Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Nigerians & Africans Should Deal With The Baltimore Riots For Freddie Gray

I have watched many protests and marches on television, but they’re always somewhere else: Florida. Ferguson. New York. But never Baltimore. Not my Baltimore. My Baltimore has a lot of problems, but this isn’t one of them. Turns out I was wrong. Thank you to everyone who has checked up on me. I’m doing great, thank you. Yes, I live in Baltimore, but I don’t live or work anywhere close to the scenes of the riots.

If you had asked me about a decade ago what I thought about the Baltimore riots, I would have said something along the lines of “Those people are crazy … they need to stop getting into trouble, then they’ll stop getting arrested … etc” But I have since grown and evolved.
I absolutely do not condone violence against anyone – whether citizen or police. But the longer I have lived in America and the more I interact with Americans, I am beginning more and more to gain a new perspective and have a kind of empathy that I never did before. I still do not entirely have the Black Perspective, and I now understand that I will never have it – not like an African American anyway.
As a Nigerian/African/Immigrant, the easiest thing to do is watch these riots and reiterate my beliefs that African Americans are crazy. I have seen many Facebook posts, tweets, Instagrams from my people saying how crazy “these people” are. You’re so quick to call them thugs and animals. My people say that something like this will never happen in Nigeria/Africa. First of all, that’s a complete lie. We have way worse than this. I would rather have riots every day than have terrorists and armed robbers openly slaughtering people. Secondly, if Nigeria/Africa is so great, then why are we all here? Why aren’t we staying in our great nation where there are no crazy people?  And how can we complain of America being a crazy place when we fight in our country in the name of ethnicity and tribe?
Baltimore Riots Freddie Gray
I don’t know who took this picture, but I find it to be pretty powerful stuff!
The riots in Baltimore City are not happening just because of Freddie Gray. They’re happening because of Freddie Gray and all the Black men and women who have suffered and died in the hands of the police. Police brutality is not just about racism, it’s also about power that isn’t controlled. Black people did not wake up on one random morning and decide to go riot. A lot of things have happened [and continue to happen] that is causing tension between Black and White people and between Black people and the police. I do not believe that every police officer is bad, nor do I believe that every Black person is bad either. There are always bad apples in every group.
Freddie Gray Baltimore Riots
Another powerful photo, culled from CNN
But while Nigerians/Africans/Immigrants are busy criticizing the Black people for doing what they’re doing, I hope you stop and realize that the Black problem is also your problem because deny it all you want, your ass is still Black. In America, you can be Nigerian, Kenyan, or Ugandan, but you are still Black.  Sure, the average Nigerian/African may be less likely to drop out of school, get arrested, or go to jail, but it does not make you any less Black. And if shit were to hit the fan tomorrow and someone decides the annihilate all Black people, you’ll be right in there with them. I hope you also realize that you being in America, you having a job in America, you going to school peacefully, you being on social media talking nonsense, and you not being discriminated against openly and legally is all because some African Americans have paid the ultimate price.
Before we tell African Americans to get over slavery and move on, let us first count how many of our grand fathers were hung for being Black … and how many of our grand mothers were raped for being Black … and how many of our relatives never made it to have families of their own because they were left hanging from a tree for being Black … and how many of our fathers and brothers were wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for being Black. Today, we (Nigerians/Africans) are different from African Americans because we now come from two different worlds, but at the core, we are still the same. We are in the same boat fighting for the same thing; we just have different methods.
And lastly, remember that the African Americans you look down on now were once our fellow Africans, taken by force, and we are only here because they came here first to pave the way with their sweat and blood. At the very least, thank them for their service. The police officers make mistakes, but thank them, too for their service because they risk their lives every day for us, and some of them die in the process. Thank the military, too for the freedom you have in this great nation. And thank the government. America is far from perfect, but she’s a truly blessed and highly favored country.
Pray for Baltimore. Pray for America. Pray for the world. We all need prayers.
P.S. I do not support looting or burning or violence.
P.P.S. We’re only talking about this so much because it’s being televised and we can see, but imagine what goes on behind closed doors. Just imagine!

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