Lessons from Amer­ica (I)

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

All through last week, wher­ever I went in Amer­ica, the dis­cus­sion was the same: Black peo­ple are an en­dan­gered specie in God’s Own Coun­try. First, it was a de­fence­less 37-year-old Al­ton Ster­ling that was shot and killed by a white po­lice­man in Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana, spurring protests and na­tional me­dia cov­er­age.

Two by­stander videos cap­tured Ster­ling’s ex­e­cu­tion by the po­lice. He had been sell­ing CDs out­side the Triple S Food Mart in Ba­ton Rouge when a home­less man ap­proached him and asked for money. The man was so per­sis­tent that Ster­ling had to show him his gun as de­ter­rent. ”Leave me alone,” he re­port­edly told the man. The home­less man then used his cell phone to call 911. Ap­par­ently the po­lice be­lieve that ev­ery black man is guilty un­til proven in­no­cent. They didn’t give Ster­ling a chance. They killed him in cold blood.

Barely 24 hours later, Phi­lando Castile, a 31-year-old man who worked as a lo­cal pub­lic school nu­tri­tion ser­vices su­per­vi­sor in Min­nesota was fa­tally shot by po­lice. His killing was broad­cast live by his girl­friend sit­ting right be­side him in the car. She told the world that they had been stopped by po­lice for a bro­ken rear light. Do peo­ple have to die in Amer­ica for a bro­ken rear light? Her 4-year-old daugh­ter was in the back seat and sat in hor­ror as her mum told the of­fi­cer, ’You shot four bul­lets into him, sir!’

By early Thurs­day, pro­test­ers had be­gun gath­er­ing out­side Min­nesota Gov. Mark Day­ton’s res­i­dence. The gover­nor ex­tended his con­do­lences to those who knew Castile and later, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence, ques­tioned the of­fi­cer’s re­ac­tion to a mo­torist who was not threat­en­ing him in any way. “No­body should be shot and killed in Min­nesota for ... a tail­light be­ing out of func­tion. No­body should be shot and killed while they are seated still in their car …” he said. Day­ton ad­mit­ted he didn’t think the shoot­ing would have oc­curred if Castile and oth­ers in his car had been white.

A sim­i­lar protest in Dallas, Texas, took an un­ex­pected turn when a lone gun man, Micah Xavier John­son, 25, of Mesquite, Texas (a mil­i­tary vet­eran who’d served in Afghanistan) killed five white po­lice­men, in­jur­ing six oth­ers be­fore he was taken down by bomb blast. He was black and all his vic­tims were white. Tit for tat? Where would “an eye for an eye” lead Amer­ica?

Racism is alive and well in Amer­ica. The supreme irony of it all is that the US ad­ver­tises it­self as the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. Land of the free in­deed, where ev­ery black man who steps out of the door may come back in a body bag; home of the brave in­deed where cow­ardly white po­lice­men rou­tinely shoot their black com­pa­tri­ots in cold blood as if they were an­telopes or racoons.

Amer­ica has to face up to its racial prob­lem. To deny that it ex­ists is to postpone the evil day. Not all whites are racist just as not all blacks are demons. Amer­ica has a lot of in­tro­spec­tion to do. One white Amer­i­can who has been liv­ing and work­ing in black neigh­bour­hoods for 23 years (he iden­ti­fies him­self Phatty Gyrlz) was so riled by the lat­est killings that he re­leased a video shar­ing his thoughts on so­cial me­dia:

“Let’s look at Amer­ica. We brought blacks into this coun­try as slaves. We never in­tended them to be any­thing other than a slave but they be­gan to grow in num­ber and in power and even­tu­ally they fought their way to some free­dom. So we be­came even more cruel and to keep our black Amer­i­cans down we lynched them but yet they rose, so then we used the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to keep them down, to con­tain them, to de­stroy them, but yet they rose - and they’re ris­ing. Then we built prisons and jails to hold them, yet they rose and so now we are do­ing ex­actly what the Pharaoh did (to Jews) at the end: send­ing out a de­cree to kill them. So un­til we ad­mit that when we wrote this con­sti­tu­tion that all men are cre­ated equal that we never in­tended it to in­clude our black broth­ers and sis­ters, our na­tion may end up fac­ing ex­actly what the Egyp­tians faced when they re­fused to let God’s peo­ple go. *

So I’m go­ing to say this to my fel­low white Amer­i­cans, that the blood­shed that is on its way is not on the hands of our fel­low black Amer­i­cans but is on our hands. We are the ones that are re­fus­ing to let God’s peo­ple go. We are the ones that are re­fus­ing to ac­knowl­edge that we do not value our black broth­ers and sis­ters as equal in­di­vid­u­als or equal Amer­i­cans as us white men. And to my black broth­ers and sis­ters, the racial is­sues as I’ve said have been there from the very foun­da­tion but why we see it more now is be­cause there’s a shift. *

White men have been at the head since the foun­da­tion but we’ve got a black pres­i­dent and you know we’ve done ev­ery­thing in our power to keep him from re­ally chang­ing things. Now we have another mi­nor­ity ris­ing to the top, a white fe­male! What does that say? Those of us who are white men and who have been at the head are now start­ing to see and fear that we are go­ing to be­come the tail. And we know what we’ve done to you and so now we are fear­ful that you’re go­ing to do to us what we have done to you. But I will say this - I’ve lived in a black com­mu­nity for 23 years I’ve never been treated the way that this coun­try has treated my black Amer­i­cans so I call out my white Amer­i­cans to say we bet­ter re­pent, ac­knowl­edge and change be­cause if we don’t, I just want to again say this - the blood­shed that we will ex­pe­ri­ence is on our hands….”* To Be Con­tin­ued

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