As Ukraine’s citizens are forced to find refuge on the otherside of the border, it seems that there is always room for racism in the wake of tragedy.
Ukraine’s citizens have been left with the decision to either ‘stay and fight’ or ‘flee’. The lines at the border become longer every day, filled with women, children, the vulnerable, elderly people and international students trying to find their way back home. However, it seems that there is always room for racism in the wake of tragedy.
The Ukraine border decidedly chooses to value white superiority over the human right of sanctuary.
On the 24th of February 2022, the country of Ukraine was invaded by Russia, and the lives of Ukraine’s citizens changed forever. The world watched in horror and slight disbelief as Putin pursued the right to Ukraine’s freedom, independence and peace. A land that was once called ‘home’ to 44.13 million people, has now become the centre of a war zone, causing many people to leave everything they had behind to find refuge on the other side of the border.
Over the last two weeks, videos went viral showing Black people being left stranded at train stations, being blocked from boarding trains and being pushed, beaten and neglected by officials at the Polish border. Private Attorney Ben Crump shared a clip that showed a Black woman cradling a baby in the crowd, saying in the caption, “Even in War, racism is alive and well. This Black two-month-old baby — and countless other Black people in Ukraine — did NOTHING to deserve this horrid, biased treatment. Our Black brothers and sisters in Ukraine deserve safety, too!!”.
In the Western campaign for peace to all that is white, the media have done nothing to contribute to the alarming reports that come in from the border.
Media outlets have been horrified that this level of War has come to Europe; the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, publicly stated, “For our generation, it is very alien to see this in Europe.” Unfortunately, the Duke’s statement is only the peak of the iceberg, as Western media coverage of Ukraine is deeply rooted in discrimination against Black and Brown people.
It is no surprise that people of colour in Ukraine have been met with this level of racism at the border. As students are left to fend for themselves in a war-torn country and no family around them, they have been forced to find protection elsewhere because of the colour of their skin.
One Nigerian student told the BBC that an official told her, “if you are Black, you should walk.”
Another Nigerian student, Coy Emerald, said, “I went back to Lviv and chose another route to Hungary.” Emerald told Rolling Stone that he had walked for 10 hours only to be left “unattended” at the border to Poland by Ukrainian soldiers. Unfortunately, these stories reveal that even at times of war, when all that we hold important is brought to the forefront, the West does not waste any time, reminding us of where Black & Brown people stand. Even as the bombs come down on the country we all occupy, only white lives matter.