“The people united - will never be divided” is one of the phrases we chant as we march for justice in New York City. In a perfect world, we would all look out for each other and not judge one another - we don’t know what people go home to every day or what their story is. And I’ve made this my motto - not to make an opinion of people until they show me or tell me who they are.
When I read a strange article written by the politician Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson in Morgunblaðið I thought what the hell happened to this person? Why glorify racism in a world where we are trying with all our being to fight for and educate one another about systematic racism? This man is already oozing with white supremacy, but he also had the need to publish a whole page in the weekend paper full of wrong facts and misconceptions - all laced with bigotry though and through.
The purpose with my post here is to somewhat revisit my question (I wrote a few posts ago) if Icelanders are going to hang on to simplicity and togetherness after fighting Covid-19. Unfortunately not everyone is and some are taking their entitlement up a big notch. It’s hard to witness entitlement and white supremacy when for others, racism is a bomb that explodes on them daily.
In his article Sigmundur Davið called Black Lives Matter a new cultural movement and claims that people are under pressure to be a part of it, compared it to extremism, and criticized kneeling (to name a few). There’s one thing to be a white man living in a white world and having never experienced racism, but it’s another to think you can speak to and criticize Black Lives Matter when it has literally nothing to do with you.
Black Lives Matter - founded in 2013 is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada. It was created as a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin - with a mission to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in police brutality. Since then countless black lives have been abused and taken by the police in the US. We’re talking about layered systemic and systematic racism that has its origin since the beginning of slavery in 1600. There are also several other groups of vibrant collectives who propose strategic change in all systems in the US.
In today’s world if you have an advantage as a white person you give back and not expect black people to fix what white people created. You simply give back - you don’t take. But that’s what this politician is trying to do, to take away from people that don’t have privilege, all while causing a division between Icelandic people. It’s what Trump has done successfully. And now we have a mini version of that in Iceland. It seems as if he's calling to the crowd that associates with bigotry and sets them free to speak loudly and openly about Black Lives Matter - and again has nothing to do with them.
Now we have opened up competing ideas about racism in Iceland - those that argue against Black Lives Matter worry that they have to change. If Sigmundur Davíð can persuade you to believe his values, then he doesn’t have to change. By speaking out, he admits his fear of changing. And this is why those of us who fight against racism and for justice know that we’re being heard, and must continue to be heard, so the white supremacy man has nothing on us.
We’re simply trying to lift everyone up. It’s not new and it’s not unique to the United States but an open racist division is new to Iceland. Sigmundur Davíð is a man who was caught amongst colleagues talking horribly and down to women and a person with a disability. And now he has decided to publish how little he understands about what’s happening in the world and of Black Lives Matter.
For those of us who read and continue to study history, our conversations become more and more about community and togetherness and building a selfless life - one that is simply much more rewarding and fun. For those who cannot support Black Lives Matter would be better off not commenting but allowing this movement to succeed until we find justice. And justice is found only through togetherness - replacing “I” with “we”.
Texti: Anna Rósa Parker