Do Black Lives Matter? Specifically from an African context?
Let me preface by saying, human nature is funny. We often times don’t seem to care about issues of injustice until it pertains to us or it threatens our sense of security. I had to take some time to reflect and step outside of myself to provide a holistic response to the best of my knowledge.
Because I am a black woman in America. Because when I walk outside the door I am automatically associated with a legacy, a history of a people that at the onset of coming to terms with my own bicultural identity I did not resonate with at times. Black lives matter because my middle class status does not protect me from the pain of injustice that those who share my hue have experienced. Black lives matter because I have to work twice as hard to prove my competency at work. Black lives matter because I stand on the backs of those who in chains, and in struggle for civil rights, and to be acknowledged as human beings, ultimatly produced some of the greatest art, inventions, ideas and culture that humanity has ever known, for those stories, the told and untold…Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter because my son will grow up in the United States, because 1 out of 3 black men in the United States is expected to go to jail. Black Lives Matter because at some point I will have to educate my son about his rich Ghanian identity, in hopes that by inculcating him with a sense of pride in his ancestry, he will not have to face the very painful reality of racial prejudice in America. As though knowing that he is a decedent of Mansa Musa of Timbuktu will give him enough pride, will give him a sense of enough self-worth and dignity to shield him from the pain that I cannot protect him from for the rest of his life in America.
From the African context, I think the silence on this particular issue is not so much due to apathy as a silent recognition that injustice occurs in many forms, in ones that we do not often address in our own communities. The reality of class and the security and comfort that comes with it. Why would any African align themselves with a movement that could rock the boat and threaten the very sense of eluded security they have in the United States as a result of the silence? After all, we are all here to exploit the opportunities this country affords and take and go build our homes in Ghana…end of story right? I digress.
How can Black Lives Matter when in our own countries our corrupt leaders subjugate the poor? How can black lives matter when black on black violence destroys our communities? How can black lives matter when our educational attainment rates (particularly among our black men) are low? When does the shouting end and the doing begin? When do our dollars start to speak for what really matters? When do we support our own businesses, our own entrepreneurs, our own dreamers and thinkers? Do black lives matter when our political and corporate elites find it convenient for them to exploit for their own gain? Do black lives matter only to prolong the effects of the “race card” so that the few who thrive on ambition can do so at the expense and exploitation of those who are in great need?
When will we have the courage to look at ourselves as a community and take individual steps to reclaim the power that was taken from us initially but now we take from ourselves in turn?
Simonetta K. is a Ghanaian-American woman, wife, and new mother to a handsome little boy. She is passionate about family, politics, and culture. You can follow Simonetta on instagram @NettaSim86
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