Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of nine stories surrounding current events of different cultures at Niles West as a part of International Week.
The Black Student Union at Niles West embraces the cultures of both the Black community in the United States as well as the multi-national African community. Here are some of the current events that have recently occurred:
Trump’s Refugee Ban
Though US courts have blocked the refugee ban for now, Trump is trying to reinstate it by any means possible. Trump aside, the ban, if reinstated, could directly affect three African Nations: Libya, Somalia, and Sudan. Out of these three, Somalis have the most concern for this ban, as there are many Somali refugees staying in Kenya currently, hoping to seek asylum in the US. However, African countries are limited in what they are capable of changing. The best option for them right now is to break all contracts with US companies operating in Africa, but that would hurt the countries cutting ties more than the US corporate conglomerates.
There were as many as four deaths during protests in Cameroon, a Central African nation, last week. Citizens voiced an outcry at the appointment of predominantly French-speaking judges and teachers in English-speaking areas, a practice that has been happening for years, and a lasting impact of colonization.
“We are calling on the authorities to open an investigation and to do it as soon as possible to make sure that this investigation is impartial, effective and independent,” Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher, told CNN. “We also call on the security forces to refrain from the use of unlawful force. What happened in Bamenda [the capitol of Cameroon’s North Region] is no surprise for us. We have been documenting several human rights violations by the security forces elsewhere in Cameroon.”
Trayvon Martin and Black Lives Matter Movement
In 2013, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was created to help younger African Americans to find their voices and use them. This movement makes people more aware of the issues the African-American community faces, helps them stand up to police brutality and other violent acts, and helps people of color use their voices. To this day, there have been several killings that have been fully brought to light by BLM and have sparked outrage nationally, one being the case of Trayvon Martin.
Seventeen-year-old Martin was shot to death by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in a gated community in the central Florida suburb of Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012, and the incident became a rallying cry for millions of black Americans seeking justice for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen. Martin would have been 22 on Sunday.
This February marks the five year anniversary of Martin’s death. Trying to spread awareness, his parents have written a commemorative novel, Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.
Some BSU members still feel the effects of Martin’s death and the unjust acquittal of Zimmerman.
“It’s always heartbreaking to see one of us killed for no reason,” sophomore Maya Cayemitte said. “Yet it is so important to be aware of what is going on around us so that we can prevent anything like this from happening in the future.”