Fact: Yesterday's shooting in Brussels was tragic. After this year's attacks across the francophone world, any sense of security or calm is being replaced by panic, conspiracy theories, and crippling Islamophobia. Still, throughout these attacks, from Paris to Bamako, one can not ignore the clear differences in sympathy levels that are shown on social media. Photo filters, public displays of grief for European cities that most people have never been to, profiles of those people lost. But, where is it for the Africans?
I think the biggest reality check has been at work. Yesterday, an all staff email was circulated to a co-worker with family in Belgium to see if HIS family was ok after the blast. But, wait, my WHOLE FAMILY is in Abidjan and I didn't get an email? I didn't get any check ins. No questions about if my family or friends were alright.
The problem is what we are fed in the media. The glittering streets of Paris, and Brussels should never have blood on them. But the potholes in Bamako, and Maiduguri Nigeria are used to such tragedies. There is a sympathy in the way people discuss European mass shootings: "I can not believe that this brutal barbarianism is now coming to us." Where as killings in Africa are more like: "I can not believe this barbarianism is still happening there." For mainstream American media, there is an expectation for violence in Africa that stops people from asking me if my family is ok in Abidjan.
Let's not forget that in March alone there have been FIVE mass shootings outside of western Europe's golden walls. From Ivory Coast, to Yemen, to just last week in Turkey, people are being blown up, shot at close range, and families are being destroyed. So before you jump to grieve whoever CNN tells you to, consider the global network of violence penetrating black and brown people this year.
Remember that your half hearted Facebook flag profile photo may undermine the loss of others.