By any historical measure, the year 2014 saw an extraordinary loss of life around the globe. It is claimed we live in a civilised world yet we stand by and watch the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives perish from entirely preventable diseases such as malaria and cholera not to mention Ebola.
In the USA the level of concern about police brutality has reached the point where the rallying call is now ‘black lives matter’. The death of Eric Garner in an authorized chokehold at the hands of NYPD Police Officers in the full glare of publicity on camera was bad enough but the tipping point came when the authorities decided not to prosecute the officers involved. Many took to protesting this decision – including a number of sports celebrities and entertainers – many of whom are usually slow to associate themselves with this type of struggle.
The new year could not have come sooner some would say, others would argue that these issues have been long in coming to the fore and it’s a good thing that the general public is beginning to see the nature of global white supremacy that black people have been seeing for hundreds of years. Indeed the United Nations have declared 2015 the beginning of an entire decade dedicated to people of African descent. This is a great opportunity to bring solution concepts to the international table and not simply highlighting the problems.
2015 will also mark the 70th Anniversary of a very important event in history. The 5th Pan African Congress took place in Manchester in 1945 at a time when Africa and the Caribbean were under European Colonialism and black people the world over were struggling to breathe free. This Congress of leaders not only spoke powerfully to the issues of the day reminding the world that our lives mattered but they got down to the serious business of building movements that defined and created new realities for Black people. We must remember that the independence we take for granted was not granted but was struggled for and in many cases was died for. The challenge of this UN Decade of People of African Descent will be the question of how much are we prepared to sacrifice and commit towards a vision of a brighter future for our children and our children’s children? Those who believed that the struggles of the past were over must surely think again and join forces to work not simply for a happy New Year but more towards a happy new decade.