Friday, February 17, 2023

Amara Enyia is fighting all problems everywhere

Amara Enyia in Geneva.
     If you are unaware, as I was, that we are nearing the end of a 10-year global initiative to spotlight concerns of special importance to Black people, don’t feel bad. Some efforts get more attention than others.
     “The United Nations designated 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, all around the world,” said Amara Enyia. “This is a mechanism designed to deal with all of the issues: climate, inequality, education. Part of this is doing a lot of advocacy.”
     Regular readers might remember my spending a day on the campaign trail with Enyia when she faced Rahm Emanuel in 2014.
     “Unlike the typical marginal eccentric who feels compelled to run against a powerful if not popular Chicago mayor, she is neither a crank nor a fool, but a thoughtful, grounded community activist,” I wrote, “one of six children of Nigerian immigrants, whose only obvious sign of unbalance is the apparently sincere belief that she will defeat the mayor in February.”
     She didn’t win. Unlike most former mayoral candidates, she did not utterly vanish. She tried again in 2019 and recently popped up in Geneva serving as chairwoman for the international civil society working group at the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.
     Most of us have enough trouble dealing with one problem in one place; Enyia is trying to address all problems everywhere.
     “You’re essentially dealing with all of the languages, all of the geographies, prioritizing issues, working to make it as impactful as possible,” she said. “It’s a pretty significant undertaking.”
     It is? It seems to me the woes of the world barrel onward, bursting through the paper barriers of working groups and multinational programs.
     Enyia disagrees. She thinks it is important that Black people in America understand that the problems disproportionately affecting them in this country are also afflicting their brothers and sisters around the globe.

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  1. I think the level of difficulty Enyia and her colleagues face is exemplified by an interview with a Polish official I heard on NPR discussing the difference between welcome immigration from Ukraine and the unwelcome attempts by Africans and Middle Easterners to cross the Polish border. He said that the Ukrainians come with a similar culture, religion and language, which is quite understandable, but then he went on to say that the Ukrainians came to work and not to get welfare. How is Europe to be persuaded to confer equity on dark skinned strangers when Americans, who have lived with and benefited from Black labor, ingenuity and talent for centuries, are wary of even a token acknowledgement that Blacks have not been treated equally, not just in the distant past, but here and now.


  2. Nothing but admiration for Amara.
    It would be great if not only black Americans but all Americans were aware of the situation globally.
    However, as the saying goes, when you’re up to your ass in alligators it’s hard to remember the original goal was to drain the swamp.


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