October 17, 2017

The Deadliest Terror Attack in years happened this weekend. Oh, you Didn’t Know? Me Neither.

Yes, “me too” is important.

Yes, exposing and stopping men like Harvey Weinstein is important.

Yes, finally standing up and speaking out and changing this pervasive culture of sexual violence and abuse we live in is important.

But is it more important than over 300 black lives? Well, apparently so.

On Saturday, terrorists decimated central Mogadishu with a massive truck bomb in “one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years.”

“The bomb destroyed a hotel, and parts of the foreign ministry, trapping many inside beneath the rubble.

The death toll is expected to rise from that total, as more bodies are found in the rubble.” ~ via The Independent

I’ve read multiple articles covering Harvery Weinstein since the weekend—and rightly so. But until today, I have seen hardly any media coverage (in fact, none at all until 24-hours after it actually happened) of this devastating loss of human life.

Hang on, let me clarify: loss of black African life.

Okay, Paris darkened the Eiffel Tower yesterday in honor of the victims of this horrific attack, but let’s be honest here, if something like this has actually happened in Paris we would all be all over it. #JeSuisParis

So, #JeSuisMogadishu anyone? I don’t think so.

I live in Africa. I am African—though the privileged white kind of African—and I can tell you why not. We are shockingly numb to the loss of black lives, to black suffering. Let me clarify: human suffering. It’s downright shameful. And it’s time we owned up to it.

Why is it that the loss of brown child is more run-of-the-mill to us than that of a white one? Why is our compassion selective?

It’s an uncomfortable question to ask ourselves.

“Life is cheap in Africa.”

“These people have no respect for life.”

I’ve heard things like this more times than I can count. In casual conversation. It’s more blatant here in South Africa where the wounds of racial hatred (discrimination is never a strong enough word) are in some ways more recent and raw, but in others more open for airing and, sometimes, for healing.

We need to admit we lack compassion, that we have blind spots, that we don’t care for or identify as much with some people as we do for or with others.

We really shouldn’t walk around calling ourselves spiritual or mindful or compassionate if that spirituality or mindfulness or compassion has limits, if it doesn’t extend deeply to everyone.

If we really do believe black lives matter, we need to admit to ourselves that black lives don’t matter to us all because we are taught that they are less valuable than our own.

And that is the truth. No matter how hard it is—swallow it, and own it.

Extend your compassion to those you find it hard to identify with. Mourn for those you don’t understand. Stand in solidarity with those far away. Cry for those children who look different to your own.

Acknowledge them.

Remember them.


Relephant reads:

Do Black Lives REALLY Matter?

More than Compassion: The Gift of Empathy.

The Dalai Lama: Prayer is not Enough.


Author: Khara-Jade Warren
Images: via Twitter
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Emily Bartran


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