is insignificant really, while people die in the streets.
In terms of a broad reaching company statement for Spotlight Mining, we will not work with anybody who expresses racist or derogatory opinions towards minorities, now or at any time and we are watching everybody's social channels. The concepts of gender and race inequality are not being debated anymore, those are a given. From access to education, to wage imbalance, to police brutality, the statistics worldwide show clearly that poorer communities receive poorer educations, women get paid less for the same roles and black communities are disproportionately affected by police violence.
We can spend months unravelling the reasons for increased gun crime in areas with larger black communities, but only by also acknowledging the unfair access to education, employment, and social mobility in these same regions. The only people arguing against the concept of ‘privilege’ are white middle-aged males, those who were taught by their parents that they’d built their own country, because they had lived blind to the slavery, mostly in fear of the Soviet Union, not anything inside their own borders. I don’t blame these blokes, they have their ivory towers and maybe just don’t realise what they’ve had; but now is a time to snap out of that and open our eyes.
I came from a family like this, I was lucky, we had conservative money from the oil boom of the 1970s and I was raised on this and my mother’s hard work in an affluent region of middle England. There was always work in middle-class reasonably paid restaurants and bars and there was always support from welcoming communities. My friends in South London grew up surrounded by drugs, knife crime, police stop searches and teachers who had taken the only job offered with their mediocre qualifications, not chosen the finest grammar schools to excel in. It is not even a conceivable argument that they didn’t have to fight harder to get to where they are today, through that mess, while I was on any of our schools 3 rugby pitches, tennis courts, or gyms, with music lessons and good cooked meals, enjoying life.
To those fighting for their own rights to survive and for a fairer society, I will always salute. To those looting opportunistically, you’re cheapening the heart of a genuine protest and allowing your government to deflect from answering to the real issues, by simply discussing how bad looting is. To those in the police and forces who are standing tall and defending peace and fair law in the communities you grew up in, I also salute, as long as you’re distributing your power without bias. Remember your enemies are above you, not beside you. Your enemy is the unbalanced system that put you into this fight… Not the other underpaid workers on the ground beside you.
Whether your protest is donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, ticking a better box at the next election, writing a pointless blog nobody will read, or a Molotov through a government building window… Make sure you’re on the right side of history when the curtains close on this difficult chapter. Make sure you can tell the next generation, you did your best to make the world the best place it can be for everybody, not just for yourself.
The struggle for revolution is rarely going to be fairy cakes and tea.