The Conflict in Russia/Ukraine and Anti-Black Racism

By Staff Writer Desiree McSwain

(Image source: OkayAfrica)

Right now as many of us sit back and witness from afar, the war between Russia and Ukraine continues to expand and envelop the citizens of Russia and Ukraine. We feel deeply saddened by the senseless violence that the innocent men, women, and children of both countries are being subjected to. Any war or state militarized action waged against civilians must be condemned. All people deserve human rights; such as freedom to live without fear of government-inflicted violence, justice, hope, and PEACE. In fact, we are wishing for peace upon all the countries/territories globally such as Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and many more that continue to fight against attacks on their sovereignty and right to exist as a people and who have yet to receive adequate coverage or support as non-European, melanated countries and continents. 


 As we learn more about what is unfolding between Russia and Ukraine we are gaining more insight into how Anti-Black racism is rampant globally- and because we as a people (of Black/African descent) exist throughout the globe, we are impacted by this global Anti-Blackness. At this very moment, while the people of Russia and Ukraine are attempting to flee from the violence in their cities, among them are upwards of 70,000+ foreign students (mostly African) who came to Ukraine to study abroad and have now been forced by Ukrainian authorities to find safety or refuge on their own. 


Ukraine’s African population, including these students, have been outright denied aid from the Ukrainian government and have even been denied access to leave conflict zones. Citing “segregation and racism” at the borders, students primarily from Africa and India have also brought attention to the violence and blatant racism at the borders and checkpoints; including being stranded and left to walk hundreds of miles in freezing temperatures to checkpoints while Ukrainians are provided taxis and buses. There are even allegations of the Ukrainian Army physically beating and assaulting African and Indian refugees– and so as the conflict continues on in Russia/Ukraine, so does the mistreatment of Africans, Indians, and other non-white people trying to find refuge from this war.


While we remain vigilant in our call for peace globally we must also remain steadfast in our demands for the safety and liberation of people of African descent that have been caught in the crossfire of the Russia/Ukraine conflict. As compassionate human beings, we stand on the side of the people, globally, who fight against the aggressors and “dominators” of the world– and will always rally on the side of liberation for all oppressed people, in all circumstances. But we must also reckon with the reality that the lives of Black/African descendants are always under constant threat of attack, everywhere


These people need our help. These people deserve safety, refuge, and peace from conflict. Calling for and demanding Black sanctuary does not and cannot start or stop in our respective backyards, it is a global call to action. 

Right now, you can get involved and help support the vulnerable population of foreign students fleeing Ukraine by supporting Black-led efforts like “Black Women for Black Lives”, by visiting or by donating directly to their GoFundMe campaign: