Op-Ed Our voices have to be heard

Op-Ed+%7C Our voice needs to be firm.

kindly provided by Amarachi Onwuka

Nana Gyabaa-Kessi, president of the African student union; Blaise Ange Cruba, vice-president of the African student union; Cameron Clarke, president of the Caribbean and Latin American student union
June 2020.

The 25th. A man admitted that his racist statement turned a normal event into a fatal accident. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the black community witnessed the prejudice and unscrupulous attention that led to the unjustified murder of George Floyd’s black father, brother, neighbour and colleague. It is extremely painful to see the continuous dehumanization of blacks in different parts of the diaspora, but even more disappointing is the place known as the land of freedom.

As civil rights leader Malcolm X said: It’s not a cornerstone. That’s your foot on my neck. Unfortunately, those words still sound about 70 years later. One murder after another and black lives are still being stolen. How can our minds rest in peace when we constantly see evil? How can we stay calm if we are constantly suffering psychological and physical damage? How can we regain our innate titles of kings and queens if we are considered dishonest and shameful? As black people, we were connected.

Our call to action is long overdue, and the way we are perceived on this earth can no longer stop us from expressing our disappointment. There has to be a change. Everyone in this country must understand the atrocities against the blacks and demand an irreversible and non-negotiable end to them. We, the African Students’ Association and the Caribbean and Latin American Students’ Association, express our solidarity with the efforts of the Black Mother Movement and the neighboring communities. To ensure that black voices are heard and that change finally comes, our organizations will continue to support black companies and others who invest in black communities. We encourage our black brothers and sisters to remain true to themselves and recognize their blackness as a blessing, even in these difficult times.

Our organizations will work tirelessly to ensure the responsibility of our university’s leaders. It’s not just black students who have to react to this time of storm. But we are willing to rethink and refocus our university curriculum to reflect and include the needs of the black population. In view of changes that benefit our black students, we are working on a list of specific requirements that university management must meet. These requirements include the inclusion of hate speech with stricter consequences in our code of conduct for students, more representation of black people in our curricula and fundraising specifically for undeclared activities. Our organisations will do everything in their power to bring the leadership of our university, the investors and the surrounding students to a higher level in the light of these cases.

Our delayed reaction has nothing to do with our insensitivity to current events, but simply with the stress this event has placed on our mental health. As students representing all dimensions of the diaspora, we must not forget who the real enemy is. This isn’t a war with the diaspora, and it’s not just an American matter. Whether we identify ourselves as African, Hispanic, Caribbean or something like that, we’re black. The black community around the world is disproportionately affected and subjected to the color of the skin of its members – racism in America and colonization abroad. Our fight here in the United States is a vigilante call. Our situation must be shown and heard all over the world. As long as you fight, we’ll fight you. As much as you suffer, we suffer. If we heal, we’ll be whole.

For students who are not black, who see what’s happening on the streets, hear what we say and understand why there needs to be a change. The colour of our skin should not determine our right to breathe. All lives are meaningless unless they’re black.

We condemn the violence you used against peaceful demonstrators with the city council and demand an end to it. We have seen how peaceful demonstrators were harassed and attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets. That’s enough.

Our organisations mainly support George Floyd’s family. We pray for peace and justice to bring them a comforting peace after the loss of a grandfather, a brother, a husband and a friend. We also support the families of Bronna Taylor, Ahmod Arbury and hundreds of others who have lost loved ones as a result of these racist murders.

We’re done dying, we’re done falling through the net, and we’re done not meeting society’s expectations. We won’t stop fighting. We’ll be little things.


In solidarity, in search of justice.

Nana Gyabaa-Kessi is professor of molecular biology and president of the African student organization.

Blaise Ange Cruba is a growing student artist and vice president of the African student organization.

Cameron Clarke teaches anthropology and is president of the Caribbean and Latin American student association.