Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How A Group Of Ethiopian-Americans Spent Their "MLK Day"

This is a true story.

Last week as I was in the offices of one of my clients I overheard a phone conversation of an Ethiopian woman regarding her plans to participate in a "MLK Day Protest". She was talking to a fellow Ethiopian and vacillated between English and Amharic I assumed that she merely had used the word "protest" when she was really going to one of the standard "marches" that are held in Atlanta. These marches are merely an opportunity for the Black Establishment to rattle their chains and keep the Black community focused upon past oppression instead of the present control that the establishment has over our communities. It is important for them to shape the attention of the community members.

Today I got a chance to get an update on her King Day March.

When I returned to the office I asked her "So how did your Martin Luther King Day March go?". She told me that it was great. People showed up in force to march for justice. At this point in time I was still figuring that she had participated in a "Black American" march.

In the back of my mind I had the vision of the SCLC lead "Anti-Street Piracy" march that had taken place this past summer in Atlanta in which the shame of the "Bloody Summer" in Atlanta provoked them to take to the streets. Unfortunately there were more campaign signs for Democratic candidates for the November elections than there were signs going after the street pirates.

I thought about how I could get more information out of her so I stated: "You know these days it is not only important that we march but that we consider WHO we are marching against".

Then she enlightened me.

They were not marching about any America-politically-tinged subject. Instead this was a gathering of Ethiopian-Americans with a protest march against the Ethiopian Government!!!

They were protesting over the imprisonment of Birtukan Mideksa.   She is a former judge in Ethiopia who is seen as a political prisoner.  I was told that Ms. Mideksa was originally jailed for political reasons.  After the government was pressured - she was released.  The government had been advertising that she was released after she agreed that she had been guilty of her original infraction.  When Ms Mideksa rebutted this version of the government's tale and made it be known that she in fact was not guilty..........they locked her back up in order to silence her.

My Ethiopian friend told me - The Ethiopian government has the illusions of democracy but in fact they are an oppressive government that puts on a good face for the rest of the world.  The protest march on the King Holiday was an opportunity for the Ethiopian community in America to come together to express their unity in outrage against the oppressive actions of their home country's government.

I spend more time with people of Caribbean ancestry per my marriage and thus I am familiar with their community concerns and activism movements.  I find the Ethiopian-American community to be of a similar mold but they are unique per their language and cultural differences.

I realize that the knowledge that the Black American has it better than most is not enough to get us to be conscious of what we actually have, make better use of it AND stop grieving about things that fail to pass the "Proportionality Filter".   I more people who reside in the comfort of America would focus upon promoting democratic institutions in other nations that are suffering instead of slamming their home country of America yet, ironically, lobbying to have the world's oppressed being allowed to immigrate to the safe shores of America it is my opinion that those with a "grievance-based" ideology would be a bit more fulfilled in their purpose in life.

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