I was privileged to grow up in a country where education was esteemed and is affordable. My loftiest idea of travel was to visit Africa. I had grand ideas of travelling out to Africa and enjoying the beauty of the place. Little did I know that where I daydreamed from, Nigeria, was and is right in Africa – the Africa of Africa- the giant of Sub-Sahara Africa. Just about when I realized I was right at the heart of Africa, I was old enough to learn racial classification of humans – Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloids – from my social studies text book. Caucasoid was quite a mouthful and did not sound cool. Mongoloid sounded like an outright insult (Now, it is).
For many years, I wondered who saddled himself with the responsibility of classifying our race and wondering if he meant good or bad. You bet I was not convinced he meant any good because he called some people mongoloids, and I came to know “mongol” as an insult before I knew it as a class of humans. My grouse against the anthropologist was balanced by my love for the word “Negroid”- quite interesting that Microsoft word miraculously does not recognize “Negroid” as a word. While Word edited “Caucasoid” to a capital “C”, it left “mongoloid” in small letters, and does not recognize “Negroid”. Being a Negro sounded powerful, like a strong brand, sounded stronger than Caucasian or mongoloid. Perhaps the printing press had some ink problems or something, Caucasian and mongoloid representation in my textbook were pale-looking kids with frazzled hair, but the Negroid kid miraculously had enough dark ink to have round cheeks, forehead like Rihanna, and curly hair. In retrospect, I think the publisher was mischievous on purpose.
I was yet to learn about slavery, colonization, and the civil wars. I was yet to be angry beyond my thinking that the anthropologist did humans a disservice by classifying what nobody asked him. His classification communicated strata to me, I detested it deeply. I was born with a disdain for prejudice, arrogance, and superiority. Perhaps, I should be thankful that I learnt about the meekness of Jesus before I came into knowledge of the complexities of my beloved human race. I would remember that the first movie I saw on slavery was so brutal, I took my eyes away after ten minutes and never went back. In the recesses of my mind, till date, I shut my eyes and wondered how a people brutally plucked out of tropical Africa, old and young, survived the temperate region and harshness of winter without jackets and warmth. Hundreds of thousands died while struggling to survive.
America is at the centre of the present imbroglio because America is the face of the press, with an inciteful leader. You see, I am unable to call it racism, not because racism does not exist, I detest racism with every fibre of my being, but because the moment I begin to think of racism, my mind blows up the universal set of prejudice of which racism is a subset, and it riles me to see the flag bearers of tribalism, misogyny, oppression and suppression of the poor, raise high flags against white superiority. Do we not see that these are manifestations of the same problem? I look at my misogynistic black friends and wonder how they even think racism is evil since they hold the same ideals as a racist. Are you against oppression but do not mind being the oppressor?
There is a lot to talk about, and it could fill up three volumes of books. However, we are not going to exhume the situation because history is replete with documentation of what has transpired in our human existence, and no prejudiced person is actually ignorant of their privilege and how they wield it to oppress another. They might say they are unaware, but we all know that two people cannot be deceived at the same time. It is either the deceived is aware of the deception or the deceiver is aware. Usually, they are both aware. If we had not been deceiving ourselves, we would not have faced resistance for years in seeking the equality of rights and dignity of human lives. So, we are not here to narrate what has transpired, but to analyze what is happening, see how we are contributing to the despicable acts of people we judged for the ugly paradigm shift in our humanity, and attempt to create an avenue for an open but respectful conversation in a bid to move forward.
You see, I am not given to political correctness. While I have an interesting relationship with words, and some words do hurt, I believe people should not be gagged and boxed into some uniform thinking. If they do not air their minds, no matter how despicable, how do we hold conversations necessary for change? The world was shocked when President Donald Trump won the elections. People were upset and wondered who voted him. I chuckle. Millions did. Thousands of vocal nationalists, thousands of single-issue voters, and thousands of people whose voices we have suppressed by political correctness and media expectations, but they resonated at the frequency of a man who withstood societal expectation of progressives. They found a place where they could not be judged – the safety of the polls, and privately voted for the one who bellowed what they could not say, they are the burner accounts on twitter, spewing the most vicious things, while maintaining politically correct and socially distanced personal accounts that have their real names and faces. Personally, I feel twitter should delete every account not representing an organization, a person, or a business. I also believe employers have no business monitoring people’s social media accounts to hire or fire them. When we do that, we end up with misogynists rising to the top as CEOs right before our eyes, and we have racists becoming presidents, because we forced them to hide the content of their hearts.