Unmasking racial injustice in an era of wearing masks

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As the world is coming to terms and heeding  calls by health professionals to wear masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a not so rare but often concealed occurrence happened in the streets of Minneapolis; a black man died at the hands of a white police officer.

As Americans faced extreme measures to contain a pandemic with nothing more than just face masks to protect them, they met the unmasked truth about racial injustice and police brutality  towards the black  African American freedom and right to express themselves freely from the justice and law enforcement system.Death at the hands of white police officers is a stark reality that many black African Americans have to contend with each and every day  as step out of their houses. There are many unspoken and unwritten codes that black men have to abide by in order to get through the day in America. These codes have been passed on from generation to generation since slave boats first docked on America’s shores.

When our African brothers and sisters were abducted from Africa to work as slaves, they adopted unwritten codes that would at least give them a chance to survive on plantations or wherever the white man saw it fit for them to work. Slaves knew that if you dared question the authority of a white man, you die! You simply do what they say no questions asked.

Today slavery has been abolished and through much hard work, protest and also violence, the  black African community in America has attained certain liberties on paper that gives the impression that this community is now free. Well why would us Africans even question the freedom of black Americans? Are they not in the ‘free world’? Is their country not revered to be the best democracy in the World and with the most formidable human rights ever accorded anywhere who would doubt the freedoms of our black brothers?

We are mistaken; the machinery that oppressed blacks and pronounced racial injustice is still well oiled and in order in America. It managed to show its face in a video widely circulated on social media on the 25th of May 2020 which showed George Floyd, a 46-year-old resident of Minnesota, become yet another victim of police brutality as he was killed in police custody while unarmed.

It would seem as if the aggressors who historically have been white males have found a way into law enforcement and use this as their launch pad to mat out diabolical injustices on the black American community.

The whole world got a chance to see what many black Americans have been saying about the injustice nature perpetuated by the law enforcement in America as well as the skewed nature of the justice system that seems to be designed to keep the black man in chains.

The number of police killings in the US disproportionately only affect African Americans. Despite only making up 13 percent of the US population, Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police. 

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 440 persons per 100,000 sentenced to prison in 2017. The incarceration rate for Black Americans is more than three times higher than the overall U.S. rate at 1,549 per 100,000. Black Americans made up 33% of the sentenced prison population in 2017, despite comprising only about 13% of the U.S adult population.

Over their lifetime, Black men have a one in three chance of being sent to prison and are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White men.

It is said that once a thief is caught, a whole string of crimes if often solved, this is what happened in the George Floyd case. A single phenomenon explained a host of persistent social problems and revealed the realities of injustice to the black Americans.

This is what we saw unravelling in the United States this past week was a universal call for reform; George Floyds death prompted thousands of protestors to march in cities around the country demanding justice and an end to police violence. 

The family has condemned looting and violence and urged protesters to be peaceful but they did not minx their words and called for peace in one hand and justice in the other hand. And with this ammunition and the world country rallying behind them they stand a good chance of getting some reasonable level of justice.

However the extent of injustice in America is so severe that it’s not really an open and shut case, in fact in America less than 10 police officers have never been convicted of murder whilst on the job.

Over the past half-century, Black Americans have made substantial social and economic progress, gaining political rights that long  been denied to them, entering professions from which they had been blocked and largely overcoming centuries of overt racism and oppression

Black activists, scholars, and social commentators have raised awareness about the importance of diversity and shaped the national conversation around race and inequality. There has been a proliferation of Black writers, screenwriters, artists, poets, athletes and musicians who have become superstars in their respective fields. And the 21st century saw the election of the first Black American, Barack Obama, as president of the United States.

However, these very visible signs of improvement mask deep inequities that relegate tens of millions of Black Americans to second-class status, with far fewer opportunities to achieve good health, political influence, prosperity and security than other Americans. The majority of Americans have up till now been failing to recognize the magnitude of these problems.

The economic impact of mass incarceration on the Black community has been devastating. While incarceration makes success in the labor market more difficult in general, it is particularly harmful for Black Americans as formerly incarcerated Blacks have lower earnings than their White counterparts.

In conclusion we say to our brothers and sisters fighting for equal treatment; we are with you in this. It’s not going to be an easy race it’s going to be like a long marathon in the mud. Many brothers have done their part in liberating blacks in both America and in the African continent and they have passed the button to us to continue this fight against oppression. In Africa we have the likes of Dr. Sam Nuyoma, the late Robert G Mugabe, the late Nelson Mandela and far too many brothers that ran this marathon in the mud and attained the best independence and freedom for us more melanin endowed folks.

The calls by a rainbow coalition against oppression and injustice in America is definitely a very positive step and we are grateful that to our white brothers and sisters also see this oppression for what it is and are supporting change and reform.

The time is now for us to refine and perfect our democracies so that they become all-encompassing and support the dreams and aspiration of all regardless of race, colour or ethnicity.

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