Happy MLK Day

Why are racists like this given a platform in major publications?

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An actual headline (today’s, btw) from an actual British paper (@thetimes). I will spare you the full article except that in an attempt to explain the apparent moral degeneracy of black people, black mothers +black culture that has apparently led to a number of young black and brown kids being murdered in London, the author laments that “poverty and racial inequality” are “comfortable answers” and ultimately “PC rot”. He also kindly tells us that “it [I assume he means black culture] is a culture that needs to change, for the sake of the children”, before going on to talk about the “gangsta rap vids, posted on YouTube”. He concludes with this, to describe the life and death of 14 year old Jaden Moodie who was stabbed to death last week in London: “Born into utter hopelessness, with few prospects, because of a culture that another culture – the dominant, white, liberal culture – insists must not be gainsaid.” If that last paragraph does not piss you off then please just unfollow me now. It is ignoramuses like this who are given the opportunity to put pen to paper (or hand to computer) on a regular basis and shape public opinion with their paternalistic, know-it-all, intellectually lazy, logically unsound, uneducated gibberish; repeating the same stereotypical bullshit we have been hearing forever, and that has allowed westerners to justify their exploitation and degradation of people of colour for centuries. Can you imagine being a mother/family member of one of these deceased youngsters and having to read that? BTW- There are some people on this platform who have either questioned or even mocked why I talk about racial issues or stand so strongly against racism. Pls do not ask me again because I won’t smile at you politely like I did last time. If by now you refuse to see what I see, that’s just too bad. I stan for me and mine, even if no one else does. @thetimes hid this behind the paywall, I suppose not expecting certain people to be paid subscribers. but I still read UK publications even from here. And I have subscriptions where necessary. Yah, black people read too. when we aren’t watching gangsta rap vids on YouTube. #canracismdiethisyearplease

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An end to racism!

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The wonderful instagram community @disruptivewoman – which features dynamic, pioneering women – was kind enough to feature me as one of their interviewees. The question they asked was “what problem in the world do you want to solve?”. What a great question! I had a lot to say on that one. See my answer is below:

I want to see an end of racism. Racism needs to be returned to the trashcan from where it came. I am a staunch anti-racist, and I despise racism as a concept, a phenomenon, a philosophy and a reality.

The need to judge, categorise and assign value to people based on the colour of their skin (which none of us are responsible for, nor can we do anything about) has caused – and continues to cause – untold problems in our world, as has the need to make racially-based determinations about whose culture is superior to another.

Racism is full of so many logical inaccuracies and fallacies that if we really sat down to unpick it intellectually, it would soon be exposed for the nonsense that it is.

Unfortunately, we don’t do that. We don’t unpick why racism is a false, and utterly flawed, ideology. We don’t unpick what makes it illogical and nonsensical. Instead, we talk about racism like it’s an issue solely of opinion or morality, when it really just comes down to an illogical, incorrect and ignorant understanding of humanity and the world.

For example, let’s think about this seriously… Is there a correlation between your eye colour and your behaviour? Or the colour of your hair and your intelligence? So, why should there be a correlation between the colour of someone’s skin and the level of their intelligence? Or their behaviour? Or the value of their humanity?

From the ages of 3 – 11, I went to a great co-ed, multicultural prep school in South East London. In that school, there were children of all ethnic backgrounds, hence kids of a variety of shades of skin. We all played happily together, we were friends (as much as children of a certain age can be friends!) and we studied alongside each other without problems.

My closest friends were English, Scottish, Irish, Ghanian/English, Indian, Japanese, Jamaican, and Nigerian. Some were Hindu, some Christian, some Muslim some of no religion. I grew up knowing that we were all just kids, all unique individuals with different personalities, all coming from families with different cultures and heritages. The differences in our skin tones were just due to where our families hailed from – the closer to the equator your family was, the darker your skin would be. Melanin is function of human biology function, designed to protect us from the sun. It’s that simple.

No child is born racist. Racism is learned, and it is taught. It is man-made. If you put a bunch of babies together and had them interact with each other in a non-racist environment, I am confident that they would not start hating each other on the basis of the colour of their skin.

The good thing is that since racism is created, taught and learned, we can also un-teach it, un-learn it, and create a world without it.

It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I really started to understand that there are people on this earth who think that having darker or lighter skin makes you a better or worse human being, and that that idea literally can be the difference between life and death.

I first went to South Africa in 1996, not long after the end of apartheid and then lived in South Africa in 2006. I have seen the ravages of apartheid, which saw black people subjugated and treated in such despicable and wicked ways on the basis of this mental illness which we call racism.

I went to the Apartheid Museum in Joburg, one of the most compelling and moving museums I’ve ever been to, and saw the long list of laws which had been put in place under apartheid to stop South Africans from participating fully in their own land. I was struck by the undertone of fear, insecurity and a need to dominate which underpinned those laws and that system.

I have also lived in America for a number of years, and similarly have seen the deep, deep damage that racism wreaks on individuals as well as to society as a whole.
I continue to see the stark differences in education, in the application of the law, in life expectancy, in healthcare, in how the police treat African Americans and in professional settings between those that the racist system has deemed worthy and those that it doesn’t.

I will never forget the murder of Stephen Lawrence in the UK, a man who would be 40 years old today if a bunch of racists had not cut his life short – simply because they did not like the way he looked. I remember thinking “wow, he was just on his way to school – something which I do every day – and he was killed because his skin was dark”. And then to see the police totally bungle the case, resulting in a total lack of justice for his murder, simply because THEY also believed that the colour of his skin meant something untoward… I mean, WTF?!

Racism has been used to justify the exploitation of millions of people around the world. It has been used to justify the pillaging of countries (see: the transatlantic slave trade/apartheid/the holocaust/colonialism/imperialism). And it continues to be used as a tool by self-serving people and politicians to justify their fears, insecurities, ill-treatment and bullying of others. That’s on a state and systematic level.

On a micro level, there is still everyday racism. The question is: why should my life, as a black woman, be inconvenienced because other people are unable to police their own imagination, or to challenge their own stereotypes and thinking? Why should I be asked to leave a bar because the waiter does not believe I deserve to be there (something which has actually happened to me?). Why should parents have to cry over children brutally murdered? Why should kids not be entitled to a quality education because they have darker skin? It’s ludicrous and it gets to the point where enough is enough, really.

Economically, racism has enriched much of the western world. The west would not be what it is today without racially-based exploitation. But – I often wonder how much richer the world would be if people were just allowed to fulfil their potential and self-actualize without such interference.

Racism is an evil, and an ill. It is a symptom of a very warped way of thinking, and I hope that we can eliminate not only its fruits, but its very roots as time goes on. Education is part of that. We have to start telling the truth in the world about history in its entirety.

We also have to teach people to ask questions and to think critically about things in front of them. To ask the why’s and the hows’, and not to jump to easy conclusions, nor to seek simple answers to complex issues.

Part of the problem is that, as well as having been legally segregated in some places, people self-segregate, and by doing so, don’t get an opportunity to even get to know people from other ethnic groups on any kind of friendly level. You can’t properly get to know groups of people from the news or from mass media – not when the majority of what the western media writes and shows about other countries, ethnicities and groups is mostly negative. People have to get out of their bubbles, but in a way that’s genuine and comes from a place of humanity. Don’t come to my church in Harlem and gawk at me. Talk to me, on a one-to-one level, as a person.

For people of colour, we have to do what we can. I believe in inspiring one another, and providing positive images, positive role models and stories for collective worth and esteem, and to show what we can and have done. We have done a LOT that we simply don’t get credit for.
We also should forge ahead without waiting for validation or acceptance from those who might not be interested in giving it to us. That’s one of the reason why I started @motherlandsmasterpiece – There is SO much good stuff being done and created by black people all over the world, but where do we go for that kind of news and information?

At the same time, I don’t believe in being ‘colour blind’ per se. My skin IS dark brown. And it’s gorgeous 🙂 I am very proud of my ethnic culture (Nigerian/Yoruba), my racial culture (“black”, “black British”), and I don’t want people not to recognize those things about me nor to pretend that they don’t matter. I just am not interested in negative stereotypes / discrimination/prejudices about those things because there’s just so much more to it than that.

I believe that we are all created with potential, and my fundamental desire for all humans is that we get to enjoy and fulfil our potential without unnecessary restrictions or constraints. Racism is a man-made constraint against the fullness of humanity – and for that reason, it must GO! Aluta continua! 👊🏾

Mandela Day 2018

Trump’s “shithole” comments about Africa, Haiti and El Salvador reveal the deep-rooted racism at the heart of Trumpism

Every time Donald Trump makes a comment about a non-white country, or a non-white person, it becomes increasingly obvious that his America-First agenda is a zero-sum game whose aim is to elevate all things white while denigrating anything and anybody else.
In Trump’s world, everything related to whiteness and white people (neo-Nazis included) is right and good, while all things non-white – whether that’s kneeling NFL players, black sports broadcasters, immigrant children, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Muslims and  so on – are bad, unworthy, inferior, and deserving of his scorn. Trump’s brand of racism is of the profoundly unsophisticated kind; non-white people can be put into clear categories: sons of bitches, ‘lazy’ and ‘ungrateful’, ‘rapists’, ‘the worst’.
Unfortunately, it’s now El Salvador, Haiti and Africa’s turn to be the target of Trump’s poisonous prejudices. On Thursday it was revealed that, in a meeting to discuss a bi-partisan immigration deal with lawmakers, Trump had asked “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” (He then expressed a desire to see people from Norway come to the US, the implication being that Norweigans are inherently better people than the people of color who – by virtue of residing in those other apparently undesirable places – are, therefore, undeserving of support or protection.)
Although I find Trump’s choice of words offensive, I can’t say that I’m particularly shocked by them. This is a man who speaks in sweeping stereotypes, whose prejudice is worn on his sleeve as a badge of honor, who gets off on offending people at home and abroad and who continuously panders to the lowest instincts of his ‘base’. These comments are simply more of the same small-mindedness and ignorance that we have become used to hearing from him. It’s also, by the way, not the first time he spoken so disparagingly: a few weeks ago, he was reported to have said that Nigerians would “never go back to their huts” once they had visited the US and that Haitians “all have AIDS”. Yes, those really are the words of the president of America, speaking in the 21st century.
What is deeply troubling (beyond the fact that the slur isn’t actually true), however, is the extent to which Trump not only essentializes and other-izes whole groups of people, but the way in which he continues to use his racist ideas and ideologies to guide his positions on policy. The chaotic Travel Ban, thankfully taken to pieces by the justice system, has already shown us the influence of Trump’s xenophobia on his decision-making. However, despite failing to bring the travel ban into effect in the way he had wanted, Trump still tries to do more of the same.
We have to ask why Trump really wants to disrupt the lives of Haitiain men, women and children living under Temporary Protected Status since the devastating earthquake in 2010 which, to add insult to injury, occurred on January 12th exactly 8 years ago tomorrow? What will he, and his supporters, really gain from attempting to send 200,000 El Salvadorean immigrants back to a country which they may not have been back to for 15 years? Why attack Africa and Africans? Politically and practically, these moves make no sense: Haiti is a neighbour to the US, and has been an ally for many, many years. America needs Africa, with its growing middle class and huge youth demographics. And, it does the US no favours to cause instability in El Salvador. It makes no real sense to create diplomatic tensions or political rifts with any of these nations, nor to hurt them in ways which might lead to political and economic failure which might then, in turn, come back to affect the US in adverse ways.
But Donald Trump is racist and this is, from my point of view, all about the continued culture – dare I say, race – war which Trump is trying to wage in America. He desperately wants to stoke tensions, to open up divisions, to increase xenophobia and racism using the divide-and-conquer strategy that has been his game plan from the beginning.
Trump believes that places like Haiti, El Salvador and Africa – that is, places full of non-white people – are no good. And, he wants his followers to believe (if they don’t already) the same thing. Judging by what he has said and done so far during his time in office, he wants us all to believe that non-white people are, on the whole, no good. He seeks to associate the word immigration with bad non-white people, even though a large proportion of immigrants to America are – and have been – white. Trump himself, comes from an immigrant family. But that, is the essence of Trumpism, also known as Making America Great Again and putting America First.
It is likely that we will continue to see Trump’s xenophobically-driven policies get struck down by the legislative arm. However, and unfortunately for those of us in our right non-racist minds, we will hear more of his crude rhetoric (whether said in private or in public), because it suits his white nationalist agenda.
Sadly, this president is so inept and incompetent that his only path to maintaining power and control is taking the position that places which he has deemed ‘shitholes’ (and I suppose this would mean that people from those places are, by extension, shitty) are undeserving of American support, no matter their role or position in helping America and no matter what problems such an attitude may cause.
This is further reason why this president’s nefarious agenda must be resisted. There should be no room for this kind of thinking and attitude in America; to see this kind of racism at work in 2018, is a deep, deep shame.