This is not my usual post on mental health and wellness, but with recent events that have been happening, it’s OK to not be in a “mental wellness” state and just want to vent. Besides, venting can be a good mental release too.
I’m sure by now we have all witnessed or at least read about the recent horrific killing of an unarmed African-American man in Minneapolis, USA. Personally, I didn’t watch the footage because I know that I’m an empath, and something of this magnitude would’ve consumed me to extreme levels of anxiety and depression. However, I was moved by the substantial support that the Black lives matter (BLM) movement received from the Africans all across the diaspora demanding justice for the killing of Goerge Floyd. I was moved, however, not surprised.
Since the beginning of BLM in 2013 in response to the acquittal murdering of another young black life, Trayvon Martin, the movement has continued to receive considerable support from African communities in their fight for justice and equality against a systematic racial government in the U.S. #BlackLivesMatter protests, have also echoed in the corners of Africa in the past of previous murders of many others such as Philando Castile, Mike Brown and Alton Sterling. However, I can’t help but observe the cricket noise by the BLM movement in the U.S. in regards to social justice issues in Africa.
While standing up against injustices of inequality, racism and poverty that have even lead to some migrating from their lands leading to death and risking enslavement in countries like Libya (incase you didn’t know, yes slave trade of black Africans in Libya is still a discussion of the 21st century!). Africans continued to protest for their freedom at the same time rendering an adjuvant voice for BLM in the U.S. However, when #OccupyNigeria, #FeesMustFall, #SlaveTradeLibya, and the many likes were occurring on the African continent, I can’t help to recognize the absence of the BLM.
African governments have been known to inflict excessive force on their citizens, primarily those in impoverished, marginalized communities. Therefore, the recent pandemic that forced a lot of governments to implement lockdown regulations which included curfews further vividly exposed the maltreatment of citizens by the militant and police force. South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria are but a few who have reported a rise in the death toll of innocent black lives because of police brutality because of failure to adhere to lockdown regulation. Where were those chants of BLM??
Furthermore, about a month ago, China received massive backlash and criticism from several African governments including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya for the mistreatment of Africans by the hands of Chinese officials in the city of Guangzhou, China. Africans were forcefully subjected to mandatory Covid19 testing and quarantine and across China, Africans were being denied access to public places like shopping malls, hospitals and even McDonalds. Several human rights groups in Africa wrote an open letter to the African Union demanding immediate action over the racist and inhumane treatment of Africans by Chinese citizens. Again I ask, where were the chants of BLM?
In both of the above cases, there has not been any support from BLM in aid of Africans. Africans continue to receive maltreatment on the African continent and world at large and only have their own voice. BLM has indicated that they drew their inspiration from the civil rights movement, including Pan-Africanism as well as the Anti-apartheid movement. Therefore, to suggest that they are unaware of the social issues that Africans continue to fight would be discrediting their motivation for establishment. Dr Krystal Strong, an associate professor in Education and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania, has eloquently phrased it in no better way I can say myself:
“If the BLM movement is to dismantle (global) White supremacy and to meaningfully interrogate axes of power and privilege within the “global Black family,” we cannot afford to be insular or selectively transnational, especially given our implication in imperial power relations, which continue to imperil the African region, in particular.”Dr Krystal Strong
If the aim of the #BlackLivesMatter ideology is to be global, I believe it’s fair to ask why this movement has not extended its global influence to the struggles of black lives in Africa.
My honest, and unpopular opinion is this: Just as the widespread belief that the U.S. system wasn’t built to protect black lives in the U.S., I believe #BlackLivesMatter wasn’t established for all black lives.
I must remind you that the BLM movement was established with the aim to campaign against the violent treatment of black lives and the systematic racial criminal justice system in the U.S. What I believe most of us Africans can draw from this is the inspiration to persevere in our fight against the post-colonial disparities that continue to inflict the marginalized communities. The fight against the supreme structures of white supremacy in our land and our collapsing self-serving governments is far from done. But also, most importantly, SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITIES!
I was stunned to see the headlines on a lot of media outlets: African Leaders, Joined by U.S. Embassies, Condemn Police Killing in Minneapolis. African leaders, including from Namibia, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria, took a stand to condemn the violence inflicted on African-American by U.S. police. Don’t get me wrong here. I wholeheartedly condemn this and am appalled by the continuous excessive force of police brutality in the black community in the U.S. However, when you have officials who don’t address these same heinous acts in their own homes, it does make me wonder whether ALL black lives really do matter?
And lastly, to address my own community. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with an African who decides to use their platform to show support for BLM. However, I do think there is something very telling about an African who chooses to voice their disdain of injustices only on trending matters of BLM and never addresses the injustices that occur within their communities.
Furthermore, the popular response that has echoed my screen recently “But, we don’t know about that those issues” has been the most depressing and disheartening for me. Growing up in Africa, we know that there is ALWAYS something happening. The lack of education amongst some of us is what is hindering the necessary support. There is a famous African proverb that says:
Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.– African Proverb
We are not seeking to educate ourselves on issues afflicting our communities. And worse more, some who do see this local and continental issues, scroll past them to advocate for the trending topic.
So again I ask, do all black lives really matter??