Amarachi Aka-Okoye | January 24, 2021
“As long as it is not affecting me,” this was my most used response whenever I heard another black person was a victim of racial prejudice, police brutality, racial profiling, social injustice, and the likes. Sometimes, I would show less interest in the topic, feel a hint of pity for the victim, and silently pray in my heart that it never gets to a point where I am the victim. Growing older, I began to understand the value of thinking about other people but myself. And after watching the recent case of George Floyd, who pleaded for his life while the officer had a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, it was a moment of mixed emotions. I could feel the tears building up in my eyes. I could neither find the words to express how I felt nor utter my most used response.
I have come across a few comments where people ask, “Why black lives? All lives matter”. Yes, all lives matter. White lives matter, Hispanic lives matter, Asian lives matter, we all matter, because we are all the same; humans. But the Black lives matter movement was initiated because black people experience the most racial discrimination, social injustice, and police brutality.
African Americans/Blacks are usually associated with degrading words such as ‘dangerous,’ ‘suspicious,’ ‘low quality,’ ‘of no value,’ and many other like words. This pattern of thinking is not new. It is a negative stereotype that was passed down from generations and is still being fed into people’s minds. It has so severely impacted society that the initial impression a non-black individual has of a black individual is distorted. And at that instant, they build their walls so high that they are blind to the good, desirable personality of an individual, and are ready to defend without understanding. They are quick to react before assessing the situation, ready to gun down an innocent black person, and never hesitant in judging a black person.
Black individuals receive so much unfair treatment. They are always very cautious of each step they take, fearful for their lives and their loved ones, and uncomfortable in public. For how long will the black person continue to walk in fear and uncertainty? When will we start seeing each other the same way we see ourselves and not by skin color?
To the passive person, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu once said. Also, “every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said. These words are not some quotes we say and move on with life. These words should be personal, engraved on our hearts, and put into practice always. Hence, issues like this should be of significant concern to you and me because they directly or indirectly affect us because the result of being passive towards these issues will be the exponential increase of the injustice faced by black people and an increase in the possibility that we who believe that we are safe would be the ones experiencing this injustice firsthand. God forbid we lose our human rights and go back to the era of slavery. Instead of being passive, be actively involved in these issues in any creative way.
To the active person, thank you for not remaining silent and contributing in your peculiar way towards curbing social injustice in the society.
If you have read this far, my name is Amarachi, and I am a proud black woman with a beautiful personality. Thank you.