Jill Dennison posted something yesterday on her blog Filosofa’s Word that suddenly made me sit up and pay attention. Her post begins with a simple statement of fact:
Seven jurors were selected this week for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who, on May 25th, 2020 brutally murdered a Black man, George Floyd, by throwing Floyd facedown on the ground, handcuffed, and then keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes.
This is how it appeared, for me, in the WordPress Reader:
And, yes, that date leapt out at me as though it were highlighted, for the simple reason that it coincides with Towel Day, the annual celebration of the life and works of the late Douglas Adams (1952-2001), author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I guess the reason that I didn’t didn’t spot that coincidence last year was because it would have taken a few days for the horror story about George Floyd to begin to spread, and the date itself was not, at the time, as important as the event itself.
Regular visitors to Wibble may have spotted the ‘Milestone widget’ I’ve had on the site for some time now, which acknowledges the time remaining until the next Towel Day. The Towel Day website provides a similar, though naturally more prominent, countdown.
Connections, once made, are difficult to unmake — not that I’d want to forget this one. Though born from an horrific act of violence, I like to think that Douglas Adams would welcome this connection between his legacy and the ongoing struggle to improve humanity. In my mind, these two things — Towel Day and the murder of George Floyd — will now be forever linked. The race issue has been with us for a very, very long time, and it won’t be cured overnight. Because it is such an intractable problem, we need reminders of it, so that it can’t be kicked into the long grass; I think this is a particularly good one.
So, I’ll continue to carry my towel every 25th of May, but I will at the same time be haunted by the continuing spectre of racial prejudice and injustice. And, every year, I will hope that this year is the one that brings change.
The clock is ticking.