By Richard Sudan
At the recent G7 political leaders’ summit, the opportunity presented itself to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet with US President Joe Biden.
Although this is a formal affair, it is customary that the two leaders of the respective nations usually exchange gifts, as has been the case for many years. world often look for signs that this relationship between the leaders of the so-called free world remains strong.
Thus, the meeting between the two leaders is always anticipated, and undoubtedly meticulously planned by the offices of the two leaders. Nothing is accidental. Beyond the practical reasons for meeting leaders, it is an opportunity to gain political capital.
Lately Boris Johnson and his entourage have come under scrutiny dealing with scandal after scandal, and so for Johnson it was a chance to hang out with Biden who is arguably much more popular in the United States, that Boris Johnson is currently in the United Kingdom.
This is what made the choice of gifts between the two leaders, all the more interesting. Biden reportedly gave Johnson an expensive bike. Johnson, on the other hand, allegedly gave Biden a photo of the great African-American abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass.
Douglass in his day was and remains highly respected for his life’s work, escaping slavery and becoming a powerful spokesperson defending black freedom in the United States.
While of course systemic racism, especially anti-black policing in the United States, remains a serious problem, Boris Johnson himself runs both a country that remains institutionally racist, experts say, and chairs a government. which has failed to rectify the ongoing Windrush scandal caused by the Home Office that has devastated black communities.
Boris Johnson himself has been shown to have made a litany of anti-black and racist comments in the past, which have offended many. context, the simple truth is, if you read them, that there is no other context in which to read them, other than how they were clearly intended to be written.
What makes Johnson’s gift of a picture of Frederick Douglass to Joe Biden even worse is the official reason and explanation suggested by many media outlets.
Apparently Boris gave Biden the photo of Douglass as a sort of nod to the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place and continue to take place across the United States.
Ironically, many critics have argued that Boris Johnson’s government has taken action to crack down on Black Lives Matter protests here in the UK.
The Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is on the verge of becoming law in Britain, experts say, will give police the power to end any protests they decide to end.
The same legal scholars also point out that the bill has been really pushed, after the government saw the power of Black Lives Matter and environmental protests last year and ultimately worried about the power of such gatherings.
Of course, people will interpret the meeting between Johnson and Biden in their own way, but knowing the history of the two countries and understanding Johnson’s track record of inflammatory comments and criticism of his government, it is not difficult to understand. why many think of Frederick Douglass’s image less as a gift and more as a twisted, tasteless joke. The great Frederick Douglass has spent his life fighting against the kind of racist ideas Johnson has been accused of reflecting in his writings on several occasions.
Richard Sudan is a journalist, writer and television reporter working for Press TV.
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