I have been asked from time to time why the banner slogan simply states "Black Lives Matter" don't other lives matter? Of course they do and they must. All lives matter. That said, there is a reason why we continue to march and cry out for equality and for preservation of our lives as black people. At its most basic level, the slogan calls for a shift in the statistics that Black people are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, compared to a white individual.
Although born in England, I grew up between Nigeria & England through the 70's & 80's when race issues were still a huge problem in the UK. It does exist today but I am so proud of how far the United Kingdom has come along in terms of battling various forms of discrimination.
I now live in a small village on the outskirts of London in the UK. I remember my daughter asking me once; why when she sees black people walk past each other in the village, they tend to nod or say hello to each other even though we might not know one another. I told her that there is a bond and an understanding. A feeling of belonging and knowing one another's pains and struggles. That's why we call each other brothers and sisters.
At our last World Wide Sales in meeting in Las Vegas 2018, I met a then colleague and brother Michael Wyche who was based in the United States. We were just happy to see each other; The two brothers amongst nearly 800 sales people. We had never met or spoken to each other before but it felt like finding a long lost brother.
The images of that policeman kneeling on George Floyd's neck were gruesome, I started the video but I was so disgusted that I could not watch it through. yet it haunts me and my daughter. THREE other policemen stood by and watched George cry out some of his last words "I can't breathe" It still brings tears to my eyes. I can't imagine any reason why anyone would need to kneel down on a human beings neck!! Let alone for over EIGHT minutes!!!
But George Floyd is just one of the latest victims. The "#Black Lives Matter" movement started in 2013 after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by an officer who was later acquitted. The list goes on Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezel Ford, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley, Antonio Martin, Tamir Rice, Jermaine Reid, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tamisha Anderson, Dominique Clayton; David Oluwale, Sarah Reed, Edson da Costa, Rashan Charles, Meagan Hockaday & Rodney King just to mention 20 victims of police brutality across the Unites States & the United Kingdom since 1991.
The police did not always need guns to take the lives of these victims as the case of George Floyd shows. some were excessively tasered while in handcuffs, others were choke-held while in hand cuffs. I am not saying that every single black person who lost their lives here were innocent of crime. They were unarmed and the police do not have the right to take their lives.
"injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -Martin Luther King Jr. That's why we need to march, that's why we need to keep voicing out our pain. The looting and burning of properties and cars is unfortunate. We don't want that. We just want our voices to be heard. It is not okay to make our children scared of the law enforcement. Black people will always get their phones out and start recording the moment there is an altercation with a police officer. Why? Because we know the story from experience and without hard irrefutable evidence, the chances of justice are minimal.
The great Bob Marley said decades ago "Until the colour of a persons skin is of no more significance than the colour of their eyes, there will be war" War in this case means marching and protesting for Black Lives.
Having now put down my heavy heart felt words in writing, I hope that I can finally get a good nights sleep tonight.
I want to finish with one more quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".
As a human being and as a black man, it hurts so much to see how cheaply black lives are constantly taken especially in America and by their police force. We've had to live with this "First Class/Second Class Citizen" Syndrome in one form or another all of our lives. it's depressing, demeaning, annoying and frustrating.
Colour is nothing, being human is everything. Every life matters, we all bleed blood, we were all born by women and we all will die one day. We need to leave a better legacy for tomorrow. That re-starts today.
It’s just madness, devastating and totally unacceptable that in any day and age let alone 2020.
We still have to keep questioning police brutality on black people in particular.
How many black people.
This has to stop. This must stop now.
When a parent takes their child or children away from the country in which they reside to live in a foreign country without the knowledge or consent of the other parent, they drive an unbelievably heavy stake through the heart of the left behind parent.
Cases of International Parental Child Abduction as it is better known, has more than doubled over the last decade with almost two UK children being abducted abroad each day according to new figures released in 2013 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and charity, Reunite International.
Imagine yourself coming home after a hard day’s work; only to find out that your family has disappeared, you have no idea where to start searching for them, no one else can offer you any concrete help and even when you eventually discover what country they are in, you realise that it’s too dangerous for you to go there and still no one, not even the police, nor the government can help you get them back.
Now imagine that same situation in 1973. Back then there was no home PC, no internet access, no social media, no mobile phones and very few homes had a phone. The cost of a flight was at least 50% higher than it is today.
My mum knows all these feelings only too well, she was just 26 when her two children, me just seven and my sister five years old were taken by our dad to Nigeria from London England out of the blue. We lived in Nigeria for a total of 14 years. That was my defining moment.
Nowadays, you get to hear from the left behind parent very often, you hear about how their life had been ripped apart and how much they miss their children. Sometimes you even hear from the abducting parent, they try to justify their reasons but very rarely do you get to hear the child or children’s perspective. Usually the trauma is something they don’t want to re-visit so they keep it all locked up inside.
In 2011 my mum finally read my story in the original version of the book “Time Will Tell” she recalls having a towel around her neck which she used to wipe away tears as she read through the pages. The book went on to surprise me as it led to various media work for me including an appearance on BBC Breakfast News. The book won an award and my Facebook page got more than 10,000 Likes.
I got hundreds of questions from all over the world, people wanted to know more, there were too many unanswered questions in the book, they wanted to know amongst other things how I rebuilt my life once I came back to England as a man and most of all they wanted to know why my dad did it.
In January 2014 the updated edition of “Time Will Tell” was published. I was lucky that both my parents were willing to help, they filled in a lot of the gaps and helped me to complete a book that I am immensely proud of. “Time Will Tell” is my story, right from the beginning it takes you into the suspense unfolding before my eyes and it goes on to take you through my emotions growing from boy to man.
Yemi Elegunde’s Matador Bibliography: