In the wake of the horrendous massacre in Kenya and the absurd and tragic incident involving Germanwings flight 4U9525, I couldn’t help but wonder – is my son worth less to you as a human being simply because of his African roots?
Social media has started to wake up to the death of 148 Kenyan university students with stories appearing on timelines, and hashtags such as #LetItBeKnown and #AfricanLivesMatter beginning to surface here and there – but this is almost three days after the incident. When the Charlie Hebdo shooting happened in Paris, where 11 people lost their just-as-valid lives, #JeSuisCharlie proliferated in a matter of hours, spreading like wild fire all across the globe.
The deliberate crash of the Germanwings flight on March 24 dominated news almost immediately. Interestingly enough, aviation journalist Chris Cauchi explained that such incidents while not common have happened elsewhere (for example, in 2013 on a flight from Mozambique to Rwanda) but they fail to make the news.
So the question is legitimate – what makes one incident more ‘important’, more worthy of our attention, of media space, than another?
Could it be that the need to associate ourselves with the victims (whether of a religiously-motivated massacre or a macabre plane crash) is so overpowering that the dominant agenda-setters must necessarily identify with them for them to be given their due importance? Isn’t this a tragedy of immense proportions in itself?
I hesitate to write this but it seems as though this is the root cause of much of the injustice in this world – and this extends to all sorts and forms of discrimination: be it black versus white, Christian versus Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist etc., man versus woman, straight versus gay. Until the true decision makers come from all walks of life, until we manage to find a way to make these distinctions irrelevant, until then… I really do need to prepare myself for a world in which my son will be perceived as being less worthy than a person of a different coloured skin. I hope my son will grow up to be one of those true decision makers and I will fight tooth and nail for that to happen.