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Every Life Is Precious

Dr. Pius Kamau
Dr. Pius Kamau

What elevates one tragic killing to the point of mass media attention, while others hardly get noticed? It’s a question that’s been on the mind of KUNC commentator Pius Kamau.

My heart bears a hard scab as a result of bearing witness to a continuous drumbeat of wanton murder on American streets.  And now it bleeds anew from the inexplicable killing of Treyvon Martin, the 17-year-old black Florida youth. The violent death of anyone – no matter the circumstances – should never be taken lightly.

But the killing of innocents in America has become the stock and trade of our nightly news – and right here in Colorado. On April 1st Jimma Reat was gunned down by unknown assailants in Denver. Only four months earlier, Reat’s uncle, and a father of five was killed in cold blood by unknown assailants. Without for a moment wanting to detract from the national rage against the killing of Treyvon Martin, I want to share how the killing of a pair of South Sudanese men in Colorado affects a wider swath of the earth. 

Refugees immigrate to the U.S. because it is a haven in a truly troubled universe. South Sudanese come here to escape some of today's most vicious and brutal regimes like that of   Bashar Al-Assadin Syria and Sudan’s Omar al Bashir. First in Darfur, now in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile Black African Sudanese have been hunted and killed like animals for 50 years. After more than two million of their countrymen perished, America is a sanctuary for Sudanese of various regions after long years of civil war and exile. Thus to be met by the kind of violence we are witnessing is a puzzling paradox for them. It negates what America stands for: liberty, safety and the pursuit of happiness.

I have witnessed the murder of many African immigrants here in Colorado. And I know that every American mother of a black child gives them cautionary instructions. About how to talk to police. To avoid confrontations. Ways to stay alive. We must do the same with African refugees. Because their refuge is often beside the poorest and most destitute of America, they need to know of the violent potential of their new homes. We need to educate them about drugs, gang violence and the territorial imperative of American born natives against the new immigrant.

There’s amazing goodness in the hearts of my adopted countrymen. But the recent murders of Treyvon Martin, Jimma Reat and others reminds me that the beast of racism, bigotry and violence is alive and well in our midst. We have a duty to fight it wherever we find it. Every life is precious; we have a sacred duty to protect and preserve it.

Born in Kenya and trained in Spain, Pius Kamau has been in surgical practice in the Denver area for three decades. He was a columnist for The Rocky Mountain News and has written for The Denver Post. Kamau’s commentaries have also been featured on NPR, in the Huffington Post and other national magazines and newspapers. He’s also contributed to several books and recently finished his memoir.
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