Certainly, what’s happening in Ukraine is tragic. Subtract the geopolitical nature of this conflict and what you’ll find is people striving for their survival, both personally and nationally, because of a despot’s desire to return his country to its former glory. I don’t mean to sensationalize what’s happening, but that is certainly happening.
I have friends living in Ukraine with their children. They provide updates on Facebook as to their whereabouts, where fighting has taken place and how they’re managing. They’ve shared that their two oldest children, 7 and 5, are aware of what’s going on. I pray for their safety and the safety of all the Ukrainian people.
However, there is the response of western political and economic stakeholders, as well as media pundits and I can’t help but think of the exclusivity of their tone and the hypocrisy it’s laced with—particularly, the U.S.
When I hear these stakeholders say things like, “The international community stands with Ukraine,” I wonder to myself, who is the international community that you speak of? Doesn’t the entire world make up the international community, or is it only members of NATO, the G7 and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council? Most nations within those categories are western nations made up of the U.S. and Europe.
I wonder what the nations of Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia have to say about this conflict and what it will mean for the world order of things.
About that world order … I’ve heard these western stakeholders lament that Russian action in Ukraine is a threat to the current political and economic order – as though the current order is beneficial for all global citizens. Who is the current order for? Who installed it? Does it include the best interests of African, Latin American and Southeast Asian nations, or is it by the west and for the west?
To be clear, I support the Ukrainians’ right to defend themselves and their right to self-determination. However, we must also be clear concerning the geopolitical agenda of the west, specifically NATO. Forgive me if this is perceived as hyperbole, but this invasion is about white domination of a world with a global majority of people of color, whose lands hold much of the resources of the world.
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A wise man once shared that in some stories, there are no good guys. How apropos in describing what is before us.
Then there is the U.S., which continues to throw stones from a glass house. Our government speaks of Vladimir Putin’s repressive and oppressive regime extending into Ukraine. Meanwhile, Black people continue to be murdered at the hands of state actors (the police). Black people in 2022 don’t have their right to vote protected and Black people have suffered mightily at the hands of a global pandemic exacerbated by systemic and institutional racism.
Certainly, there will be those reading this arguing that the U.S. isn’t Russia and that if it is so bad here, then leave. That’s what folks say when they have no argument. Because their mythmaking has a binary frame — a hero and the foil. They probably aren’t ready for what I am saying, which is that when thinking about this invasion, we must ask the questions: is this about protecting people or about power and its perception? Because although Russia invades with military might, the U.S. invades with its wealth — an invasion of a different kind.
Again, in some stories, there aren’t any good guys. I’m looking for them here. But I am unsure that I’ll find any.
Rann Miller is the director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives as well as a high school social studies teacher for a school district located in Southern New Jersey. He’s also a freelance writer and founder of the Urban Education Mixtape, supporting urban educators and parents of students in urban schools. You can follow him on Twitter @UrbanEdDJ
Photo: President Barack Obama shakes hands with then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, July 7, 2009 (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)