Red Friday Installments: Apathy Doesn’t Count
“So are you going to the protest?”
“Nah… I have meetings”
-_____________- “But you work for yourself… like, you set your own schedule and it will all be done by like, noon.”
“Meeehhhhhh… I just feel like, there is no point really. I mean, they know the issues, they just don’t care. And if they cared, we wouldn’t need to protest! I don”t see what marching and standing around is gonna do anyway”
“But for every single person that says that, we lose that much momentum and brute force for agitation…. and… well— nevermind, you suck. And I hope all of your meetings fail tomorrow”
“Wow… I suck? really Amma?”
“So are you ordering fish or chicken at Chez?”
This is essentially an amalgamation of conversations I had with friends on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
Conversations about protests, civil unrest, complaining, civil rights, agitation.
Conversations about history, struggle, responsibility, impetus.
Conversations about change— changing mindsets, changing governments, changing attitudes, changing events.
These conversations are taxing.
I was saying the same thing over and over and over and over again. I was annoyed. I had to stop myself from insulting people that I loved. People that I cared about. I had to show restraint. Because some of their sentiments were… well… stupid.
I was raised in what used to be, the wealthiest African American county in the USA, where 98% of the inhabitants are black… I have always been exposed, in one way or the other to pan African ideas and history. While in college I took a plethora of Africana courses and I have married DuBois and Nkrumah a million and one times in my head. I am no historian, and I suuuuck at remembering dates and times, but I love to learn about it. I love to be refreshed. I love to know and understand the history of my people around the world. I will admit, that I am *slacking* on my Carribbean history, but God willing, I have many more years to live. Even with all this book long knowledge, I am most grateful for my father. He took pains to instill in me a sense of pride in knowing who I was as an African and as a person of color. When I was called ‘African bootyscratcher’ in elementary school and, funny enough, ‘Oreo’, in high school— he reminded me that these were all the ways in which my peers were hurting me because they did not understand who they were themselves.
I cherish that.
I understand that my frustration when people don’t rise to the occasion is because, in all fairness, I know too much about what it took historically for us to enjoy even the semblance of rights and liberties we have in Ghana and around the world.
Nothing. Is. Free.
Nothing. Is. Without. Sacrifice.
In the book, he talks about Fred Shuttlesworth.
Do you know Fred Shuttlesworth?
Most people don’t.
Most people around the world know Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. They know about the Birmingham Marches… the Bus Sit Ins… the demonstrations that ended in grave enough violence or death (because you know there is a critical mass of black people that must be killed before the world cares…still waiting for our girls though #bringbackourgirls I digress)
Most people don’t know the innumerable protests, strike actions and agitations that took place in various towns across the country before finally coming to a head in Birmingham. Most people can’t name the strategists or the people meddling behind the scenes. They don’t know the thinkers and the writers and the do- boys who went and posted flyers.
They never get Nobel Peace Prizes or monuments, school buildings or museums.
They don’t get film and book deals.
They don’t get anything really, but everything they did matters.
Every inch they moved, every second they agitated, every time they acted in defiance, they brought us closer to disrupting the peace and bringing attention to critical human rights issues. They brought the days of emancipation and civil rights and affirmative action and all manner of policy— closer to the fore. Everything they did— mattered.
Our fight in 2014 is not against raging white men in hoods… or water cannons… or being spat at… or beat… or bombed… or muzzled.
Our fight in 2014 is against our mindset of mediocrity.
…one protest isn’t going to do anything (in the sense that as humans we only count outcomes by what is tangible, a guffaw in and of itself), but every single protest matters. If we could even concede this, it would be a start.
Yesterdays protest boasted over 2,000 people. But Reuters reported it a failure because this number was only 2,000 out of 500,000 members. That is .4% of the membership. Literally… less than 1 person for every 100 people in the organization. That is abysmal. What do you think the other 498,000 were doing? I will let your imagination run wild with that one. We could talk about how union strikes are a bit off since members don’t recoup lost wages… we could talk about sacrificing food or work when people are hungry? But surely you don’t think that the participants of the pan African movements of the 60s were not taking equally heavy risks.
Risks. Hmmmm…. nsem piiiiiii…
But I have
exceeded reached my (self imposed) word limit. I will end here with this:
The twi word for government is ‘aban’… which means ‘protect’. As Ghanaians, we understand that the government is an institution in place to protect citizens. When we don’t feel protected, we need to bring attention to this failure. When democratic talks and negotiations fail, we must find alternative routes of communication. For those who say that protests aren’t the way… please, offer your alternatives. Tell us what the way forward should be… if you have ideas, we need to hear them. Because apathy doesn’t count. Inaction doesn’t help. Provide alternatives or show up. In red. And be part of the numbers. Agitate. #dazall #dazit #wharrelse
So tell me, were you at any of the protests? If you were why? If you weren’t why not? What do you think is your responsibility in times where grave injustices are blaring and people are suffering as a result? Sound Off!