It’s simple. When you see a murder happening in front of your eyes your emotions can’t be controlled.
And, that’s what is happening around the globe to protest against George Floyd’s killing, the reason-racism.
After global protests, a majority of the Minneapolis city council has pledged to dismantle the local police department. Two-thirds of the councillors have said a “new model of public safety” would be created. Activists have called it a turning point.
But the damage has already been done.
The year 1919 is considered a watershed in the racial discrimination in the US. A 17-year old black boy Eugene Williams swam in Lake Michigan. Deeming it an unpardonable act of swimming in the wrong part of the lake, the white people stoned him to death.
Following this, the Chicago protest erupted killing 38 and injuring more than 500. Aghast with this violence, the city council formed a commission to study.
The commission found “systematic mob violence by the police”
Khalil Muhammed, professor of history, race and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School says, “black people are assigned the label of criminal, whether they are guilty or not and that process has been a vicious cycle in American history”
Even after a century, racial discrimination exists overtly in the world’s most powerful nation.
At the heart of racism are intolerance and the arrogance to accept all human beings as equal.
Now, from Canada to New Zealand there is grief and anger at the cold-blooded murder demanding justice.
Cutting across regions, nations, Africa stood in solidarity protesting against the daylight murder of unarmed George Floyd-a black American-in Minneapolis by a white police officer.
Rules of combat
“Discrimination in any form shall be considered an eternal sin and those who preach and practice it shall suffer forever,” says the Indian Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’ considered the world’s longest epic and believed to have been compiled around 5th century BC.
The epic basically centres around two families of brothers fighting for property which leads to people taking sides and culminating in what is called the ‘Greeat18 day war’. I would like to quote a few things which were agreed before the start of that war.
“Fighting shall be only from Dawn to dusk and multiple warriors must not attack a single warrior. No warrior shall kill or injure an unarmed or unconscious warrior.”
In laying down several conditions and agreed terms before the war, which has become immortal in history, it has been clearly said that the fight shall only be among the equals and in no circumstances, no person who is not taking part in the war shall be attacked.
What has been said in this epic about 3000 years ago, hold good even today. The white police officer, who killed Floyd, flouted the rules in all possible way.
Apart from governments and the African Union issuing official condemnations, the people of Africa stood solemnly in expressing their strong protests. Academicians, Artists, Writers, Sportspersons, Industrialists, students et al joined in one voice-the message: end racism and colour doesn’t matter.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched the ANC-led alliance’s anti-racial campaign. Termed ‘Black Friday’ the alliance called upon the people to observe every Friday as ‘Black Friday’ to raise awareness against racist attitudes. The observance will also include wearing black on Fridays.
President Ramaphosa while condemning the killing said the white people believed they were superior to blacks and compared the killing of George Floyd to that of anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko.
He rightly pointed out that racism is the root cause of many other forms of discrimination and called upon the world to fight it with full vigour. The world would be better placed for all if all sorts of discrimination are eradicated he added.
As reactions across Africa were strong, the US embassies in Nairobi, Harare among others expressed regret over the killing and emphasised that an investigation is on.
Right to life is sacred
Killing is killing, irrespective of who does it and where it happens. The right to life of every individual is sacred and should be protected unless proven guilty beyond doubt by an upright and open judicial process and exhausting all legal challenges.
‘Black lives matter’ no question about it. I strongly support it.
But the internal conflicts within Africa itself worries me and make me think and introspect about the loss of millions of ‘Black lives’.
Blacks killing Blacks
The Rwandan genocide happened just a quarter of a century back. Close to a million black people were killed. And, the killers were blacks. ‘Black lives matter’ should have been here too.
South Sudanese fought tooth and nail against the oppression by the former president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir. Tens of thousands were killed in the rebellion. The killers and those killed were all blacks.
One of the main reasons for the conflict apart from other things was the religious divide between the north and south.
When South Sudan emerged as an independent nation, hopes raised for the people and country. Unfortunately, the friends-turned-foe Salva Kir and Riek Machar fought each other with their groups leading to thousands of ‘blacks being killed’.
The list of civil wars war leading to loss of ‘black lives’ within Africa is well documented where the killer and those killed were of the same colour.
Others too suffer
Similarly, the minority whites also suffered during the liberation movement in Africa. History has recorded the atrocities committed by ZANU-PF activists against white farmers in Zimbabwe during and after their liberation struggle.
The list of the killing of people by the same race is endless. Joseph Kony of LRA in Uganda, Bosco Ntaganda of Congo are unsavoury examples of such killings.
Education, employment, social imbalance, feudal mindset, lack of women is some of the reasons for the internal conflict in Africa.
In countries like the US and many in Europe which has substantial people of African origin, there is a distinct imbalance in the Police force and law-enforcing authorities.