It has been just over a year since the whole country went into lockdown. As folk start to head into the boozers again on Monday, it’ll be a time of reflection for a lot of people.
‘Mind we were all fallin about the gaff steamin on our own doing quizzes on zoom?’
‘Mind we were all wearing Werder Bremen tops, cans in, tryna to get a buzz on for the Bundesliga because that was the only fitbaw on the tele?’
‘Mind folk absolutely raiding the shops meaning you had to skulk about yer area going from shop to shop lookin for tinned tomatos?’
I had a bit of a reflection myself this week. It wasn’t the thought of me at 6am, red wine stained teeth playing online poker with ma pals. That moment you start to see light emerge through the window blinds, yer pal’s just been gloating about his third takeaway he’s ordered. I’ll save that one for the pub.
This week the people of Glasgow stood up against the establishment to stop their fellow neighbour from being deported. You’ll be sat there hinkin he’s got the memory of a goldfish if that’s what he calls reflection… but hear me out. I think everyone should think seriously about what this and some other events that have happened in the last year mean for democracy.
A year ago almost to the week, the polis from Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, murdered George Floyd and subsequently sparked one of the biggest ever global movements. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as many as 26 million Americans alone participated in protest.
This spurred on action here pretty quickly. Thousands gathered in the main cities in Scotland to unite with those in America, social media was rammed, statues of slave traders were toppled in anger down south. Importantly, it raised awareness of the realisation that Scotland and the rest of the UK isn’t innocent. Enough is enough.
It got the conversation going. It prompted political parties to pledge a revamp in how we educate our children on this matter, showing them a more informative reflection of Britain’s colonial past. Sports athletes that millions of us watch every single week have been taking the knee before competing. There was that iconic moment in December last year, when both sets of players competing in a Champions League match between PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir walked off the pitch after the fourth official was accused of racist remarks towards one of the players.
And admittedly, that wee paragraph I’ve just written there doesn’t even begin to explain how raj the movement was. It was monumental.
On the topic of football, not many will need reminding of the oil-rich fat cats that tried to change the game forever with the proposed ‘Super League.’ Stretching back hunners of years, institutions that communities have been built around were almost ripped out from the heart of working-class areas and used as a TV show for people around the world. People stood up and made themselves heard. Thousands of Manchester United supporters are still gathering each week in protest. They stormed their own ground the other week and got a huge fixture between them and arch rivals Liverpool moved as a result. This might sound like gibberish if you’re not a football fan but to put it frankly: it’s absolute scenes.
Coming back to the earlier reflection… we saw another instance of people coming together to stop something that they don’t think is right. Protestors in Glasgow successfully forced the Home Office to free the men that were removed from their own home, detained and on their way to deportation. After seven hours of protest, the UK Immigration Enforcement were stopped by a community coming together to save their neighbour. Kenmure Street, take a bow by the way.
In amongst a truly horrible year to reflect upon, these three significant events allowed me to look back on the past year with a fraction of pride. When you live in a democracy, there is strength in numbers. No matter who you are, change is possible. If something isn’t right, stand up and make your voice heard. Nobody is invincible.