Why I'm Not Changing My Facebook Profile Picture to The French Flag
As an African, I’m aware of the numerous stories that are written every week about the latest acts of terrorism on our continent. News stories break out, headlines are written, and if we’re lucky the stories will get a hashtag. Then maybe a week later, CNN, BBC and other global media corporations move on to ‘bigger’ things. The Paris attacks were an absolute tragedy, there’s no denying it. I’m just as outraged at Isis as the rest of the world is. But as an African, I’m jealous of the support Paris is receiving right now.
I wish Justin Bieber would stop in the middle of his performance to pray for victims of the Burundi crisis. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted to a resolution to get peacekeepers to be deployed to Burundi after months of fighting resulted in mass killings that were reminiscent of Rwanda. Earlier this year, Somali militants forced themselves into an eastern Kenyan university and killed almost 150 students. It was reported as the worst act of terrorism in that country since the 1998 bombing of Kenya’s US embassy. Even with renewed security laws, great Western support and increased police presence, Kenyans still live in fear of the Shebab, the terrorist group responsible for the university killings.
Where are the flag filters for Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Pakistan? Why don’t countries light up their cities in support for them?
— ERIKA HANSON (@itserikahanson) November 15, 2015
yesterday.. no @potus presser, no buildings lit up in Lebanon's flag colors, no @donlemon panel. why? #BeirutAttacks pic.twitter.com/zDITm7a4Q4
— Mir (@mirmanwar) November 14, 2015
The world’s reaction to the Paris attacks, mainstream media in particular, made me feel betrayed. We’ve seen gross human rights violations happen right here in Africa under our noses. Where was all this outrage? Where were all the profile picture changes? That’s why I spent my entire Sunday morning downloading my friends’ profile pictures and adding a layer of African flags to them. Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, and others that I felt needed the support of the world. Some of them put them up immediately, some needed convincing before making the change, and a few just flat out refused to do it. Those who did make the change say they did it because they also feel that Africa is underrepresented in the mainstream media.
When a tragedy happens here, it’s just another “African” tragedy. The world doesn’t need to pay attention. But when it happens in Western countries, it’s a different kind of tragic, not “African” tragic. I’m fully prepared for the backlash that my movement will receive. “So you’re saying that we should look away when 1st world citizens are victims of terrorism?” they’ll say. On the contrary, I’m actually saying we SHOULD show our support to victims of terrorism. But we should also remember that gross acts of terrorism have been happening in all around the world, especially in Africa, for years now.
The earnest prayers, outrage and solidarity offered to Paris, also needs to rain upon the broken African people.