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'It's time we woke up to the reality of terrorism'

STANDING UP TO HATE: A memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed during the protest against white supremacists in Charlottesville

QUESTION: WHAT do the Ku Klux Klan/white supremacists/Nazis and ISIS followers have in common? Answer: They are all terrorists.

But then I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. We black people have known that all along but we just couldn’t get our white bredrin to see and understand that. Even when those KKK men planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device to bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, killing four little black girls – Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Carol Denise McNair (aged 11), Carole Robertson (aged 14), and Cynthia Wesley (aged 14).

White folks were still reluctant to use the 'T' word on those animals. But then they hadn’t termed these monsters as terrorists even when they saw what another couple of white supremacists had previously done to 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi. Even then, white folks held back as if these murderers were somehow, with their terrorism, doing all white folks a favour by keeping black folks in check.

We couldn’t understand it. We were confused by the English language, which enabled ignorant white folks to suggest that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. What the hell does that mean? Terrorism is terrorism. Pure and simple. We all know what it means. When we see a devil mow down innocent people with a car we denounce it as terrorism.

DREAMING OF BETTER DAYS: A counter protestor holds up a picture of the Obamas at the fatal Charlottesville rally on August 12

And Europe has seen that horror over and over again. It makes no difference if that heinous act is carried out in Nice or London, Barcelona or Charlottesville. It is terrorism. The British government will tell you that. The French government will tell you that. The Swedish government will tell you that. The German government will tell you that. The Spanish government will tell you that. But the US government won’t.

The US government won’t call it that because the person responsible was not a Muslim. And because the person who was mowed down – Heather Heyer – was out there fighting for equal rights and justice on behalf of black folk. This is the hypocrisy of language and political position. If you are mowed down by a white man and you happen to be fighting for justice for black folk, it is not a terrorist act.

That’s how it has been since time immemorial. If a non-white person kills a white person it is quite possibly an act of terrorism. If a white person kills a black person or someone who is a 'n*gg*r lover', it is most probably not an act of terrorism. Especially if the president of the United States happens to be Donald J. Trump. Or so it would seem.

This is the new reality, people. Which, as I say, is not really new, because it has been that way anyway, except we’re going back there after eight years of solid reflection under Barack H. Obama’s tenure as president of the United States.
And, I don’t care what anyone says, Barack H. Obama has to take some blame for this.

Why? Because he didn’t put the legislation in place that would have outlawed the kind of race-hate groups that America is littered with and who have now raised their ugly heads above the parapet because they can. If Obama had been as forthright in banning these terrorist groups within America as Donald Trump has been in demonising anyone with a Muslim name with the audacity to try to enter the United States, Heather Heyer may be alive today. First amendment, second amendment, third amendment or whatever else amendment notwithstanding.

If Obama had reached back into the roots of the black experience in the dis-United States and remembered that these groups are the parasitic maggots that have eaten away at the heart and soul of the American dream, he would have cut out the cancer at its head.


You would not have the head of the Ku Klux Klan able to come out and say that he is glad that Heather Heyer was the victim of that terrorist act when a coward drove his car at full speed into a crowd that were leaving the scene of the protests in Charlottesville, with their backs to the assault.

Once upon a time, when you shot a man in the back in America, you were hanged for it. What about when you drive a car into a crowd?

America is slowly waking-up to the fact of the terrorism within. It is slowly realising that while its president has been concentrating on whether terrorists can get into the United States or not, he is prepared to support the terrorists within who support him, or at the very least not issue a full condemnation of them. America is slowly waking-up to the fact that it is a country founded on the terrorism it conducted on the African peoples.

And not just America, but Britain too. Britain, the very source of this terrorism, cannot hide behind the language of talking about African peoples as ‘slaves’ as if there were not terrorism involved and that they were simply transporting people who were born as slaves and who were/are slaves from one continent to another to continue being who they are - ‘slaves’.

That is why myself and all right-minded black (and those white people who support us – my friend the football pundit Tim Vickery in Brazil, for example) never use the term ‘slave’ but insist on using the term ‘enslaved’ so that the terrorism act that was committed will always be remembered if only for the fact that the term ‘enslaved’ demands the question, ‘Who enslaved them?’.

That is as much a memorial to the terrorism that we suffered as this weekend’s Carnival in Notting Hill is. But, while we are very happy to sing and dance and shake our sweet sugar boom-booms in memory of our enslaved ancestors we, for some reason, are unwilling to upset white people by saying those ancestors were not ‘slaves’ but were ‘enslaved’.

When Heather Heyer was unafraid to confront racist terrorists, we for whom she gave her life, have become weak, timid and petrified to get up and stand up for our rights. That is why we were nowhere to be seen in Charlottesville, but will be there in careless abundance in Notting Hill.

Dotun Adebayo is Britain’s most listened-to black radio talk show host. He presents Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 live Thursdays through Sundays on 909/693 MW, The Sunday Night Special on BBC 94.9FM and Reggae Time on BBC London 94.9FM on Saturday evenings. Tune in if you’re ranking!

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