Slavery

African Time: Late To Recognizing Our Greatness

“Here’s the thing, nobody wants to face the fact that we focus on everything BUT what we need to focus on.  For a long time Africa has been seen through everybody else’s eyes but our own, such that now, we find ourselves at a point where those who tell our truth, and are of our Land, are either revered or shunned.   Case in point, Chimamanda Adichie.  As celebrated as she may be worldwide now due to the spotlight being shown on her after her feature on Beyonce, a lot of the people back home view her as a stubborn woman, a sell out, one who doesn’t know her place and basically, a problem.

We need to see ourselves as we are in order to start going where we should be.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.

Africa has a long history of feeling like the ugly step sister.  Whether due to our spirit of Ubuntu that saw us sharing ourselves with those who had unsavory intentions or the aftermath of aforementioned intentions being carried out being the root cause of it, we’ve come to believe we’re weak and insignificant. We seem to be worthless to only ourselves, however, with the entire Western and Eastern world clamoring to get SOMETHING out of us, you’d think by now, we’d realize our worth.

Africa is like the pretty girl with the abusive boyfriend she keeps around because she knows no better and he says she’s worthless.  She believes everything she’s told, and disregards what she herself sees; That she is worthy, capable and deserving.”

Something I wrote for AHHB.

Back to Black

Oppressor: Well I’m not harming you directly anymore, why are you still mad?

Oppressed: Because I want you to apologize.

Oppressor: But it’s done.

Oppressed: Not for me it isn’t, which is why I can’t move on.

Oppressor: I can’t do anything about how you are now. It’s your fault you’re still sad, let go. Look at you, you’re pathetic.

Oppressed: But….

And this is how it goes.  I never understand why as people we put so much weight on apologies, especially in today’s society where a person with a true conscience is hard to find.

In an ideal world, empathy would be normal, we wouldn’t need to remind people to sympathize.  Remorse would be a rare yet powerful thing to feel, as would shame.  We would not know the confusion that comes with being a victim, we wouldn’t know what it means to put yourself in another’s shoes just to try and figure out why they act a certain way.

In an ideal world, equality would not be something to fight for, freedom wouldn’t be an illusion, we would not be fighting our own thoughts everyday to remind ourselves that we are worthy of respect, or that respecting another human being is necessary, right.

I have never seen, and still don’t, the point in expecting oppressors to all of a sudden feel remorse because you can finally show the pain that they’ve caused you.  Do you not understand that the whole time they hurt you, they knew they were causing you pain? It was intentional. They chose to ignore their conscience,  their “humanity”, therefore there’s truly nothing to appeal to anymore.

As I thought about some Black people’s need to see some sort of genuine remorse, a sign of the accepted equality from those who have hurt them over the years, The Whites, The Boers, basically, the colonizers, I said to myself, Really, it’s kind of like a woman who was abused for years on end going back to her husband, scars still visible, confidence shattered and heart still bruised, and saying ” I don’t care what you think of me anymore, but I need you to say Sorry for what you did.” Does it make sense? How do you think he’ll react?

Can people accept that they may never get an apology for what has happened? That there may never be any real change between our relationship with them and, to quote Janelle Monae “… [they’ll] add us to equations but they’ll never make us equal”? Can we accept that they may not even think they were wrong?

I read once somewhere that the whole Black  community needs counselling. I was young at the time and remember immediately being offended. What did they mean? I understand if they mean Black Americans but we’re fine. Besides how dare they make it seem like we aren’t able to get up off the ground? Don’t they know that black don’t crack? We shall overcome, always. Fuck their counselling.

As I’ve grown I’ve picked up on the subtle and apparent things I missed out on growing up.

Firstly, media.  I remember in High School when Obama got elected for the first term.  People were walking around campus with “GO OBAMA!” signs and I remember thinking “Man, the hell? We’re in Botswana though.” It all seemed disconnected to me and yet I marveled at how the American media could get us all into a frenzy over what was seemingly none of our business. “He’s Black, he’ll help” was the general feeling and I agreed for a bit until I remembered that even back in Slave times, there was always a House Nigger. The one who stayed close to Massa and made sure things ran smoothly. There was always the villager who learned the White man’s tongue in order to easily communicate when and how the people  planned to fight back. What was stopping him from being one such? The fact that he has sat by and watched what’s happening to the image and life of Assata Shakur happen, has been a sure sign for me.

I was pleased at Black people’s excitement over another’s advancement, and yet saddened by their naivete and how years of wearing “The Mask” as Maya Angelou put it, had actually made them forget that there is a bigger picture.

I’ve learned that we are not unrelated. People of Colour in the diaspora, and us, we feel a certain way that others cannot.  We understand pain, the Blues, we understand another’s behaviour not on a scientific level, but through feelings. We watch a news clip where an exasperated Black man jumped of a building and we don’t try and figure out why through interviews and behavioural analysis, we know that sometimes, things just get heavy on the heart. We aren’t bewildered when a starving mother who lives in the slums murders herself and her kids, we are saddened because it happens, and we know.

A lot of people are unaware of the fact that the media plays a huge role in the lack of drive and peace People of Colour seem to be susceptible to.  We look at the surface of it, yes they show us as unintelligent, rowdy neanderthals. Pawns in schemes. Loose, talent-less individuals. Sheep. Nothing worth being respected and a lot of people think “Oh no, I’m unaffected by it.” But do you consider just how much you take in on the daily? Commercials, the internet, news, shows, cartoons, magazines, advertisements, almost all of them have a hidden agenda that they’re pushing and a lot of us take them in.

I flipped through a magazine the other day and was furious.  Why were the women portrayed as airhead chefs whose main mission in life is to ooze sex appeal? Teen magazines that teach young girls to get their degree, but always remember to look pretty while doing so because a guy may be watching.  Married women who’re being emotionally abused being told to pray about it because God doesn’t like divorce and I decided, the media isn’t here for your benefit. You, in the grand scheme of things, are just a customer and a guinea pig. A part of a system that one can never really escape, but one doesn’t really need to be an active part of either.

Young Batswana men wearing fake Trukfit and calling us bitches as we cross the streets.  12 year olds with barely noticeable breasts trying their hardest to walk with their asses out. Parents who are too busy making money and keeping up appearances to bother with their children. Who are unable to discipline their kids because Dr Phil said not to, and a generation, a people, who’s convinced that bettering yourself makes one pretentious, and we still think we’re unaffected because we’re in Africa and some of us have never really had any real political struggles.

Raised knowing Botho means that for a lot of us, being treated badly comes as a shock. We don’t know how to act and that could possibly explain why we wait around, attempting to appeal to others’ humanity, but to quote Assata ““Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them”.

You cannot go to your rapist and ask him to return your dignity/joy, it is something that you have to gather for yourself and force to thrive.

As people, we cannot continue to separate ourselves based on trivialities like we don’t have better things to do like repair our own Spirits and learn.   We’ve gotten comfortable with the abuse and the feeling of being Less Than and we don’t even know it.  We walk around with inflated egos based on the fact that one is lighter/ thinner than the other and raise kids who are willing to act mentally deficient by choice because that’s what we teach them and we’re shocked at the fact that we’re still treated like shit?

That we still get the “You speak so well, not like the others” mess. The way certain White people look at you like the owner of a proud puppy when you can use a smartphone and how the moment racial issues come up, they’re quick to play the victim too and attempt to relate.

Because a lot of us are still happy to be servants and lapdogs.

It’s true.

It’s the way ten Black people will squeeze on a bench to give the White foreign exchange student space for 3 people to sit comfortably.  How we can pronounce their names but they can’t pronounce ours because they’re “too hard” and we giggle it along with them and allow it. How we laugh at the “deep” ones of our race and our men are trying so damn hard to be “real niggas” and abandon as many kids as they can while drinking themselves into a stupor. How we as women try to hard to be Ass Out, Airhead Bad Bitches and we still think we’ve somehow earned Respect from the world at large? Do we respect ourselves?

Listen.

You can be a Real Nigga if you understand that the only reason that they came to get us, truly, was because we could do what they couldn’t. Niggers were strong, intelligent. That’s why even in the modern day they try to pin Aliens on the pyramids because they can’t wrap their heads around how years ago Coloured people were able to do what they did. Niggers were strong, intelligent and hardworking. If you could be that, then by all means, be a Real Nigga.

If by being a Bad Bitch you meant you focused on yourself, worked hard to better yourself by any means necessary and were strong, intelligent and assertive, I’d respect that.

But do you?

We fight so hard internally it seems for freedom and what have we done with the little we have?

A lot of us don’t even know how far we have to go, what we need, who we are.

A lot of us are earning the title of Modern Day Coons.

What are we doing?

Evidently we aren’t surviving anymore, it seems to me we’re rushing towards destruction willingly and trying to pretend to enjoy it.

You, as a person of Colour, whether male or female, what are you doing for your Life?

What do you know?

The meek will not inherit the Earth, they will die. They told your ancestors that because it’s one thing to enslave the body, and another to enslave the mind.

And so I ask you again, what are you doing and what do you know?

“‘Bend over. Touch your toes. Lift her titties. Examine his balls.’ It damn near sounds like a hip-hop song, but it’s slavery at its peak.. A circus for all the freaks,they’ll warn you “Caution when you speak, can’t afford the truth to leak”..”

Sunni Patterson, We Made It
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