All people of African origin live the ‘Trayvon Martin experience’
While visiting Ghana, a traveler observed residents of that West African country carefully monitoring George Zimmerman’s trial on their smart phones. More remarkable than how technology has shrunk the world is the way at least some people in Africa apparently identified with Trayvon Martin and were concerned about the fate of the man who killed him.
Concern abroad about the plight of Trayvon Martin occurred because racial profiling, discrimination, racial violence and harassment are not unique to U.S.-born Blacks. The memory of Amadou Diallo still haunts many. In 1999, the unarmed 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea was hit by 19 of 41 bullets fired by four New York City police officers as the young man stood in the doorway of his apartment. The officers were tried, but like George Zimmerman, they were acquitted.
More recently, Africans in Europe have encountered remarkable racial hostility and disrespect. A BBC news report noted: “(British government officials) proposed that certain visitors, including Nigerians, pay a $4,600 ‘security bond’ for the privilege of being a tourist in the (United Kingdom). The figures say Nigerians are the sixth biggest-spending tourists in Prince George’s future kingdom — above them are the people from China, the Middle East, Russia and Thailand — but none of these will be asked to pay a deposit.”
The article also describes how in Italy, a “cabinet minister of Congolese descent (was) likened to an orangutan by a fellow Italian politician.” Less than two weeks later, while speaking at a rally in favor of immigration reform, “bananas were thrown in her direction — following on from the ‘resemblance to an orangutan’ gag.”
Because racial and ethnic groups who are perceived as powerless are magnets for this type of disrespect and abuse, there is little wonder that Africa and her children are targets — even when they occupy the White House.
Instant respect for Africans would, however, come from their ability to credibly threaten crippling economic sanctions in response to racial insults, discrimination and racial profiling. Notwithstanding Africa’s vast supplies of oil and mineral wealth, foreign ownership and control of these reserves strips Africans themselves of the option of withholding — or threatening to withhold — these vital resources in response to abuse.
More than 50 years ago, Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, proposed a global united struggle by all people of African origin to reclaim mass collective control of Africa’s land and resources. Based on the record, it is not unreasonable to conclude that many U.S.-based corporations that have interests in Africa resolved long ago to resist — by force of arms if necessary — attempts by Africans to reclaim their most valuable natural resources.
This would explain the presence of thousands of U.S. military personnel in Africa who are under the direction of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The question for us is whether, for the sake of the global African community, we will use our rights as U.S. citizens to resist implementation of any plans for AFRICOM to deprive Africa of its own wealth and power.
Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about the U.S. military presence in Africa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org