In light of the recent police executions of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the Bahamas have issued travel warnings to all their citizens about staying safe in the United States and in particular avoiding confrontation with the police. The citizens of the Bahamas are 85% of African or mixed African ancestry, and their government is clearly worried about their safety if they use their independence holiday weekend to travel to the United States. The official statement reads as follows:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers.
At the commencement of the Independence holiday weekend, many Bahamians will no doubt use the opportunity to travel, in particular to destinations in the United States.
We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the US but especially to the affected cities to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police.
Do not be confrontational and cooperate. If there is any issue please allow consular offices for The Bahamas to deal with the issues. Do not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.
This is the second time this year that a foreign nation has issued travel warnings to the United States over the rising tide of racial tensions, general discrimination in America as our increasingly polarized nation clumsily stumbles into the most serious election we might ever see. Once celebrated as a bastion of multiculturalism and diversity, the violence we have somehow come to accept as normal is now publicly shaming us in the eyes of the world. We cannot allow these issues to define us. Our nation is better than this, and it starts by acknowledging that we have real, deep, systematic problems when it comes to race, class, gender, sexuality – problems we need to address instead of simply drawing the wagons and hunkering down in our partisan camps.
Of course that’s easier said than done when one camp is openly espousing racism.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.