By David Howard, Jr.
It makes little sense the world has awakened to the George Floyd murder only because some black man was killed by a white US cop. What happened in Minneapolis was conspicuously anger-activating. But the tempestuous anger and boisterous public outcry is a result of something more inherent, more egregious; something enrooted in American society.
Consider the similarity between Floyd’s death and the assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. This assassination immediately triggered the outbreak of World War I. And there have been many a historian who have attempted distorting history, opining that Franz Ferdinand’s demise ‘caused’ the war.
However, the Archduke’s death was an accident. Suffice this is to say that with or without the assassination, the inevitability of a global war existed.
World War I was waiting to happen so the death of Ferdinand was a dress rehearsal. There was a myriad of factors that precipitated the war, including imperialism and utter belligerence dressed as national or foreign interests. Zachary Keck does the subject justice in his article, The Great Myth: World War I Was No Accident, published by The Diplomat.
The nature of Floyd’s death beckons sympathetic curiosity. Chauvin’s method, followed by the victim’s plea, “I can’t breathe,” is illustrative of the American reality. Chauvin could decide to shoot, but he chose to place his knee on Floyd’s neck; Floyd, an already handcuffed and defenseless man. Chauvin killed with bravado, with gusto — hands in pockets. Callous. Insensitive. Hardhearted. And for eight minutes 49 seconds too!
His modus operandi of murdering Floyd paints a picture, describes a scene and tells the narrative of black lives in America.
Black people in the US cannot breathe. They have been suppressed, misunderstood and consigned to the dustbin despite the energy they have exerted in shaping America — from generating fortunes by laboring on cotton plantations to building the White House.
Onesimus, Henry Blair and many other outstanding African Americans contributed; and millions in contemporary times continue to contribute to what America is today — the world’s envy.
And history informs us that the majority of slaves transported to the US during the 18th Century were Africans. Undoubtedly, African labor has helped build America, but such efforts have gone unappreciated.
A Business Insider article says that Forbes lists 607 billionaires as Americans for 2020. Of this only a paltry six are black, less than one percent of the total number of American billionaires in 2020. This is a cogent evidence that black people in America are light years behind their white compatriots. 12.0% of white and 16.1% of black people in America 16 years and above, are unemployed according to data emanating from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These stats are enough to proclaim that African Americans can’t breathe because white America has its knee on their necks.
As if that was not enough, America has a president who labels protesters as ‘thugs’ and shamefully opposes the toppling down of monuments of individuals who ignominiously lent their support to slavery. And Mr. Trump says he wants to protect American heritage. What heritage? Slavery heritage? The louche heritage of James Marion Sims who performed surgeries on African American women without the latter’s consent and the use of anesthesia? Does Mr. Trump want Americans idolizing statues of people who deliberately practiced or supported slavery? Does he want them solemnizing the oppression of black Americans?
Mr. Trump was again at it last year when he urged four women-of-colour members of Congress to ‘go back to where they came from.’
Face the facts, black America. This nation was built on the sweat of African slaves. Your ancestors were Africans, and you are not called an American even though you should; you are tagged ‘African American’ because you don’t belong in America.
If you don’t belong in America, it’s either you changed that so-called illegitimacy now or it’s time you took cognizance of the prima facie truth that Africa is your true home. You must see Africa differently, not through the lenses of some white supremacist, but as proud descendants of black African slaves. It’s time you invested in Africa, the land of your forebears. Many African countries would welcome you home, for some, including Ghana, are beginning to realize the potential this has for economic growth.
The debate of systemic racism in America should not be superficial. It should remind African Americans about their true heritage — their African heritage. And this means taking a new, bold approach to the continent of their progenitors.
About the author:
David Howard, Jr. is the 2014 champion of the Liberia National Spelling Bee — the nation’s equivalent of the United States’ Scripps National Spelling Bee — and Smiling Faces Int’l Write Liberia 2017 poetry winner. He’s also a student of history, economics, philosophy and literature. Dave can be contacted via email: [email protected]