Reminder: Last Week The United Nations Accused The U.S. Of Racial Terrorism. Here’s What They Say Should Happen Next.

9 months ago Matthew Taylor

We are a new blog reporting on current events through a progressive lens. We are trying to combat the digital media trends of clickbait and reporting with no substance. If you like what you see here, please like us on Facebook.

The majority of US political coverage and discourse last week centered around the first presidential debate. It was a hell of a show, after all. It combined that all-American lust for crude, unpredictable reality television with ferocious competitiveness and a rivalry between two vilified candidates. And in the aftermath, everyone could satiate their desire to look smart by acting as social media pundits. Of course, that last bit held the greatest appeal for me.

But on September 27, just one day after the debate, a United Nations working group comprised of Experts on People of African Descent issued a statement that affects a significant and vulnerable segment of the United States population. The group, which reports to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, said that it is “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans.”

The statement compared police slaughter of black people and the resulting trauma to “the past racial terror of lynching.” The references to the past didn’t stop there. The group’s findings reflected what many activists and scholars have argued: the USA’s history of racial violence—part of its very foundation—still persists today. It has just taken new forms and manifestations.

 “Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.”

The group visited the US in January, during which they “observed the excessive control and supervision targeting all levels of [black American] life…We heard testimonies from African Americans based on their experience that people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence.” 

The group also recognized that punitive and preventative measures against police are nonexistent or severely lacking, and that this needs to be amended immediately: “Impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Finally, the group recommended a “commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.” Of course, as the Washington Post itself noted, these findings are extremely unlikely to have any impact on US policy or governmental decisions.

What is most significant, then, is that the rest of the world is taking note of what is happening in terms of systemic violence against black people, and it is being denounced. Statistics show that black Americans are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as white or Latino Americans. The Bahamas—one among many countries to issue recent travel warnings for citizens visiting the US—warned young males traveling here to “exercise extreme caution…in interactions with the police.”

These working groups and other countries are not entities with political agendas in the US. Rather, they are observing what is happening and calling it for what it is: violent state-sanctioned terrorism.

US citizens who are unaffected by these issues often feel neutral or conflicted or suspect that things might not be as bad as groups like Black Lives Matter are claiming. But the fact is that matters like these always feel complex and unwieldy and nebulous when you’re living in them unless they directly impact your daily life. For white people alive at the time, the 1960s Civil Rights Movement wasn’t the decisively good and moral movement toward equality that we see in history books. There were plenty of arguments against it, but we now see the transparently racist rhetoric motivating those. The same will be the case for Black Lives Matter and their activism directed against police murdering black people.

There will always be the openly racist people who vehemently oppose black activism and deny that race is an issue in contemporary America. But they must not be the ones controlling the narrative.

We are a new blog reporting on current events through a progressive lens. We are trying to combat the digital media trends of clickbait and reporting with no substance. If you like what you see here, please like us on Facebook.