Chido Nwangwu expresses optimism that the sustained and structured dissents that followed the killing of Mr. George Floyd, an African-American will bring about a generational change against racial prejudice
Before 9am on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, the magnificent worship center of The Fountain of Praise in Houston, Texas, has long lines of people. The lines extend outside the premises of the venue for the celebration of the life of George Floyd. He was killed with the knee of a Minneapolis Police Officer, choking his neck for more than eight minutes.
Inside, the church led by pastors Remus Wright and Mia Wright, is awash with praise and worship songs.
Cascading passages of healing.
Psalms and supplications for salvation.
Stirring verses of hope.
Demographically, the majority of those inside the church and outside are young persons with average age of 32 years-old with a sense of duty and passion for action against racism and police brutalities.
The Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner and many civic and community leaders are in attendance.
Messages of legislative reforms of the criminal justice and violent police engagement from our greater Houston U.S Congress persons Sheila Jackson-Lee and Al Green are delivered. Both are recipients of the USAfrica Legislative Leadership awards.
A sober reflection follows from a reality-check by the most distinguished Rev. Bill Lawson who came to Houston since 1955. He asks a critical question: Having seen many protests, will this go the way of the rest of them?
In the bowel of the church was the body of Mr. Floyd.
The pain and cries of the family waft through the church, intermittently.
Those surreal minutes have become animated battle cries, globally, to fight the injustices perpetuated by the police, not only in the United States but across the world.
I recall that the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. in his, ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963) stated that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Also, later the holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel in his book ‘Un die welt hot Geshvign (And the World Kept Silent)’ later updated as ‘Night’, wrote: “Sometimes we must interfere. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe.”
For additional historical context , let’s go back to the Friday July 19, 2013 comments by Barack Obama [son of African immigrant and Caucasian mother] who became the 44th President of the United States of America regarding race and the killing of a black American teenager, Trayvon Martin by white man George Zimmerman: “I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that – that doesn’t go away.”
Why am I hopeful that these protests will bring about a generational shift against racism and assorted bigotries?
First, there are closer and greater levels of interaction between these young folks. They network their various cultural and community skills which form a compelling tapestry of the American experiences. They enrich each other as African Americans, Jews, Caucasians, Hispanics, Arabs and the multiplicity of cultures.
Second, they are all proud and respectful of the historical gifts and talents they bring to the economic enterprise, social commotion and creative artistry known as the United States.
Third, there is an increase in interracial marriages among the younger generation. This is unlike in the 50s or 60s when different forms of discrimination and bigotry were codified against the interactions of white and “colored” peoples, “negroes”, “the Jews”, “Italians” and other communities.
Without a doubt, there has been progress in the racial profile and interactions in United States. No serious analyst will deny that, America still offers and shows that the richest concentration of black wealth in the world is in black America.
Fourth, the democratization of technologies and smart phones have virtually nullified the secrecy that covers the iniquities of police brutalities and other crimes committed against innocent individuals due to their race, color and religion over the past four hundred and sixty something years. Would you have imagined if there were no smart phones to record the daylight murder of George Floyd in front of an Arab-owned store in Minneapolis?
Fifth, the doggedness to find out the truth about these killings, abuses and institutional racism masquerading in many forms cannot and do not make sense for a generation that develop the iPhone or built Tesla or manages the logistics of Amazon or manages Space X and its flight to the moon.
Sixth, credit must be given to the spectacular and dedicated movement, Black Lives Matter, for withstanding demonization and malicious distortion of its noble objectives of the respect and protection of all lives. As the common saying goes, charity begins at home!
Seventh, a wind of change is in motion, an irreversible motion. It takes extraordinary messaging and conscientization of the global communities to express their revulsion and principled opposition to the historic, wanton, unacceptable, inhumane and atrocious almost monthly killings of African-Americans especially their young men and women.
Slavery was bad enough; racism, bigotry, poverties and police brutalities must end, not only in America, but across Nigeria, Africa and the world.