One thing about racism, it never takes a day off. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is further evidence of how racism has no boundaries.
In the past month, we have watched and listened to reports of how hundreds have been killed and thousands more have been displaced in their search for peace outside Ukraine. Witnessing this act of violence has been more than painful to watch and highlights the fragility of life - and has brought to light humanity’s worst traits. In addition to the perils and uncertainty of war, Black people in Ukraine have been faced with an added layer of brutality; racism, that is still standing strong even in the face of certain death.
There have been reports of Black People being refused at the border in favour of White People, leaving them stuck at borders for days in inhumane conditions. Now more recently, the Peace Corps has released guidelines on what one might encounter as a ‘Black Volunteer.’ As it reads, ‘It is not uncommon for Ukrainians to refer to African Americans as “N-Word”. Volunteers of colour may be called monkey or may see children’s games with Blackface’ (Peace Corps, Ukraine: Diversity & Inclusion, 2022). How ironic that even in times of war and violence, those who put their lives at risk to help – the Black volunteers still face vicious acts of violence.
The boundless power of racism is so present in every crevasse of society that it is apparent that humanity has not evolved past racism. One can attribute it to the lack of education surrounding the topic, which has therefore let people and institutions get away with the shield of ‘ignorance’. Yet, it transcends ignorance when lives are at stake, and in times of war, people cannot seek shelter or even provide services because of their skin colour. As the world continues to provide Ukraine with support, it is important that we also assess the apparent abandonment of Black human rights. More so, proper discourse should be had on the effects of racism and not just swept under the rug, sticking to the status quo.
Instead, powers, structures and/or institutions need to start thinking of ways in which they can end racism - because as of right now, what we are witnessing is a blatant disregard of civil and fundamental human rights. Rights that are to be afforded to every person regardless of our differences.
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