Lessons from America (I)
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