By FW Editorial Staff
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political analyst based in Detroit said US President Donald Trump is seeking to divide the country through fueling racial animosity between African Americans and whites in an effort to convince right-wing elements that he should be given another four years in office.
May 31, 2020
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and a co-founder of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, both based in Detroit. Azikiwe has published numerous articles, pamphlets, and books on African affairs along with working as a consultant for various satellite television news networks throughout the world. He has traveled extensively in Africa conducting field research on political economy and history.
Tasnim: Protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd continue to rage across the US. What do you think about the protests?
Azikiwe: These demonstrations and rebellions are a direct response to not only the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The unrest reflects the overall atmosphere of anger and despair within a racist and capitalist society. The mass frustration has been building for years in regard to the attacks upon African Americans by law-enforcement agents and white vigilantes. The outrage comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has eliminated more than 100,000 people in the United States and sickened some 1.6 million. This is by far the worst humanitarian and healthcare crisis in the US for more than a century. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In states such as Michigan and Illinois, African Americans are being hospitalized and are dying in numbers far greater than their percentages in the general population. 41 million people have been thrown out of work. There are many who do not have money and food as a direct result of the economic collapse. Consequently, the horrendous execution of Mr. Floyd was not only illegal it was a provocation of the highest order. Therefore, no one should be surprised at the level of disorder taking place in cities across the country for the last several days.
Tasnim: US President Donald Trump, in a tweet after midnight on Friday, called the protesters in Minneapolis “thugs” and said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” His tweet was widely criticized for inciting violence. What is your take on his tweets?
Azikiwe: Trump has built his political career upon racism, sexism, and anti-immigrant bigotry. He is attempting to inflame tensions between people in the United States against Caracas and Beijing along with Tehran. On a domestic level, he has fueled racial animosity between African Americans and whites in an effort to divide the country further in order to convince right-wing elements that he should be given another four years in office. If the local municipalities and states where the demonstrations are occurring engage in even more repressive tactics, it will only make matters worse. Rather than the Trump administration directing its attention towards containing the COVID-19 pandemic and lessening tensions in the country, it is creating even more hostility sparking violent responses in the streets of Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Memphis, New York City, among other metropolitan areas. At present National Guardsmen are being deployed in Minneapolis and St. Paul, while other local police agencies are facing the wrath of the African American people and their allies who are making their voices heard through mass demonstrations and other forms of resistance.
Tasnim: The United States is a contradiction. Its founding principles embrace the ideals of freedom and equality, but it is a nation built on the systematic exclusion and suppression of communities of color. From the start, so many of this country’s laws and public policies, which should serve as the scaffolding that guides progress, were instead designed explicitly to prevent people of color from fully participating. What are the reasons behind this?
Azikiwe: The Declaration of Independence of 1776 did not call for the liberation of enslaved Africans. During the early phase of the United States as a nation, only white male property owners could vote and have representation within the government. Africans and other nationally oppressed groups, women and the working class were forced to wage a protracted struggle to gain fundamental political and democratic rights. Despite the Civil War which legally ended involuntary servitude after 1865, African Americans have been forced to continue their struggle for self-determination, equality, and economic justice. Whenever gains have been made historically, right-wing elements backed by the capitalist ruling class initiate measures to reverse the reforms which are enacted as a result of mass organization and agitation. What is needed is a total break with the racist and capitalist regime. Only the creation of a genuinely democratic and non-racial society can bring about harmony and peace. Unfortunately, there is a need for more confrontation. The outcome of these struggles will determine the future of the US and consequently the world.