“That was my thesis – Institutionalised racism in a free country. While I was there, I never wanted to be on the other side of the law. What was scarier was watching the shooting of a black man with his girlfriend and a four-year-old in the back of the car. He was shot seven times. Uju, I mean, seven times. Did he reach for his gun? No. He only said that his gun was in the glove compartment and he was shot for it. That was when I realised that my pigmentation was a threat to national security. So, after my masters, I came back to the country and met you.“
With the way he stressed met you he wanted it to mean more than the words itself. He intended it to pierce her soul and provide her value, substance and significance. And this it did.
She smiled, a curly smile. She knew that all that kept her husband distant was frustration – the frustration of being unproductive, the aching feeling of dependence, of not being able to be the giver. She leaned closer to him on the cushion. She raised his arm as she curled into him, her head resting on his chest and his arm draped around her shoulder, both their faces open in gleaming smiles. On the cushion, as she curled into him Uju assumed the feeling of retrieving a lost coin, of reaching out and grasping something faraway and drawing it closer to herself.
“I should write about this. I have been thinking of what to write on my column for the week.”
“Yes, you should,” he said, “If you need more facts and figures, I could extract my thesis for you.”
“I would love that,” she answered.
“What would you title it?” he inquired.
“Institutionalised racism in a free country, of course.“
“No, you are not stealing my research topic.“
“It’s not stealing. It will create more exposure to your research as I will reference it.” She said.
“Are you trying to use palatable and digestible words on me, again?“
“No, no, not at all.” She laughed and he laughed too.
The next day they will watch on CNN as a mob thronged the streets of Minneapolis, throwing stones at the police, hurling curses at them, matching in disarray with placards of police must go, police brutality not again, say no to racism, say no to racial inequality, lynching is illegal. The police protected themselves with their shields as the mob thronged in forceful disarray with the cantankerous intention to penetrate. Behind the mop where buildings set on fire, blazing so brightly. The mob wouldn’t allow the fire fighters to come through. The mob would not allow the police to hold their position.
“The situation here is intense. The black African community wants to be heard. They want justice to be served. As it seems they are tired of the justice system acquitting guilty police men.”
The reporter on the news said amidst the chattering sounds.
A black woman that was being interviewed by the reporter said,
“They either abuse their power or have the power to abuse. In or out of uniform we live in constant fear of them.”
A man who was also interviewed amidst the noise of the surly, unspecified mob said, “Those that are keeping quiet and saying nothing are against us. Einstein said, ‘the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.“
The next day after that, they will see black celebrities in America wearing t-shirts on which were written I can’t breathe vigorously speaking against police brutality and racial inequality with so much enthusiasm.
The time she let a tear drop from her eyes was when she saw a kid, a kid of about five to seven years holding up a placard that said I am next.
She knew she wanted to write about police brutality, about racial inequality, segregation, the injustice of the criminal justice system, the sugarcoating, deflating and deflecting words of the unreliable media, the unjustifiably oppressed community, not just of the American blacks but of the world. She had come to the knowledge that an oppression of one is an oppression of many, a strike on one is a strike on all and sundry that if it affects one it affects all.
Part 3 will be available to read next week Thursday. Stay tuned.