If 200+ young girls had been kidnapped in Europe/America, the world would have acted by now. Get in there and get them. #BringBackOurGirls
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 5, 2014
Yesterday Piers Morgan said it. The thought that had likely crossed almost every Black and Brown person’s mind who had been watching the (lack of) news for the over 200 young females that were kidnapped in Nigeria since mid-April. I’ve said it many times, I’ve written about it many times – Black bodies, Brown bodies, and non-White bodies in general, are not of the same value in the world as White bodies. This, the result of a global history which views the African and her descendants as inferior. Yes, sure, we are all one under God – I believe it; it’s a truth of natural law. But let’s not pretend those are the laws we follow.
I think it was on the day that the girls were kidnapped, I was on the phone with my dad talking about a different blast that had taken place in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. I wanted to ask about my uncle and his family who live there. And I wanted my dad’s insight into the growing terrorism that has plagued the north of the country for a decade now. Then when I learned about what had taken place with the young girls, it seemed to me that this simply could not be par for the course in the government’s usual lackluster response. Surely, there would be outrage, right?
And there was, mostly from Nigerians. But where was the global media? Where was the immediate outrage from the self-proclaimed police and guards of human rights? Where were all the angry feminists? Where were the international journalists? Because prior to last week, the silence was deafening. And as I waited for the mainstream media to finally say something, it became clear to me once again that the lives we value and the ways in which we value them, are not equal on this earth. And the lives of over 200 poor Black African girls is about as low on the totem pole as you’re going to get.
I suppose my title is a little bit bitter, and maybe I am a little bitter too. But I feel more than anger. Because in these young women, I see myself, I see my sister, I see my family, and I see a world that didn’t care too much until it eventually had to pay attention. And the truth is, if you really observe the world – the stories we tell and don’t tell, the people whose voices matter and don’t matter, the people who we value and don’t value says much more in our action, than any words ever will. And so, that there was little initial response for this nightmare of an incident where everyday makes a difference to finding where these girls are – is really not shocking at all. This is the world that we live in.
I suppose too however, that charity begins at home. Firstly, in that if the Nigerian government’s response has been so slow and so poor, it is of little surprise that so was the rest of the world’s. Of course the reasonable deduction still stands that had this happened to a different demographic of girls, or perhaps if Nigeria’s oil were to be at stake, the international response would have been greater. And secondly, there is the charity that begins at home in terms of the numerous Black bodies that exist as minor groups in parts of the world where racial injustice is their everyday experience; if those parts of the world do not fret too much about the Black bodies in their nations, why would they concern themselves with Black bodies abroad? Controlling for the White Savior complex of course.
Maybe I’m writing this because I feel helpless but I’d rather do something insignificant – whether it’s an article or a small rally or signing petitions online; I’d rather do something than nothing. Maybe I’m writing this because I know I live in the same kind of body as those girls. And I know that in a different life, I could be one of them. Trade the birth year, the religion, and the socioeconomic class I was brought into – I could easily be one of them. Maybe I’m writing this because I need people who find themselves low in the totem poles of this globe, to know that someone who is helpless is at least thinking of them, writing for them, doing something; maybe not much, but something. And above all, I need them to know the world is wrong – they matter, their lives matter.