There is no doubt that the eight-minute video footage of George Floyd being knee-pinned to death by a white Minneapolis police officer will for years become an “iconic” image of the enduring legacy of the dehumanisation of black people still rampant in the so-called First World.
I remember sometime back musing with a fellow colleague how painful it is that the so-called millennials behave as if they use their loins for thinking and rarely have time to read and think through issues.
We talked about Writing Back to Empire and how it was critical that people understand that the end of colonial rule was not an end in itself, but the beginning of a process of unwinding the untruths that continue to sustain the Western world about Africa and about blacks in general.
We mused painfully about the lack of scholarship among millennials in understanding how skewed the world was and that every black person was duty-bound to unwind the travelogues that fed the West about Africa and its inhabitants.
It is these travelogues that have sustained the myth that Africans are sub-humans.
It is for this reason (the sad state of world affairs) that like Chinua Achebe in “Things Fall Apart” we consummated Writing Back as more than just a post-colonial theoretical framework, but a robust newspaper column that seeks to lay bare the unfinished business of black liberation.
We felt that the endeavour of unwriting the myths, stereotypes and untruths about black people is a noble project that should never extinguish.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of an unflinching white cop laid bare the sad reality that far from being liberated, the white system that governs America and the West in general still suffers from an ignoble past.
We have a duty as a people to unwrite the lies that Empire has for over 400 years peddled about us in justifying their heinous acts. And this appreciation of history is not derived from Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter.
Younger generations need to understand that knowledge is more than the cutting and pasting of pdfs or getting some titbits posted on social media.
Yes, there are positive things derived from information technology but it takes one’s initiative to unearth some truths about how the world works.
While the world is outraged by the cold blooded murder of a black man accused of forgery, the broader expose’ of George Floyd’s death is that it has revealed to the world the ugly underbelly American system, which in the 21st Century still treats its citizen as inferior beings.
We need not go further in understanding the shame and embarrassment caused by the death of George Floyd to all progressives the world over than listening to the words of America’s own former Vice President Mr Joe Biden who is a presumptive democratic presidential nominee for the Democratic Party.
Addressing a star-studded virtual campaign fundraising event last Thursday hosted by Senator Tammy Duckworth and actress Whoopi Goldberg, Mr Biden said: “We can’t ignore that we are in a country with an open wound right now, a wound far older and deeper than …George Floyd’s killing — and this brutal, brutal death capture on film.”
Mr Biden continued: “Let me breathe, I can’t breathe. It ripped open anew this ugly- ugly underbelly of our society.”
While we acknowledge the existence of voices of reason within the white folk in America, the words of some of their ancestors not so long ago always call for us to remain vigilant.
One Sir Winston Churchill, much venerated individual in the Western hemisphere and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945 and from 1951 to 1955 once said: “I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes. It would spread a lively terror.”
Sir Churchill was referring to blacks and Indians that he said were beastly people practicing a beastly religion. Of course, some of us will say this is history and the world has changed. No, the murder of George Floyd teaches us that the struggle continues.
The murder of George Floyd teaches us that far from being the paragon of virtue, America is a country of inherent disparities.
The society is divided into those who belong (whites) and those who are of the lower caste (blacks).
The death of George Floyd tells us that the legacy of slavery is still alive and embedded in the American psyche for how can a normal human being kill another in the full glare of the public like he is some rat or a wild dog?
The death of George Floyd teaches us that far from being a reformed and democratic society, the American system like Brother Cornel West says, “the system is unable to reform itself” from its gory past.
Floyd’s murder exposes some local opposition politicians who are in the habit of always referencing America including physically appealing to the country to meddle in our internal affairs.
We need to say this openly. It is equally disingenuous for America’s representatives in this country to harp about human rights abuses and reforms when back home black citizens continue to be lynched on daily basis.
Imagine the uproar if an African Head of State has said “looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.”
Of course, they have already started threatening Zimbabwe, Russia and China with action for calling them out. They are attempting to browbeat little Zimbabwe.
Why not issue the same threat to the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), which have issued statements condemning the killing of George Floyd?
Let me end by quoting one brother Eddie S. Glaude Jr who, in an article published in the Time magazine of 28 April titled “George Floyd’s Murder Shows Once More that We Cannot Wait for White America to End Racism,” says: “One wonders how we will survive it all.
That will depend, in part, on white America’s willingness to leave the shibboleths of American racism behind — to give up this insidious belief that because they are white they ought to be valued more than others. But we cannot wait on them. We, those of us who will dare to actually learn from our history, must figure out how to be together differently in a New America.”