OUR CARIBBEAN: Remember, all lives matter
THE TITLE of today’s column was inspired by the widening agonising cry, “Black Lives Matter”, of African Americans currently contending with recurring shooting deaths of their countrymen by the police.
Civilised people the world over – irrespective of ethnicity, colour, gender or citizenship – would appreciate that all lives matter in a nation committed to the rule of law and respect for the sanctity of life.
Last week’s shooting deaths by the police of two African Americans, in separate incidents, and the subsequent reprisal killings in Texas of five white police officers, followed by the bombing death of the identified black gunman who murdered them, have served to generate new interest in why all lives really matter in a civilised nation state.
Caribbean nationals, at home or in America, would be familiar with some of the horrors involving US law enforcement officers killing young and middle-aged black Americans in their “war” on drug trafficking, in contrast to their pursuit of white Americans engaged in the cocaine trade.
The sad, mournful, widening cry by black Americans that “black lives matter” has been attracting support amid the arrogant, crude behaviour of white police officers in shooting deaths of black males, as often shown on television.
It is understandably painful for black Americans to have to live with recurring acts of white police killings, under controversial claims and without any clear indication of such practices coming to a halt – even amid widening criticisms from influential mainstream media and human rights activists, black and white.
In this presidential election year, Americans are understandably anxious about the likelihood of sporadic clashes over police killings of black American males deteriorating into open violent racial conflicts. All who cherish peace and unity are, therefore, anxious to ensure triumph of the rule of law.
This means bringing an end to the painful season of black Americans dying at the hands of white police officers amid recurring claims that the black shooter who ambushed and killed the five white police officers last week felt he could no longer endure it.
As we continue to monitor developments and empathise with the people of America over the latest killings, it is perhaps relevant to recall the superb informative book, A Country Of Strangers (Blacks And Whites In America), by David Shipler.
Himself a white American, Shipler’s absorbing work includes a chapter on “decoding racism” with some depressing life experiences among black women who preferred to avoid having children because of a “prevailing racism against black Americans”.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning book addresses social/political issues pertaining to today’s piercing cry that “black lives matter”.
It’s quite a challenging issue beyond the US 2016 presidential campaign, and Democrats and Republicans, in and out of Congress, need to remind themselves that ‘‘all lives matter”, irrespective of race and gender.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.