West needs to respect Black Lives Matter

By Mark Kapchanga Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/10 20:13:40

Protesters fill Washington Square Park during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020 in New York. Photo: AFP

Under the slogan "Black Lives Matter," the protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd have swept across many regions worldwide. Globally, people are calling for an end to widespread police brutality against black people.

Floyd's death has presented many countries with uncomfortable truths about the struggles and maltreatment of black people. Fatigued by the cruelty, it is no wonder that thousands of infuriated anti-racism demonstrators in the British port city of Bristol brought down a 125-year-old statue of a 17th century slave trader named Edward Colston. They hauled it through the streets before tossing it in the River Avon.

The disapproval of discrimination has stretched beyond the streets to the sports arena too. Manchester City soccer star Raheem Sterling vowed to speak out against injustice, BBC reported on Monday. The football winger said, "There's something like 500 players in the [British] Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staffs."

The assertion has been supported by Dwight Yorke, former British national football captain and Manchester United player, who said he has endured while trying to get into football management as a black professional.

Such racial bias has prompted US Democratic lawmakers to unveil legislation aimed at combating police brutality and holding rogue officers liable. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced his consensus with "I can't breathe" protesters, telling them, "I hear you" as he acknowledged the "incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice" on Monday. He said the world could not ignore the depth of emotion that had been activated by a black man losing his life at the hands of the police. He went further to concede that the "I can't breathe" movement had awakened the fact that ethnic minority groups face discrimination in education, employment, and criminal law. 

However, in the UK, the Metropolitan Police continue to disproportionately employ stop-and-search procedures that persistently discriminate against black people. Similarly, the British government has apparently failed to act on the Lammy Review, published in September 2017, which highlighted the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian, and ethnic minority individuals in the UK's criminal justice system, as well as striking variances within it. 

On the global stage, racism has become structural and systemic, seen to be tolerated, hence perpetuated chiefly by the US and Europe. As a matter of fact, it is not always about a knee on the neck to kill someone. Black people, as Johnson said earlier this week, continue to face discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, and criminal law. This has in turn bred poverty and widened the rich-poor gap.

This long-standing racial illness is inherent in various international organizations. The World Bank, the IMF, the International Labour Organization, WTO, among others, continue to be micro-managed by powerful countries, which always prefer one of their own at the top rank. The World Bank's president slot has been a domain of US citizens, while next door the IMF is run by European bosses. 

Only in very extraordinary circumstances have we witnessed the rise of black leaders to the top leadership of these organizations. Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat, served as the seventh secretary-general of the UN between 1997 and 2006. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian public health researcher, was elected as WHO director-general for a five-year term in May 2017.

The West needs to be honest about Black Lives Matter protests and let those from minority racial backgrounds competitively take managerial positions - from global institutions to big corporations to governmental organizations.  

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter @kapchanga. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn 


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