Wednesday, the 17th of June saw yet another attack on blacks in the USA. In perhaps the most sordid and confounding killing in recent times, a white male sauntered into a predominantly black church where a group of Christians had come together for bible study, “worshipped” with them for about an hour before unleashing terror on the unsuspecting gathering. It was one attack too many.
The black community in the USA and indeed other parts of the world were yet to recover from the needless killings of 25 year old Freddie Gray, which sparked a series of protests and civil disorder, 50 year of Walter Scott who was shot by a North Charleston Police officer, Micheal Brown, a black teen shot by yet another Police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old African American shot by George Zimmerman, who ended up being acquitted of second-degree murder resulting in protests across US cities, when it was once again dealt a blow that may be the final straw that would break the proverbial camel’s back with the murder of nine members of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The rise in cases of wanton killings of African Americans in the last couple of years has once again brought to the fore the stark reality that racism and ethnic discrimination which were major issues during the colonial and slave era are still a profound source of concern centuries later. There is still undoubtedly a seemingly unconquerable prejudice against blacks. Prejudice, discrimination and institutional racism continue to affect African Americans. To deny or downplay it is tantamount to living in denial about the state of things. And the trajectory of events does not proffer a soothing prognosis for the future. It is pertinent to ask what the sin of the black man is. Why does the colour of our skin matter so much? Why is it so difficult for people of other races to see blacks as fellow humans who have blood running through their veins just like them?
From the mid 19th century when Africa was called the Dark Continent as very little was known about its history and inhabitants, there has been an air of mystery about all things African that appears to be foreboding to people from the earlier known parts of the world. Despite the fact Africa has evolved from those dark days of totally unknown interiors, dense forests and “mysterious tribes” that were considered dangerous, the portrayal of Africa and Africans by the western world media still leaves plenty to be desired. Mostly bad news and failures get reportage, while successes are greatly downplayed. The average white who has never been to Africa still sees the black man as a backward being who lives on trees or mud houses and has no access to electricity not to talk of the internet. It’s shocking that there are still people who believe this in 2015! Which is why the Blacks who live abroad are thought to be highly privileged to be where they are and are sometimes seen to be undeserving of mixing with the “higher mortals” with fairer skin.
The classification of Africa as a third world continent, and its people as belonging to the lowest rung of the recognition ladder has also not done the black man any favours. Time and time again, Africa has been touted has having the potential to become one of the most powerful economies in the world due to its vast human and natural resources but has consistently failed to live up this billing. It’s greatest bane being its corrupt and selfish leaders who are all about perpetuating themselves in power and enriching themselves to the detriment of the people. This brings to mind the case of the kidnapped girls in North East Nigeria which was handled with kid gloves at the beginning and which cast a damning verdict on the state of security in the country. The call for help from the United States instead of the African Union(AU) as a first resort remains an indictment on the leadership of the AU; an organisation that has the achievement of peace and security in its member countries as part of its objectives.
The perception of Africa as the undisputed laggards of the 21st century has resulted in its people being condemned to being seen as the dregs of the global society. Our darker skin tone compared to other races doesn’t help matters as black is often associated with doom, gloom and all things negative. Little wonder, more and more blacks are embracing the skin lightening trend – anything to distance themselves from this skin that is a source of constant ridicule.
Our self-esteem issues is also a major factor in the way we are perceived by other races. The average black person is ecstatic and immensely grateful about getting a visa to the UK, as though it were a pass to heaven. The black man treats his fellow black with disdain, but has a subservient disposition to the white man. The government would rather award a contract for road construction to a white man (doesn’t matter if he is Hispanic or Asian) and snub his fellow black who has the pedigree to do a better job just because of the colour of his skin. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies, as no one can make us feel inferior without our consent.
The KPMG report which projects that Africa’s GDP should reach $2.6 trillion by the year 2020 will only be a mirage if we don’t get our acts together soon enough and attain that seemingly elusive potential that everyone claims that we have. We must as a matter of urgency begin to take our rightful place in the league of global players like China who were once like us. Then we can gradually earn the respect that we deserve and be seen above and beyond the colour of our skin. Either that or we fold our arms and continue to suffer the indignity that we are subjected to on a daily basis.