Did you know that 40% of PTV’s clients come from African countries? At our Monday community groups we often discuss issues like race and justice in America with clients as a way to share knowledge. As we struggle to come to grips with George Floyd’s death and the resulting civil rights movement, we wanted to share some of the words of our African friends. As an organization, we have benefitted from their insights as black immigrants and the ways they are absorbing this moment in history. We have included a few quotes, but changed their names for confidentiality.
Ibrahim (Survivor from Uganda): “I am driving my landlady’s car. She is nice enough to let me. I stop at a red light and as I look around, there is a police car. The look that officer gave me, I can’t express how I felt. I don’t even have words to express what I saw. I just looked ahead. I didn’t wave my hand or say hi. They come up next to you and look at you like a subhuman and when the light turned green, he drove all along with me to the intersection. I’m so mad I don’t even know what to say. Is being black a crime?”
“It’s not about being African American. It’s about being black. The police see the color. Wherever we come from, when we want to engage in any action, it can happen to us, especially male. Every black man in America, you are suspicious. It’s already bad to be black, being male, that’s worse. African American or African, they don’t know the difference. We have to understand the country we live in.”
John (Survivor from Cameroon): “In my culture, we tend to find a lesson in everything, even in death. After someone has been buried, we find a lesson in it all. Families unite and get to know each other. What lesson did we learn out of this bad experience? For me, I think community.”
“I will go back and look at the videos. People from all corners of life, different backgrounds, different ages speak out. We are tired. Right now, in each community, we are talking about it and I hope it continues and doesn’t end here. Building community and attachment and coming together, we just hope.”
Colin (Survivor from Uganda): “We come from an environment where we are told African Americans are very bad, like in the movies we see. They are always portrayed as bad people. Talking to people back home, they are all saying, Why are they doing these things when white people are very good? I tell them that African Americans have been oppressed for a very long time and they have to come out and do this.”
“We need to seek this information [about the history of people of African descent in the US] for ourselves and understand more about it. And maybe you’re going to find an African American and they are going to talk about you and you must say, I’m not bad, I’m your brother. The earlier we know we are the same people, the better.”
“Our fellow African Americans are our brothers and sisters and we have to be there for them. Let’s get together with them. If we express ourselves, we can be heard.”