My grandparent’s generation in Ethiopia had a holocaust committed against them by Mussolini’s fascist military. Mustard gas was deployed against civilians and resistance fighters alike as men, women and children were bombed indiscriminately. The horrors of seeing children melt before their eyes as chemical weapons burn through skin to the bone became a normal facet of life. Ethiopians were terrorized by a colonial power intent on avenging their humiliating defeat a generation earlier at the Battle of Adwa.
My family members were victims of hell’s fires that were unleashed by the Italian air force and army. No place in the country was safe; from Addis Abeba to the rural areas, anything that moved became a target as over 200,000 Ethiopians were brutally exterminated. Mussolini’s generals declared total war in order to subjugate my ancestors by brute force. But Ethiopians are not one to give in to tyranny, using inferior armaments, Ethiopian jegnoch (heroes) fought the Italian army to a stand still and eventually repelled colonists yet again from our lands. However, freedom was secured at a cost; Italian and British “diplomats” and missionaries—who have always been mercenaries using the bible to hide their thievery—stole countless Ethiopian artifacts and treasures that reside in London and Rome to this day.
If I wanted to, I have every right to be pissed off at all Italians and Brits. My native land was victimized twice by British and Italian mercenaries (read Justice Delivered). My grandfather Million Tedla, a war hero who fought with distinction and valor against Mussolini’s army, ended up having his life snuffed out as a consequence of post-war politics which would never have come to fruition if Italy did not invade my once homeland and if British technocrats did not unleash tribalism by way of treacherous diplomacy. I could choose to blame all Italians and Brits for the sins of the past and let vengeance and grievance fester in my heart. But I refuse to do any of that. Italians are not responsible for the mustard bombs that cremated my ancestors alive nor are British people accountable for the cunning ways of the British crown.
I recount the suffering of my fellow Ethiopians as a precursor and an entry point to discuss the current political, social and racial climate that is roiling my adopted home America. Let me say from the outset that I do not know first hand the strife and horrors that the decedents of a people hijacked from the continent of “Africa” have endured and continue to go through to this day. Though I grew up in America and have an intimate understanding of the systematic obstacles and exclusion that many “black folks” face on a daily basis and I too have felt on many occasions the nefarious touch of institutional racism, I can never claim to know the true pain that generational repression has left in the souls of “African-Americans”.
Yet, pain is pain. If I choose, I can go on a quest to match suffering with others and try to monopolize injustice. As a first generation refugee who immigrated to America with parents who only had change in their pockets upon arrival in the United States and the experiences I went through trying to fit in has left scars of painful remembrances. But God blessed me with an ability to look forward no matter the crucibles that come into my life. Two years of being a sojourner mired in destitution has taught me that the only way we can survive hardship is to be forward looking and to not look back with remorse and resentment.
I emerged from my darkest days not broken but made whole. Where once I resided in narrow lanes of exclusionary justice and counted myself a disciple of demagogues who peddled grievance and identity politics, witnessing a sea of humanity irrespective of color, politics and religion being broken by poverty and hunger has shed from my eyes the blinders of tribalism and malice towards others. I once took pleasure in bashing “white privilege” and condemning “white people” for racism and hatred. I see now that I was in the wrong, how is taking on hatred with hateful rhetoric supposed to advance justice? Our pains only gain meaning when we share our burdens with others and realize humanity’s common struggle; our pains only burgeon when we withdraw behind defensive postures.
Moreover, it is morally wrong to blame the masses for the sins of a few. I can’t blame all Italians for the atrocities Mussolini committed nor can I blame all British people for the duplicity and mendacity of Queen Victoria and the British monarchy. Nor do I care two bits about the statues and gold that was stolen from Ethiopia by European archaeologists and professional thieves. What good is accomplished fighting over statues of the past and idols that enshrined the elites when Ethiopians are suffering in homelessness and hopelessness as they continue being victimized by globalists who rob the wealth of nations to feed the greed of a fraction? Why elevate idols above people? Why re-litigate history and rip open old scars when togetherness and being kind to one another can mend most wounds? I hope you can read between the lines and see how this applies to the current developments going on right here in America and throughout the world.
Tribalism is destroying my birth land Ethiopia as the current Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his TPLF henchmen, working at the behest of globalist corporate plutocrats, are eradicating a nation that survived intact for 3,000 years. Where colonialists could not subjugate us by force in Adwa and during WWII, tribalism and neo-apartheid have been unleashed to fracture and destroy the nation from within (read Chasing Assimilated Acceptance and Killing Cultures). My fellow Americans, with candor and full certitude I say this, they are doing to us here what has been done to others for centuries. Tribes are being created daily in order to fracture our nation and grievance is being incited in order to have us gashing at each other’s throats.
Pervasive injustice only reigns because it is easier to be angry than it is to extend grace and seek coexistence. Though most of us profess to want peace on earth, few are willing to invest in the forbearance and patience that it takes to give birth to a new day of justice. Our hearts are easily moved by fire and we are drawn to those who use flames to speak animus than we are moved by those who speak of love and togetherness. I don’t speak on these things out of theory, I once had a website called “Brown Condor” where I too used to bash anyone who dared to come at me sideways. I justified antipathy by saying “I am only fighting fire with fire” and by using self-defense as a pretext to rhetorically bomb others with words.
The website was wildly successful; in less than a year it was ranked 150,000 in the world because people were drawn to the rancor and antagonism that I kept putting into the ether. It is taking much longer to achieve the same level of success with this website because I choose to write about unity instead of preaching divisiveness. This is why punditry has morphed into nihilism and hatefulness; corporate journalists are feeding the beast of odium that we love to ingest. If my objective was fame and fortunes, the surest way would be to speak with angry discontent. But my quest is to forge inclusive justice and for that I know there is a crimson price that awaits and derision by those who react out of hurt instead of acting based on logic. I put my faith in God and walk without an ounce of fear in my heart regardless and in the process ask all to please walk away from partaking in hostility and bitterness.
Please wake up to this nefarious plan. Stop blaming fellow victims and bashing others who struggle just like you. These colors and identities we keep ascribing to are artificial constructs meant to splinter us into the ghettos of “just us”. We can appreciate what makes us different without resorting to hating others. I am not preaching this to just “African-Americans”, this is a message to all people irrespective of skin tone. It is not our hue that makes us human; sure I love my brown skin but I don’t place my skin above the fact that we are all children who come from one source whose pains and hopes are interconnected.
In some quarters, urging love and restraint is viewed as weakness while hubris and aggression are elevated as virtues needed to fight for justice. This is folly at its apex; violent revolutions are always romanticized and preached until blood flows on pavements and tears stain our cheeks. Just know though the pundits and opinions leaders you hear preaching “get in their face” rhetoric will be NOWHERE to be found when the bullets start flying—it will be our children dropping while the firebrands you see on TV and social media advancing conflict are safe behind their ivory towers.
We are being manipulated towards confrontation for a reason, yet those too scarred by injustice and those who are being paid to incite hatred are equally pushing us to the brink of conflict. There is no courage to be found in those who advocate violence while sipping lattes and taking selfies of their gourmet food, true valor is standing up for love and extending a hand of friendship even in the face of malice. Words can change hearts or they can codify hatred—which do we want?
This is an appeal to our collective hearts that I hope rings true above the antipathy that is being fostered in our minds by cunning demagogues. The only way we can start bending the arc of history towards justice is if we unite together as a people. Where we are disunited and fractured we will gain nothing but more suffering and strife. The only weakness of this global system of oppression and capital larceny is unity—it’s only through togetherness that we can overcome injustice. Here is to unity, may we seek inclusive justice instead of residing in separable grievances. #InclusiveJustice
None is greater than the other; we are all the greater when we love and help one another::
If you appreciate the message behind this article and you too stand up for inclusive justice, share this article on social media using #InclusiveJustice
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how unity and togetherness enabled Ethiopians, Haitians and Americans to defeat their tormentors.
It is my hope that EVERYONE, irrespective of hue, identity and belief, watches this video and understand the one thing we have in common. I know the title is jarring, but the message I believe is redeeming.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019
- The Mindless Cycle of Violence Continues - August 6, 2019
- Why am I a “Person of Color”? - July 26, 2019