Opinion

Abiola Akintunde: Still On The Ferguson Unrest: The US We Knew Not

by Abiola Akintunde

It is natural for people of the same background, culture or tradition to associate together and collectively preserve, protect and if necessary fight for their interests in a multicultural society, but  this is also primitive. This could be a path to national identity, self-determination and racial identity, in which the latter is the sentiment upon which racism is founded. Segregation based on racism in which African-Americans civil rights activists successfully struggled with in the 1960s and which Martin Luther King(MLK), Jnr. was murdered for, is now being seen once again on the American soil.

This leaves one to imagine what MLK will say as the dream he had that his sons and daughters will not be judged anymore by  the color of their skin but the content of their character being mocked  each time a law enforcer like Darren Wilson judged them not by the  content of their character but by the color of their skin and each time  an employer judged them not by the content of their character but by the  color of their skin. For decades, we have believed that there are no  more racial tensions in the US and that segregation has turned into a  thing of the past. For almost half a century on US soil, we have been  made to acknowledge that the color of your skin is not a limitation to  the opportunities one is opened to, and neither is it a criteria for how  much civil rights one is entitled to.

Due to the long-standing reality of the underdevelopment problem that people struggle with daily, they tend to seek greener pastures  abroad and most of them see the US as the best destination for them to  embark upon the pursuit of decent living which should be an inalienable  right of everyone; everywhere they are. They believe it is firstly in the US that their talents, capability and ability will translate to their  material worth fairly without any sentiment whatsoever. They believe the US to be the first custodian of rights, justice and equality. They  believe the US to be the first protector and promoter of democracy and  also a fair rewarder of service. They believe in the ability of the US to treat
and respond to civil reactions and concerns responsibly and equitably without being aggressive. They believe that the US is the leading representative of states that prioritize a social and welfare security
that is all encompassing.

Today, with the developments in Ferguson, Missouri and the role  citizens, law enforcers and political leaders has played in it, one is  left with the thought of; is the US really what we think it is? An African-American in Ferguson will shout on top of his voice saying; HELL NO! I am angry, yet my confused state of mind will not avail me the opportunity to express my anger. For those of us that follows the Michael Brown case, same question scream out for answer unasked and our confusion seeks for clarity untold for this is not the US we were made to believe in, for this is not the US we thought we knew neither is it the US we have trusted over all other sovereign states in human right  observation index. To we Nigerians, the US is not different to Nigeria where extrajudicial killing is common but this is not the red oil that stained the color of the white silk reputation of the US red.

The red oil that did this, was the conflict-zone military-styled response to the ferguson protest that is seeking for a redress on the  extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown; an unarmed and surrendering
suspect. The crackdown on ferguson protesters made use of Armored  Personnel Carriers(APCs), state of the art weapons, a motive to shoot at  peaceful protesters and subsequent targeting of these peaceful
protesters and journalists with rubber bullets, tear gas and new kind of  gas-releasing explosives that an Al Jazeera America journalist could  also not identify with around 155 peaceful protesters arrested. With
these, observers of international politics begin to compare the ferguson militarized police show of force with the Nigerian, Egyptian, Tunisian,  Syrian and Ukrainian crackdown on protesters in their individual
territory.

Confronted with today’s realities, it is difficult for Africans to  really continue to see the US via the same spectacle we were accustomed to in viewing the US and to admit the US we believed we knew is the US  we now see is an uneasy struggle within. The eleventh hour efforts made  by Obama, various legislators and other key players to dissuade the  international community from seeing the US as something that contradicts  what the superpower preaches across the globe is too late as the wrapper arrived rather unfortunately late for the naked human being who has just  walked into the market nakedly. The US we know now, we knew not before.

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Abiola  Akintunde can be reached via [email protected]  or on [email protected]

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