Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was featured on Press TV News Analysis on April 3, 2012 discussing the state of race relations in the United States. The murder of Trayvon Martin illustrates the legacy of national oppression., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘Systematic racism widespread in American justice system’
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire
Wed Apr 4, 2012 1:4PM GMT
To watch this Press TV News Analysis interview with Abayomi Azikiwe just click on the URL below:
The parents of an unarmed African-American teenager fatally shot by the police in the US city of Pasadena have filed a lawsuit against the city’s police department.
The 19-year-old college student, Kendrec McDade, was shot and killed by two Pasadena police officers on March 24.
His parents have filed lawsuits against the Pasadena police chief, the two police officers who shot McDade and a detective.
To further discuss the issue, Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire from Detroit.
What follows is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: One writer was saying that while some stations like CNN, for example, were calling the case of Trayvon Martin complicated, it actually is not since the recordings clearly show what happened and how it happened.
So is there a deliberate attempt to hush down this and similar cases?
Azikiwe: Most definitely. If you talk to anyone off the record who works for CNN as a commentator or a news analyst, they will tell you --if they are honest--, that they deliberately tell them to deemphasize issues of race, class as well as national oppression.
And I think it is very important that attorney [Roger] Wareham started out talking about the Dred Scott Decision of 1857 which in essence said that the constitutional guarantees that apply to white Americans do not apply to Africans and people of African descent.
And that is still very much the cornerstone of the American political culture all the way into the 21st century.
As the second commentator Mr. Wolf said, it took a hundred years after the failure of reconstruction to pass basic fundamental civil rights laws and voting rights laws in the United States.
And even today, over 40 years later, we have blatant political attacks on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the whole notion of affirmative action, the right to equal opportunity, due process under the law which is supposed to be guaranteed under the fourteenth amendment.
And we have seen very clearly the spike in killings, the spike in racial animosity towards African Americans and it also extends to other nationally oppressed groups.
We have to look at the Shaima al-Awadi case, a woman from Detroit who moved to San Diego, California, who is an Iraqi American, who was beaten to death.
A note was left next to her body, telling her that she should leave the United States and go back to the Middle East. So this is clearly very much a part of the American political culture, despite the fact that we have an African American in the White House and we have all these laws that have been put on the books.
Press TV: Speaking about the steps that the government can take, we know for instance that President Obama said about the killing of Trayvon Martin, and I am quoting him, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon, and I think that Trayvon’s parents are right to expect that all of us Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves”.
Now these kinds of comments coming from President Obama, at the same time, we are hearing for instance, Rick Santorum saying that these comments by Obama are only trying to drive a wedge in America, at the same time, we are hearing Reverend Jesse Jackson, saying that the fact that there is an American president who is black is not enough that we have still got a long way to go.
What basically should the government do in this and in similar cases, in your view?
Azikiwe: The government needs to take affirmative action to abolish racism. But the problem is even in reference to the World Conference Against Racism. When it took place in Durban in 2001, it was boycotted by the Bush administration.
They did go there; they tried to sabotage the conference. Then, when they walked out, they still kept people inside the conference to try to undermine it even further.
Even under the Obama administration, there was a follow-up conference that was held the first year that Obama was in office.
The United States government under Barack Obama boycotted the conference; they refused to participate, saying that it had remnants of anti-Semitism within the deliberations. This has absolutely nothing to do with the struggle against international racism and the struggle against domestic racism right here in the United States.
So I think it requires the mass mobilization, the mass organization of African Americans, other nationally oppressed groups inside the United States in conjunction with their allies both domestically and internationally to really target racism.
It is not going to happen otherwise. I will give you one clear example that took place right here in the Detroit metropolitan area.
Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was an African American Muslim cleric who was shot to death. He was set up by FBI informants two and half years ago; he was shot 21 times by FBI agents who had been trained in Quantico, Virginia in an anti-terrorism program.
The Muslim community, the African American community, the civil rights organizations demanded a review by the Justice Department of this shooting. There was a review and the Justice Department came back under Eric Holder, who is also an African American, and declared that the FBI agents had done no wrong.
So this just goes to show that the racism is so deep and systematic within the American system that it is going to take a fundamental transformation of the structures of the American political system in order for racism to be thoroughly rooted out.
It cannot be reformed because even under an Obama administration, the racism still continues. We still have the highest unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate in the United States as African Americans.