#BlackLivesMatter, but not in the US?

Published: December 10, 2014

Sad as it is, the US is infested with weapons that usually land into wrong hands ending up in the killing of innocent souls. PHOTO: REUTERS

It’s been a terrible, stressful and shameful time. We’ve hung our heads in despair, taken to the streets to protest and made our voices heard in the media to bring home the point that the scourge of racism in the US is back with a bang.

Having lived here for almost a quarter of a century now, I’ve personally never felt so disappointed and disgusted with the way things have turned out with respect to race relations. The past few years have increased the frequency and intensity of tensions created due to obnoxious handling of incidents that could have been easily avoided had better sense prevailed at the time of their occurrence.

I have vague memories of the Rodney King incident, back in 1991. Mass scale protests followed soon after the verdict of the case was announced. At that time, it seemed that the US justice system had appallingly let down the people of colour and brought back unsavoury memories of the atrociously unspeakable years of slavery and racial discrimination.

We have an Afro-American president in the White House. Barack Obama’s election six years ago was considered to be the dawn of a new era in US politics. Everyone hoped that this was a transition for the better and would bring about intra-racial cohesion that was much needed in certain spots of the society as well as areas of the country.

As it turns out, things have been quite creepy lately, to say the least. We’ve had events of mindboggling nature. Sad as it is, the US is infested with weapons that usually land into wrong hands ending up in the killing of innocent souls. The other unforgettable and unforgiveable dimension of this dynamic is the pungent issue of race that has essentially paralysed any prospects of peaceful coexistence, bringing the country to a screeching halt on a number of occasions.

Starting from the suspense ridden, mysterious shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin down to this year’s earth shaking, traumatic Michael BrownTamir Rice and Eric Garner episodes, the US has been rocked by race driven chaos. The pandemonium and disorder in the courts, as well as on the streets, has been unprecedented. It has been proven beyond doubt that cops and police have unbridled powers in the country and they can make or break lives at their sweet will.

The laws are strict and do protect civil liberties. However, when the time comes for the real deal and implementation of rules on the streets, those responsible for enforcement, corrupted by power at their disposal, turn into ruthless monsters. Cops essentially have a license to kill!

The writing on the wall is weird. Incredible as it may sound, these baffling killings of Afro-American individuals across the US landscape is a negative blast from the past. Memories of the past are painful. Beyond that, tons of effort has been put in to ensure that citizen rights are well-protected and everyone in this country is able to enjoy a peaceful, safe and secure existence. The US is a melting pot, a huge reservoir of diversity and, rightly so, it has lived up to its reputation.

In the face of adversity, nations must remain positive. After a series of violent street protests and breaking of public property, things are calming down. While it is hard to pinpoint the exact causes of these upsetting events, one can remain optimistic that better sense will eventually prevail. The president and the attorney general have already intervened and states are taking steps to check police powers and train the cops more effectively. There is certainly no excuse for the blatant abuse of authority.

There are no easy answers to this mess. So, whereas the concerns are absolutely legitimate, it’s not that the massive fabric of the society is crumbling down. True, this is a war within the US and, yes, deep down, at times, age-old hatreds and aversions can stay on forever. The good news, however, is that having weathered so many storms in the recent past, the US can and will bounce back and make this not-so-perfect system work. There is no dearth of ideas to improve. As the debate goes on, so will the effort to harmonise, synchronise and bring the people of the country together.

Ahson Saeed Hasan

Ahson Saeed Hasan

The writer is a proud American, a peacenik who has traveled well over 80 countries and lived in four continents. He likes to share his experiences and reflect on the worldly surroundings. He tweets @tweetingacho (twitter.com/tweetingacho)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hunza wala

    ‘…it is hard to pinpoint the exact causes of these upsetting events’
    Good grief man ! You been describing
    it through out your blog, as shooting deaths of black men at the hands
    of the police. And in the last few lines you claim it is hard to ascertain
    what are the reasons!?!…Pheeoowwh !Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Well I thought there were pockets of racism only in the south west. Now I see that it is endemicRecommend

  • etisham ul haq

    rubbish populist article as usualRecommend

  • Critical

    I think the author should research about the Michael Brown case before he could write articles about discrimination…

    Michael Brown just robbed a convenience store and manhandled the store clerk…He tried to pull away the gun from the officer..Mind you,that “little boy” was 6’2″ and weighed close to 250 pounds…Not sure what might have happened if he had taken the gun from the officer…Any officer in this case would have pulled fire and the victim could be of any color…

    If you check the racially motivated crimes,80% of them are committed by blacks on other races…The likes of Al Sharpton,Obama are making the world believe that USA is oppressing the blacks even though they have equal rights as anyone…

    One might cite the poverty and jail population,USA is an equal employment nation and if a person has good credentials,he will get job no matter his color…You should know that even blacks who got a good job would escape from the ghetto the first chance they get..and considering the amount of crime done by blacks,its no wonder the jail population is skewed over it…

  • Parvez

    America is a big and rich country but it has it issues……..and disparity between the rich and the poor is one such issue. Certain writers think that this gap is widening and the cost of this inequality is resulting in societal degradation and its not just the African American who is being affected. The good thing as you have said, is that when pushed to the wall ‘ the system ‘ will right itself……..or so the thinking goes.
    Interesting topic and nicely written.Recommend

  • shah

    worthless article, of no interest to Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Ernest Dempsey

    As someone living in US and in contact with people and organizations here, I think the author has made bigger and more bombastic claims. I believe racism continues everywhere – and far less in US than in Pakistan – but the main problem is in justice system. There are cases of white people killed brutally by white cops (Kelly Thomas in 2011 for example) and white people attacked and killed by black cops (the killing of Dillon Tayler in Utah). The bigger concern is lack of accountability, and yes, many Americans are worried that the judicial system almost always sides on the police side. As an animal rights advocate, I have written against court decisions victimizing animals accused of aggression. The courts are horrible everywhere, and of course Pakistan is a classic case of judicial dictatorship.Recommend

  • Ernest Dempsey

    I actually read some details of the black population in jals in the book “The Value of Violence” by Ben Ginsberg. It’s a terrifying story and kind of surprising how it is effectively shielded from public as mainstream media never engages in investigations of what happens inside the prisons to weaker inmates who can’t defend themselves against the gangs in prisons.Recommend

  • Golnath Agarwal.

    The author of the blog is a journalist. And lives in the US. You are
    writing under a fake name. And your English is full of mistakes. Recommend

  • Ernest Dempsey

    Golnath, or whatever your real name is, first I would like you to point out what mistakes you see in my English – providing lexical/linguistic sources or references. Secondly, your failure to see the difference between a pen name and a fake name shows your own incompetence when it comes to language.Recommend

  • Humza

    I suppose when people write things like, ” … and far less in US than in Pakistan…” I get them impression that the writer is desi. As a native English speaker I would have written,” and far less in the THE US ….”. There are small things like articles and the placement of prepositions that often gives away that a comment is not written by a native English speaker. No doubt, you live in the West like many desis but you’ll agree that no one really loses his or her accent nor do people stop making the small give away mistakes that I mention. For example, my father has lived in North America since he came in the 60s but he still makes these small mistakes in his written and spoken English. Frankly no American I know cares an iota of the Pakistani judicial system or knows much about racism in Pakistan. The fact that you as a supposed American would claim that there is more racism in Pakistan than America would not resonate with the majority of Americans whether black or white. All Americans would agree that the nation has a uniquely troubled racial history which stems from the scourge of slavery.Recommend

  • Golnath Agarwal.

    There are numerous, numerous shows about life inside prisons.
    On quite a few cable channels. The main ones CNN, MSNBC
    etc. every evening or every weekend ! There are uncounted documentaries. Are you sure you live in the US?Recommend

  • Golnath Agarwal

    Why did you censure half of the comment??
    What is wrong with you ET moderators??Recommend

  • Golnath Agarwal

    Why did you censure half of the comment??
    What is wrong with you ET moderators??Recommend