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Zianna's bravery against brutality

TEARS: Nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant gives heart-breaking testimony in Charlotte, North Carolina

JOKING ASIDE, this week’s column is about the realness. The REALNESS of a black girl surrounded by madness in a time of sadness.

For those of you who don’t know who Zianna Oliphant is, let me educate you.

She is the nine-year-old girl that you will want to adopt the moment you see her tearful and impassioned plea about why black lives matter to an adolescent in Charlotte, North Carolina, where one of the more recent shootings of a black man by the US police has taken place. 

Please, if you have not seen her speech yet, go online and watch it. I’m begging you.

And when you watch it, if it moves you, re-send it/retweet/regurgitate it to anybody and everybody you feel needs to watch it.

Show it to your children and your partner and your friends and neighbours.

Because this is the most passionate speech about human rights that I have seen or heard since Martin Luther King stepped up to the lectern in August 1963 at the American National Mall in Washington DC and told us that he has a dream.

And just like Martin Luther King, Zianna Oliphant should get a Nobel Prize for her speech alone.

Because it has touched the hearts of white people all over the world and has made us black and proud in a way that we have really needed to feel in the past two years when black didn’t seem to matter that much.

I’ll go further – if Zianna Oliphant’s speech does not move you, then you are a ‘duppy’ with a heart of stone.
Such is the power of the human experience, that if we allowed it to, Zianna’s words would touch all of our hearts and change the world that we live in today. That’s how powerful it is.

And the sentiment is all there. Because it’s REAL. It’s for REAL. And a nine-year-old couldn’t do it any other way.

Zianna is the archetypical young, gifted and black that Nina Simone wrote about and sang about and ended up giving Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths their worldwide number one hit about – and that’s a fact.

You see, to be young, gifted and black is to know that you are blessed with a purpose. That is the ‘gifted’ bit. We can all be young and black. But it is the ‘gift’ part that is the blessing. That is the key to it. Because it begs the question, “Who gifted you that part?” 

Some of us, of course, will say like Linton Kwei Johnson does: “This is the age of reality, the age of science and technology, but some of us still believe in divinity.”


Well, being the son of a scientist, I ought not to. But every now and then the gift of a creator shines through the likes of Zianna Oliphant and I cannot but see the glory of the Most High. So I give thanks and praises.

Zianna is a blessed child.

Not just because of the gift from on high, but because she is determined to use it for the betterment of her people – all people – and every little boy and girl in the whole wide world.

Because that gift from on high is worth more than diamonds and more than pearls and is wasted on those who don’t use it for the betterment of their people and, ultimately, all mankind. You see, the bravery that Zianna showed in taking an emotional stand against the brutality that is meted out to black people every day deserves our thanks.

It has opened up the eyes of white people to what we go through every day, like nothing else can.

But let us not all just stand back and clap our hands and praise her. Because if young Zianna is as eloquent as she is now when she is in her teens or her 20s, imagine what she could achieve for her people – which is everybody.

If she were white and in a different dispensation there would be philanthropic mentors ensuring that she makes the most of the gifts that she has been given. Like I tell my daughters every day, if you don’t make use of those gifts you live an ultimately unsatisfying life.

But where are the philanthropic mentors in the black community who can make sure that young Zianna’s talents are given their full potential?

We all know that it takes money. And, even though I am speaking from a position of ignorance about the young girl’s circumstances and family, I am sure that her parents could sure do with a little bit of financial help to see that she flourishes. Especially in the States, where a college education is far beyond the financial reach of many people. Should we not be starting a fund for her? Just as a fund was set up to support Malala (the young Asian girl fighting for the rights of young girls to be schooled and who was subsequently shot by the Taliban but has gone on, with the financial help of international donors, to realise the gift that she has been given).

I would be the first person to donate to that fund as and when it is set up.

You might call me a dreamer, but I see a lot of potential in our youngsters and believe that it is them who will change the world.

I want our younger people to not just change the world socially (I don’t feel that they should be burdened with the fight against racism, because we have seen time and time again that it is the dedication we give to that fight that hampers us getting on with our lives in so many other ways), but to change themselves and our people intellectually to be on top of the new technology and become the billionaires and trillionaires of the future, with a conscience. Zianna has that conscience to be the leader of tomorrow. 

Somebody make this nine-year-old the next president of the United States. The country could sure do with a credible candidate.

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