By Anaïs DerSimonian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
As Armenians, we are all too familiar with the violence and oppression that our ancestors endured during and after World War I. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were treated as less-than-human, brutally and systematically murdered by those in power in the Ottoman Empire. And perhaps cruelest of all, this genocide is still not recognized as such by Turkey. One hundred and five years later, there have been no reparations.
During COVID-19, I encourage us as Armenians to look outside of ourselves and come together as a community to condemn and fight against the oppression to which our Black brothers and sisters are being subjected. Some of us might feel that post-slavery and post-Jim Crowe, the oppression of Black Americans has been largely terminated, that they live lives of equal opportunity in the United States. I would argue that this opinion is grossly untrue.
Much like our ancestors in Ottoman Turkey, Black Americans are second-rate citizens in their own country. Much like our ancestors, who were subjected to forced-labor camps, Black Americans are incarcerated at drastically higher rates and perform free penal labor (i.e. legal slavery). Much like our ancestors, who were killed by the Ottoman government for no reason apart from their Armenian heritage, Black Americans are continuously murdered by the police or white “vigilantes” — and there are often little or no repercussions for the perpetrators.
If stories related to COVID-19 are the only news you’ve been tuning into during this time, here are some recent murders of unarmed black people that you might not have heard about or seen: