African Lives Don’t Matter?

It’s always interesting to see people’s response to tragedy. It’s always even more interesting to see the social media blow up when similar tragedy happens in different places of the world but don’t get what some are calling “equal recognition”. As one that makes a living from social media, I can truly say this is a space where many voice their opinions and the ignorant seem to be louder than the informed.

The tragedy in France has brought out the mourners, the attention seekers, the conspiracy theorists, the misinformed and the uninformed. With all of the ruckus that continues to surround this terrorist attack, we fail to zero in on the real issues at hand. I am here to highlight some of these issues (Those I feel comfortable disclosing, anyway).

  1. What happened in Paris isn’t any more or less sad than what’s happening across the world – “If this is true why does it seem as if the media coverage and outrage far more exceeds that of the coverage in Syria, Turkey, and Kenya?” This question leads to point number two…
  2. The media has been covering these attacks, you just haven’t been paying attention. – I listen to BBC World news almost daily and also follow their feed on Twitter for instant news alerts and I have been tracking these attacks for a little over two years now. The fact that your television or twitter feed is solely tuned into CNN – an AMERICAN news network – doesn’t mean the media is doing a bad job at coverage of what’s going on around the world. The fact of the matter is that the United States has interests in parts of Europe. Kenya, not so much.
  3. “White privilege wins again.” – Not true. In this case I am inclined to not jump to throw my race card in the air, but simply look at the facts. The truth is, many of us have closer ties to Paris than we do to Africa. A co-worker was on vacation in Paris and happened to be in the same theatre the Paris attacks happened. Luckily he left just short of an hour before the attacks took place. Some of us have travelled there ourselves or have friends and family in France on vacation or working on the Teaching Assistant Programme, so our antennas were all the way up when we heard about the attacks. Therefore, it was easier for us to be concerned about the happenings in France than in Kenya. Does this make us bad people? No, it makes us human. Does this mean we care less about what’s happening in Kenya? Not necessarily, we are just able to relate more to France.

My advice to everyone saying ‘African lives don’t matter’ – stay informed. African lives DO matter. The coverage is happening (Anyone remember #BringBackOurGirls? Let’s not be unfair…) just because you’re not keying in doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Be the change – the only way you can do this is to actually research what’s happening. Find out how you can bring more attention to the issues happening. How can your voice make a difference? Start the conversation.france kenya.jpg