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The continued murder of Blacks in ‘Land of the Free’

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The international news media are literally swamping us with coverage of the Trump vs Clinton battle to win the November 8 presidential poll in the USA. You can’t watch television, listen to radio or access all the other media types available these days without being told something about trump or Clinton. We are even getting their medical records to boot! {{more}}

Granted that given the importance of the USA in world affairs, one must take some interest in who wins the American presidency, but that is not the be-all and end-all of global affairs. Additionally, one cannot help but pity the American voters for the choices before them, at least those from the major parties, Democrats and Republicans. A dangerous, racist bigot with little real understanding of global affairs on the one hand, and a woman, with a strong possibility of breaking the gender barrier, but who is strongly distrusted by the electorate; what a choice!

The November 8 winner will succeed the first-ever Black President of the United States, Barack Obama. His historic two-term presidency had its ups and downs, but he had some successes, principally in steering the US economy upwards after the black hole in which he found it when he entered the White House and in providing health care insurance to millions of Americans. His foreign policy did not show many successes, apart from withdrawing troops from Iraq but at least he can be credited with cutting off the head of the terrorist Al Quaeda organization.

But, unfortunately for him, it was under his watch that high-profile killings of mainly young Afro-Americans, mostly male, continued to mount to very embarrassing levels. It was as if to demonstrate that “you may be in the White House, but there is nothing you can do to protect your people”. How frustrating that must be for a Black president. So powerless must Obama appear to his own black base that an influential “Black Lives Matter” movement has sprung up, drawing support from young blacks on a scale not seen since the heyday of “Black Power”.

Even as his term of office comes to an end, there is no end to the killing of black folk by police and security officers. In the past week, a white female police officer has shot dead an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Okla­homa, spurring strong demon­strations. The victim, according to witnesses and video clippings, was shot with hands raised above his head. A couple days later, another black man was fatally shot by a police officer, who is himself black, in Charlotte, North Carolina, causing violent clashes be­tween police and protesters.

The killings underline the vulnerability of young black males in American society. Statistics, including those from the FBI, demonstrate this. The FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report shows that 31.8 percent of fatal police shootings are of black people, even though blacks only make up 13.2 per cent of the US population. The Washington Post claims that unarmed black men are seven times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.

The situation has reached the stage where top black athletes are openly coming out and speaking about racism, injustice and the killing of blacks. One leading star in American football, Colin Kaepernick, has been sufficiently moved so as to stage a silent protest, refusing to stand for the Us national anthem, because he says that the reality in the USA is that blacks are not treated equally. Several other leading black sportsmen have followed his example, raising the profile of the struggle against racism.

In retaliation, white racist America is showing its ugly fangs. Death threats have been made against Kaeper­nick for his protests. There is a history of such behaviour going all the way back to the Klu Klux Clan and their murderous lynching of innocent blacks. One recalls the same tactics against Muhammad Ali when he refused to fight an unjust war in Vietnam. Even in less controversial circumstances, racism was em­ployed. That was the case when black baseball star Hank Aaron was on the verge of breaking the home run record of white superstar Babe Ruth. He too got death threats.

So, for all the claims of “democracy” and “equality”, black people in the USA are still catching hell. In spite of them voting for Obama and now backing Clinton, in spite of the ridiculous nature of some black folk supporting the racist Trump, they still have to fight to protect themselves from racist murder, in modern-day USA, the self-styled “land of the free” and “home of the brave”. The November elections won’t change this.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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