Black lives matter. And white lives matter too. Indeed, all lives matter. Especially in the 21st century, all lives should matter. I toast to the sacrosanctity of human lives. I believe that all humans were created equal; that every human came into this world with at least a talent, a spontaneous flair, a gift. I believe that injustice to one human is injustice to all of humanity. This is why slavery and all it stands for is condemnable. Slavery; the buying and selling of blacks hauled through merchant ships across oceans from Africa to Europe and the Americas, is evil. It’s the culmination of human savagery, the epitome of the deviousness of the heart of the white man. Slavery as portrayed through the prism of history and folkloric narratives was and still is the summit of the deviant impulses of white supremacist progenitors and their horde of hailers.
So, when in 2013, a group of black Americans started the Black Lives Matter movement in America, I was among their front-row hailers. It began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media. Spurred by the strange and insensitive acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting to death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012, the movement has since gone global.
It notched up some momentum in 2014 following the death of two African-Americans: Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Both were victims of contrived police brutality and deliberate sleight of hand by high authorities in the United States. The authorities simply failed to rein in the killer squad.
Let’s rise for Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the three musketeers whose vision for justice and fairness spawned the BlackLivesMatter movement. Today, everywhere, in every space, there is a consciousness that Black Lives Matter. The brutal murder of George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin and his racist colleagues in Minneapolis, Minnesota finally became the acceptable burnt offering that made the movement a truly global brand. Many whites love the movement and have embraced it. Many blacks welcomed it and they revel in it. Needless to state that there are a few white and black deviants who have showed nothing but contempt for this worthy cause. Emboldened by the cynicisms from White House exemplified by President Donald Trump’s uncouth language and irritable tweets and a few other cynical vibes from around the world, these few nay-sayers to the movement have continued to taunt the rest of humanity.
Like Stan Wischnowski, a senior editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, who resigned early this month days after an article with the headline “Buildings Matter, Too,” a rancid response to the destruction of buildings by the Black Lives Matter protesters was published. It’s a professional misjudgement which led to a walkout by dozens of staff of the 191-year-old daily newspaper owned by the non-profit Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
The headline of the article – a column by the newspaper’s architecture critic, Inga Saffron – tended to mock the express message of the Black Lives Matter protesters. It was distasteful as it was unprofessional. And just last week at Etihad Stadium of Manchester City, a top English Premier League club, a few racial bigots had the gut to fly a banner with the message ‘White Lives Matter’ over the stadium during a match with Burnley, just to counter the Black Lives Matter solidarity from all the EPL clubs expressed in players and officials taking a knee and players’ jerseys bearing Black Lives Matter instead of their names. We still find pockets of such racial delusions and extremes. But their purveyors are not grand. Racial bigots deserve no orchids. They are enemies of humanity, agents of anarchy and misguided dogs steeped in masochistic self-flagellation. Racial profilers suffer from a special psychological disorder. Whereas they think they are inflicting emotional pain on their targets, they actually suffer the pain more. It’s a reversal of role and impact. Those who set out to abuse and put down others on account of the colour of their skin end up advertising how deeply disoriented they really are. Here’s the dilemma of the racial overlords. The pebble you throw at others only ricochets to hurt you. The moment you set out to demean a fellow human on account of the colour of his or her skin, you end up advertising yourself as less than human.
The inherent import of Black Lives Matter movement should never make blacks wallow in self-pity. The good life we all live today has the imprimatur of the black man and black women. Not a few delusional white supremacists still clutch to the unfounded notion that black is inferior to white. But they forgot that many blacks have topped the class where they had equal opportunity to compete with whites. They don’t remember black inventors and innovators like Blair Henry (invented the seed/cotton planter), Boykin Otis (invented the artificial heart pacemaker control unit), Brown Marie Van Brittan (Home security appliance). Need I remind them it took a Nigerian math man and ICT guru, Philip Emeagwali, to achieve the fastest computer processing speed, faster than IBM mainframe and at a time the white man thought it was impossible. What about Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, another Nigerian who performed the first ever successful surgery on a foetus and returned the foetus to the mother’s womb after correcting the anomaly spotted by a scan. It is a long list.
Truth is: Blacks are not inferior to whites. However, there is a snag. Most of the blacks that became innovators, inventors and thought leaders in their professions and vocations did so in the white man’s land. In Africa, black on black violence is rife. Black looting black treasury is commonplace. Long years of corruption and misrule have ensured that black nations still waltz in the mire of underdevelopment. The most lawless nations on earth are black nations. The lawmakers break the laws they made oafishly. Those in authority and those with authority assume immunity. They are not under the law. Instead, they subject and judge the poor under the same law. That’s the difference. In the white man’s land, everybody is under the law including their leaders. In the black man’s land, some persons are above the law, especially their leaders.
Nigerian security personnel have killed and harassed countless fellow Nigerians and we esteemed them right. We garland them with hero’s awards and festoon them in grandeur. Yet, when a white man does same to a black man, we chant Black lives matter. That’s a wrong therapy for a faulty prognosis. The only sure way to make black lives matter is for leaders in black nations of the earth to make their countries habitable, and create opportunities that would make their citizens stay at home rather than the habitual trooping to embassies in search of visas as meal tickets and escape cards to the white man’s land. The only person that can make black lives matter is the black man. If the black leaders cannot salvage their black subjects, we have no moral right to yell at the white man when he calls us out and tells us to return to our shit-hole nation.