Culture

I Am Not Charlie. Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie.

On January 3, 2015, Boko Haram men went to the city of Baga and killed up to an estimated 2,000 people, mostly civilians. They ravaged the town, burning down buildings and leaving the largest body count they have yet. This is their deadliest act in their reign of terror in Northern Nigeria, and 30,000 people have been displaced because of this attack, trying to find safety. Some swam to nearby Chad, and many died on the way there.

It took at least 5 days after it happened for us to find out about it. And 8 days later, it is still not headline news in the United States.

Last Wednesday, two men ran into the Paris office of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 10 people on their staff and 2 policemen. In other attacks, 5 more people were killed, leaving 17 people dead in France at the hands of extremists who wreaked havoc in the name of Islam.

Since last week, people have been saying #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) to stand with French people and to condemn the attacks. 40 world leaders went to Paris and marched yesterday.

READ THE REST of Let’s declare #IamNigeria to honor nation’s 2,000 lives lost to terrorists on TheGRIO

Well, I cannot join them to say “Je suis Charlie.” I got on Twitter to say why. If it doesn’t show below, read “I Am Not Charlie” on Storify.

IAMNigeriaYORUBA

Oh and while I’m here. I’ve seen people post pics of burned bodies on their Facebook pages to get our attention about what happened in Nigeria (and whether or not they are of the people from Baga has been unconfirmed). I get it but I won’t be doing that and I ask people to pause before doing that too. Why? Because the images that people tie to Africa are already of suffering and starvation and death and gloom.

Besides, why do people need to present proof of bodies charred to elicit emotion about the death of African people? Because we’re all so accustomed to turning the other cheek that some feel like to get you to care, you need to be faced with their remains. And I’m not sure if it’s honoring their humanity or leaving us with a memory of these people as nothing but carcasses.

I don’t know. I just know that I have never been presented with a picture of Europeans burned in my feeds, or with their heads blown off. But I’ve seen far too many of my skinfolk, lifeless, floating around. We don’t get treated with care.

#IAmNigeria #NaijaNiMi #AbuMOnyeNaija #NiNeNaija


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20 Comments

  1. Bridgette
    January 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually commented on here. I am an American living in Angola. It sickens me and pisses me off just how little black lives matter globally. Boko Haram is wreaking havoc in Nigeria and nobody’s marching and crying out for them. Those young ladies were abducted months ago and we’ve forgotten about them and moved on to the next story. I’m not Charlie either and I don’t stand by them provoking folks because of their religion. It’s wrong and they need to stop. Free speech should still be handled responsibly. By the way, I do not in any way condone the killings in France.

  2. Tina
    January 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Standing O. To ALLADIS.

  3. #JeNeSuisPasCharlie
    January 13, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Everything you said, Luvvie. Every gathdammed thing you said! I’ve been hesitant to comment on it because I work in the media. I call BS on a lot of this outrage. I for one will not defend in any way, shape or form for any media outlet to be openly hateful and call it satire. To be absolutely clear: I regret the loss of lives and I wholeheartedly condemn the acts of murder. I can and will never defend that.

    I have also asked the question of what would have happened if Muslims in France had a magazine that repeatedly run debasing cartoons and/or editorials about the president and French historical icons, I’m willing to bet a year’s worth of paycheques that it would have been shut down with alacrity, and the owners/editors charged with something. Freedom of speech only applies to the majority (white). We all know this. Also, freedom of *insert right here* does not mean there are no consequences or that you are excused from being responsible. So no, I am not Charlie. Frankly, Charlie can kick rocks and I am over the media saturation with this story.

  4. Michele
    January 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    When the murders first happened I remember telling people to actually look at Hebdo Charlie’s content before jumping on the “Je suis Charlie” bandwagon. I’ve seen their cartoons over the years and misogynistic, racist, and islamaphobic immediately come to mind.

    Don’t get me wrong, nobody should have died under the circumstances that the Hebdo Charlie staffers did. But freedom of speech and freedom from consequences aren’t always mutually exclusive, and the folks at the magazine knew that (why else would they have been under police guard over the years?). Like somebody said on another blog I frequent, if you poke a bear enough times don’t be surprised if one day you become its dinner.

    On a larger scale this incident and the indifference about the Boko Haram massacre has exposed so much hypocrisy from so many people, from the conservatives who 10 years ago were mocking the French (freedom fries, anyone?) but now in “we too are French mode” as another way to bash President Obama; to the progressives who were quick to jump in with #alllivesmatter but are silent all of a sudden about the carnage in Nigeria.

    This just makes me tired.

  5. DCFem
    January 13, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    “But I’ve seen far too many of my skinfolk, lifeless, floating around. We don’t get treated with care.” This. Exactly this. There was a time in this country when photos of burned, cut-up, hanging black bodies were used as postcards. It is time that images of charred bodies, images of a black body in the street for 4 1/2 hours and a video of a black man being choked to death stop being necessary “proofs” of our basic humanity. Can we not just say that terrorists murdered 2,000 human beings and express our shock, outrage and grief? Why is it that no one cares until they see the proof of these horrible misdeeds?

  6. January 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes!! Why is it so hard for people to feel empathy and recognize tragedy without necessarily agreeing with someone’s values or lifestyle (in this case, the content of the inflammatory content)? It seems like such a foreign concept to some.

  7. yanekie
    January 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I have never commented but this right here is the truth and I am so glad you had the heart to say. We need to start to unearth these deep issues and bring it to light.

    So tired of seeing our bodies, as well.

  8. January 13, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you for this! I have been side-eying all of this #IamCharlie business because like you said humor is not an excuse for jackassery. And I am over these celebs getting on their high horse for the cause de Jour which rarely includes concern about the plight of Black and Brown folks in this country. Where was #I amEricGarner or #IamMichaelBrown (in Hollywood) – yeah, I won’t hold my breath waiting on a response to that.

    Why go out of your way to antagonize folks who have demonstrated that they will go nuclear on you over even a perceived slight?

    I watched a press conference yesterday with the White House Press secretary and there was this one obnoxious reporter demanding to know why the President had not gone to Paris, and when he didn’t get the answer that he wanted he then wanted to know what Pres. Obama was doing on Sunday. Um, minding his dayumned business and being President!

  9. notconvincedgranny
    January 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    While I was happy to see all those European leaders arm-in-arm for the photo op, I have always been of the opinion that:

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, and
    Words will start them flying.

    Maybe the cartoons went too far, but most likely not. Terrorists cannot be reasoned with; they do not recognize any freedom other than their own. That said, Islam is no more representative of the nut jobs who run around pulling these stunts than Westboro “Church” is representative of Christianity. Extremists and crazies hide behind all kinds of labels, but not one of those labels is a hall pass for mayhem.

  10. Mary Burrell
    January 13, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Eloquent and well said Luvvie. I feel the same way.

  11. Green Afro Diva
    January 13, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I agree with you Luvvie. Some people(white) love to throw out freedom of speech and expression only when it applies to them. It reminds me of the whole North Korea dust up about Sony theaters being hacked and not understanding that it makes us look like ignorant Americans. Same thing here standing with a publication that is knowingly xenophobic and racist. The coverage on Nigeria is horrible and even more horrible that world leaders have the nerve to fly half way around the world for a photo-op while thousands are being slaughtered not to far from their own back yards. I hope it changes

  12. Sarah
    January 13, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    You must condemn acts of violence everywhere, and not compare atrocities. One human life is one human life. You can “be charlie” and highlight and promote what is happening in Nigeria at the same time. There’s no need to support one movement and not support the other.

    And mentioning that their cartoons were offensive in the same sentence as saying murder is wrong sounds like pure victim blaming. You are all bordering on saying they deserved it.

    Support your causes without tearing other ones down. It is never us versus them. As long as there is any hint of us vs. them in your thought, then we’re still losing. We are all on the same side.

    • cb
      January 25, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      nope, ya don’t get it…

  13. whilome
    January 13, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    This is EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking and feeling all week. I cannot be Charlie. And I wouldn’t want to. “Satire kicks up.” And Charlie Hebdo didn’t. Not always.
    I would fight to support the freedom of speech, but a worthier fight is to support someone’s freedom to live.
    The lack of compassion and coverage for the events in Nigeria has the world straight showing its ass. It’s shameful. We can be shocked and appalled by more than one tragedy at a time, can’t we? Or can we? #iamnigeria

  14. Azie
    January 14, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Slow clap, and a standing ovation for you beloved Luvvie.
    Just Yesterday me and a Friend where discussing this very issue. I mean the white racist media is so blatant in showing us they have zero fcuks to give about us black people. I live in South Africa and let me tell you, the tragedy in Nigeria is only mentioned in passing, whilst Paris gets main coverage!!!!
    Its is during these times I remember Steve Biko, he said “Black man, You are on your own”, they (media, government etc) KEEP Reminding us, we are alone.
    I cant be Charlie, my identity as a black women, with all the history attached, does not allow me to be Charlie..

    oh and didn’t they Charlie Hedbo (sp), publish a cartoon of the minster of Justice Christiane depicted as a Monkey…

  15. A416Bajan
    January 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Bravo Luvvie!! Freedom of speech should be preserved, but we must also not just follow a cause/movement/protest blindly because it made international headlines.
    I’m sure that most of the “JeSuisCharlie” supporters/bandwagonners never heard of that publication until the attack.

  16. Cleojonz
    January 15, 2015 at 9:03 am

    My co-worker and I were just talking about this yesterday and another co-worker had to chime in all adamant about the right to freedom of speech. No, no one should have to die over their views but if you continually bait someone you have to ask what do you expect. Should you maybe do it a different way? My co-worker totally misses the point and you laid it out precisely the way I was trying to explain. Saying it’s satire or humor does not mean it is beyond reproach.

  17. SS
    January 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Luvvie I’ve been a reader for some time, but this is my first time commenting. You hit the nail right on the head. I LOVE reading your commentary because you always NAIL it. Like the movie about the assassination of the North Korea leader (can’t remember the name right now) free speech comes with responsibilities and it doesn’t spare you from repercussion. Like you said this would have NEVER happened with Jews.

  18. Tyren M
    January 27, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Yes I’m late but thanks for this Luvvie. It all needed to be said. Even the Pope was like your freedom of speech doesn’t give you right to defecate on another’s religion.

    On a lighter note, Shondaland returns in 2 days. Did I miss the big up to Viola for winning the SAG?

  19. What does it matter, you screen your comments
    March 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    You reject allies when they present themselves and screen comments so that they fit your narrative. We need to build coalitions to change systems that affect everyone. Narrow minded narcissism, it’s a problem for everyone right now, including the oppressed.