PEOPLES EMPOWERMENT PARTY
<img. by Dignidad Rebelde & Mazatl>
The United States of America (USA) is currently convulsed with raging debates and public protests over the extra-judicial killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African-American youth, and the refusal of the White dominated criminal justice system to put Martin’s killer on trial.
The unarmed Martin was shot to death in the Florida town of Sanford by one George Zimmerman – a white ‘neighbourhood watch’ coordinator. Apparently, Zimmerman witnessed the hoodie-clad teenager walking through a middle-class neighbourhood, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that Martin was a criminal, leading to a confrontation with Martin, and ultimately to the teenager’s death!
At the heart of this outrageous and tragic situation is the phenomenon known as ‘Racial Profiling’ – an institutionalised racist practise that, since the days of slavery, has been used to target black men and women in the USA.
But who would have thought that in the year 2012, the phenomenon of ‘Racial Profiling’ would still be so alive and well in Barack Obama’s USA?
Well, let it be noted that Barbados has played a role in trying to encourage the USA to combat this evil practise of ‘Racial Profiling’!
It was way back in the year 2001, during preparations for the ‘United Nations World Conference Against Racism’ (UNWCAR) at UN headquarters in Geneva, that the Vice-President of the USA’s second largest black civil rights organisation, the ‘National Urban League’ (NUL), approached me and requested that I assist the NUL to draft a resolution on ‘Racial Profiling’ and to give it the state sponsorship it needed to get adopted by the U.N.
Of course, my first reaction was to ask why the NUL was approaching the government of little Barbados, rather than its own, powerful, US government. And it was explained to me that the US government would never publicly admit in an international forum that the USA was afflicted by the serious racist practice of ‘Racial Profiling’.
So, our “little” Barbados did help to draft and to sponsor the following United Nations resolution:-
“The UN World Conference Against Racism urges States to design, implement and enforce effective measures to eliminate the phenomenon popularly known as “racial profiling” and comprising the practice of police and other law enforcement officers relying, to any degree, on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as the basis for subjecting persons to investigatory activities or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity”.
This resolution is now paragraph 72 of the ‘Durban Programme of Action’ that emerged out the UNWCAR! And if the government of the USA had not walked out of the World Conference Against Racism, and had instead taken steps to seriously implement this resolution over the past decade, perhaps Trayvon Martin would still be alive today!
But we in Barbados are not ourselves immune from this type of criminal profiling! A case in point is the death of the late I’Akobi Maloney. In analysing the causes of Maloney’s death, the Coroner – Magistrate Faith Marshall Harris – noted that the tragic sequence of events was put in place by a St Lucy resident who simply saw a dreadlocked Rastafarian walking along the St Lucy coast and immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was involved in illicit drug activity and summoned the Police! The end result of such social/religious profiling was the death of I’Akobi!
A few of us are determined to ensure that I’Akobi Maloney must not have died in vain, and we have therefore tried to extract something positive from his death by referring the issue of ‘Rasta Profiling’ to the ‘Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’. But alas, no massive Barbadian popular movement for societal change has mobilized around I’Akobi’s death as is the case in the USA with Trayvon’s death!
To their credit, the American people have bypassed their useless black President who, after almost four years of his presidency has totally failed to address the issue of racism, and they are now in the process of establishing a powerful people’s movement to combat racism and ‘racial profiling’.
Surely, this is a sign of the times, and a wake-up call for all the masses of ordinary people of our Americas region. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement and the “Justice For Trayvon” movement are showing us a way forward!
This is the time for masses of ordinary people to mobilise and to exert “People Power” to deal with the accumulated injustices and corruption of our societies – the racism, the discriminatory profiling, the corporate greed and corruption, the social inequalities, the unjust impositions on the poor.
Bajans – it is time to wake up and do something positive with and for your society!
DAVID A COMISSIONG