Skip to main content
Disseminating Compassion for a Change!

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, 2021

Iago loves no one. He hates his superior, the general. In the first minutes he appears before us, he is already in motion, busy conspiring, wasting no time now that the battle is won, the ship has docked, and he and the Moor aback on land. While Venice sings the Moor’s praises for gallantry and bravery under fire, Iago spews hate toward the more. I wear the uniform of an assistant to the general; but, nonetheless, he assures his conspirator, I’m loyal to all who despise “blackamoors.” 

“I hate the blackamoor.” And despite the new wind of change that attempts to overthrow the social climate in Venice, a climate, mind you, that has protected and served the advantages for you and me, I repeat—I know who I am! I’m with those who hate the blackamoors!

My friend,look at what he has done to corrupt our purity!

It’s not long before Iago arrives at the home of the Moor’s father-in-law where he cries out, look to your daughter, for “a lascivious Moor” has stolen her from you! (From us!). He has robbed your house! (Our house!). He has married her and, in the process, he has committed the greatest injustice against our society! She, in turn, was forced to deceive you, her father, by running away to marry him. The blackamoor! They’ve committed treason against blood, against purity!

I hate the Moor! I’m with you, he tells the father, and all those who hate the blackamoor.

It doesn’t take Shakespeare long to establish in a fictional character such a mindset as Iago’s.

In the opening chapter of James Shapiro’s Shakespeare in A Divided America, “1833: Miscegenation,” begins with an examination of a letter John Quincy Adams wrote to a friend on New Years Eve, 1835. The letter concerns the play, Othello. Desdemona disturbance him. And why? Because she desires and marries a Black man.

This Desdemona deserts her father’s home “in the dead of night” to be with a Black man! What “unnatural passion” is on display in this play. “It cannot be named with delicacy. Her admirers now say this is criticism of 1835; that the color of Othello has nothing to do with the passion of Desdemona. No? Why, it Othello had been white, what need would there have been for her running away with him?”

John Quincy Adams had been the sixth president of the United States (1824-29) and, from my observation, has no qualms with hating Desdemona, yet had nothing to say about the loathsome Iago.

For years, writes Shapiro, Adams couldn’t wrap his head around the possibility that what Desdemona and Othello shared was love. But how was someone like Adams to think on what for him was such an “unnaturalness”? This mingling of blood could only represent the fall of civilization, of culture, of all that is naturally pure and white in the world.

Shapiro asks, “why had a former president and now member of Congress felt it necessary to weigh in publicly not once, but twice, and so unflinchingly, on Desdemona’s interracial marriage?”

 Adams’ father, John Adams, wasn’t a slave owner, and, in the 1760s, he could identify with the life of an Othello that is “here and everywhere.” For John Adams, writes Shapiro, “Othello’s blackness doesn’t even register.” For the son, however, he has inherited a generation of “problems” swirling around slavery and race. In America, nothing else matters but race, writes Shapiro.

It would seem to me that for a future president and a young nation in the future, Iago’s legacy matters. 

What Iago’s legacy does, it does in words, first. What follows is a cascade of actions that, in turn, precipitates shallow thought—if you can give to narratives of irrational fear such a name. Nonetheless, the adherents have been known to ready the noose, tighten the zip-ties, shoot a Black child in seconds of arriving on the scene, continue kneeling on the neck of a dying Black man, and reject all and anything that has to do with the rights of all except those who are like them.

There’s a dissemination of hate, a certain way of thinking, generating policies and laws that obliterate citizen rights and warn that you can’t even provide water to the thirsty.

In America! Today!

It’s all in a day’s work. Crime prevention. A role for patriots and defenders of purity to play in America, in the 21st Century.

I hear the actor Ian McClellan: You don’t have to play Iago winking to the audience. Just speak his words. Listen. Follow his words.

Muddle the idea of love and what takes its place?

I hear the actor Ian McClellan: You don’t have to play Iago winking to the audience. Just speak his words. Listen. Follow his words.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

It turns out, writes Shapiro, that Adams has had a long obsession with Othello and “race” and “Desdemona’s unnatural desires” since his college days. When British William Faux visited Boston in 1819, he recalled that the “contempt of poor blacks or niggers as they are called, seems the national sin of America.” In turn, British actress Fanny Kemble observed a John Quincy Adams who, on the one hand, passes for a “progressive,” with a seemingly “life-long opposition” to Southern slavery, but who, on the other hand, despised Black people. The actress asked, how is a that “miscegenation” was a real fear for an American who thought so progressively?

It’s a mindset, Ms. Kemble! A mindset at odds with itself, and, yet, it’s so embedded in the American culture as to be promoted by many as something to proliferate. And why not? The lie of white supremacy has been the source of privileges and wealth for many Americans and has allowed the US the right to strut however way it pleases and in whichever direction on the world’s stage. It’s no wonder then that in the 21st Century someone such as Derek Chauvin could thrive for 19 years as a police office in Minneapolis. Chauvin, who thought himself suitable to work in law enforcement!

Who does someone like Chauvin protect and serve?

Somethings must come to an end!

The poet, W. H. Auden once wrote, about suffering…

“how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking

dully along…”

On May 25, 2020, some Americans stopped walking pass “police business” and took note of the expression of hate from one office in particular. It wasn’t his face; it was his whole being, all of him, baring down on the neck of a Black man, kneeling on that neck as if sanctioned to carry on. And so he, does with his co-conspirators, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng near by. If you had looked at Chauvin’s face, you would have seen Iago, without a wink, wink because his dismissive sounds directed at a pleading, suffering George Floyd would have spoken volumes.

Because children and grown adults, white and Black, stopped to take note. And something that had been repeated time and time again was put on pause. Because people of all races and ages marched in the middle of a pandemic, and marched for days, weeks, something ended that wasn’t intended to ever end.

What is truly unnatural isn’t allowed to go on as if no one noticed, no one pointed a camera at the guilty ones and finally spoke out: Enough!

We have that chance to continue to dampen the spirit of Iago, to trample upon the white nationalists and white supremacists, anti-humanists all, whose words dirty the paper they were written on, words reflecting still today an irrational mindset that must see its last days.

Period!

 We all see. And we continue to see the bullet-ridden bodies of young Black Americans, target practice for too many police officers through this country. You can’t excise hate with a polite course in “sensitivity” or “diversity.” Better to have less than many. Better to have the less with hearts and understanding. We see too many chokeholds around the necks of Black and Latinx and Indigenous Americans, too many tasers are used, when not mistaken by veterans for a gun, and too many police offers dressed up in body amour, designed, you would think, by Medieval architects—for war!

On the streets of America, some police officers believe there’s a battle between the “blue” and the “blackamoors”!

It’s all too old, and we are tired of the hate and what it produces and how it makes too many delusional while others quake in their skin, if not dead!

It’s the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021—for starters. A more just and compassionate start! No piece of legislation changes the mindset of people for whom hate is all they know, but it might keep those heartless and those racists out of law enforcement. We shouldn’t have to explain over and over again that there is no need to kill a 12-year old Black child with a toy gun! A thirteen year old Black girl, with or without a knife! A young man in his car with an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror shouldn’t have been shot with a gun or taser!

Terrified people are being killed for being terrified of the police! And they are there to serve and protect?

The bill, which passed the House in March, 2021, “addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restricts the use of certain policing practices, enhances transparency and data collection, and establishes best practices and training requirements.

blacks

We are an extension of those witnesses that day last May 2020 who identified not with some sycophant’s concept of racial superiority; we are with the humanity of George Floyd. We are with humanity as were that group of Americans who, for a little more than nine minutes, showed the world it could be compassionate too.

Lenore Daniels