Why you should give a sh*t about what's going on in Nigeria
I shouldn't have to tell you, what's going on in Nigeria isn't a political issue, it is a violation of human and civil rights, that's the bottom line. My heart is heavy at the sheer thought of people's lives being taken simply for existing in peace and using their voice. This affects ALL of us. Nigeria, the culture, the people and everything around it has influenced mine and yours daily life. If you have Nigerian loved ones, this is your issue. If you rock to Afrobeats, this is your issue. If you swear Nigerian jollof is the best, this is your issue. If you are anti-police brutality, this is your issue. If you believe in civil rights and social justice, THIS IS YOUR ISSUE. If you're unfamiliar with what's going on, or are interested in how you can help or simply want to know why you should care, I highly suggest you read on.
Let's talk about the FACTS
What is #EndSARS?
SARS aka Special Armed-Robbery Squad is a violent police unit known for over 82 cases of rape, extortion, abuse and assault. The unit was said to have been formed to, "protect" Nigerian citizens from armed robberies and crimes. The #EndSARS hashtag arose on the internet in 2017 to unite protests, call for justice of the victims and families affected by this unit, and demand it be dissolved. The Nigerian government announced disbandment of this unit four times, however they continue to reestablish and support it.
What is going on today?
Video footage of a young man killed in Nigeria's Delta State by alleged SARS officers surfaced the internet in early October, erupting in a nationwide protest to once again, disband the unit. The Nigerian government advised they would dismiss the unit, but shortly after announced the establishment of a new unit (SWAT) employing some of the same officers, with the same agenda. Protesters continued to demonstrate, demanding that they would not continue to accept the government's empty promises without action. Simplified, the unit is a government mob that keeps wealthy politicians rich by robbing their own people.
What is the Lekki Massacre?
On October 20th, after two weeks of peaceful protesting, uniformed officers shot into crowds of protesters and murdered at least 12 people. Witnesses recounted that soldiers forced and barricaded people into the gates before opening fire. Before the massacre, electricity was cut, CCTV's were disabled, and any security surveillance was shut down, erasing all potential evidence of the events. Personal live videos showed protesters in complete darkness before the rounds of gunfire took over.
WHY YOU NEED TO CARE
Because... BLACK LIVES MATTER. PERIOD.
One of the most frustrating comments I've ever read, took place in an online Flight Attendant Facebook group. I can't recall the topic of the original poster, but the responses consisted mostly of black flight attendants giving energy and emotional labor to educate fellow members about why the #BLM movement was important. A response from a FA struck a nerve with me, she posted, "There is so much going on in the world, it's just impossible to have the energy to care about all the causes. So I choose to care about animals and our vets. I just don't have it in me to take on anymore."
That has to be one of the most enraging, BS loaded sentences to receive, and I've read plenty of backwards conversations, ESPECIALLY during the rise of #BLM.
It's mind-blowing to me that this woman literally thinks that the mistreatment of black people in the United States equates to a charitable inequality in her eyes.
This is one person's opinion, but it is fundamentally triggering to wonder how many others not only feel, but also act based on this mindset. People like this woman are dangerous to an evolving society, to blatantly dismiss a concern for humanity because she is, "not in the mood for it," is absolutely outrageous.
The truth is the same attitude is circulating when it comes to what is going on in Nigeria. There are plenty of people who feel that if we are in the US, we should be solely focused on fixing our own racial justice disparities, and that we simply don't have the energy to care about what's going on in places in the world outside of our home, I mean after all, we are in a pandemic. Let's dig into this! There are almost 400,000 Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans living in the US, many of which are high contributing members of society, are academically advanced and just like anyone else, deserve to live in peace knowing that their loved ones are not being slaughtered in the streets for existing. Just to be clear, I mentioned the credentials as a plus factor, not because that is a requirement to have your life be worthy of living, no matter where you are from. Every day, we thrive off of inventions, influences and cultural adaptions that were brought to the US (and other parts of the world of course,) because of Nigeria and her people. We as citizens, are equally responsible because they too are our brothers and sisters, and they need help.
Nigeria has the third largest "youth" population, reeling in their average at 18 years old. Why is this important? The Nigerian youth are on the forefront of sparking change. These are young leaders taking ownership of their country and demanding the injustices be highlighted and addressed, and they're not backing down. We can all learn from their fearlessness and willingness to quite literally die trying to create a better future for generations to come. Let's be honest here, just like in the US, the injustices are not new.
Just because today we see it on the news, and conversations have finally made it to the dinner table, does not negate the fact that people have been fighting the SAME fight for years (seriously, research the history. This is a country that has been raided, colonized and depreciated by outsiders, thus having to rebuild with foundations of corruption). I'm personally inspired by their motivation to not only take movement physically, but also come up with a call for action:
1) Immediate release of all arrested protestors.
2) Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.
3) Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct.
4) In line with police act, psychological evaluation and retaining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed and
5) Increase Police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens
So what can you do, and how can you help?
Do not stop the conversation, keep bringing awareness. You may be seeing the hash tags and trends on social media, but I have yet to see Nigeria mentioned on my Apple News update. I checked a few "trending news" sources, I couldn't find any with mention of the ongoing GENOCIDE happening today. It's sickening.
Continue to educate yourself and seek reliable resources. The Feminist Coalition is a great source for updates, as well as a place to donate and see where your money is being disbursed. They're currently accepting Bitcoin donations and provide easy instructions on how that can be done. They are focusing on providing care to injured protestors. In addition, please check their Instagram for information on local (US and other countries) protests. Diasporans Against SARS is an organized GoFundMe site that also provides receipts on where your donated funds are being disbursed.
If you would like to take political action, there are a few places to sign petitions and write e-mails asking for impeachment and the removal of Nigeria's President Buhari (who still has not acknowledged the Lekki massacre). Click HERE and/or HERE for two pages still needing signatures.
Check on your friends and family. Check on your black brothers and sisters. Check on your Nigerian friends. Do not underestimate the mental damage it causes to continuously watch people who look like you be murdered in cold blood on live videos. It is disturbing and should not be something we as black people are able to just cope with. The expectancy to move on with your day after being a continuous witness to death is not normal or healthy. Make note of the emotional strength it requires to carry on, and be appreciative of the freakin resilience black people have.
Let us come together and make this world a better place. It's time for a serious change across the board. Senseless killings need to stop, and the value of human life needs to be restored. You and I can be a part of this change, today!