I’ve been meaning to spend some time articulating the complicated feelings I have with respect to the rapidly unfolding situation in Libya. It has been refreshing to see mass peaceful movements in the middle east as people seek to re-exert some level of self-determination. For too long, too many in the world have suffered from despotic and corrupt leadership. Sadly, many of those rulers have remained in power with assistance from my own country, the United States. As UK Labour Leader Ed Miliband has stated…
The extraordinary events of the past few weeks have served to underline that our alliances should be defined by our values, rather than our values defined by our alliances
Each movement has been different to the extent each country’s situation is unique. The core aspects, though, are universal and value-based: namely, the yearning of people everywhere to be treated with Dignity, Respect, and Equality.
Even in countries that have practiced this experiment we call Democracy, the people always seem to be struggling for these most basic needs of humanity. The United States had a very bloody civil war to determine whether some persons were property to be bought and sold. We had to fight for the right of women to vote. We had to struggle to overcome whites-only restaraunts or separate drinking fountains for ‘colored people’. We have made great progress. While there can now be a Black President in the White House, by no means are the evils of racism or sexism eradicated. Every day someone’s dignity is attacked because of their race, or sex, or choice of partners, or religion, etc.
In every country there are those who fight on the side of Dignity. And in every country there are those who rob others of the same. Each of us can do better. In Libya, the situation is very complicated, choices need to be made. As the people of Libya give their lives in this struggle for Dignity, will they afford the same to everyone who happens to be there?
I’d like to share with you a letter from my friend Hanna to her former students. The situation is one that tugs at my heart. It’s hard to imagine being in this gentleman’s situation. But imagine it we must, for the road to Dignity, Respect, and Equality is best walked in another’s shoes…
I could really use your help right now.
Remember when I used to talk about the power of one person to change the world? There is a situation where, each of us can be such a person.
Most of Libya is fair-skinned, and black Africans are not treated equally there. Gaddafi, the dictator of the country, hired black mercenaries to attack protesters. Now protesters are attacking black Africans. The situation grows less stable by the day. There is a good chance that if Gaddafi falls from power, all black Africans will be punished for Gaddafi’s actions. There is even a chance of genocide.
I have a friend who was teaching English in Tripoli, Libya, when this revolution started. He is a black African from Sub-Saharan Africa. My friend’s country, Sierra Leone, has been rebuilding since its military coup in 1997. It is still a poor country with little stability. They need help getting their people out. They are not the only country who needs help of this kind.
Now, Gaddafi has done some horrible things and has attacked his own people. I am not supporting Gaddafi’s regime, but I want the black Africans to have a chance to escape before everything falls apart. However, they are poor people from poor countries. We must come to their aid. They need people to help them leave Libya and they need help resettling somewhere else.
The ways out of the city of Tripoli are limited. Refugees can go to the west towards Tunisia. That road, however, has been taken over by protesters and is not safe for black Africans. Refugees can go east to Egypt. That road, however, has also been taken over by protesters and is not safe for black Africans. Refugees could fly out of Tripoli’s airport. Forces are not letting planes land from black African countries anymore however; they are afraid that the planes will bring in more mercenaries. In addition to that, most sub-Saharan countries don’t have their own airlines that could be used to help evacuate people. Refugees could take a ferry to Malta, but Malta doesn’t want to end up with a bunch of broke refugees that they need to take care of. Refugees would only be allowed to stay there a short time, if at all.
I have started a campaign to educate people on what is happening to black Africans in Libya and to try to get them out of Libya before it is too late. Time is very short on this. If things turn much worse than they are now, there will be no chance for my friend and others like him.
So I am asking your help.
If you could educate people about what is happening- please do.
If you are able to get the word out to the media by contacting radio stations or TV shows or online sources, please spread the word.
If you can make a video or a song and put it on YouTube to educate people— please do.
This is a social justice issue where we can possibly save lives by acting.
I ask you to help me act. Both for my friend and for the thousands of others like him; trapped in Libya and scared. My friend has fled from Tripoli and is hiding on a farm outside the city. I speak to him twice a day. Last night, over the phone, I could hear lots of gunfire. It frightened me, across the globe. I can’t even imagine how frightening it must be to be there.
If you would like to read more of the current events in Libya, try these articles:
Articles about black Africans in Libya:
Articles about evacuations out of Libya: