Reflections on being Black
THE cold-blooded shooting the other day at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, carried out by Dylaan Roof, a 21-year-old white man, killing nine people of African descent, would have been treated as another criminal activity of a mentally deranged American youth.
However, coming on the heels of some recent widely circulated police-related killings of Americans of African descent – Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others – this confessed racism-motivated killing by Mr. Roof seemed to suggest an emergent reprehensible anti-black racist spring.
This inhumanity should have no place in any society and the bigots behind it belong in the swinery. Indeed, the killings may also have given credence to the speculation that there is a grand design by some white supremacists in the United States to give public vent to the deep-seated hatred of blacks, which has been glossed over by decades of white leadership.
If this is the case, then people of African descent or the black diaspora communities are endangered. This dangerous trend raises questions as to what might have triggered the offensive against blacks.
Though the pockets of racial brutality and killings against Americans of African descent might seem isolated, the frequency and gravity of this offensive are too organized and systemic to be viewed as merely co-incidental.
Is the spring of racial killings a subtle indication of the white supremacist’s rejection of an African-American President? Are the killings a means of tainting and putting pressure on Barack Obama’s administration? Is it a reaction to some policy taken by African leading powers against the West? If a white man were to be presiding over America, would the killings have taken this spiraling intensity? Whilst the gruesome event had occurred in the church thereby justifying the emotional diffusion of acts of forgiveness and mercy on the suspect, a powerful voice has to speak out to denounce this hate crime and call it what it is.
As it is, indications of presidential hamstringing are observable at the White House. President Obama was decisively cautious in his reaction to the event.
Even his carefully worded reaction did not contain the word racism, or any of its derivatives. He seemed to have preferred viewing the incident as gun-running rather than as a brazen racial killing.
“Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun…We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Whatever the sentiments of an intently politically correct White House or the indomitable power brokers of the U.S., President Obama has a burden to speak against the anti-black passion in the United States. Else, by his evasive speeches in times like this, he would be giving the impression to the global black community that his government is sacrificing the well-being of the black community on the altar of a controlled presidency.
America has always prided itself as the bastion of the oppressed. In fact, the very social ethos of the various racial nationalities that make the American people is tied around resistance to subjugation and oppression.
America is portrayed by its founding fathers as well as the custodians of the American national value as the land of the free. On the other hand, the discrimination, brutality and prejudicial treatment of blacks and African-Americans, either by instruments of state or re-born supremacists, are a negation of that pristine value.
By its continued racial discrimination against blacks, a section of the American white supremacists, through powerful instruments of oppression and terror – namely the police and the judicial system – is entrenching a hate culture against black people. They are taking the world back decades into the dark times of savagery against blacks.
This trend, with its unjustified scape-goatism, is capable of replication in other western countries with a large presence of black people. And it is a dangerous precedent that may boomerang.
The history of the abuse of power should be instructive in dealing with this escalating racial violence. That America is the most powerful nation on earth should guide its authorities to temper such impression of military grandeur and natural self-worth with commonsensical social engineering.
The value of such claims to power lies in its use to protect and further the cause of the weak in the same way it has done for the stigmatized homosexual minorities. If America as a nation lays claim to anything good and beautiful it has acquired in the cause of its nationhood, it did not earn such from the white community alone; in the same way anything bad and ugly in the United States did not originate by virtue of the existence of the African-American people.
The totality of all that makes America today and its greatness has the historical and cultural imprints of its different peoples, especially those of African descent.
This newspaper repeats its earlier admonition that Nigeria has a responsibility as the symbolic home of the global black community and the most populous black nation on earth to protect the interest of the black man in the world. How? By giving hope to all black people.
To do this, Nigeria must not be aloof to the happenings in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world with a strong presence of black people. It must express concern and be vociferous on actions and policies against its peoples. It must also arise to put its house in order by showing good examples in governance, leadership, transparency, accountability, rule of law and social welfare.