The United States, currently the world’s epicentre of the deadly Coronavirus, with over 100 000 deaths to date, has been plunged into a “crisis within a crisis”.
The alleged murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in the city of Minneapolis has changed the picture of the “most powerful country in the world” to one of escalating anarchy, mayhem, destruction and rioting, unseen in that country before.
Images from across the United States of masses of people burning, looting and destroying infrastructure in protest against what has been perceived as a racist killing, impales any perception that a powerful country such as that can be immune from the power of the people.
Countrywide protests that have turned into horrific violence is a stark reminder to the world that racism is a catalyst that can spark emotions way beyond that which the mind can imagine.
America has always been punctuated with acts of racism that reminded all of us that prejudice of one race against another is a malady, that if not removed from our hearts and minds, will eventually become our very consumption.
Unprecedented violent protests in the United States has overshadowed the Covid-19 pandemic for a moment; it has reared the ugly head of man’s inhumanity to man; it has defined what many of us have to come to realise, that there are those in this world who will never cede to the fundamental credo that as much as we are all born equal – that we have to be as equal throughout our lifetime to all of our fellow brethren.
We cannot be relegated to an illusionary belief that our value as human beings are to be determined by the the colour and chemical of our skin – that our basic human rights are sacrosanct, even by those wielding oppressive power that drives them to utter insanity.
The extirpation of racism cannot happen simply by the legislature or the barrel of the gun or by simple and decent appeal.
It cannot even be diminished by just censure alone because it is a contagion that that sits on a mantle deep in the soul of those whose evolution obscures rational thought and sober minds when it comes to the simple matter of humanity.
South Africa can take many lessons from the tragedy that is the United States of America.
While in the throes of our own battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, there are glaring signs that we too can become embroiled very easily in a vicious and potentially destructive orgy of violence based on race and racism, if the powers that be do not tread carefully in a country very much polarised by race.
Race will always be a myth – but racism will not. The power of the people as history has well taught us, must never be under-estimated – never.
The movie “Mississippi Burning” was based on a story of a racist killing in the United States and tragically, Minneapolis has followed suit at a time when not that country or any other country in the world can afford to be detracted from the deadly crisis we all face.
The world needs sanitising – not only for health reasons but also to rid the distaste of racism which in itself is a virulence bound to destroy over and over again, until there may be nothing left.