Part 169- Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

Part 169- Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

As you may know, there was a major event that happened on Thursday. Queen Elizabeth II passed away at 96. Everyone has been sending condolences and tributes for her, a beloved monarch. However, I’m not going to do that. I’m sorry if you would expect me to, but I’m not. The main purpose of this is to remember the former Queen, yes, but I’m not going to talk about how kind and amazing she was. I’m going to talk about what no one talks about. 

{Source: BBC}
Before I get into this blog, I first want to point out a few things. First, I don’t know the specific titles or way to address the Queen other than Her Majesty or the Queen, so forgive me if I don’t address her properly or mess up. Secondly, I’m going to be extremely honest here. I know the Queen has passed away just recently, but I want to express my honest opinions and thoughts on Her Majesty, no matter what. If anything offends you, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take back anything I say.

Anyways, let’s get started.

In general, I’m not a big fan of the British Royal Family. I wouldn’t say I hate them, but then again I also don’t love/like them either. Being Indian-American gives you two different perspectives on this. As an Indian, my family has a very strong dislike towards the British Royal Family for their actions towards my people in the past. They have a right to-considering the British empire stole, destroyed, and practically killed our culture, history, people, future, and much more. They left the country with almost nothing, taking everything for themselves. However, as an American, they’re seen as allies. We don’t exactly treat Her as a great figure in our lives such as the President, but she still remains a huge celebrity that many admire and follow. I don’t necessarily get into that, but that has a mild influence on me. So when I have these two things clashing in me- one that hates the Royal family and one that admires them, it’s hard to have a proper opinion. 

You see, every time I hear about how the British ruined the culture of my people, I get frustrated. I feel that same burning hatred for them as my family. But it’s not as strong. I can’t really feel upset at them as strongly as my family, despite knowing what they’ve done. For example, when I heard about the Queen’s passing, I was shocked. It felt like something fake. I mean, the Queen had lived to be 96 and celebrated 70 years of reign. For as long as I had known, she was the Queen. The great Queen of the United Kingdom, who I’ve heard and known all my life. It was an unexpected moment to suddenly know she was gone. At that time I felt a little remorseful for the British. (Perhaps I’m too sympathetic, but I felt bad for them.) For the British, the Queen was someone dear to them. Seeing the number of people mourning for her, I felt bad for them.

When I came home from school that day, my parents and I had a conversation on this. We talked about what was happening, the responses towards Her passing, and what we thought of it. Or mainly, what my parents thought of it.

I keep talking about knowing “what she did” and about this burning hatred, but I’m not explaining it very well, aren’t I? Let’s break it down.

The British Royal Family are racist, lying, thieves who have not only stolen from India, but also many other countries during their reign. They stole artifacts, precious treasures, wealth, knowledge, spices, and destroyed the culture, history, and life of them, as well as brutally killed and tortured so many people. All while the Royal Family enjoyed the goods and treasures stolen. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Queen Victoria. Among many titles, she is also given one that I find completely ridiculous. ‘Empress of India’. I find it quite ridiculous how she can be considered the ‘Empress of India’ when she barely cared for us as her subjects. It is stated that she ”had a particular fascination with the country, and a passion for Indian culture swept through Britain in the late 19th century.” She supposedly was so in love with a country she had never stepped foot in, and fought so hard for the title of “Empress of India.” But what has she ever done to deserve that title? She’s never stepped foot there, nor spared anything for the people. She loves their curry and culture, yet her own people take the Indians’ land and spices for her to experience it. 

{Source: History.com}
When Indians rebelled in 1857, they felt that their traditions were undermined. The British were trying to westernize India. They replaced Indian aristocracy with British officials, challenging the religious beliefs of Hindus, and tried to break down the caste system as well as remove legal obstacles for remarriage of Hindu widows. First of all, that’s wrong. Although what traditions and practices were followed at that time were wrong and messed up, getting in the middle of it and trying to completely change a culture is worse. The British completely interfered and tried to change an entire society into someone they’re not. The British wished to “create. A properly articulated system of education from the primary school to the university”. Sure, that would be helpful. However, it doesn’t mean to wipe out the entire history and knowledge we already had, and starting over from scratch. Yes, some other things that probably weren’t taught in India at that time could have been learned as well. But that does not mean you wipe out everything for your own ways. 
Indians brutally murdered British women and children in that rebellion. Yes, it’s wrong and unjust. However, the results after were so much worse. The Queen called it “revolting barbarity” after the Indians’ actions, and not when other worse things were already going on before the rebellion. The punishment of sentenced rebels being tied over the mouths of cannons and firing them, forcing Muslims or Hindus to eat beef and pork, licking buildings freshly stained with blood of the dead, tortures including searing with hot irons, dipping in wells and rivers until the victim is half suffocated, squeezing the testicles, putting pepper an families in the eyes or introducing them into the private parts of men and women, prevention fo sleep, nipping the flesh with pincers, suspension from the branches of a tree, imprisonment in a room used for storing line, or committing sexual violence against women. Both sides caused atrocities to innocent civilians. But how bad? Did the Queen even look at the civilians of the country she “loved so much”? If she did, wouldn’t she have taken better care of them and prevented a rebellion from forming? 
{Source: rediff.com}

Was it so necessary to introduce Western culture into an already blooming one? One more successful? What started out as a simple business led to a colonization and rule. A horrific one.

Over time as the British monarchy progressed, even worse, more cruel events occurred. One more significant event is the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. An estimate of those killed is between 379 and 1500+ people. And over 1,200 injured with 192 of whom were seriously injured. A large peaceful crowd gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh, and in response, the temporary Brigadier general, R.E.H. Dyer blocked the exits of Jallianwala Bagh before ordering his troops to shoot at the crowd.

{Source: theprint.in }
 They continued to shoot even as the protestors tried to flee. They continued firing until their ammunition was exhausted. General Dyer even reported to his superiors he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army” and to which they said his action was correct. In contrast, Winston Churchill called it an “unutterably monstrous” attack and a dreadful outrage in the whole of their history.

It’s funny. The same man who once called my people “ghastly people” and treated my culture as some useless nonsense condemned this barbaric act? How interesting.

Not only that, Queen Elizabeth II herself visited the site of the massacre, and said there were difficult episodes in the history of colonial rule. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know us Indians were such difficulties in your family’s reign. Even at that time, as she stood at that place and made a speech, she made no official apology. She placed a wreath at the memorial and still never apologized. How hypocritical is it to demand for an apology from Germany for their acts on Jews, when you still haven’t apologized for your acts towards Indians? Not just Indians, but also people from Ghana, Barbados, Kenya, Nigeria, The Gambia, Pakistan, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and so many more.

Not to mention the numerous amounts of history, wealth, artifacts,and treasures these countries have. In this, I have to say some Indians were incredibly stupid and upright idiots for actually giving away such important relics simply for a King who was visiting. But apart from that, the British took away so many things. An Indian prince who was supposedly a son to Queen Victoria gave her such an important diamond because she cared for him. But for what? He couldn’t even go back to his home, and died in a filthy motel in France. A prince. Especially one who was “like a son” to the Queen.

Unrelated but related note. I saw an Instagram reel a while ago. The girl was like, “Hey, I found out where to find lost/stolen things”, and she showed us The British Museum. (I’m not sure if it was The British Museum or another in the U.K.)

Another ironic thing for me is how Americans are so invested in this as well. I mean, I understand the U.K. is an ally and a great friend with the U.S., but wasn’t the entire purpose for America to get away from the British? Weren’t we the ones who wanted to create a nation for the people and created a government specifically designed to prevent one from having all the power? Wasn’t the entire Constitution written to give us rights that we were denied when we were under British rule? I understand that things are now clear between the two, but it’s incredibly ironic to me.

Not only that, in India, when an important event in such a sacred festival is taking place, the Queen’s funeral is being aired. I mean, pay full respects to the Queen all you want, but why are you airing this when something more precious to us is happening right now?

Another ironic and amusing thing about the British Royal Family is how they spent years treating those of a different color as trash and dirt, yet one of the members is actually a mixed race. Rachel Meghan Markle- now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex- is a mixed race of African American and Caucasian. The same Family who treated Africans and Indians like dirt, stole them from their families and brutally killed them, destroyed their culture and lifestyle, now has members of the same race in line for the throne. (Referring to Meghan and Harry’s children.)

{Source: elle.com}
Anyways, the main point I have is that I have very little to say regarding the death of the former Queen. She was a beloved monarch and leader for many, but not for me. I respect the love others had for her and have for the other members of the Royal Family, however I cannot reciprocate the same, nor should be expected to. I feel sympathy for the Commonwealth and U.K. Citizens that someone they cherish has passed away, however I cannot feel the same they do. I have no reason to, and most likely won’t until they have owned up to all their actions, and provided a sincere apology. Even then, I still may not like them nor forgive them.

At times like this where my parents express their dislike for the Royal Family, I can’t relate as much. I feel awful when I can’t reciprocate the same feelings. I’ve never grown up learning about British rule and I’ve never learned about these events in Indian history like my parents have. I’ve always been exposed to American history and culture, and that makes it harder for me to relate to my family. I’ve never grown up that way. I can only feel anger and frustration but not what my parents, along with many others whose families and people have suffered from the British, feel.

Speaking of that, Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University tweeted about the Queen’s death. She said, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.” Although she deleted it, Jeff Bezos quoted her tweet and said, “This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don’t think so. Wow.” To that, she tweeted, “If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequence of which those are alive today are still staying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star.”

To that, I agree with her. Why should she express anything other than disdain for someone who lets people get killed and wiped out. Especially when that person hasn’t even apologized for those actions, and refers to them as “difficult episodes”.

Anyways, that’s what I have to say regarding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Although it’s devastating she passed away, I cannot be expected to show anything but sympathy for those who loved her. ( I really don’t want to include the Royal Family, but seeing them as a family who lost a very cherished member of their family, I do feel a little sorry for them.) Everyone have a wonderful weekend, and see you next week.

Sources:

Livemint. “Carneige Mellon Prof’s Tweet on Queen Sparks Fury.” Mint, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.livemint.com/news/world/queen-elizabeth-ii-s-death-reignites-britain-s-colonialism-scars-11662706870795.html.

“When Queen Elizabeth II Stopped Short of Apologising for Jallianwala Massacre, Husband Phillip Questioned Number of dead-India News ,.” Firstpost, 9 Sept. 2022, www.firstpost.com/india/when-queen-elizabeth-ii-stopped-short-of-apologising-for-jallianwala-massacre-husband-phillip-questioned-number-of-dead-11215011.html.

Evans, Elinor. Queen Victoria: How and Why Did She Become Empress of India? 30 Aug. 2022, www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/victoria-rise-of-an-empress.

Holmes, Elizabeth. “We Will Never See Another Queen of England.” The Cut, 10 Sept. 2022, www.thecut.com/2022/09/elizabeth-was-the-last-queen-of-england.html.

“Indian Mutiny | History, Causes, Effects, Summary, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 Aug. 2022, www.britannica.com/event/Indian-Mutiny.

Dugan, Emily. “British Royal Family’s New Line of Succession After Queen’s Death.” The Guardian, 10 Sept. 2022, www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/09/british-royal-family-line-of-succession-queen-death.

“Jallianwala Bagh Massacre | Causes, History, and Significance.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/event/Jallianwala-Bagh-Massacre. Accessed 10 Sept. 2022.

“Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II.” Commonwealth, thecommonwealth.org. Accessed 10 Sept. 2022. 

Part 168- Teen Court

Part 168- Teen Court

Recently I’ve been participating in something called Teen Court. No it’s not because I’m in trouble. (I have a funny story about that that I’ll mention later.) It’s because I wanted to see the court process as well as practice making decisions on serious things. Although Teen Court doesn’t deal with cases such as murder or kidnappings, they do deal with things that are serious for teens. Ex: Drug paraphernalia, speeding, assault, etc.

I’ve seen the process twice now, which I am extremely lucky to have. When I first applied I accidentally misunderstood the purpose and though that I had to have some class C misdemeanor to participate. I got extremely anxious and the court supervisor calmed me down and offered me the opportunity to observe the trials. I went for the first time and witnessed two of their more serious cases. Those include an official court and attorneys who argue for your case. I have mad respect for those attorneys. I remember seeing 2 girls who absolutely amazed me. One of them completely wiped the case clean. She presented her case so calmly and was so cool in her rebuttals. I was really impressed with how she performed. The other wasn’t as powerful as the other, but she still had a really interesting way of asking questions. I also liked how she presented her argument and how she concluded.

The second time I went was last week. I had asked after the first two cases were over if I could come back in to watch once again. However, instead of just observing, the court supervisor allowed me to also participate in the process as this was a more minor case. This is something I’m extremely grateful for. When I signed up there were 90 other kids in front of me. I had been expecting to get an actual opportunity maybe in December or so, but I was lucky and got to go before my time. It was really exciting but also scary. I had never participated in something like this before and didn’t know what to do.

Let me explain how Teen Court works. ( I don’t remember the exact process of the first cases I saw, so I’ll do my best to explain.) I participate in the Southlake Town Hall Teen Court System, so it may be different or similar to other courts.

“Welcome to Volunteer Southlake.” Welcome to Volunteer Southlake | Southlake, TX – Official Website, https://www.cityofsouthlake.com/97/Volunteer-Southlake

 So there are two different kinds of ways a case is handled. For the more serious offenses such as underage alcohol possession or consumption or drug paraphernalia, there are trials with attorneys. After the jury and defendant take an oath, the offense first states their case. Then the defense. After that there’s a closing statement given to the jury and a final statement the defendant can give to explain themselves if wanted. The jury then goes into another room where they all make a decision. In Teen Court there aren’t really punishments. There is a minimum and maximum amount of volunteer hours given based on the severity of the offense as well as a certain number of jury terms. This is usually set by judges and cannot be changed. The jury makes a decision to assign the defendant a number of hours between that range according to what they have seen and then announce the decision once agreed upon.

For the other type of cases, the defendant and their guardian sit with a group of jurors and a supervisor. The jurors ask the questions instead and the defendant answers. The supervisor asks if there’s anything the defendant wants to say, and then the bailiff escorts them out of the room as the jurors make a decision. I was one of the jurors who got to ask a few questions and make a decision. In this I think something I learned was paying attention to every detail. We have to take in everything we’ve learned from the defendant, their case, and the given circumstances to make a decision. A decision made for one of the cases was based on a small detail I forgot to take into account for. Although a different decision seemed the better one in my opinion, it was that small detail that made the final more reasonable with a better mindset kept for the defendant. 

“Welcome to Volunteer Southlake.” Welcome to Volunteer Southlake | Southlake, TX – Official Website, https://www.cityofsouthlake.com/97/Volunteer-Southlake

I think Teen Court is a good system. I like how it’s giving an opportunity for kids to correct their options in a way that can help them learn and give them a second chance. Instead of sending them to juvenile detention or something similar for their actions, it’s letting them get a decision made by kids of their age to decide for themselves. It allows kids who have been in their shoes to do the same. (Here’s the funny story)

So during my last interaction there was a short break in between the next case and everyone was talking about speeding tickets. I realized then that all these kids were completing their volunteer service hours by participating in this trial. They all were discussing what they were there for. Except me. The kid in front of me asked what speed I was going at and I told him I didn’t drive. He asked whether I assaulted someone. I said I was there to observe. The kid just nodded his head. Anyways, I just felt good/awkward that I was the only one without an offense. I didn’t really realize the majority of the jurors would be kids trying to complete their offenses.

Moving on. It just allows kids who have been in the same situation as them to make a decision based on experience and a similar mindset to help. On an unrelated note, the craziest takeaway from that last experience was that I actually found out one of them is an upperclassman at my school. Here’s how it goes. I see him on Tuesday for the court, and then two days later as I walk to math I see him walking the other direction with his friends. I almost double-take to make sure it was him. IT WAS. I saw him the day after that in the fine arts hall. And now I see him almost every day in some way. I mean, a Pokémon backpack and tall figure is noticeable in the crowd, right? Every time I see him, I can’t help but think, “Oh, there’s the kid from court who got pulled over for speeding. Huh. Wonder if his friends know.”

In terms of whether Teen Court is a good or bad influence, I would say good. It does several things, including giving kids a second chance, time to volunteer, learn about the law, and a learning opportunity to make better decisions. Although I’m not participating because of some offense. It’s a great learning opportunity for me- or other potential lawyers/attorneys- to learn more about law and court. For me I can learn how court works and the sort of decisions made based on presented evidence and arguments. It can help to learn how to take everything into consideration when making a decision, and making the best choice. I think I can definitely learn a lot about the court from these opportunities in order to become a better attorney.