“They’re forgetting about us”…”We also suffer racism”… “#AllLivesMatter”.
Earlier this year – in fact shortly after Brexit – I was walking down a street in Hayes & Harlington, and I was tripped up and told to ‘Fuck off home’… although the joke was on them because I was already on my way home!
It was a shocking experience merely because you don’t really expect that sort of shit to happen anymore. Alas… it did – but don’t cry for me, I was fortunate enough to get my story heard with an article in the Washington Post – so yay me. Here’s the full article with the Washington Post.
DISCLAIMER: I’m about to get very honest regarding this topic – so if you’re easily offended or prone to senseless trolling… I did warn you.
Now the kind of statements in the header of this post only surface when people feel like the afflictions they’ve dealt with for so long are totally forgotten about or given less importance.
This isn’t the case with #BlackLivesMatter… no one is forgetting about the time you were stopped and searched 10 times at the airport, or the time someone called you a ‘Paki Terrorist’ for stepping out into the road too early, causing all kinds of havoc.
But in order to understand why the #BlackLivesMatter movement matters for all of us we need to look at the bare facts about racism.
Hey Kids! Let’s grow a Racism Tree!
First and foremost, this whole white, black, brown, yellow and red race idea is a crock of shit – there is no such thing as the ‘white race’ or the ‘black race’ – There are no Caucasians, Orientals or Negroes – there is only one single human race. That’s not some Kumbaya, new-age ‘liberal nonsense’ – it’s science. See Wagner et al. (2017)
A seed is planted into the ground with the intention of it growing into a fruit-bearing tree. If the surrounding conditions nurture the seed, lots of things happen over time. By the end of it you have roots, a trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. But you don’t call that tree and everything on it a seed.
In the same way ‘Racism’ is intention to produce a result – it’s an idea.
Racism is an economic idea.
Racism is the ‘seed’ in this analogy. It is the source of the tree’s conscious growth. The idea that an oppressed economic class could be created and defined by aesthetic and cultural differences.
The transatlantic slave trade generated masses of wealth, financing and enabling the idea. It represents the ‘roots’ of this tree, as human capital and mass wealth were the foundation behind building the New World and setting it on course for economic growth – just as the roots are the firm foundations of the tree which allow it to securely grow.
Laws are put in place to visibly and consciously support an ideology. They form definitions of morality and can legitimise prejudice – but do so while raising everything ‘above ground‘. Therefore courts, rulings and laws make up the ‘trunk.’ This stage can be referred to as application. Laws were created to condition society into believing all sorts of anthropological and cultural falsehoods, thus justifying the foundations that supported the idea. When bark falls from the trunk it does not grow back – instead the tree heals around the wound to prevent further injury or infection. In the same way when a law is abolished whatever might remain at the fringes is quickly preserved.
The ‘branches’ are the organisations that grew as a result of the application justifying the foundations and supporting the idea. From the Ku Klux Klan to the Black Panthers – all of the support and resistance that developed as a result of a social and economic system of oppression can be referred to as its legacy. Branches grow in different directions and begin to sprout new branches – similarly organisations grew and formed new sub-divisions or off-shoots that may have taken the application, foundation and idea into different directions.
The abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement, ‘affirmative action’ – All of these are campaigns to mark a new era of consciousness. These are the ‘leaves’ that sprout from the branches. But just as leaves do, these campaigns wither and fall off, making way for newer more ‘evolved’ approaches to maintaining the idea and foundations, by altering the application and distancing from the legacy. This we can refer to as development.
Then finally the long awaited produce – the success of which is determined by how its interior develops. The ‘fruit’ – a product of the original idea, its foundations, the application, its legacy, and developmental strategies all combined into a single wholesome/rotten item. eg. Black Lives Matter and Alt Right (whatever the fuck this actually is)
Do your consumers buy it? spit it out? or wait for the product to ripen into something that suits their taste?
Idea – Foundation – Application – Legacy – Development – Produce
When I look at these stages I see nothing more than a business strategy – and getting personal in business helps no one.
Don’t get me wrong – this business strategy has (and continues to) cost countless lives and evokes rage in anyone who has even a sliver of a conscience. But if we want to dismantle it – we just can’t take it personally.
Now some of you may be saying- “When you put all of those parts together you get a tree – so if you put all of those stages together you get racism.” Right?
Wrong. All of those stages together create an institution’ – A collection of functions serving one purpose – to execute an idea. Racism is an idea – developed to create an economic hierarchy that is distinguishable through aesthetics and culture – of which people with the darkest skin – particularly of recent African heritage – are kept at the bottom of this economic pyramid.
Still not convinced? There are many ‘institution trees’ and ‘idea seeds’ – ‘Sexism trees’ and ‘Patriarchy seeds’ are probably the oldest. Try and replace the above stages with events and groups that identify with patriarchy and the feminism movement – and you’ll see what I mean.
But brown people?
Now if you’re Asian or from the Middle East and are seething because I haven’t mentioned the atrocities of the East India Company, the British Raj, or the current wars across the Middle East… and classified these as contributions to racist ideals – ‘I aint mad at cha’ – in fact those are all contributions to executing the idea.
But these are all classified as foundations – which are usually characterised by acts of imperialism. It’s the application that then defines how a ‘race is placed in the pyramid’.
While the British were in India they immersed themselves in the culture. In fact they integrated with it so much so that many quintessential British nuances derive from things they learnt during their time in India.
‘Blighty’ comes from the Urdu ‘Bilayat’, meaning European. ‘Curry’ (which is a non-existent concept in India) is an official British cuisine… the list goes on… #Tea.
Considering the rule of Britain in India coincides with the slave trade from Africa – this gives us a very clear insight into how the British had strategically placed 2 ‘races’ in the pyramid.
There were Indians who were enslaved and exported to the Caribbean – but again these Indians were much darker than those who were demoted to 2nd class citizens (not slaves). Playing into the idea of economic segregation through aesthetics.
An interesting way to notice the lasting effects of these wildly different approaches is somewhat experiential.
Take the Asian and African diaspora in the west as an example. Wherever Asians find themselves in the world the first thing people will notice about them is that they are still very much immersed in the culture they have come from – even after 2 or 3 generations. When you go to your Hindu friends house it’s not uncommon for you to see it decorated with Vedic deities who date back to ancient times.
How often is it that you go to an African friends home and see Kemetic or Pwenetic deities? – Whose existence also coincides with ancient Vedic culture.
In fact, from my personal experience, when speaking to African/Caribbean friends who haven’t really engaged with African history (because in the west it has to be self-taught) – many can only share African history post slave trade. This is not a dig at the African diaspora – it’s shedding light on the result of destroying history to devalue culture.
While the Asians under European rule were ‘given permission‘ to hold onto their cultures, the Africans under European rule had theirs destroyed, and a new culture was ‘graciously donated‘. This particular tactic is part of the application and is a strong insight into the value of culture in any economic paradigm. So when a culture is completely ‘whitewashed’ at the time of colonialism and enslavement – it’s clear that this is a strategic ploy.
Yes – bombs are being dropped and people are being killed across the Muslim world, small Indian and Chinese children are being forced to work in hostile conditions to piece together western #Swag. But the economic leaders of these communities are very much in cahoots with supplementing this economic pyramid.
Just look at Saudi Arabia, India and China as nations – all are considered to be economic partners of western nations and corporations… why?
Resources, infrastructure, unification. So long as there is a tacit acceptance that these nations can continue to grow their GDP from this system- they will be viewed in high regard.
This comes under development in the strategy – as we are redefining relationships for the benefit of 2 parties – or at least it seems that way!
So when these communities are viewed as economic partners in an economic pyramid – does this not place them higher in the structure?
Racism can be defined as the idea that an oppressed economic class is created using aesthetic and cultural distinction. Meaning the hierarchy is quite literally no different than a colour shade card.
I’m not being politically correct here – I’m calling a spade a spade.
Yes – many of us ‘brown people’ face a myriad of prejudices and discrimination – but what we need to understand is that supporting an idea like #BlackLivesMatter does not mean that you are supporting the ‘black struggle’ and forgetting about the ‘brown plight.’ – it’s one and the same.
It means that you are addressing the very seed of the problem that we all face – by firstly acknowledging the economic structure in place, removing your personal attachments (because they have no place in economics) – and educating others that we are actually fighting a ‘business model’, not a bunch of mindless racists who hate for no reason… as convenient as that is to believe.
Businesses shut down when the idea is no longer relevant, wanted, or needed. You can attack the foundations, you can condemn the application, you can slander the legacy, disrupt the development and even stop consuming the produce…
But until you completely understand and obliterate the idea… they will always find a new way to build the model up again.
So if you truly want to be rid of racism – you don’t have to proclaim #BlackLivesMatter every second of the day – but you certainly need to accept that it is the first step in understanding what racism actually is.