By Emma Dabiri
Following the killings of unarmed men and boys such as Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Walter Scott, the United States is entering what’s being called a new civil rights movement, with activists ensuring that the world now knows about the ongoing onslaught against black life.Movements such as #BlackLivesMatter have been huge in their reach, spreading far beyond the US and capturing the imaginations of people of all colours and nationalities. In November, as many as 5,000 protesters marched in London to condemn the grand jury decision not to prosecute the police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Patrisse Cullors, one of the creators of #BlackLivesMatters, said: “We are in a historical moment where we can make great shifts inside and outside US borders to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter around the world.”
But do all black lives really matter? In contrast to the thousands who protested at the US embassy in London, far fewer organised for the 900 Africans who drowned in the Mediterranean last month. So where are the protests to demand that European governments deal with this situation in a humane way?
In fact, after weeks in which viewers have been gripped by the tragic human stories of those fleeing for a better life across the Mediterranean, it seems that hearts are now hardening. British home secretary Theresa May stated uncategorically last week that “economic migrants” fleeing across the Mediterranean should be forcibly returned to Africa, slamming the door on accepting as few as 2,309 migrants under the EU’s suggested resettlement plan.
And this week EU ministers agreed to launch a sea and air mission to destroy the people traffickers’ boats. Britain is expected to offer drones and surveillance equipment. Libya, where most migrants begin their sea crossing, has already described this development as “very worrying”, believing that innocent fishermen could fall victim to the EU military.