George Floyd. The name has been all over the media in recent days. As an African, it is uncultured to speak ill of the dead but if I’m being honest, George Floyd, was by no means so remarkable a person that his death be the subject of a civil unrest in and out the United States. The circumstances of his death in the city of Minneapolis, however, are of international interest. With the crushing force of a knee of a cop on his neck, George Floyd was unable to breathe and died in Police custody.
The incident was captured on camera and soon found its way to various media outlets in and out the United States. Citizens in major cities across the US (including New York, Washington, Minneapolis) took to the streets and have been protesting against Police brutality against minority groups (especially people of colour) in the US. Minnesota State security machinery has deployed and the US president, Donald Trump threatened to send in federal military troops if the unrest continued after tweeting “if the looting starts the shooting starts.”
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” the Canadian Premier, Justin Trudeau said, adding that “it is a time to pull people together, it is a time to listen, to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also came out on the issue saying “The racist and fascist that led to the death of George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis as a result of torture has not only deeply saddened all of us, but it has also become one of the most painful manifestations of the unjust order we stand against across the world.”
All this international outrage has been triggered by an arrest for using a fake $20 bill that led to the death of an “innocent” black man. It is really sad that it is 2020 and black people are still victims of such inhumane treatment centuries after the advent of slavery that forcefully brought black people in “the new world” and have been the target of security forces ever since.
But black people have not taken this abuse without a fight; several movements have been started over the years fighting for the emancipation of the black people and being granted the right to live. That people have to fight for a right to live and be part of productive forces by virtue of their skin colour is hard to comprehend.
Black people started to have basic freedoms and constitutional rights in the US after the American civil war when slave trade was abolished in the 19th century. White supremacists and racists continued to fight against “allowing” black people their rights as human beings. Even then, black people had not seen any significant improvement in their economic status which, of course, translated into a corresponding social status in the pits.
The situation of the black people in America started to look up as the 19th century came to an end when they were “allowed” to have education opportunities that would soon help to alleviate the indignities they continued to suffer at the hands of white supremacists. Educated black people started to organize movements and protests to advocate further for equal freedoms as the white citizens.
The movements and their heroes have made a huge impact and Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream came true when the US voted a black President, the sensational Barrack Hussein Obama.
I could write up all the black heroes and movements that continue to reiterate that #BlackLiveMatter. But this page won’t be enough. But I can’t help but be angry that these black heroes have to fight to be human at all.
There is a growing movement now in the US that is advocating that black people move back to Africa. In fact, Ghana has responded to the movement and showing willingness to accept the fleeing citizens and grant them citizenship in the West African country.
But I wonder still if fleeing to Africa is a solution to the inhumane treatment of black people across the globe. Africans on the continent are not completely free of discrimination and inhumane treatment. Africans continue to face discrimination in form of inconveniencing visa restrictions, limited economic opportunities and in some cases denial of service especially in South Africa. Additionally, Donald Trump moved to institute more restriction to Africans (especially in Nigeria and Somalia) entering the US dubbing countries from the continent “shit-hole” countries.
Recently in China during this corona virus pandemic, black people were the target of Chinese nationals who denied them services (accommodation, welfare) on account of them being carriers of the Chinese virus who might infect them. The irony is really the greatest of all time.
I, therefore, wish to reiterate on the issues that have exacerbated the continued violation of rights of black people across the globe and how Black Power continues to fight for the right to live as human beings in a series of articles. I look forward to seeing you soon.