The Large is written in the Small



I cannot unsee the history of racism by which a continent has been shaped; I cannot unsee the corridor or the dead.

The act is specific. A dozen people are in the room; there are cups of coffee on a table, articles waiting to be approved. Afterwards, the corridor is marked in red: all that remains after two pairs of combat boots have gone.

Many of us have a sense of the immense longing that follows this instant, the hopeless, uncontrollable tears of the lovers, the comrades, and the children of those who were killed.

But think of the mentality that can plan a killing. If you work every day with a hoe or a hammer, calluses will form on your hands. What tools can harden a person’s mind?

Those who don’t know what it is like to go to sleep hungry, should not judge those that starve. But, equally, the large is written in the small. There is no necessary murder. Killing, like rape, is an instrument of oppression and not a tool of liberation.

If you have never had dreams of a vivid future only to see them slowly crushed – over days and years without variation – by a society in which black or brown faces can go so far and no further, you will struggle to understand the deep bitterness of those who have lost.

But an explanation cannot stop there. A man goes to work; it is made clear to him on his appointment that he has reached a limit beyond which he could never be promoted. Why would he blame not the manager or the boss but someone else?

The selection of a target involves a process of seeing – and not seeing. It involves giving your life a story, in which the person who has defeated your dreams is the person who lives, surrounded by their colleague, at the end of that corridor.

And whatever faults the journalists had, they were neither the organisers nor the beneficiaries of the structural racism within which a sense of grievance took root.

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