Mindful of America’s image on a continent where China’s influence has grown and where many have felt a distinct lack of interest from the Trump administration in Africa, some U.S. diplomats have tried to control the damage.
The ambassador to Congo, Mike Hammer, highlighted a tweet from a local media entrepreneur who addressed him saying, “Dear ambassador, your country is shameful. Proud America, which went through everything from segregation to the election of Barack Obama, still hasn’t conquered the demons of racism. How many black people must be killed by white police officers before authorities react seriously?”
The ambassador’s response, in French: “I am profoundly troubled by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Justice Department is conducting a full criminal investigation as a top priority. Security forces around the world should be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Similar statements were tweeted by the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Uganda, while the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya tweeted a joint statement from the Department of Justice office in Minnesota on the investigation.
African officials also were publicly outspoken last month over racism in China, when Africans complained of being evicted and mistreated in the city of Guangzhou amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time, the U.S. was quick to join in, with the embassy in Beijing issuing a critical security alert titled “Discrimination against African-Americans in Guangzhou” and noting actions against people thought to be African or have African contacts.
Now the Africa-facing version of the state-run China Daily newspaper is tweeting footage from Minneapolis with the hashtags #GeorgeFloydWasMurdered and #BlackLivesMatter.