Race, an invented concept that emerged in the mid-17th century as a means for justifying the enslavement of Africans in colonial America and Europe, has brought so much pain and suffering to the black people who endured an atrocious five centuries of slavery; which has been re-innovated over the years into something systematic and social construct. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, over centuries ago, the false notion that “white” people were inherently smarter, more capable, and more human than black people became accepted by white supremacists and slave traders. This categorization of people became a justification for European colonization and subsequent enslavement of people from Africa. Thereinafter, the world has never been the same for black people since they came across the Whiteman centuries ago.
The situation in Ukraine currently is one of the many proofs to show the world that racism is a white culture and that it may never end or stop.
Africans and people of colour have been a subject of racism in the hands of the Ukrainians amidst the ongoing war in the Eastern European country. Although millions of Africans back home and black people across the world have rallied behind Ukraine in sending heartwarming and compassionate messages to the people of Ukraine, the thousands of Africans and black people from the Caribbean studying in the country who are trying to flee the country just as any other human would do in a war zone territory, are on the other hand facing unjust racial treatment from the Ukrainian border patrols and soldiers. These African and Caribbean students are facing firsthand racism in trying to get out of Ukraine; whilst some are being classed and treated as not-so-value beings. Appalling and distasteful footage have surfaced on social media showing Ukrainian soldiers and border patrols racially profiling Africans and Caribbeans and also stopping them from crossing the borders to a safer zone. These students have been reaching out to their various governments for help, sharing the harrowing mistreatment they’ve been subjected to by the Ukrainian forces.
Despite all this, two black queens from the United Kingdom and one from Ukraine have shown the world what it is like to be a black woman and prove that indeed the black woman is the mother of all races. The two women, Tokunbo Koiki and Patricia Daley who live in the United Kingdom, saw the situation in Ukraine and how black people have been subjected to racism in the middle of a war, organised a fundraiser that has raised over £70,000 for African and Caribbean students stuck in Ukraine and have been illegally blocked from crossing the borders to neighbouring Poland and Romania.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Patricia Daley (29) and Tokunbo Koiki (40) are best of friends who live in London, England. The two friends, just like many of us around the world, have been following the Russia-Ukraine conflict, more particularly the racial maltreatment of Africans and people of colour studying in Ukraine trying to cross the borders to Poland and Romania. The duo, after watching and reading about the racial unjust of black people studying in Ukraine, came across a story that moved them. Sky, an African student living in Ukraine posted a video on Twitter showing how black people are unfairly treated at the borders in Ukraine. The video gained over a million views and was seen by Tokunbo Koiki. In the video posted by Korrine Sky who was studying in the eastern city of Dnipro when Russian forces stormed Ukraine last week, one could see dozens of black students pleading with the Ukrainian soldiers, who are seen standing with arms. With the fear of being shot, some black people were seen raising both hands to show they are not armed and that they’re just like any normal human being trying to cross to a safer country, shouting: “We are students! We are not armed!” 26-year-old Korrine Sky successfully fled Ukraine after a gruelling journey to a safer country.
29-year-old Londonite Patricia Daley and her friend, 40-year-old Tokunbo Koiki, learned of Sky’s journey to escape Ukraine and they were moved to help, so they reached out to her on social media to offer some help by starting fundraising for Africans and Caribbeans stranded in Ukraine. The two friends who live and work in the United Kingdom opened a fundraising page on PayPal. Together, the three women (Patricia Daley, Tokunbo Koiki and Sky) organized a campaign to aid the students of colour who are facing racist threats and maltreatments from Ukrainian authorities trying to prevent them from safely crossing the border to Poland and Romania.
“People are scared. People are really, really terrified. Especially for the people in the major cities who are currently under attack,” said Tokunbo Koiki.
Even though African leaders are being dull and dormant in evacuating their citizens studying Ukraine, these three black queens have shown us the Ubuntu spirit of oneness by coming to the aid of their fellow black men and women. As it is said, ”there is nothing more powerful as a black queen knowing her place in society.” Patricia Daley, Tokunbo Koiki and Sky have succeeded in helping “more than 500 Black students” to successfully flee Ukraine to safer neighbouring countries by “funding transport costs, like arranging taxis and other emergency needs,” they said.
“People said they were pushed, sent back, and physically assaulted on both sides of the border in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland,” Tokunbo Koiki said.
Another member of the trio, Patricia Daley told reporters that African and Caribbean students reached out, revealing the racism they experienced while trying to flee safely. “I do think they have been treated differently at borders because of their skin. Racism is now happening even in situations where there is war,” said Patricia Daley.
Several videos on social media have shown Ukrainian forces threatening to shoot groups of African students for trying to board trains and other modes of transportation to safely flee the country, NBC News reports. Other distasteful videos show a woman shielding an infant from the cold and officials chasing groups of Black people stranded in Ukraine.
Patricia Daley, Korrine Sky and Tokunbo Koiki have executed the noblest of kindness in the middle of a crisis. These three wonderful and amazing black queens have shown us that in unity, black people will triumph.