Newmarket where I work is hardly the Auckland suburb you think of in association with the phrase “Black Power.” It’s a place where independent fashion designers wrestle against— and try to be noticed by — the big chain stores in the huge fancy new mall. It’s in the prized “Double Grammar Zone”, so aspirational boys and girls can live there and go to Auckland’s most prestigious public schools. It’s on the train line just a stop or two from downtown so a salaryman can take a miserable flat and work too much. Newmarket has parks and high-end retirement complexes and software businesses.
But this plaque with its clenched fist sits just at the entrance to my parking garage, next to a ramshackle fence bordering a vacant lot awaiting its inevitable mid-rise building. I don’t have any idea why or how long it’s been there.
What a bleak picture I snapped. The washed-out sky makes the whole scene look downright gritty, but the adjacent cupcake place and designer sushi bar (nasturtiums! purple rice!) would certainly disagree. If I were in a mood to ponder I would be thinking about the enormous power — and associated responsibility — of the journalists and Instagrammers we rely on to tell us how it is.
There is truth in this picture… that Black Power fist lives in that place. And of course, racism is a problem here like everywhere. But it’s not the whole truth, and it turns out — on this day of acquittal — that matters.