Selective Outcry: The World Came Together After the Paris and Brussels Terrorist Attacks, But Who Will #PrayForNigeria?


The nations of the world are outraged and saddened by the Brussels terror attacks staged by ISIS operatives, in which 31 people were killed and 330 were injured — as they should. However, there needs to be outrage when ALL acts of terrorism occur.

We have been through this before. As the world media focused on the terror attacks in Paris over a year ago, which killed 17, they completely ignored the killing of 2,000 in Baga, Nigeria by Boko Haram. Once again, before Brussels, there was another in a string of brutal attacks by this ISIS ally, which actually overtook ISIS last year as the deadliest terror group in the world.

In February, Boko Haram burned 86 people, including children, to death. And there was no media coverage of the carnage — no concern about terrorism in this case, because the victims lacked the requisite skin tone to draw attention and sympathy. Meanwhile, on March 16, two female suicide bombers exploded themselves at a mosque in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria. As a result, 25 were killed and at least 18 were wounded, according to The New York Times. But once again, very little attention was paid to this and other massacres.

“More than 9,500 civilians have died in the conflict and the number of displaced people has increased from just over 1 million at the end of 2014 to almost 2 million in 2015,” says Human Rights Watch in its 2016 World Report. “Nigerian security forces have neither taken adequate steps to protect civilians during operations against Boko Haram, nor to protect the rights of rescued hostages.”

While in Cuba, President Obama said the thoughts and prayers of Americans are with the people of Belgium, and “we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people,” as CNN reported. “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite,” Obama added. “We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.”

“We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible,” the president declared. And yet, President Obama provided no similar words to the people of Nigeria, who are living a nightmare, while the Republicans dare not call him out on it, if they even are aware that Boko Haram exists.

This comes as the White House plans to convene a special session on ISIS next week, as part of a nuclear summit held in Washington with as many as 50 world leaders, as the Miami Herald reported.  According to the Herald, “Obama’s decision to add a session on the Islamic State to a summit that is focused on securing nuclear materials is a sign of the deep concern in the White House and worldwide after attacks in Paris; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Brussels.” Yet, there is no mention of the ongoing terrorist acts committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, reflecting how resources are allocated and decisions are made based on perceived threats and priorities.  And white lives, not Africans, are the priority.  “Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels only added to the urgency of the effort,” the report from the Miami Herald added, also pointing out that the nations represented at the nuclear summit have been sources of the ISIS fighters in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #PrayForNigeria has gone viral, even as the media and politicians ignore the impact of terrorism on Black bodies, on African people.

Sadly, this double standard in media coverage is par for the course, as Black lives are devalued, and certainly their deaths are discounted and ignored even more. This helps us to understand why the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has become so important. The scarcity of coverage of Black suffering reflects the obliviousness of those who lead and staff many of the newsrooms out there. And yet, Black Twitter has played a crucial role in spreading the news, and ensuring that people of African descent are no longer an afterthought, relegated to the newsroom wastepaper bin.

And if Boko Haram had attacked a city in Europe or the United States, you would have heard about it.

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