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Police Brutality in America From the Perspective of Africans on the Continent

Police 1“What I don’t understand is, how could they treat your people like that? You Black Americans have fought wars for them, you’ve been there for centuries, the president is Black. But the police kill you like chickens.”

These were the harsh words of an older friend of mine from my neighborhood in Mombasa, Kenya. He had just walked out of his home and was watching a news story about the tension between Black Americans and police officers in the States. During our discussion, he noted how, while generally supporting public safety, he didn’t understand why there were so many instances of officers killing people. Equally, it was unfathomable that in many instances, the shootings were caught on camera and the officers were still not arrested.

In my recent and also past discussions with various people from across the continent, I’ve come across a number of opinions regarding the issue of police brutality in America. The thoughts on this issue ranged from noting the hypocrisy in America’s global image of being the protector of human rights, to some who felt that there must be some kind of conspiracy taking place due to the recent uptick in such incidents. And finally there are a small minority of people in Africa who believe that in some way, police officers are validated in these circumstances, due to what they perceive as the inherently violent nature of Black people in America.

The first group generally feels that the police violence against Blacks mirrors much of America’s foreign policy against different people in the world, ranging from the war in Vietnam, to contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What many Americans should realize is that the United States is held up as the global embodiment of freedom and the protection of human rights. And this fact is promoted in the international media and through entertainment, which is largely slanted towards the embellishment of American and Western values.

A number of people I’ve spoken to on the issue share the same sentiment as many Black Americans, which is— How can the people who are supposed to protect you be the same ones who are harassing your people and violating your rights?

This sentiment is one which arose after President Obama’s visit to Kenya. While many people applauded his comments and his critique regarding the issues of corruption in Africa, many also noted how there should be more done about the issue of police brutality in America. Many academics and those familiar with the Civil Rights era of the 60s and 70s will also point out that on the surface, there has been progression, but in reality, nothing much has changed. This point was referenced by individuals whom I know, along with opinion articles in various African journals.

The next general observation was the notion of there being some form of conspiracy by various forces to increase racial strife between Blacks and whites. A good number of people feel that such incidents are being perpetrated to bring about open conflict between Blacks and whites at a national level. Most Americans would probably dismiss such ideas because for one, it is contradictory to the concept that we as Americans are united and support each other and such issues are not possible in the supposed, greatest nation on earth. Secondly, such a conspiracy would require the participation of officials at the highest level of government, and this by most accounts would be highly illogical.

However, to those living on the African continent, the notion of open conflict between two distinct communities is very possible and in some regions, common. Conflicts such as the Hutu-Tutsi rivalry in Rwanda, Ethiopia-Eritrea, the issues of Central African Republic, and the decades long problems of the Democratic Republic of the Congo show that such issues are not merely conspiracies. It can be noted historically that many of these conflicts were the direct result of various plans and infringement of rights perpetrated by tribal and ethnic leaders in power, against other groups whom they viewed as rivals and threats to their position. Thus, when someone on the African continent sees an increase of white police officers killing unarmed Blacks in America and the system still protecting these officers, it reminds them of incidents which have happened in various places in the past and even the present.

The final, general opinion, among a small majority of people whom I have come across, is that in some way, the police are validated in their use of force against Black Americans. This sentiment was expressed because they felt that Black people in America were inherently violent, thus if a police officer were to encounter one of us, the use of violence would be necessary.

However, their logic was this— the overwhelming majority of Africans have never met a Black American, thus their perception of Black Americans is based upon the media and entertainment. Yes, those same rap videos, movies and the negative images of Black people in America, generally go global and since most people will never meet a Black American in their life, this is how they learn about us.

But in general terms, many people who felt this way would then discuss how the media can be wrong and in fact, some noted how their depiction of Africans isn’t accurate at all. One friend of mine even noted that while he did feel that way before but then mentioned “but then I met you and you’re not like that at all, so I figured that can’t be right.”

Upon reflection, one individual noted how if he were driving or walking down the street, a police officer would have no idea if he were Kenyan, Nigerian, Eritrean or Senegalese. A racist officer would see a Black person and that would be the beginning of the story.

Overall, the observation of many Africans whom I have come across believe the issue of police brutality against Blacks in America is a major problem. In fact, a good number of people feel this is an issue, which if allowed to fester, will become a major fissure in the fabric of America.

What I found equally interesting was that the thoughts and opinions of Africans generally reflects that of Black Americans. Finally, as we add more names to the list of unarmed Blacks being killed by police, America should know one thing— the world is watching.

The same police dash cam videos and images that show officers killing unarmed people and are shown on the local 6 o’clock news, are also shown on news stations around the world. Those same articles which discuss the issue of police violence against Blacks, are reprinted in newspapers and magazines around the world.

And when you try to lecture others about the problems within their country, know that one should fix their own home before pointing at others.


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7 thoughts on “Police Brutality in America From the Perspective of Africans on the Continent

  1. Shay Jh says:

    great article. the world is watching and wants a better America for all

  2. Holding itself out as the protector of human rights, the United States has exposed itself as the most hypocritical nation on the face of the earth!

  3. Aji Adeleye says:

    Indeed the world is watching. On the contrary, the world will be a better place without American meddling. Look at everything they touch, it all goes to sh#t, and they never take responsibility for the mess they leave in their destructive wake.

  4. WC White says:

    Let me say this as long as man kind is on this earth there will be good and bad. And think that we as a people are wrong for condemning the majority of the police for the wrongs of the few. These men and women in uniform have to deal with the worse of the worse and they are paid pennies while everyday there lives are on the line. I wish we as a nation would go and march against the KKK, the Bloods or Crips, Hales Angels our local drug dealers. Or maybe agains some of these men that are having babies and not taken care of it. Lets march against the people who are really out to cause us harm not the people that most of the time protect us and we should be grateful and thankful. The groups I mentioned kill more people every day than the police kill in two or three months. Why are we silent to these people that we know are destroying our community? But not towards the one who cause it. I spent 20 yrs in the Marine Corps and I understand the sacrifice.

  5. Africans the world over need to join together and also go to Africa that way we'll bridge the gap and the media wont be able to manipulate and portray use in a negitive way.
    More Power

  6. A lot of Africans I've encountered in the past really believe whatever White people tell them and really hate us. I love my people and have always known that we really need to get to know one another. Black Americans are displaced Africans for starters. Whenever an African shoots off their mouths about how no good we are I inform them of Amadou Diallo with the 42 bullets in him for no good reason. I also let them know that there are more where that came from. It's imperative to let many Africans and West Indians know that we are not being touchous about race and that when Whites see us all at first glance the majority want us to simply disappear.
    I am both from the Caribbean and the south but born in New York City in the former Black Harlem. We Black Americans need to learn the genetics of where we come from and learn that language and leave this place not only physically but also in spirit, in culture, in mindset. Even if we don't physically leave it we must seperate from the idiology of the lie of America.
    We also need to let Africans and West Indians know that when we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and created our townships and cities like Negro Wall Street, Whites went to war with us. By he time we're done telling the stories of what happened to our collective African ancestors what with sex farms, being fed to alligators, forced to lauch in barrels to not insult Whites thus forming the phrase "a barrel of laughs", that our Brothers and Sisters in Australia were doing freedom bus rides in the early 60's and we knew NOTHING of this and that the Chinese in their continent despise them is when we make that leap. There's nothing here for us in America. The Blacks here who believe there is are stuck here in spirit but when you really look at the details of this nation, and you are conscious of it, you realize that on the eve of 2016 it's time to look for a different future.
    The cops here are treating us like insurgents. Africans see the individualty and the tribal union of other Africans. In America, all are the same nameless, faceless, mass of dark people to continually oppress and if you think Whites are going to change their ways willingly you have another thing coming. We also have to deal iwth the honorary Whites such as Indians and mongoloid looking Asians who tear up the place as cops and as business people or who work for small entreperneurs. The racism from Latinos and Hispanics who were created from a culture or rape and who have so much African way sin them will also be a daunting task. They are so African and yet they mostly HATE YOU.
    One thing for sure that we must also collectively learn, is that turning away from the European way will save your sanity, save the earth and thus humanity. The European way is the most destructive way on earth and in the galaxy and now they want to go up in outer space looking for sister planets and so forht. Uh uh. The work to do is right here on this earth. Abandon the European way. They've had their day and have proven that they generally have no respect for how nature/ the earth operates. The water is filthly, the plants are organisms owned by corporations, power sources that could be free and not tax the earth's amazing structure are intentionally kept hidden and this tiny group of people want everyone to bow down to them. Whites don't even want you to have the unnatural ghetto and even they can't handle it as it is if you take the time to really observe gentrifiers and their discomfort but they put a good face on it. They cannot live with what the supreme creator put here that was working quite well.
    Finally we need a culture of truth telling propaganda to tell the Africans of every kind what really went on. I don't bother with Whites regarding the truth of America but I give the Africans of every sort an earful. Most listen and carry the stories back.

  7. Many Africans believe the images globally distributed by the white media as do many Black Americans. They tell the Africans that we are violent, and the Black American still believes that the African is living in some primitive state. Once an African or so-called West Indian arrives on these shores they subject to the same mistreatment by the police. They are subject to the same racism and prejudgements about their intelligence. Its because they/we are black. I'd rather hear the Africans tell us; Come home, repatriate, get out of that place! I am sure that some of them do…but we cant expect the media to deliver that message.. Ultimately, they (the powers that be,) benefit by keeping us divided and hating ourselves. When I learned that what I was taught (or not taught) about the African continent was mostly lies, I realized that most mass information was suspect.

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