When reading the title of this post your mind may run down memory lane and think about Michael Jackson’s Black or White music video. Jackson made the statement that “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white” and while many of us may want this to be true, our social systems suggest that it really does matter. At the writing of this post we are only twelve days into the year 2015 and in those few days much has happened.
From January 3rd – 6th nearly 2000 people were killed by the Boko Haram militants in Baga, Nigeria. In the year 2014 the militant group killed more than 10,000 people. This story was covered by several media outlets but very little is being done to stop these bloody attacks. We do not see world leaders coming together to show support for the people of Nigeria and we do not see a united effort world leaders to stop the militant group. Sadly the attacks are expected to increase as the February 14th date of the Presidential and general elections near.
On January 7th of this year, the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo a satirical weekly newspaper in Paris, France was attacked by two masked gunmen and 12 people were killed. In response France has mobilized 10,000 troops to boost security. On Sunday, January 11th 3.7 million people took to the streets in France in a show of support for the victims. About 40 world leaders joined in the marches, French President Francois Hollande, also British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy locked arms and marched. Adding to the show of support for France, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprisingly join together to marched showing solidarity with the French victims.
When 12 French citizens are killed by masked gunmen about 40 world leaders unite to show support for France and the victims. However we did not see this same sense of global support when nearly 2000 were slaughtered in Nigeria. What is the reason for the different responses? Are 12 French lives more valuable than 2000 Nigeria lives? Does it matter if you’re black or white?
I pray that we all develop the willingness to value all lives and together we can change the way our social systems show more value for white lives over black. It’s up to us to force change in our media and in our government’s varied response to different races of people. We as citizens have to begin to speak up and challenge our social systems to treat an attack of a newspaper in Paris and an attack of an NAACP building in Colorado the same. We have to speak up and challenge our social systems to treat the loss of 12 lives in Paris and the loss of 2000 lives in Nigeria the same. It’s not enough to simply say that Black or White lives matter we must raise our moral conscious to say that all lives matter. Does it matter if you’re black or white, you will have to decide.