I can’t recall when first I heard the word racism but, for reasons which I could not explain, I did not think it described a nice person or a thing. It may have been the hushed tones and the patois used by those who wished to protect themselves from its harm. Growing up when patois seemed the language of choice, ‘an aversion to black and dark skinned people’ was the best translation, to describe racism. Later, I recoiled at the fact that, in some countries a person could be shot dead because he was black or dark skinned – a matter over which he had no control.
In my political awakening in the late nineteen fifties, it became clear to me (and other kindred spirits), that white America and Europe were the centers of racism and bigotry. Racism became an even more frightening aspect of life even though I had not personally experienced it. It was (and is) akin to a cancer which impacts the entire social and economic fabric of the black race, especially in countries built on back slave labour.
Slavery, capitalism and racism became a sort of dance macabre for generations of Caribbean (and Afro/American) people in search of self-worth, self-expression, and yes, their manhood. A new generation seemed determined to create an Afro-centric-world in which black sin was no longer a ticket to the back seat of the bus, or to the out-house. No longer would the back of the bus be reserved for second and no-class citizens. No longer would he depend on unethical and deceitful ‘white’ hands for sustenance. No longer would his skin tone define his social and economic status – his fate.
To be fair, some Americans and Europeans have tried to free themselves from the stain of racism. But the cancer persists in the hearts and minds of many. One cannot legislate against the disease of racism. Hundreds of years of abuse (and racism) cannot be easily erased. The mere passage of anti-discrimination legislation is powerless against a heart bent on hatred and racial discrimination. And there is no known genetic code which can help expunge and destroy racism.
It therefore remains for love, respect, tolerance and trust, none of which can be forced on the hearts of men, to replace fear and hatred, which fuel racism and thrives on ignorance.
Sadly, racism flourishes at the heart and soul of American (and European) politics. White politicians and their surrogates seem determined to turn back the hands of time. That lot would return the entire black race if they could, to a time when white was right, and the whip, an instrument of fear. Black men were then reduced to ‘two-thirds-man’ – eroding their worth and self-confidence.
Thankfully, emancipated black people know that the struggle never ends and that politics is crucial to their continued emancipation, economic progress and self-worth. The problem is to correctly identify imposters, posing as black liberators.
Interestingly, no one denies that racism, bigotry and hatred were at the heart of the recent murder of nine black worshipers in a church in South Carolina, USA, by a young white man with a gun. Racism is still at the centre of the thinking of those white folks in that State who wish to keep the old confederate flag flying there.
It is at the center of recent killings of young black men and women by white policemen in several U.S cities. It is the reason Sandra Bland, a young black woman, was recently pulled from her car in the State of Texas and found dead three days later in a jail cell.
Paradoxically, these recent killings and the racism that spawn them have been studiously avoided by white politicians in America, preparing for the next election cycle. Their attitude exposes the hypocrisy and double standards in American politics. There are too many politicians especially in the Republican Party who, avoid confronting the evil and senselessness of racism.
Unfortunately for Afro/Americans (and the rest of humanity) the field of declared Republican candidates in this primary season is choke-full with racists and haters. Donald Trump, a construction entrepreneur and self-declared multi-millionaire is at the top of that list. He recently declared all Mexicans crossing the U.S/Mexico border illegally, as drug mules, rapists and felons. He has extended that language to cover other illegal immigrants.
Don’t be fooled. The Donald Trump ranting reflects the feelings and attitudes of a large swath of Republican right-wing voters. Such obviously racist statements are hurtful. They alienate many including more centrist Republicans and others.
Again, racism is at the heart of Republican attitude towards president Obama. They are often rude and disrespectful. Trump has gone further than most in denouncing the president as non-American, threatening to obtain a ‘true’ copy of Obama’s birth certificate as proof. One elected Republican shouted ‘you lie’ during a State of the Union address by president Obama. The State of the Union address is one of the most important rituals of a sitting U.S president.
There is more than a political dimension to racism. There is a national security dimension! Racism seems at the heart of opposition to the Iran/U.S plus five, deal. Some U.S lawmakers seem to put the security of Israel before Obama and the U.S. They use the unspeakable horror of the holocaust, to attack and undermine president Obama and the recent Iran/U.S/Russia, China, England, France etc. agreement.
One must ponder, whether there is any morality among Republican politicians. Cuba and the U.S have recently re-established diplomatic relations after fifty years of trade embargo and sanctions that have not achieved the downfall of Fidel Castro and his friends. Republicans oppose Obama for bringing the charade to an end. These haters aim to continue to punish the Cuban people (and Obama), for crimes they did not commit.
Gun control is another issue on which the U.S has no legitimacy to lecture the Caribbean and the rest of the world. The indiscriminate killing of innocent black lives in America is a result of persistent racism plus the ease of owning a gun. The killing and incarceration of so many young black men in the U.S is no accident. So, do black lives matter in the U.S? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The irrevocable conclusion is that racism is alive and well in the U.S and that black lives matter little. Racism continues to sap the bone and marrow of this otherwise great and beautiful country. Persistent racism makes ‘God Bless America’ seem an empty slogan. A cure must soon be found for that cancer or else it will sap her vitality and kill her. That would be a very sad and unfortunate event.