Journaling to Ourselves

Column by Rev. Gretta Vosper on 24 March 2022 0 Comments

We evolve through the work we do in the course of our too-short and too-harried days. Embracing that for which we are grateful is our evolution toward joy. Witnessing to that which went well is our evolution toward self-worth. Acknowledging that which we regret is an evolution toward wholeness. These are the things that our faith traditions have offered us.

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There is chaos and confusion at the Ukraine border. Reports about racism  distract the world’s focus on the Ukrainians’ hardship. Racism can’t be in every situation. Do you think it’s all a misunderstanding since patience and tempers would be short?


Dear Reader,

Russia has invaded Ukraine. European countries bordering Ukraine have welcomed its traumatized neighbors – an open-arm welcome in stark contrast with Black international students left out in below-freezing temperatures for days without life-saving humanitarian assistance. Ukrainian police and border security officials’ double standard demonstrate that Black lives don’t matter.

A deluge of footage and posts on social media show the mistreatment of Africans: taken off trains and told to walk to the border; chased back from the border in specific countries; hit by police armed with sticks as white Ukrainians were allowed entry; moved to the back of the line and told to wait; or simply flat-out told by border officials they were “not tending to Africans.”

Despite an order that all women and children are allowed to leave Ukraine, Black mothers, many of whom lived in Ukraine for years, were physically prevented from getting on trains and buses.

Poland might as well erect America’s classic Jim Crow “white only” placard, since its double standard toward Africans has been on full display. Polish nationalists have attacked Africans and made false claims of theft and crimes. “One group of Nigerian students having been repeatedly refused entry into Poland have concluded they have no choice but to travel again across Ukraine and attempt to exit the country via the border with Hungary,” according to a Twitter account representing the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The hashtag #AfricansInUkraine arose on Twitter to draw attention to the double-standard and mistreatment, because mainstream media hadn’t been covering the abuses.

Anti-Black racism is global. When wars erupt in European countries, African diaspora Blacks have difficulty being safe or getting back to their home country – especially if the country they are in is anti-America.

Russia’s Ukraine invasion helps the world see what our inhumanity toward each other looks like. Also, it  highlights the persistence of a global racist social order even in a humanitarian crisis. Sadly, anti-Black racism will also be part of Ukraine's war narrative, because everyone has the right to cross international borders during a conflict, notwithstanding their religion or racial identity.

~ Rev. Irene Monroe




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