Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Dear Hillary, Why #Black Lives Matter

My Letter to Hillary

Did you see the video of Hillary speaking with the activist Julius Jones from Black Lives Matter?

This was backstage in Keene, New Hampshire. I read about the exchange in The New York Times, and watched the video. The author, Maggie Haberman, said the exchange was visceral and raw. Do you think so?

In the article in The New York Times, you can also find Part 2 of the video. Again there is pushback from each side. Hillary repeats her request to Jones for a plan. Jones says that white people have to act to change hearts.

“If that’s all that happens,” she tells Mr. Jones in the video, with a certain world-weariness, “we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

Where do I send my letter to Hillary? I’ve searched unsuccessfully! Your advice is needed. Or would The NYTimes post it as an op-ed?

Dear Hillary,

Thank you for speaking with the people from Black Lives Matter. We need dialogue.

You asked for a plan. But even without a plan, there are actions we can  take, we white people who want to help.

We need to recognize that we have privilege, unearned but ours, and it gives us a responsibility because we can get listened to. This is especially true for you. Many of us are paying atteniton to your national campaign.

Three actions you can encourage us all to take:

  1. Whisk out our cameras and video what is happening when we see a person of color being treated unfairly – stopped in a store or asked for ID when whites are not.
  2. Talk about the reasons for the importance of the #Black Lives Matter movement. Say, “for 400 years black lives didn’t matter when blacks provided free labor to build this country. In the last century black lives didn’t matter when the country turned its back on lynchings, on housing discrimination, and on inferior schools. In the last two years, black lives haven’t mattered to policemen who were not evil, but carried out what they were taught by society – black men are dangerous but white men are not.”
  3. Advocate for the restoration of voting rights taken away two years ago by the Supreme Court decision.

Hillary, you can set an example by speaking out. Your privilege means people listen. You can find more suggestions in my blog.

But changing hearts is not enough, as you said. We have to change laws and systems. You can tell us what laws you would seek to change as president that will help to end systemic racism.

Yours, Catherine Onyemelukwe

These suggestions are from my sermon of August 9. There are others as well.

NNPC Update

A recent article from the Financial Times tells me that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is moving in the right direction. The management has been thinned and shaken up, though retaining enough people to keep the organization’s history in mind and processes working.

NNPC logo and title from their website

NNPC logo and title from their website

“NNPC has said that it aims to create a leaner and more efficient organisation and restructure the company from being a government-focused body towards ‘a profit-driven business’,” the author said.

I read the five names of the new members of the executive committee and was encouraged. Good private sector representation with academic qualifications, and a mix of tribes, or as is now more politically correct, ethnicity. (Even WordPress tells me ‘tribes’ is bias language!) That’s what I thought.

There were complaints however. The Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, reported that NNPC refuted charges of favoritism, saying, “the retirement exercise affected all those who were to retire between now and 2016 without any regard to ethnicity or state of origin.

UN Assistance

The UN is undertaking intervention for 500 rescued victims of Boko Haram, according to several Nigerian newspapers; my info is from Punch.

Applicants with papers at UN site in Nigeria, from their website

Applicants with papers at UN site in Nigeria, from their website

“Mr. Matthew Alao, UN Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Analyst in Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the programme was under the UNDP Livelihood Support Scheme for the zone.”

Why do UN agencies and people have such unwieldy titles and names? It’s as if they defy us to remember them!

“According to him, the skills acquisition programme is the first phase of intervention by the UN to reduce the suffering of the displaced persons. Alao said that the skills training would cover hair dressing, tailoring, knitting, catering, decorations, GSM repair, shoe-making, leather works and computer studies.”

The photo shows only men, but I’m sure there are far more women.

No doubt there is great need. I do hope the UN Livelihood Support Scheme actually asked the displaced persons what training would help them!

Is Defeat Possible?

President Buhari has given his military chiefs three months to defeat the insurgents. The Nigerian Air Force has started air raids, and there are regular reports of military successes, mixed with Boko Haram acts of terror.

The Chibok girls have not been found.

The South African online news outlet, News24, interviewed a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Martin Ewi about Boko Haram. He is not optimistic.

“Ewi:  I do not think by any means that the Buhari administration can end [the] Boko Haram crisis in the next three months by military means alone.

“With the exception of the shuffle in personnel, many of the challenges that the army faced have not been completely addressed. The issue of arms, training and morale still confronts the military. So it is not feasible to say that the military is prepared to eradicate Boko Haram.”

Harsh words. True?


Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

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