African Lives also Matter.

AuthorVersi, Anver

In this issue we focus on a movement which has not yet gained wide traction but which we, and many others in Africa and the diaspora, hope do so.

The movement is called African Lives Matter (ALM), inspired by Black Lives Matter (BLM), which gained a new impetus in the US following the very public execution of George Floyd by a White policeman.

Black people, especially young men in the US have been killed, beaten and sometimes tortured by law enforcement agents with impunity, it seems forever. Their lives have been considered disposable--an attitude that harks back to the era of slavery with all its horrors.

The movement began in July 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a trigger-happy White man who shot dead the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The acquittal of Zimmerman, one in a long line of such acquittals by what is now acknowledged as a deeply flawed and prejudiced judicial system, was the last straw for Black families.

Three Black female organisers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opel Tometi set up the hashtag Black Lives Matter to draw attention to the injustice. Several more killings of Blacks followed but now they were being monitored by BLM, who organised protests, found witnesses and used social media to spread the word.

The often graphic scenes of police and White violence on Blacks, captured on mobile phones, went viral around the world. The extrajudicial killing of Blacks could no longer be kept hidden from public view.

But old habits die hard and the callous murder of Floyd in the streets tipped the balance. The horror of what was happening to Black people finally sank home and demonstrations erupted all over the US and soon all over the world.

George Floyd became a symbol of all victims of oppression --whether this was because of their race or class. It was no longer a Black issue only or a US issue solely--soon White protesters were outnumbering Blacks in huge demonstrations around the world.

BLM symbols were to be found everywhere and sports people began to 'take the knee' at all major events--including such exclusively White sports like Formula 1. The only Black driver in Formula I, Lewis Hamilton, the six-time world champion, has led the charge.

Gaining momentum

The movement is still ongoing and gaining momentum even as you read these words. It has opened up a whole Pandora's Box of gross injustice...

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