Forward – in the names of Trayvon, I’Akobi
THE UNITED STATES is currently convulsed with raging debates and public protests over the extrajudicial killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American youth, and the refusal of the white-dominated criminal justice system to put Martin’s killer on trial.
At the heart of this outrageous and tragic situation is the phenomenon known as “racial profiling” – an institutionalized racist practice that, since the days of slavery, has been used to target black men and women in the United States.
Well, let it be noted that Barbados has played a role in trying to encourage the United States to combat this evil practice!
In 2001, during preparations for the United Nations World Conference Against Racism at UN Headquarters in Geneva, the vice-president of the United States’ second largest black civil rights organization, the National Urban League (NUL), approached Mr David Comissiong, requesting assistance in drafting a resolution on racial profiling and giving it the state sponsorship it needed to get adopted by the United Nations.
Comissiong asked why the NUL was approaching the Government of little Barbados, rather than its own, powerful, United States government. And it was explained that the latter government would never publicly admit in an international forum that its country was afflicted by the serious racist practice of racial profiling.
So, our “little” Barbados did help to draft and to sponsor the following United Nations resolution:
“The UN World Conference Against Racism urges states to design, implement and enforce effective measures to eliminate the phenomenon popularly known as “racial profiling” and comprising the practice of police and other law enforcement officers relying, to any degree, on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as the basis for subjecting persons to investigatory activities or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity”.
But Barbados is not immune to this type of criminal profiling! A case in point is the death of the late I’Akobi Maloney. The Coroner noted that the tragic sequence of events was put in place by a St Lucy resident who simply saw a dreadlocked Rastafarian walking along the St Lucy coast and immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was involved in illicit drug activity and summoned the police!
Americans are now in the process of establishing a powerful people’s movement to combat racism and racial profiling.
This is a wake-up call for all the masses of ordinary people of our Americas region.
This is the time for masses of ordinary people to mobilize and to exert “People Power”
to deal with the accumulated injustices and corruption of our societies – the racism, the discriminatory profiling, the corporate greed and corruption, the social inequalities, the unjust impositions on the poor.
Bajans, it is time to wake up and do something positive with and for your society!
•The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email firstname.lastname@example.org