Across the world, African and Caribbean immigrants have been subject to police brutality, modern day lynchings and white supremacist violence just like African Americans. In the United States specifically, Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people and 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed compared to white people. In the United Kingdom, Black people make up only 3.3 percent of the population but experienced 12 percent of use-of-force incidents between 2017–18. In France, Black men (as well as Arab men) are 20 times more likely to be stopped compared to white men.
All three of the aforementioned countries have large African and Caribbean immigrant populations. Between 2010 and 2018, the sub-Saharan African population in the U.S. increased by 52 percent and the Caribbean population by 18 percent. According to the UK’s most recent census, Black British people account for 3.0 percent or 1,904,684 of the country’s population however over a million live in the Greater London area. And in France, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, around 3 million French nationals are of sub-Saharan African origin and the country also experienced its version of Windrush (post World War II immigration) of men and women from the French Caribbean islands, Guiana and Réunion. Although racial segregation and oppression did not occur in these countries the same way it did in the United States, both the U.K. and France were also founded upon institutionalized racism that has negatively impacted their black populations.
In 1993, Stephen Lawerence a Black British teenager of Jamaican background was murdered by a group of white supremacists while waiting for the bus in Southeast London. In 1999, Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, was in his New York City apartment when he was shot at 41 times and killed by NYPD plain-clothed officers. All four officers were acquitted of their second-degree murder charges. In 2016, in a small town north of Paris, a Malian French man named Adama Traoré died in police custody. After promising his mother that he was fine and providing conflicting stories on his location, the police finally told them that he had died but lied about how it happened, but not before they teargassed his brother and mother. Two weeks ago, Lamin Sesay, the son of a Gambian diplomat was shot and pronounced dead at the scene after a standoff with the police in Snellville, Georgia, close to Atlanta. Gambia has requested a transparent and credible investigation take place, his father describes his son as someone who “abhors violence,” dismissing the version of events given to them by the police.
These are just some of the names that prove that institutionalized racism is not just a Black American issue, it’s a global black issue. In the UK, Black women are 4.3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white women and Black men are 4.2 times more likely to die from it than white men. In France, the number of people who have died in police custody has been steadily increasing since 2010 and impacts mostly minorities. According to a protester at Paris’ 2 June march, “Racism is deeply rooted in the French police institutions.”
When constructing your #SayTheirNames tweets and posts, remember these names, many of whom have not received appropriate justice. Continue to push for greater African Union and United Nationsinvolvement in these cases because as many signs held up during the past two weeks of protests read, systemic racism and racial bias “is a bigger threat than COVID” in the U.S. and around the world.
Program and Research Associate, Africa Program at the Center for International Policy