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  • Thandiwe Ntshinga

State-enforced Black trauma is a borderless trigger

American news and social commentary continue to show the world that Black lives do not matter there, at all. Hardly a week goes by without news of police brutality towards African-American people. This past week, the list of Black people killed by law enforcement grows with the addition of George Floyd on 25 May 2020.

On the other side of the world, in South Africa, there is a collective sense of sadness that is also felt by these Black killings. A certain familiarity that is experienced in watching the helplessness of Black people. A shared Black trauma.

Like many, I am feeling the weight of nonstop Black murders in the United States. I am not American but I am not immune to feeling disturbed by the normalisation of institutionalised Black death. That one of the “leaders of the Free World” and great defender of democracy – outside its own borders—has not been condemned by the international community for its blatant disregard of the basic human right to life baffles me. I am confused at how, in 2020, white state-violence against Black people has not been vilified in the United States as it was in South Africa?

Initially, I struggled to understand my heavy-hearted feelings of despair. I questioned my feelings of hurt disappointment and anger towards racism on a different continent. Did I need to feel on such a deeply emotional level? Is it my place to voice my opinion on this issue? Isn't it always my place when it comes to racism and Black suffering? These were some of the questions that I tossed around in my head and my heart.

In the age of social media, activist practices are often critiqued. However, the speaking up and mobilising against anti-Black racism that I know existed long before social media. Back then, Black solidarity was an international affair. Thinking back on the African-American people I have encountered in my life, I think only of those pro-Black who supported our own struggle for liberation in South Africa. These are a slightly older generation of African Americans who grew up with an awareness of Black genocide under the apartheid regime. As a ‘struggle kid’, I am very aware of the fact that our struggle was not fought alone. We received support both from Africa and the Diaspora.

State-enforced Black trauma is a trigger. It is a reminder of the perceived worthlessness of Black life. It explicitly illustrates the violence of whiteness. It is a trigger that has no borders.

As Americans take to the streets to protest yet another senseless murder of a Black person, I wonder where the hell international intervention has been on this racist matter? Can "America the Great" really be so powerful that these genocidal practices of overt racism—within today’s global neo-liberalism—remain unchallenged? Black people in America are living in an apartheid state— where are the sanctions?


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