Those of us who are recent immigrants to the United States of America from Africa have watched, along with the rest of the world, the increasing roster of Blacks getting gunned down and sometimes strangled in what amounts to public executions.
Yet for those amongst us who have studied and comprehend American history, these contemporary killings perpetuate a tradition in America, of the looting, abuse, mutilation and degradation of black bodies that is older than the nation itself.
The names of black victims in Police hands are now too numerous to list, the most recent being Rayshard Brooks shot in his back at a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta, as he ran from police officers on June 12, 2020. Just before that, on May 25, 2020, was the execution of George Floyd – done as the crime was being videotaped and as he begged for his life and called out for his deceased mother.
Even when a misguided few recent immigrants from Africa had the delusion that our journeys or lives in America were “different” from those of African Americans, they were jolted from that delusion when Amadou Diallo was shot at 41 times by Police officers in New York on February 4, 1999, with 19 of those shots hitting his 23-year old black body.
Yet one is cognizant of the fact that in spite of this history, the involuntary journey of the African American has been one of not just survival, but triumph, with dignity and humanity.
An important component of that triumph has been the willingness of every generation to move the community and nation forward through disciplined and even righteous struggle steeped in protests.
The current generation, through Black Lives Matter, has carried on the torch of that struggle in a fashion that would make their ancestors (in America and in Africa) very proud.
This historic struggle of African Americans has, through blood, sweat and intellect, paved and paid the way for whatever modicum of “success” recent African immigrants find in America.
There is virtually no recent immigrant from Africa who does not have a story to tell about encounters with the Police or with racism. And yet every single one of us has benefited from the righteous struggles of African Americans.
The purpose of this piece is to say to African Americans that we are all grateful for your struggles and sacrifices that are inextricably linked to us all. Thank you, blood! We mourn over the recent murders and share the pains of the historic dehumanization of our black bodies.
For twenty years now, the African Writers Endowment, Inc. has made it a point to honor our African American and continental African heroes jointly and annually.
We have done so deliberately and consciously to make the point of our sameness and solidarity – in identity and in struggle. We now extend that salutation to the Black Lives Matter movement.
One is heartened to see a sea of humanity, including many of our European and European American brethren, join this particular struggle for human dignity.
Bob Marley told us “Everything’s gonna be alright.” And Kendrick Lamar reassured us that “we gon be alright.”
Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji, Ed.D.
Executive Director, African Writers Endowment, Inc.
97 Eastgate Lane, Willingboro, New Jersey 08046
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