Thursday, May 28, 2020

GEORGE FLOYD, DEREK CHAUVIN AND THE AMERICAN NEED FOR SOCIO-CULTURAL REVOLUTION AND EVOLUTION


America needs a socio-cultural revolution. The civil rights movement of the 1960s only ended with a legal victory not a social and cultural revolution. Racial coexistence was forced on European-Americans; it did not come through positive, accepted social evolution. It wasn't the brother, sister, daughter, son, uncle, grandmother, teacher, store owner, who told European-Americans that African-Americans are your fellow, equal Americans. It was the government by both legal and physical force. As Nell Painter tells us in The History of White People, 'What we can see depends heavily on what our culture has trained us to look for.' Even today, America is racially segregated yet we think people will know and understand themselves by magic?

What the European-American has been trained to see is that 'African-Americans are dangerous! Stay way from them! '

When you condition people to legally desegregation, to legally 'love racial others', you only change the arena of racial sentiments and resentment. You only change where they segregate not that cease to segregate. You can prevent people not to discriminate in public, but you cannot prevent them from vomiting their racial poisons in their living rooms, their country clubs and their racially exclusive board meetings. When you have a society where even the church, the presumptive moral pivot of Western society, was segregated, then you wonder what morality really means.

While protests are good as a way to highlight racial problems within the system, it is only a tiny part of the path to the solution. No society has every solved any problem by simply telling people, 'STOP!' Death penalty has not stopped crime!
"Death penalty has not stopped crime!"

European people globally see themselves as a community, as a special 'race' that should not only stay on top but also stay apart. The likes of Richard Spencer, a self-describe alt-right nationalist, take his segregationist and race purity cues from the animals. "There is no equality in nature,' he once argued. The idea that European-Americans will treat African-Americans in the same way they treat themselves is a dangerous delusion. They have not and will not...UNLESS...unless respect for all Americans of all backgrounds is preached everywhere: at home, in the church, in country clubs, in board rooms, on the golf course, in wedding halls, in drinking parties, in schools, in bars, in hunting expeditions, on private islands... etc.

Recently, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, shamelessly told African-Americans that 'You got more questions. If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.' This oversimplified, simplistic and reductionist view of African-Americans (a complex and complicated demographic) is the same way they are reduced and generalized as 'dangerous!' by the police.

So, the idea that only a small group of people is the only thing you need to change society as Margaret Mead argued, is just a BEAUTIFUL NONSENSE. Yes, you only need a few people to INITIATE CHANGE; but you need the whole society to change itself for change to make sense in people's lives.

Derek Chauvin
Photo: Star Tribune


Admittedly, there is (and there always has been) an appreciable number of European-Americans, who are genuine pro-change and meaningful, beyond-legal racial inclusion. They teach their children to be inclusive and be respectful of racial others. However, they are a minority and they are at times threatened by fundamental hate evangelists (the ones erroneously called 'white supremacists'---What exactly is SUPREME about hatred?).

During the slavery period, there were abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Wendell Phillips, John Brown etc. who valued the humanity of slaves. During the reconstruction period and Jim Crow period, there were the so-called 'friends of the Negro' who campaigned for suffrage and desegregation and against lynching and its barbarity. Now, we have anti-racist groups.

However, the problem is deep rooted and superficial solution methods are mere mockery. Even scholars and academics, who are molders of societal opinion and consciousness, and who are supposedly enlightened, are part of the problem.

For instance, European-American scholars only read, cite or take seriously European and European-American scholarship. Philosopher Robert Wolff once argued that he was ashamed that he wasn't aware of a copious of African-American scholarship even when he went through the American school system from kindergarten to PhD. He only became aware, he says, of African-American scholarship when an African-American professor at the University of Massachusetts asked him to help design a PhD program in 'Black Studies.' For the first time, Wolff, buried himself in scholarly literature he did not know existed. He was ashamed European-Americans are not exposed to such an [American] tradition. As Frantz Fanon argued in Black Skin, White Masks, reason takes flight through the window when things to do with people of African descent walk in through the door.

The problem in America is not just police like Derek Chauvin and neither will protests solve anything. Protests are good manifestations of our anger. But until you see American ghettos disappear, don't expect the likes of Derek Chauvin to disappear. The consciousness that keeps African-Americans hold-up in the ghettos is the same consciousness that produces the Chauvins.

For over 500 years, Europeans believed that the African was not a human being like themselves. When reality and reason forced them to concede the humanity of Africans, they did not believe it was an equal humanity. What decolonization and the civil rights did in the 1960s is to change the arena and the manner in which the American and the European continued their belief. To expect what people believed for 500 years to disappear all of a sudden is a dangerous delusion. Chas Carrol, in The Negro a Beast or In the Image of God, believed that Africans did not descent from Adam.

African-Americans should stop putting their lives in the hands of those who do not respect their lives. Until European-Americans undergo internal, organic socio-cultural evolution to freely accept human equality without legal impositions, African-Americans should look internally for what will save the lives of their young men and women. Expecting European-Americans to value African-American lives in the same way African-Americans see themselves is dangerous delusion.

Less than sixty years ago, lynching was announced in newspapers and families [including women and children] ritualistically flocked to lynching arenas were African-American men and women were roasted alive in celebratory mood as the police watched. Lynching was stopped by the government not that European-Americans wanted to stop it as a matter of moral consciousness.

Lynching scene
Photo: Teen Vogue


The police have shown us enough evidence that they will continue to kill young African-American men. They have also shown us that they will continue to treat European-American young men with dignity and caution. So why do we continue to expect a moral miracle from them?

All we can ask is for ALL European-Americans to inspire a socio-cultural revolution so that young men and women who become police officers are people who behave and act like normal human beings not emotionless animals who only value their kinds.

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Kuir ë Garang is the editor of The Philosophical Refugee.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

South Sudan Parliament Operating Illegally but the Presidency is Silent


In a letter dated April 16, 2020, Timothy Tot Chol, the first deputy speaker of the now expired South Sudanese legislative assembly, summoned South Sudan's minister of defense, Angelina Nyajany Teny. In that letter, Mr. Timothy argued that The Transitional National Legislature Task Force in its meeting 1/2020, dated 7 April 2020 discussed impact and challenges in implementing the preventive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

In response, however, Madam Angelina argued that she couldn’t appear before the legislature ‘until a reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly is formed.’ ‘However,’ she added ‘I recognize your concern regarding the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.’

Given the uncertain realities engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a provision could have been offered to allow parliament to continue operating if the selection of new MPs under the revitalized agreement will be taking too long to materialize. However, there is no such a provision so any words coming out of the South Sudanese legislative assembly is overruled by the agreement.

Failing to strategize and anticipate future problems of governance will continue to cripple Africa and South Sudan especially. Without such a foresight, problems will continue to mount as they always do.
Essentially, one of the main problems with South Sudanese politicians is their inability to follow state laws, agreements, and protocols. As people who are supposed to guide how issues are operationalized within the country, their disregard for the law, regulations and the agreed principle is astoundingly worrisome. What I don’t really know is if their disregard for institutionalism and constitutionalism is out of ignorance or sheer stubbornness.

While Minister Angelina could have complied given the circumstances the world is in, she acted within the mandate given by the agreement so she has a strong ground on which she can reject parliamentary summons. Mr. Timothy, however, has no such a ground even if he could have relied, with an understandable regulatory framework, on the new realities created by COVID-19.

Since the 2018 agreement spells out in section 1.14 the manner in which the Transitional Legislative Assembly is to be reconstituted, Mr. Timothy is acting outside the acceptable agreement provision. Section 1.164.6 states that ‘The duration and terms of the reconstituted TNL shall run concurrently with the RTGoNU, as per the terms of this Agreement, until elections are held.’ Mr. Timothy is therefore acting with a parliament that has not been reconstituted according to the provisions of the agreement.

However, the problem is not just this incident. South Sudanese state officials have a knack for acting outside their institutional mandate. They feel more powerful than their institutional and constitutional provisions allow them to. It is either Mr. Timothy did not read the agreement provision, or he doesn’t care what the agreement says.

 In South Sudan, sadly, as long as you are not defying the president and his men, not much thought is given to how state officials bully other officials.

What is even more ominous is this attitude will continue throughout the interim period. Ministers and MPs feel more powerful and act outside accepted regulatory and legal provisions without any consequences.

Even when Minister Angelina wrote a letter explaining why she couldn’t appear before an assembly whose mandate has expired, the reconstituted cabinet and the president didn’t respond. The government and the president should tell the TNL leader that their mandate has expired and inform them about when the new legislative assembly would be reconstituted.

Sadly, there is a deafening silence even when the presidency knows the parliament is acting outside the agreement provisions.

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Kuir ë Garang is the editor of The Philosophical Refugee. Follow him on twitter @kuirthiy 


ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.

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