I wrote in one of the posts that the world has become a global street, and that anything you do can have global acclaim or condemnation. I also stated in another post that social media has become the 5th estate of the realm, after the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of government. The fourth realm of the state is organised journalism.
You will recall that the whole world has been virtually on lock down because of the fear of the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 infection.
We said that the value for life and living was uppermost in the minds of most people, including Americans. However, the death of George Floyd showed another aspect of humanity and Americans in particular. Though there were similar reactions from other nations across the globe, the American people responded in a way that was very spectacular and intriguing. There were spontaneous protests across the country. The protests spread very quickly throughout the 50 states of the country. It spread faster than the novel coronavirus did in the United States of America.
I saw large crowds of people from different races, males and females. A great percentage of them wore face masks, but the rules of social distancing were broken or thrown to the wind. I saw people lying on the lawn shouting I can’t breathe. I saw policemen hugging protesters and shaking hands with protesters. There were times the policemen knelt down to apologise for the death of George Floyd.
From the crowds I saw of protesters. Policemen, members of the national guard, and even looters and anarchists, I came to a conclusion that Americans value liberty, human rights, and justice far more than the fear of COVID-19 infection and possible death. At least there is the high possibility of surviving COVID-19 infection, but the endemic issues of racism, racial profiling, and police brutality especially against people of African descent and Latinos has been lingering for long and seems defiant to treatment.
As I write, more than 106,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 infection, but the people were more desperate to be heard. They were more determined to uphold the values of the founding fathers of the nation. They are demanding that America should live up to the ideals they demand from other nations across the globe.
As I am writing this, there are truckloads of American military men, tightly packed, without facemasks, moving towards the White House to protect the President.
The people were not afraid of death; some defied curfews to protest. Americans were screaming, and screams spread coronavirus, but they didn’t care.
When will Nigerians take a stand against the looting and raping of their nation and demand to be heard? When will our leaders reach a level of intellectual development not to use live bullets to kill protesters? Commentators say they have never seen protests like this since the Civil Rights Movement in 1968 and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.
Something I must mention here is the research by Professor David Williams of the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Harvard University. His team found out that an unarmed male of African descent is five times more likely to be shot dead than his Caucasian counterpart. They also found out that after the shooting of an unarmed man of African descent, there is an increase in mental health crisis and stress related issues in the whole community where the killing took place. They also found out that racial discrimination among the African American community is an aggravating factor in the the high incidences of hypertension, depression, anxiety, and even the onset of cancer.
COVID-19 is a novel virus, but racial discrimination and is an old and an endemic virus, with age-long underlying diseses, that predispose people to COVID-19 infection. You can see the link between the protests and COVID-19.
Just like the effects of the killings of unarmed men of African American identity lead to various psychological and other medical issues, I suspect that every Boko Haram attack, Fulani herdsmen attack, brutality and senseless killings by the police or our security agencies, must have led to severe mental and physical health damages to Nigerians in different parts of the country.
Even among those of us who are above 60 years, we are under so much emotional pressure when we see how our common wealth is being looted by a few elites. When we see the huge sums being borrowed without commensurate visible developments or improvement in the standard of living of Nigerians, from north to south, and east to west, it is very troubling. Any time my son goes out, I am worried. Any time I hear of kidnappings I get very worried. The stress in Nigeria is having a subtle, but debilitating, effect on our collective health.
The day George Floyd died, and Americans defied COVID-19, I can guess how Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rebecca Birx will be feeling. I know how Andrew Cuomo will be feeling. Their greatest fear is that the COVID-19 virus is very unemotional, and does not respect people and nations. My greatest prayer is that all the sacrifices and the gains of the lockdown will not be lost because of these protests.