Saturday, April 2, 2016

Racism and Conformity

Racism isn't something Africans really understand until they leave Africa. It's always that strange way of treating others (non-Europeans) they see in the news and frown. However, many Africans don't actually relate tribalism to racism. They see no link between these two discriminatory forms even when they know they are all based on assumed sense of superiority, and exclusion.

However, it's crucial to understand why Africans don't see similarities or even 'sameness' between the two. In a sense, there are many reasons. One is the fact that discriminatory parameters or practices that come from 'us' are usually things we assume from birth; so that they are bad isn't something Africans think deeply about. We turn to overplay others' bad deeds but justify our own. The second reason is the manner in which racism is rationalized and critiqued by the media and in the academia, especially in America. That it's a nonscientific, social construct like no any other.  The third reason is that Africans leave Africa only to realize that their internal continental or tribal differences pale in the face of discrimination based on race. 

A magical, voluntary brotherhood/sisterhood unifies Africans as Racism displaces Tribalism. A Nigerian, an Angolan or a Ugandan, are 'inferiorized', placed in the same compartment, and then colored like chicken and goats.

So Race has been placed and critiqued as this unique, monstrous discriminatory exclusiveness with a universal ideology behind it. G. M. Fredrickson's, Racism: A Short History, underscores this idea. 

Even when Africans know that they discriminate against one another using tribe as a discriminatory parameter, they still see racism as not only unrelated to tribalism, they also see tribalism as a lesser evil than racism. These new realities make Africans forget about some African realities and embrace the new realities. They now have one fight against the 'white man.' Luo vs. Kikuyu; Jieeng vs. Nuer, Yoruba vs. Igbo...all become irrelevant as they [Africans] become 'black!' and in the same boat.

One of these realities, which worries me the most, is the manner in which Africans fall into an ironic conformity. And this conformity is the transition from being a cultured human being to a colored phenomenon (entity  - BLACK) whose virtuous realities are either nonexistent, inconveniencing or irrelevant. What makes this conformity very sad is the fact that it's followed by complaints that "we've been forced to conform." However, one gets to wonder: If everyone finds it expedient to conform to socially constructed realities in Europe and the Americas, then who's supposed to help change things?

A Nigerian, Ghanaian, Sudanese, Togolese, for example, simply become 'black' in North America. Instead of resisting this coloring of people's identities, Africans find it expedient to conform to this 'blackening' of their cultural identities. However, the most exacerbated thing is that they still complain that they've been forced to become black. Why would you conform and complain about conformity? Why do Africans always  consider themselves powerless,  victims, even when they have a capacity? 

There are those who say "Forget about being African, you're 'black' here baby!" But can society force us to be what we aren't and don't want to be if we resist? We are given identities that are denigrating and we accept them. But then we complain that we've been given constructed identities when we accept them and even defend them. 

When people say "well, they control everything what can we do?" I ask myself if there's ANY ONE PERSON who controls mental production. Socially constructed ideas, while they need monetary and political power to disseminate, it's true to say that no one can force things into your mind. It's easy to be discriminated against if you can easily be controlled. And conformity is an effective tool in racial discrimination as it helps the discriminators effect their programs.  

Let's remember that conformity is part and parcel of racialization machinery!

ORDER A BOOK. SUPPORT THIS WEBSITE!

SELF-ESTEEM AND DISCRIMINATION

As someone who grew up in war conditions and lived as a refugee for a long time, I'm sometimes considered by many people in the 'west' to be prone to (or have) low self-esteem, be poor or illiterate. Living as refugees or displaced persons, who depended on the good will of others put people in a situation where they don't think much about themselves. But that's not everyone though.

As I stood by our front desk at my place work talking about Race and Identity in relation to my book, Is 'Black' Really Beautiful?, the issue of why many African peoples in North America become so over-sensitive when racial issues come up! For many rational people, this owes its origin to slavery and racial segregation.

But one of my coworkers, a person of European descent, was surprised to realize that her 'black' friend, a very intelligent woman, easily becomes irritated by simple things she [friend] considers racist. The friend considers any mention of a watermelon racist; and complains a lot about 'white privilege.' This means that discrimination is considered something 'whites' don't face because of 'white privilege.' In any discussion between 'blacks' and 'whites', 'white privilege' issue comes up!