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Opinions of Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Columnist: MyNigeria

George Floyd: Racism and the sting of humanity

The world watched the asphyxiation of George Floyd, an African-American, by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020. The scene was devilry and vicious which answered the question as to the reasonable possibility of a human being intentionally stepping on his fellow human being to death which could have been best imagined. Floyd reverberated the statement, “I can’t breathe” until he finally died. And with this, it is conspicuous that the relics and debris of racism still haunt the human race like the sword of Damocles. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 evinced a universe where equality and freedom will prevail devoid of any segregation or superiority on the basis of race so as to allow for equality and justice. Martin Luther King Jnr, who remains the eternal hero in the discourse of racism in America with his speech titled “I Have a Dream” delivered in 1963, still remains ambulatory despite several universal instruments put in place to allow for equality regardless of tribe, religion, gender, and race.

It is preposterous to still discuss racism with the world’s evolution today and particularly with the ravaging episodes of the coronavirus pandemic where lessons as to the interrelatedness of the human race ought to fill our hearts with sobriety. God in his benevolence is an embodiment of pure love and I am more than convinced that racism did not emanate from him because nemo dat quod non habeat, meaning, you cannot give what you do not have. It is therefore, a jurisprudential conundrum for a section of the human race to still feel superior to their fellow humans on the feather light foundation of colour when at the end, death ends the existence of both the black and the white. Hence, racism springs forth from Hades as God is never a custodian of evil. Rosa Parks stood by this racial equality when she refused to give up her seat for a white during the bus boycott saga in 1955 and it is hilarious that 65 years down the line, the world is still being confronted with this Frankenstein monster. Racism does no good in any way and the earlier we began to preach peace all over, the better it is for humanity.

Humanity is troubled and bedeviled with a myriad of challenges ranging from natural disasters to illnesses and then wars. The only way we can explore an elixir to these difficulties is through love, no matter how small, as hatred will only be successful in making things worse.

It is disheartening that President Donald Trump has not played the role of a mediator and neither has he demonstrated to possess the heart required of a leader of his kind of status on this unfortunate incident. This is not a period where divisive and amplifying statements by qualifying people who are being expressive of their hurts as ‘thugs’ and threatening to cause shooting in the event of looting should be made as this speaks volumes of his ever-existing arrogance and inhumanness. Martin Luther King Jnr, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Barack Obama all received the Nobel Peace Prize for strengthening cooperation and the ties of humanity despite all odds.

Undoubtedly, the whole George Floyd saga only points to the fact that America under the Trump administration has been hypocritical in its being a hub for human rights. The same violations, as to respect for human life subsisting in Africa particularly South Africa and Nigeria, are also evident in America in the form of racism. Thomas Jefferson’s quote on the pursuit of happiness by human beings through inalienable rights endowed on them by God formed the basis of the 1948 Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Instead of Trump stretching out an olive branch to the aggrieved protesters and making remarks capable of working relief to the world, he is rather going about with his divisive tweets.

The African continent must borrow cues from the happenings. George Floyd had his roots in Africa through slave trade which indicates that he is one of us. Olasupo Sasore, a former Attorney-General of Lagos State, once said in his documentary, ‘The Making of the African Colony’, that Africans are people who are trailed by two phenomena in their existence; namely, slave trade and colonialism. The debris of these sad events on the African continents left sad footprints on the sand of the African heritage. The whites are no less of human beings but we Africans have been transformed into people who enjoy the western zephyr in all aspects and have been associated with filth as a result of leaders who do not have our interests as their primary concerns.

Africans must look inward and our leaders should begin to realise that migration outside the shores may no longer be a sign of wealth as their offspring could also fall victim to what befell George Floyd, who’s just one of the many Blacks who had fallen into the sorrowful hands of death orchestrated by racism. Perhaps, if the African continent had experienced massive development and growth by lifting millions out of poverty and illiteracy, our narrative could have been rewritten. Countless Africans get outside the shores of the continent and they are offered menial jobs while the whites who had less of conventional degrees equivalent in Nigeria are treated as expatriates with luxury.

The world is awaiting the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin who is being charged for third degree murder as opposed to a first degree murder charge which is underlined by its premeditated cause of unlawful death usually carrying along with it life imprisonment as the maximum penalty with or without parole depending on the circumstances of the case. I have been wondering why Chauvin, with his animalistic behaviour, is being charged for third degree murder which is lesser than the first degree murder charge and which carries the punishment of 25 years imprisonment in Minnesota. Humanity caused the sting of racism as Martin Luther King Jnr once said “The arc of the moral universe is long, bending towards justice.” But will this arc bend towards justice for George Floyd and the entire Black race eventually?

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