For many Nigerians, and some of my African friends/colleagues with whom I've discussed it, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement is something that they can sympathize with, but don't feel that deeply. For many more, who are insulated and haven't experienced life outside their neighborhood/town/country, it's just another "oh, that happened? Wow!" story. That's my experience.
I don't say this to say we don't care or we don't see the injustices and feel sad and helpless when we hear the stories, or see them debated/discussed on social media or on the news; I say this to say that (to paraphrase a saying I've heard in many forms) it's the person whose shoe the stone is in that feels the pain most acutely. Some of us just cannot relate. Some of us haven't been victims of the micro-aggression and racism African-Americans go through on the daily. The injustice we live isn't being called the N word on the street, or being denied a seat at the table because we're not white. We've lived through (and still are living through) wars, dictators, corrupt systems and leaders, and are managing to get by, survive, and even thrive despite everything just. not.working. And like it or not, one can't always understand the other.
I've lived in London and in the U.S (the South, no less), so I've definitely had a few unpalatable experiences in both places, so when I got off the bus downtown Seattle one sunny afternoon a few days ago and ran into a protest, I put my journo hat on and went to see what was going on.
And here are some pictures:
Seeing the pain, dignified anger and passion of the people protesting gave me an added layer in my understanding of and solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is awful to feel helpless and know that the ones meant to protect you are the ones who could choose to take your life on what can seem like just a whim. That, I think many of my Nigerian friends can understand.
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