Putin’s War Through My Black Eyes

Like most people across the globe, I have followed Putin’s war (you should check Troy’s piece on this available here) on Ukraine with utter dismay. The unbridled greed for power and blatant disregard of human dignity on one hand, and the unnecessary and avoidable loss of innocent lives on the other. Scales tip.

To borrow a leaf from Troy’s piece, what Putin’s war has taught me is that even amidst war and chaos, there shall always be time for racism. To read reports and watch video footage of black people being turned away/blocked from accessing safety by law enforcement officers no less, while their white colleagues are allowed through, is the lowest of lows.

Human dignity: A concept thought to be widely understood but only selectively applied.

The comments from one of Britain’s ITV correspondent in Poland live rent free in my mind: “This is not a developing third world nation. This is Europe.”

These words (like all the rest said in regards to people from the Middle East and Asia) were as distasteful as they were telling. That black lives (matter or do they?) are of a lesser value than others. That humanity and empathy is first shared out among white people, and just in case there’s some left, the rest can fight for the crumbs.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr must be turning in his grave right now. Putin’s war shows that the human race has learned nothing from all the wars that preceded it. In particular, we missed MLK’s class on intersectionality. That:

Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.

As we continue to fully rally behind all the efforts to restore peace in Ukraine and it’s environs, may this also be a moment of introspection.

Has evolution gotten to a point where we are now humans without the humanity?

Can we really continue to argue that we don’t see color?

Do all lives truly matter?

More importantly, how can we conquer the enemy outside when we harbor an even more dangerous within?

*Siri, play that Blacked Eyed Peas song stuck in my head*

People killing, people dying 🎶 Children hurt and women crying 🎶 Would you practice what you preach 🎶 Would you turn the other cheek 🎶 Father, Father, Father help us 🎶 Send your guidance from above 🎶 People got me questioning, where’s the love?

37 thoughts on “Putin’s War Through My Black Eyes

  1. Unfortunately, these are very good questions. The hidden theme may be as simple as “us verses them” — however one wishes to define us and them. The definition is highly subjective. To Putin, my guess is that “us” is a single person and them is everyone else. Maybe if Martians appear someday, humans will embrace our entire world as an “us.” We appear not to be able to deal with an “us” without a companion “not us.”

    1. That’s what makes discussions of bigotry difficult. Sure, skin color is an easy checkoff for defining “not us” but not everyone thinks that way. My father was a white southerner who worked with the NAACP for years on education issues. His “not us” were right winger bigots.

      1. Does the logic make sense to you. One past client is a teacher who relocated from the US to Saudi Arabia. Her comment to me is that its the first time she’s experienced a complete absence of racism. However, that may be because their “not us” are Jews.

      2. That does make sense. It speaks to the intersectionality of the human race. Circumstances in one realm may not hold constant in another and vice versa.

  2. Wherever there is humankind there will be evil in some form or another. It’s an unfortunate reality. I wrote not long ago a piece called “where we belong” it was before the war began. I talked a lot about funding our roots and getting back to what’s most important. This is true more today than ever before. If we think that war isn’t coming to U.S soil at some point we are only kidding ourselves. All we can do is raise our values higher and teach our children a better way of life. ❤️ furthermore I’d like to point out that we need our second amendment now more than ever before.

      1. There’s an MLK in all of us. The overarching lesson I have drawn from his works is that we can’t ignore the intersectionality of our lives. Our differences (skin, religion, gender etc) are not weaknesses, they are our strengths.

      2. My husband was a soldier who fought next to his brothers and sisters. Physically speaking we are the same. The color tones of our skin mean absolutely nothing. I’m Irish myself. You could literally loose me on a white sand beach but the only things of value are our character and what’s in our hearts. Everything beyond that is unimportant.

  3. Us v. Them seems to be wired into our genes. It is not clear to me that a majority of people are capable of getting beyond it.

    Black and White is but one example. Protestant v. Catholic did a real number on Europe. Capitalist v. Communist very nearly ended the civilized world more than a few times.

    “Otherism” is the real enemy. Unfortunately, if one group is othering another it seems politically almost impossible not to “other” them back.

    Putin’s war is not a case of Russia othering Ukraine. It is a case of Putin and his oligarchs othering the Western world in order to stay in power. Having liberal democracies on his borders is a direct threat to them.

    1. Truer words were never spoken. As @troyheadrick2015 wrote in his peace, Putin’s intoxication with power and wealth is a dangerous combination not just to European peace but world peace.

  4. Thoughtful read. I had similar disappointment lingering in my head that there always seems to be time for racism. I hope and pray one day the whole world finds a higher vibration.

  5. I agree. It’s so tragic that in this day and age, we are not all equals. Really appalling. I like your Black Eyed Peas lyrics. I often think how relevant they are.

  6. Thank you so much for this. I am in literal tears after reading it. My niece at just 8 years old used to cry whenever that song played and she, nor I or my sister would have known then the impact it would have on all of us now.

  7. Billy!! How I’ve missed your words. Unfortunately the only thing we seem to learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history. All we can do is be part of the good fight in our lifetime. Thank you for fighting the good fight Billy. I hope you’re well otherwise 🙏

  8. I watched international students experiencing delays at the border with dismay. It seemed very petty on the part of those who were doing such heroic work in helping people escape the dangers of the conflict in Ukraine. At first, I wondered if this was due to a policy of evacuating women and children only. But as time dragged on, with people waiting in the bitter cold, it became clear that discrimination based on race and/or nationality was a factor. This made me feel very sad. We need to be better than this.

    1. Hey Cheryl! It was heartbreaking. Conflict and war can bring out the worst in people, but also the best in them. In the midst of death, we understand just how meaningless our differences (religion, race, gender, etc) are and how our humanity, our aching need to end suffering for all, is a more potent force. In the fullness of time, I hope we choose the latter.

  9. One of the Italian extreme right party representative stated today that refugees form Ukraine are real refugees (as if there might be unreal or faked ones…) not as those coming from Africa. I would translate that statement like that: Caucasian people are welcome, the others can stay where they are. It does not matter if they come from Syria, or Yemen, or South Sudan or other war zones. It is such a shame that we are still discriminating people based on the color of their skin. Unfortunately it happens all over the world.

    1. Hey Crisbie! It’s very disheartening. The suffering is bad enough, adding discrimination (of whatever status) onto that only works to exacerbate the situation. I hope that in the fullness of time, reason and humanity prevail.

  10. It’s outrageous that reporters would say such brainless things! I heard some reporters apologized, but the original statement already revealed your bias. Of course, we all have bias in one direction or another and I think we can’t even help it… But this just means that social change needs to run way deeper than it does yet.

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