Over the weekend, ABC10 News received an email from a local viewer, Julia Wyman.
She wanted to know why we hadn’t covered a massacre that had occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this month. More than 60 people had been killed.
She wrote: “Black lives in America matter, black lives in Europe matter, but based on media coverage, black lives in Africa do not matter. If 60 people were killed in Louisiana, or Paris for that matter, it would be all over every news service.”
We had to hand it to Wyman – she had a point. So, we went to meet her at a diner in San Andreas, near her home in Sonora, to talk.
“The people are people, and they’re complex just like anybody, but they are the most loving, generous people I’ve ever met,” Wyman said, describing the Congolese. Wyman lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo until she turned 18, having moved there as a baby with her missionary parents.
The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the ongoing fighting in the country, has claimed the lives of more than 5 million people. Wyman described the recent massacre in the town of Beni.
“What I know is that some armed men came into the town and massacred whole families,” Wyman said. “They went into houses, pulled people out and committed atrocious crimes. I don’t even want to describe them.”
Wyman doesn’t want to talk about the killings – but she says somebody needs to.
“There’s definitely a blind spot for sub-Saharan Africa - black Africa. It’s a very misunderstood part of the world, and frankly not very important to people, largely because of race,” Wyman said.
With attacks in Europe and in the U.S., ABC10 News has made an effort to talk about the victims as people with full lives – lives that were tragically cut short by violence. Wyman says the Congolese deserve the same.
“I like to refer to myself as an African-American, because I grew up in Africa, and it’s kind of a funny joke among us who grew up there. But I am – and it breaks my heart to see Africans being ignored by the world,” Wyman said.