The Russian government's invasion on Ukraine has killed over 900 citizens, injured 1,459 people and more than 10 million people have fled with 6.5 million displaced. Ensuring the safety of people of color should be our government's top priority – and Salisbury University should involve itself beyond just one email and panel.
Black and brown people are being left in the dust, fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine.
This is an instance of racism, colorism and xenophobia.
White citizens of Ukraine and soldiers are turning away, threatening and beating Indian and Nigerian people, among others, from the border – largely university students. Any non-white foreigner at the Hungarian-Ukraine border was racially profiled, according to CNN.
"The root cause is simple: It is white supremacy, a deeply ingrained culture of racism in the West, and all they are doing is enabling more of this," British-Nigerian lawyer and political commentator Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said to the Global Times.
The West's lack of acknowledgment regarding displaced people of color and clear racism, leaving Black and brown people for dead, even occurs in journalism.
A CBS foreign correspondent called Kyiv “relatively civilized” in comparison to Iraq and Afghanistan; a reporter for Britain’s ITV in Poland said Ukraine is not “a developing third world nation"; and in a BBC interview, a Ukrainian politician was upset to see “European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”
Western journalism's blatant racism and bias against Black and brown people, especially when it comes to generalizing places such as the vast continent of Africa, has persisted for centuries.
"Until a few decades ago, the idea prevailed in Europe and North America that some humans were more biologically evolved than others ... resulting [in] racism, Dark Continent stereotypes, and evolutionism..." according to Curtis Keim, author of Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind.
A few decades of white supremacy does not just disappear.
The treatment of Ukraine is far different than any other country experiencing war because it is a mostly white and European country. People of color inside and outside of these countries do not matter to white leaders.
Biden helped Ukraine giving an additional $500 million to military and humanitarian aid after the initial $800 million. Ukraine's military resistance includes the Azov battalion, an alt-right neo-Nazi group.
White supremacy being an issue globally and systemically is clear even during war. This is not an excuse to spread genocidal rhetoric like Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide … we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” Putin said during a national address.
Protecting people subjected to genocide with genocide does not make sense.
Putin's emphasis on Nazism disregards Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's Jewish ancestry.
Additional humanitarian aid and truthful media coverage are needed to ensure the safety of people who are Jewish and all people of color coming out of Ukraine.
"After the bloody 20th century, we should all have built enough discernment to know that war is not peace..." Izabella Tabarovsky and Eugene Finkel said, scholars of genocide, Nazism and WWII in a statement on Ukraine.
Genocide is unjustifiable.
There is too much focus on how "Russia has strangled democracy" and how important it is that Ukraine is semi-democratic (and white). No citizen should die because of their government.
White governments need to stop excessive displays of power, righteousness and weaponry. While they do that, citizens are protesting all over the world, including in Russia.
Citizens should not be treated as pawns of war play.
Russian people who are protesting Putin's war on Ukraine are being witch-hunted by authorities, the weaponization of a police state – similar to America's weaponization of policing.
Civil disobedience is consistently met with corrupt consequences, including death.
As a university, we should have more conversations about the roots of war and genocide, discuss the importance and erasure of Black and brown people and share more resources on how to help those affected.
No more sweeping the experiences of marginalized people under the rug. No more talking over people of color. No more genocidal rhetoric.
Focus on humanity.
By SUMMER SMITH
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