“Protests are only a means to an end. Are they going to cut it? No. But have they extended the conversation beyond Minneapolis and the US? Yes. The conversation is now in boardrooms, government offices, and even corporations are now having to re-think and take the subject as a priority topic.“
That was part of a chat I had last week with a former colleague following the mass protest that erupted globally after police in the US killed an African-American man named George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
His death sparked new conversations about racism – on a whole new level, the world became alive to the topic, and everyone is now paying more attention to the stories and experiences of black people around the world.
Is the story of black people and racism across the globe monolithic?
“The main hope of a Nation lies in the proper education of its youth.” – Erasmus
Several weeks before the George Floyd incident took place, I, alongside a couple of Afro-Germans, had a conversation about Black Identity with an African-American student who had moved to Germany to study. We shared from our experiences navigating life as people of color. Just after about an hour of discussing, it was clear to us all that the black experience around the subject of racism has several facets.
From my experience of growing up in Nigeria and now living in Germany, I can tell what it feels like dealing with tribalism, nepotism, or being denied access to opportunities due to the color of my skin or social-economic class. But I have never had to fear for my life when I have an encounter with the police – at least, at the same rate that most African-Americans who live in the US have to.
The US and Slavery
In the US, slavery played a considerable role in how racism was conceived and continues to affect the lives of African-Americans.
When people ask, “why are African-Americans poorer, less likely to go to college, end up in jail or killed by the police than their Caucasian counterparts?” understanding that part of American history provides context.
Although I am a black male, unlike most African-Americans, the setbacks that slavery in America has caused the African-American community in the US is something I have been directly shielded from – having grown up in Africa and have never lived in the US.
But while I have never lived in the US or share the same experience as my African-American counterparts, I decided to become an ally and educate myself about their struggle. As an ally, I have taught myself about slavery and racism in America and continue to stand with all African-Americans.
Why you too, should become an Ally.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15)
Depending on the color of your skin or the environment where you live in, it can be that you have never experienced racism the same way most African-American have to cope with it regularly. Nevertheless, you can also become an ally and stand with those who do not currently have the same opportunity as you. You can encourage black people and other minorities in your neighborhood, city, state and country to share their stories, listen to them and show an understanding of their situations.
Already, there are dozens of leading black and minority figures using their platforms and resources to tell their story and extending the conversation around racism.
But more than leaders, the #blacklivesmatter conversations needs allies across all communities. It needs your ears and your heart.