On Trial: American Apartheid By Mark Lampkin

It has been 30 years since the Honorable Nelson Mandela was released from a South African prison, after 27 years of being a political prisoner, due in part to pressure from entertainers, corporations, organizations and governments from around the world. America’s government was reluctant to offer support but did so once a number of large corporations and universities divested their financial investments from South African companies. We were reminded once again of two things; money talks and that America has to be pressured and shamed into “doing the right thing.”

And now, in 2021, America is at her own crossroads, again. The system of apartheid that is homegrown on our shores for the past 402 years is on trial, literally. Disgraced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is being prosecuted for the murder of George Floyd, a heinous act that triggered worldwide protests in 2020. And the former President of the United States, Donald Trump will soon be charged with God-knows-how-many crimes. His phone calls to election officials in Georgia seeking to overturn their election results and his lies and rants about a “stolen election” which led to the storming of the Capitol building on January 6th are the most egregious. Heck, he’s got financial crimes that will be brought to light as well. He MUST be held to account.

The bigger issue at stake, in my opinion, is that in these two instances, we can see that America, and her system of white male supremacy and perceived power, is on trial. The State of Georgia has just passed sweeping voter suppression legislation that will make it more difficult for Black men and women and poor whites to cast their ballots. This, my friends, is apartheid.

South Africa wilted under the pressure of global divestment and boycotts. It seems that is the only strategy that white men in power will listen to. Calls for sporting events like The Masters golf tournament and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, both to be held this year in Georgia, might be just the fuel needed to burn down this national disgrace, once and for all.

America’s hypocrisy was also publicly challenged at a meeting recently held in Alaska when a Chinese diplomat was rebuked by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about China’s human rights matters in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi snapped back during his remarks, citing America’s own record on human rights, pointing to police brutality and systemic racism that led to mass protests in 2020. You see, our nation is now on trial just like South Africa was more than three decades ago. Change is difficult and will only be achieved when pressure is applied and the world is involved as jurists.

The 2020 election proved that democracy has its place and that the power of the people is supreme. Trump may find himself behind bars because he thought he was above the law. I pray that Derek Chauvin, another white male made strong by a badge and gun, and a double-standard of American laws, will be convicted of his crime. Otherwise, this young nation will once again be the flashpoint of uprisings that may take her down for the count.

Yes, American apartheid is on trial. And the world is once again watching.