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RACISM WITHOUT BORDERS: RACISM DURING UKRAINE’S HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Updated: May 30, 2022




The world has united to give Ukraine aid. Be it by supplying arms to the country or giving passage to refugees, the world’s leaders have stood shoulder-to-shoulder, in solidarity to combat Russia’s aggressive tactics.

However, they are also actively neglecting the fate of coloured refugees, or international students, at Ukraine’s borders. Black and brown students are being discriminated against by not just Ukrainian authorities, but authorities of neighbouring countries as well.

Racism in the coverage of Ukraine’s plight has also been pronounced. Charlie D’Agata, a reporter, who has later apologized, recently sparked controversy when he said, “This [Ukraine] isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,”. He added that Ukraine was, “relatively civilized, relatively European” compared to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

This seems fairly hypocritical considering that centuries of military interventions by non-Afghanis or non-Iraqis is the reason such countries, the region even, have been destabilised.

Truth be told, this behaviour isn’t even that surprising. News outlets, by showing numbers after numbers, have desensitized the general public to humanitarian crises in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Healthier representations in media must be made of the Middle Eastern people. Their culture, their traditions must be shared so that they are more than their current politics. However, such measures are too little, too late.

Right now, what can be done is for world leaders to denounce this cruel and inhumane violence at the border just as they did for Russia’s invasion. Ukrainian President Zelensky needs to address this issue, instead of letting it be swept under the rug.

And to be honest, I understand the need to construct this narrative of hope and unity in face of political instability and war. It can be tempting to spin it in a positive light, but historically, it has been shown that this is not what is needed.

In history class, most of us learn about the white soldiers from America,Britain,France and every other country who gave their lives during the World Wars in the cause of democracy. But they don’t, or even if they do, very briefly, learn about the Indians, Pakistanis and those from other colonised countries who served. They don’t learn about the racism and segregation that Black soldiers faced in the war, which could oftentimes end up fatal. They don’t learn about the way the colonies were dragged into war by their master - by forcing them to give up large amounts of ammunition or food during famines.

By not learning about them, their sacrifice is downplayed and those who survived are erased.

By keeping quiet, what the Western world is doing is validating centuries of racism and colonialism. By keeping quiet, they’re espousing the same concept that led to the suffering of non-white people - that a White person’s life is more valuable than any others.

By keeping quiet, they are proving themselves to be the uncivilised ones: the ones who would look the other way when humans are suffering.


 

Yaalni is a staff writer at the Incandescent Review. She is a high school student studying in Singapore. She is interested in an array of things, including writing, reading and most things related to the social sciences and humanities.

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