….Reparation is about confronting and dismantling the illegal acts of established and corrupt thinking around questions of ‘statehood’. In fact, it is the very notion of statehood, that perpetuated this crime, ‘legalized’ it and gained from it. Legally, they argued at the time, (and still do today), destroying lives, wiping out generations, (think genocide of the Indians) and deeming it fit to ‘protect and serve’ an idea of citizenship and humanity that was Euro-centric, ie false scientific knowledge from which the word ‘race’ and the destructive racist ideology surrounding it came. Why are so many black people I know personally, professionally, so unclear about this? Is the state still not acting in illegal ways?
(Posters courtesy of the Internet)
It’s official. Emancipation Day is like Christmas Day. A once-a-year journey into make-believe and all is well. One is the made-up date of the ‘birth of Christ’ the other is the end of ‘slavery’ (enslavement is the preferred word but many still automatically say slavery….conditioning I guess…and there is a difference in case you are wondering)…
Let me begin, with what many may see as disrespectful, my post on the plethora of ‘lip service’ blacks of all ilks out there that partake in the black-events calendars that now have pride of place in our so called assimilated and ‘multi-cultural/multi-ethnic societies’, that have gifted their ‘minorities’ a little ‘cultural space’ to acknowledge their marginal presence in white dominated (racist) societies. I would also like to acknowledge the same for the ‘lip service’ brigades festering out there in post colonial, post enslavement small societies, like the Caribbean. Annually, they acknowledge being black, African and ‘aware’ that the very countries and/or islands they live in, that their ancestors, their bloodlines, came to those very shores chained and beaten. Good for them but isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with this picture?
I looked at the film…..The Birth of a Nation, by chance, again, last night. Because the diet of films that we traverse is about all kinds of western-centred angst, films like this have to be looked at…over and over..and taken apart and critiqued and examined… for a decade or so…until another one comes along and we go again. Diluting, questioning, probing, second-guessing, intellectualising and worse of all accepting this method…ie like voyeurs to gaze historically at something so macabre and bury it back into our scared subconcsiousness until the next film, documentary, whatever brings it up for us to chat about, get caught up in, usually for the length of the film and then forget it and move on. Some people might feel incensed to post a picture or meme about black/African affirmation and then move on. I posted about Reparations on my blog, knowing full well that my ‘unpopular’ taste on topics, means no one will read it. So when I write about what I want to write, and not what ‘masses’ of sheep and goats out there want to read, then my chance of being ‘read’ are virtually non-existent. Welcome to my world.
So I wonder why me, an Indian with a brown face, could have so much passion and belief in the question of Reparation of the illegal and dehumanised system of African enslavement and all..ALL of the black folks I know personally could at best manage a little lip service?? So African Enslavement is pre-history. Like Greek mythology. Pulled out, gazed at every so often and put back in the drawer..to be forgotten. Until that time again, when a ‘right-minded’ thinking, sometimes a white influential person or persons DECIDES it is a topic to be aired…again, we turn up and oooou and ahhhh…Why?? I am beginning to realize that true EMANCIPATION is perhaps the hardest thing for most human beings, no less for black people, who really, at this stage in human history, development, whatever the jazzy term is….NEED to master it.
Why doesn’t any black person I know demonstrate passion, belief, commitment, interest in Reparation…but will go on about Black History month, eating green, finding God, ‘discovering one’s stolen African heritage’…and whimper along when the word, the idea, the possibility, the need, the supposedly complicated, difficult, minefield-ridden ….question of Reparation is mentioned?
Then I say wait. Hold up. Africans, whites, and in between …all, have signed up, accepted, unquestioningly received the ‘righting’ of Jewish atrocities. We all have! Too right. We can talk about it with ease. It is not a ‘socially unacceptable’ topic, to be aired only when a film is out, or some overt act of European nazism is shown or talked about or reported on…incessantly. YET….when naked anti black racist behaviour is exposed, it is only then we open our eyes, from our wasteful sleepiness….and then when it is over, we put back on our African Enslavement History ‘snooze button’ and wait for the next buzz.
So I am asking myself….again….Why do I as an Indian (aware as I am of some African, blood in my DNA, hidden, but there) can feel this way, and I have never, ever encountered a black person, as a friend or even acquaintance…who feels this imbalance, this unresolved question, this unjust, damaging, in denial masterful deceit, trailing back from centuries, accommodated in our modern day hypocrisies like a grotesque lie? How come…my African heritage sistren and brethren? Is there something in the water I am drinking? Did it not happen? Did it not go on for hundreds of years, with no recourse? Is ‘lip service’ and an African head-tie all you can muster? How come you don’t mention it, except occasionally yet you post and post and post and talk about health, wealth, being saved, living incredibly healthy and expanding your intellectual capacity through reading.
Why me as an Indian? Why Manville, as a half-white, believes? As he churns out his pleas for the Supreme Court, each time, turning him away, as we soldier on with research and putting together material, for a black ‘reporter’, to ask him, not what are you doing, but instead ask the monumentally stupidest, disrespectful question of all …’why do you go on about Reparation? “Why do you breathe”? He retorted.
So I ask again, why have I not one single black friend (or foe, for that matter), who feels this historical imbalance, even some who live it, or are aware of many who are trapped in it, and still never feel the deep under-tow of this massive lie, this spectacular deceit of white establishment denial, of Reparation’s? Why not even a willingness to wrestle with the complexity of it….yet preferring instead to topicalise, be pro-active, act ‘passionately’ about safer topics? None of that makes the troubling question of Reparation go away. And it won’t. As someone said…or was it a dream…the world remains unbalanced if a crime goes unpunished…Enslavement, African Enslavement was a crime. A hideous, unforgettable, dehumanising crime that went on for hundreds of years. Spirits out there are waiting for their little share of justice. All descendants of enslavement need to be shown that their heritage and contributions to the first world nations is legitimate. That their lives, past and present have mattered.
Ordinary white folks will never be able to make that extraordinarily brave leap into intellectual interrogation to question the very mythology of their own societies. Reparations is not about convincing them of that which they will not see, or accept, let alone embrace. Reparation is a long delayed confrontation with a sustained set of STATE ideas that embodied deceit, hypocrisy, institutional criminal acts against a particular group of people for no other reason than the texture of their hair and the colour of their skin. The real essence of it as a set of ideas, represents a break, a decisive cutting off of the inhumanity suffered, and which continues today. It is not just money or compensation.. And all kinds of contemporary adjustments and flare-up’s in the form of ‘civil rights’ and protest movements will never quench or reach down to the deepest, darkest, annals of the core underpinnings. The dirty, decayed birth seeds of the depraved pillars upon which, our racist contemporary societies of today exist.
Reparation is not a diluted, watered-down, reducible ignorant infested debate about who pays whom, and who gets what, financial compensation is the ONLY WAY that many whites and blacks, ie lost blacks….(like what we have in the Caribbean intellectual field), have seen fit to sabotage and damage and dismiss the question of Reparation. Or those who say before African, the whites who were slaves. Or Africans sold out each other! Those same whites would echo more depraved statements about blacks today! Showing concretely the long, history of inherited racist thinking that still, however subtle and not-so-subtle, many whites believe and will not change. Reparation is not about engaging with them. Reparations is not against white people. Who says that?!?
Why too are so many NON-AFRICAN conscious activists, humanists, out there who also REFUSE to see this as a broadly humane question, and instead OPTING to stick to their particular ‘ethnic’ preoccupations? Will accepting and acknowledging the brutality of African enslavement make the ugliness of Indian indentureship for example seem like a walk in the park, is that even a rational argument? Why not see it like this: because they got away then with African enslavement, the brutality of it, they developed a new way of carrying on the game of white supremacy. They re-enacted a diluted but dirty repetition of the brutality of enslavement which they were able to ‘manage’ better under ‘indenture ship’ because they had the experience of the preceding Africans before, on which to moderate and temper their bigoted thinking? Think about Reparation as a humanity issue not as ethnic by-standers that wants to enter into a debate about ‘my enslavement -v- your enslavement’….gross stupidity.
Two historical dehumanising acts are too much for the world to accept and too dangerous to pretend that they ‘don’t matter’.
The native north American Indians and the descendants of Africans cannot keep apologising and accepting ….”it’s in the past.” Being ashamed, coward, uncomfortable about something as horrifying and deceitful as genocide and enslavement is like giving up. The Jews did not do that. Their humanity is no greater than anyone else’s. They believed they should get justice and reparations and they did and they were right. They showed the world their pain. Their tragedy was our tragedy, as it should be. What is going on with the Middle East today, has nothing to do with the righting of the human depravity they suffered in Europe back then.
Until blacks en masse could reach up to the standard of human decency defined by themselves, for themselves, for the historical inaccuracies and the unwillingness of white, racist thinking societies, via their state machinery to acknowledge and correct the way they have institutionalized practices towards the African presence in their midst, back in the history books up until now. Reparation’s main objective is to correct once and for all, this imbalance, this legacy of brutality that haunts us to this day.
Why is such an objective something all the blacks and browns and one-between, but mainly the blacks….so at odds with this? Why only your annual ‘lip service’? Is your humanity less than that of a white, brown, or whatever colour we can come up with?
It seems, given this stasis, this ‘fear’ this denial by so many..that Reparations is indeed dire. I am here to say it will not go away and it will come to pass. It is the most pressing issue facing 21st century former slaving nations. Many will find this hard to accept or believe, but it is a fact. So if you need a reason to celebrate, to overcome..walk the walk, not once a year, but everyday. We owe it to our forefathers and for those generations to come to demand reparations for that which was stolen, denied, and dehumanized in the most abhorrent and vile way. Stand on principle whatever your ‘race’ and believe.