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Terrorism is a ‘Black issue’  

GEORGE E. CURRY | 11/30/2015, 2:32 p.m.
It was disturbing to listen to some people calling in Friday during my weekly radio segment on Keeping it Real ...
George Curry

(George Curry Media) – It was disturbing to listen to some people calling in Friday during my weekly radio segment on Keeping it Real with Rev. Al Sharpton, who displayed only a passing interest in the issue of world terrorism or failed to realize how international violence should be a major concern to people of color, especially African Americans.

Of course, there were callers who were on top of the issue and I commend them. But I want to address the narrow-minded, knee-jerk reaction that somehow violence committed on foreign soil is not a “Black issue” or shouldn’t be a priority.

Even if one subscribed to such nonsense in the past, that should have been eradicated last Friday with the attack on guests at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital city of the West African country of Mali.

An al Qaeda-affiliated group took credit for the attack that left at least 27 people dead, including five gunmen. At least 170 were taken as hostages in the dramatic early morning assault.

Many Africans were enslaved and brought to what is now the United States from Mali and other countries along the West Coast of the Motherland. I don’t know how you get any “blacker” than that.

Although we seem to have conveniently forgotten about them, it wasn’t that long ago that a social media campaign was organized around the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Several hundred school-age girls were kidnapped in April 2014 near the town of Chibok that garnered international attention. Some escaped after being abducted, but 219 are still believed to be missing.

In August, nearly 300 girls not part of the original schoolgirl kidnappings by Boko Haram were rescued by Nigerian troops in the northeastern Sambis Forest. It is not known how many others are being held by Boko Haram.

Although Nigeria is the largest staging ground, terrorism is no stranger elsewhere on the continent.

On Aug. 7, 1998, in what is commonly referred to as the East African Embassy bombings, U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were struck. According to the State Department, 224 persons – including 12 Americans, 32 Kenyans and eight Tanzanians – were killed and more than 4,000 others were injured in the truck bomb attacks.

One of my friends, Edith Bartley, an African American, lost her father, U.S. Consul General Julian Bartley Sr., and Julian Bartley Jr., her younger brother and only sibling, who was working a summer job, in the Nairobi bombing.

My Black Parisian friends, who confront some of the same discrimination challenges African Americans face in the U.S., aren’t exempt from terrorist attacks in France or anywhere else they travel.

Although Paris has captured international headlines and sympathy following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks on four different locations there, including the Bataclan Theater, that resulted in the deaths of 130 people and injuries to 368 others, terrorism in Africa isn’t receiving anywhere near the attention it deserves.

According to a report issued last Wednesday by the Institute of Economics & Peace, “Also notable over the past year is the major intensification of the terrorist threat in Nigeria. The country witnessed the largest increase in terrorist deaths ever recorded by any country, increasing by over 300 per cent to 7,512 fatalities. Boko Haram, which operates mainly in Nigeria, has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIL (also known as the Islamic State) as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in March 2015.”