As I sat in the office feeling so traumatized and sad after watching the graphic videos of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, part of me regretted watching the videos because they brought to light how these men were killed and I couldn’t handle it, but another part of me felt like, sometimes you only get to really understand things when you see and not only hear and read, so as I went through all these emotions I then discovered that there’s a group of people that were planning on gathering to march on the White House to end Police brutality, which I therefore scheduled to attend, especially after I saw that most of my friends the Atlas Corps fellows are planning on going.
I was so amazed with the outcome as a lot of people showed up from all races and walks of life with placards to be part of the solidarity walk, and what was even more impressive is when we walked to the U.S Capital and the members of congress came out and addressed the crowd. Despite having a peaceful protest in Washington D.C, I learnt that it wasn’t the same in Dallas Texas as a sniper turned up to go after white cops, making the black lives matter protest look so racist and full of vengeance as I can see from some of the opinions on my Facebook and twitter feeds. I spent some time explaining to one of my friends why the black lives matter activists should not be judged or termed as seeking revenge because of one or two individuals who are fade up, driven by hate and decide to take the law in their own hands.
The following day I started thinking about my country Zambia and how we do not have such issues and thankful for the peace we enjoy and this feeling takes a quick twist when I decided to catch up with news from Zambian and the first headline is that a girl has been shot dead by the police during a protest in Lusaka, I felt fear grip me and I am full of shock, my thoughts are, “what is happening to my peaceful Zambia?”. I also learn about the conflicts going on in Juba – South Sudan and this is too crazy! Has everyone resorted to guns?
The way I felt about the death of Philando, Alton and the 5 cops from Dallas is deeper than I felt living in Zambia and hearing on the news about the death of Mike Brown Jr. It was easy to say “Oh did you hear what happened in The U.S?, that’s so sad” and quickly brush it off. It’s easy to relate with issues that directly affect you or your or region and very easy to detach yourself from injustices when you do not feel closely affected to them. The incident that occurred in Zambia in the same week the shootings occurred in the United States made me rethink about how I respond to issues that occur in places far away and yet I call myself a social justice advocate. Many times when I hear about injustices that occur in far off places, I rarely make follow ups or try to connect with people that I know who are affected by those issues.
I am glad that living in D.C gives opportunities to connect with the people that are going through hardships no matter how far through the vigil nights that occur at Dupont circle after a terror attack has happened, or any injustice that affects a lot of people, and attending these gives you a common ground to relate and sympathize with people and countries that are in these deplorable situations. As social justice advocates we need to voice out against injustices that occur through social media and relating with the people affected in any way possible.