French activist Assa Traoré has been announced as the 2020 BET International Global Good recipient by BET International Networks.
Traoré will receive the honor during the 20th anniversary of the BET Awards on June 28th at 8PM EST.
The Global Good Award is BET International’s recognition of public figures who use their platform for social responsibility and goodness while demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of the global Black community.
“This award is an acknowledgment of four years of struggle. I’m excited because I said that ‘they won’t erase my little brother’s name,’” Assa told BET. “This award is a way to make his name resonate even louder. The name of my brother will be associated with the history of BET. Through his name and BET we keep fighting for our Black brothers all over the world.”
In 2016, Assa Traoré’s brother Adama was asphyxiated to death in a police station on his 24th birthday. This led the French activist to seek justice and the truth to find out what happened to her brother by creating the “Justice for Adama.”.
Her brother’s death has been compared to the recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which not only sparked protests across the nation but internationally including France.
BET sat down with Assa Traoré to congratulate her on her award-winning achievement, her views on police brutality and violence, and the impact the Global Good award has left on her.
BET: How has leading the ‘Justice for Adama’ movement transformed you?
This movement started when my little brother died on his birthday. It obviously transformed the family. We felt that we would either embrace the fight or collapse. My family and I quickly understood that we had to fight. We didn’t even take 24 hours to cry, we chose to become soldiers against this system who had no mercy, no remorse and no pity. They may have the power and the money but the more they attack, the less I’m scared.
BET: Since 2016, how has your understanding of police violence changed?
Before the death of my little brother, I thought that justice was a given. Of course, I knew about police brutality, but I never imagined that my little brother could die in the hands of this system. Today, I consider the police as a threat. When they come in our neighborhood, they have masks, weapons, they are rude, they are violent, they are racists.. The police system needs to be completely changed, the IGPN (general inspection of the National Police) should not exist anymore. This behavior of the French police is the result of slavery and colonialism of the French system. My brother died in the hands of police because he was arrested for not having his ID on him.
BET: Why was it important to you that this movement fight for other victims of police violence as well?
If police brutality was a real concern for politicians, France would avoid a lot of death. My brother wouldn’t be dead. Of course, when we are fighting for Adama Traoré, it is for all of the “Adama Traoré’s.” My brother will never come back, we want justice for him and through him, we want to keep other “Adama Traorés” alive. Today I’m determined because I said: “Adama, they killed you, but they won’t kill your name”. So yes, his name should make a change, our brothers have the right to be part of France. If we win this case, it’ll create a case law for all other victims of police brutality.
BET: Your movement has received support internationally from the likes of Angela Davis and others. What does it mean to have International support?
I wish I would have been able to meet this great person in other circumstances. I met her because my brother died. There were a lot of emotions when we met. At this time, I was under attack and the support of Angela Davis was a strong and symbolic response of support. To have a Black woman like her who fought racial and social injustice is a huge honor for me. It is also great to have support on social media of artists like Rihanna, Diddy and Jamie Foxx.
BET: How did the George Floyd murder influence the protests you have been leading recently?
The death of our brother George Floyd shocked the world. Unfortunately, this death resonates to the passing of my little brother Adama because he died the same way under the weight of three police officers on his body. This is the reason why we marched on the 2nd of June. We were more than 80,000 persons and we marched to ask Justice for George Floyd and Adama Traoré, fighting the same police brutality against our people.
BET: Knowing systemic racism exists across the globe, how important is it for activists to be aware of injustice in other countries?
The whole world needs to know that while France is viewed as a beautiful place, Black men are suffering, Black men are dying, Black men are incarcerated and when they die there is no justice. Four of my brothers are in jail, and the system is trying to intimidate me. For instance, a police union wants to erase a wall mural in honor of George Floyd and Adama Traore.
BET: What does it mean to you to receive the 2020 Global Award from BET?
It’s an acknowledgment of four years of struggle. I’m determined because I said that “they won’t erase my little brother’s name”. This award is a way to make his name resonate even louder. The name of my brother will be associated to the history of BET. Through his name and BET, we will keep fighting for our Black brothers all over the world. Thank you very much for this award and thank you for keeping my brother’s name and our struggle alive.
(Photo courtesy of Assa Traoré)