May 25, 2020 will be remembered globally as the day that unleashed global outrage and opened the pandora’s box of racism, political power and violent repression of blacks and other minority groups in the US and globally. A hitherto unknown African American was murdered in the most humiliating manner ever witnessed.
African Americans have routinely been hunting targets for American police, but this time round the murder of George Floyd, an African American, by the Police in Minneapolis in the United States, has resulted in a global uproar. The June 13, 2020 edition of the New York Times reported that there were demonstrations and protests in 2,000 cities and towns. Demonstrations took place in all states and in Washington DC, the demonstrators were in the 10s of thousands. These demonstrations went viral – Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Taiwan, the Balkans, and several other countries all witnessed solidarity protests. In all these demonstrations the cry for social justice and against racism reverberated loudly.
People are angry and demonstrating against racism not because of the single murder of George Floyd, but it was a last straw that broke the camel’s back. There has been a long history of repression and exploitation dating back to the slave era and involving nearly all countries that are now economic superpowers. The support of the US President Trump for police brutality (when the rioting starts the shooting starts) and his explicit expression of sympathy for white supremacy brings back memories of the Tulsa Race riots. In May 1921 Tulsa (Oklahoma) nearly 300 African Americans were massacred by rampaging white mob who burnt down Greenwood – an emerging and thriving town established by African Americans given land to settle after the civil war. Homes and properties were burnt, and corpses littered the town. The ruthlessness of the Tulsa massacre was a continuation of centuries of oppression and exploitation by Europeans with the inception of the slave trade from Africa to the United States, the Caribbean and European countries. The struggle spearheaded by Black Lives Matter (BLM), brings to the fore a tragic global history – the ruthless exploitation of Africa, its people and resources, justified by the ideology of white supremacy and its notion of white superiority and black inferiority. There has been a persistent and organised to attempt using various mediums – economic control, education, culture, the media etc – to reinforce a consciousness amongst whites of their superiority and by so doing deepen and lead to an acceptance of inferiority by black people. And this approach has gone beyond the United States and is prevalent among Africans and has led to a division amongst the working people and especially between African Americans and first-generation Africans resident in the US and Europe.
We in the Social Justice Movement of Ghana (SJMG) support wholeheartedly the BLM movement and actions taken by the global community against racism. The BLM is a continuation of the civil rights movement in the 1960s led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X, and other African Americans. We note however the new dimension in this struggle and especially the leadership role played by young women and the active use of social media. The movement was founded by three (3) women who have adopted the community centred leadership model. We acknowledge the leadership roles played by the founders (Alicia Garcia, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi) who have been joined by others like Tamika D Mallory in the US, Assa Traore in Paris, and other women leaders in other countries. What is also significant about the movement is the broad coalition of forces united by their desire to see an end to racism and for social justice. The momentum has been sustained by a large section of people drawn from different nationalities and races as well as minority groups. And in this struggle, there is the recognition of the fact that all people are equal.
The SJMG also notes that racism, capitalist exploitation and maintaining political power go hand in hand and this has been clearly represented by the position taken by US President Trump. We hold the view that if there is capitalist exploitation, racism will persist. And if the capitalist system, with its roots in slavery, continues to use violence to keep oppressed people under control, police killings of unarmed civilians will continue. And as long as this continues, the struggle against policy brutality, for social justice and an equitable society will remain a prime objective for all those who endorse the unfolding struggle unleashed by the murder of George Floyd. It is in this direction that BLM movement has implications for Ghana and Africa.
These struggles against racism and struggles for equality have resonance in African countries and in Ghana. In the US white supremacists succeeded in putting one of their own – Donald Trump- in the white house - In Ghana, it is an open secret that both NDC and NPP governments are led by cabals of interest groups– family, ethnic, business interests – which coalesce under so-called political parties to advance their interests. Apart from their different historical origins, there is little to choose between the two parties when it comes to policies, programmes, and projects. Their primary aim is to exploit our country’s resources for the interest of their respective cabals. And they do this with the assistance and connivance of international capital – IMF, World Bank, other financial institutions, and foreign governments keen on gaining access to Ghana’s resources. The pretext (as the auditor-General’s reports show) is usually “national development” and infrastructure is the favourite. In the process, they have turned Ghana into a neo-colony. And in this process, the cabals will use violence – the police and national security – to have their way. And it is here that the BLM movement’s struggle against racism and the struggle for genuine democracy and against police/national security brutality share common ground.
The essence is the same – white supremacists working through the police deal ruthlessly with African Americans whilst in Ghana, Police and Nationality security protect the interests of the cabal by dealing ruthlessly with perceived opponents.
Ernesto Yeboah of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was picked up by the security forces and detained for 26 hours for demonstrating in support of the BLM movement. The argument of violating lockdown orders is a lame excuse by the government and its security forces. They simply wanted to show where power lies and the arrest of the leader of the EFF who poses no threat, when they were at a vigil in honour of George Floyd, is unjustifiable. Globally, BLM movement demonstrations defied Covid-19 rules.
This lays bare the hypocrisy of the NPP and shows their preparedness to act against sections of the population who independently wanted to honour the memory of George Floyd. And they did this when his Excellency President Nana Akuffo sent a solidarity message to the funeral of George Floyd.
The violence unleashed during the bye-elections of Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency is still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians and rumours of the preparedness of the security forces to unleash violence to ensure the NPP retains power abound. The tendency of the CID to invite people who make statements deemed threatening for questioning is all part of the scheme to intimidate and terrorise.
The SJMG calls on the youth of Ghana not to be deceived or intimidated by our leaders.
We call on the youth to draw inspiration from the courage of the young women and men of the BLM movement and their organisational methods and stand out to be counted as champions for social justice and against repression wherever it rears its head. We remind them that whichever party that has been in power in Ghana from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and now the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), has used violence to achieve its ends and to maintain themselves in power and against working people any time they dare demand justice.
We call on the ruling government to draw inspiration from Donald Trump’s experience and avoid unleashing violence because they will not be able to contain the aftermath as the BLM Movement and the global demonstrations have shown.
The SJMG is ready to support the youth organise and take responsibility for their future and we shall work with you and support you in your quest to make Ghana a home that cares for its citizens and not just the cabals organised into the dominant political parties – NDC and NPP