Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: Even in war, racism prevails

The war in Ukraine has gained worldwide attention, and conversations surrounding racism and human dignity have been on the rise.

While Russia has begun to strike against the country, racism has also increasingly affected the African inhabitants of Ukraine.

For centuries Black people have been cast aside and dealt with inhumane treatments. Did we learn nothing from enslavement or segregation? 

Black people are human beings just like anyone else.

The world should no longer accept the need to divide individuals based on the color of their skin. Non-people of color across the globe have shown racism knows no bounds. 

According to the New York Times, Ukrainian authorities have inflicted physical violence onto Africans who were trying to flee the country since the war began. The root cause of this violence seems to be deep-seeded racism.

Ukrainian officials said they were not inflicting violence on Africans or treating them any differently. African students living in Ukraine have proven this statement to be untrue.

African students in Ukraine have provided video footage of them being thrown off trains so they could not leave.

Any time Black people call out racism or mistreatment from non-Black individuals, there is always someone in a position of power stating these actions never happened. 

White people have the privilege to choose whether or not they want to believe a racist act has taken place. Unfortunately, Black people do not have that choice. 

The hate against Black people has to end. All white people need to realize racism is a matter of life and death. This issue in Ukraine should be a rallying cry for humanity because Black people have had enough. We are tired. 

IU master’s degree student Salina Tesfagiorgis said the current Ukraine crisis highlights the biggest flaw in international refugee systems. 

“These systems are racist,” Tesfagiorgis said. “It is repulsive how this country is in the crisis of war and racism is winning.”

Unfortunately, racism is one uniting factor for Black people around the world. There seems to be a lack of care and consideration for their well-being when it comes to Black refugees. 

Tesfagiorgis said all the inhabitants of Ukraine are victims in this crisis.

“There are many people who have been saying the priority should be on saving Ukrainian citizens first,” Tesfagiorgis said. “My response to this is everyone is a victim, and who is to say there aren’t Black Ukrainian citizens?”

Tesfagiorgis said the assumption has seemed to be Black people could not possibly be citizens of Ukraine and this is built on racist ideas and opinions. Tesfagiorgis said some African students were lured to Ukraine for their academic capabilities. 

From rising gas prices to the threat of nuclear war, Tesfagiorgis said this crisis affects everyone and we all play a part in how these events will be written in history. 

The struggle for Africans in Ukraine points to a larger global issue which has Black people have been the victims of for centuries.

This crisis can potentially be resolved with African nations and bordering European countries stepping in to provide Black refugees the shelter and safety they need. However, this solution is not the only one that is needed.

However, Tesfagiorgis said racial targeting will only end after there is a shift in the mindset of individuals who uphold racist structures and ideals. 

“Whiteness has become the neutrality, standard and foundation of policy,” Tesfagiorgis said. “We will see success when whiteness no longer becomes neutral and humanity stands in its place.”

Whiteness should not be the basis of humanity, but because as it is, racism prevails even in war.

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