Following the end of WWII, the United Nations was established. A range of people who had been oppressed, indigenous people and people who suffered colonization by European powers, brought their plight to the international stage via the UN. One of these people were African Americans. First the National Negro Congress in 1946. Then in 1947 W. E. B. Du Bois presented a document, more than 100 pages in total, on the behalf of the NAACP. And in 1951 the Civil Rights Congress presented a paper to UN charging the United States of America with genocide.
The paper, titled We Charge Genocide: The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief From a Crime of The United States Government Against the Negro People, begun:
“Out of the inhuman black ghettos of American cities, out of the cotton plantations of the South, comes this record of mass slayings on the basis of race, of lives deliberately warped and distorted by the willful creation of conditions making for premature death, poverty and disease., It is a record that calls aloud for condemnation, for an end to these terrible injustices that constitute a daily and ever-increasing violation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It is sometimes incorrectly thought that genocide means the complete and definitive destruction of a race or people. The Genocide Convention, however, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1948, defines genocide as any killings on the basis of race, or, in it specific words, as “killing members of the group.” Any intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnic or religious group is genocide, according to the Convention. Thus, the Convention states, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,” is genocide as well as “killing members of the group.” We maintain, therefore, that the oppressed Negro citizens of the United States, segregated, discriminated against and long the target of violence, suffer from genocide as the result of the consistent, conscious, unified policies of every branch of government.”
This long history of taking to the UN to air grievances and ask for assistance, not only in condemnation but in tangible steps forward, although its effectiveness is questionable, continues. Opal Tometi, one of three co-founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, spoke to the UN’s General Assembly earlier this month on issues regarding race, white supremacy, and police terror citing the recent killings of 37 year-old Alton Sterling and 32-year-old Philando Castile. The other cofounders of #BlackLivesMatter, which was started following the killing of Trayvon Martin, are Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors. Tometi explained how the system of capitalism, through such mechanisms as free trade, have hurt, exploited, and oppressed black people the world over.
Watch Tometi’s remarks below.
H/T: The Huffington Post