Our foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, would not take the knee except to his wife or the queen, sees it as a symbol of subjugation, thinks it comes from Game of Thrones.
We took the knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in the main road. The traffic stopped and waited in silence. It hurts to put weight on one knee that long. It was an honour to do so: celebrating our common humanity, recognising and opposing White power and violence, being part of a 250 year-long history extending from the iconography of Josiah Wedgwood to the actions of Colin Kaepernick and others on the streets and sport-fields.
What is the value of such protests? It seems remarkable that there was a rally, nearing a thousand-strong, in Solihull, a Tory voting suburb on the outskirts of Birmingham. The traffic hooted its support. People of all ethnic backgrounds took part and gave witness. This is reclaiming the history that belongs to us all but which is airbrushed from the curriculum and media. At the war memorial we called on the handful of defensive men to join us, to champion the common values for which those soldiers died, fighting fascism. They refused, embracing their fearful myths and clutching themselves round the cold stone like it might hatch.
Does this raise consciousness? Are White people on these marches just signalling virtue without challenging their relative privilege, without building a better future for all our children? Its hard to know. One thing I will say is this. When you walk, you can chant “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice No Peace” and even “say his name George Floyd“, “say her name “Breonna Taylor“. However, when you say out loud “I can’t breathe” and think, just think, really why we are saying that, then it becomes hard to breathe.