I sometimes wonder if the Doctrine of White Supremacy will ever come to an end! Legislation has been passed and laws enacted across the globe to put an end to racism but all to no avail. If the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865 and the rhetoric of our Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” could not annihilate racism in America, and processes such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are yet to make apartheid a thing of the distant past in South Africa, we must ask ourselves what then can cure the demon of White Supremacy?
In America, the institution of slavery is believed to have ended in 1865, yet 151 years after slavery has been abolished the established mindsets that allowed slavery to thrive remains with us in 2016.
No doubt Blacks have made a lot of progress in America, but with great cost! It should also be noted that every achievement towards dignifying the humanity of Black people in America has always been met with hostile resistance including the very Emancipation Proclamation itself.
Black humanity as guaranteed by the emancipation was vehemently opposed by whites as they deployed all kinds of methods, including terrorism, to maintain control of blacks. Terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, Knights of the White Camellia and the White Brotherhood went on a rampage of organized crimes as a desperate move to restore white supremacy.
As a result of the white opposition to black freedom over the centuries, black people have had to organize counter movements to defend their pyrrhic victory. Since then, no generation of blacks in America has ever lived without a movement or multiple organized movements in their lifetime be it the Civil Rights Movement, The Black Panther Party, The Black Power Movement, or Black Lives Matter, the zeitgeist of the 21st Century.
Unfortunately, our struggle and fight to defend our collective humanity has just begun because America has retrogressed. With the election of Donald Trump, a racist Taliban, we’ve retrogressed into the hydra-headed evils of White Supremacy and old school racism.
Similarly, the apartheid regime that plagued South Africa since 1948 ended in 1994, yet de jure apartheid remains pervasive in South Africa. The connection between United States and South Africa with respect to Slavery and Apartheid is important because South African whites learned best practices in implementing apartheid from the United States.
Right after the institutionalization of racial separateness ended in South Africa, the country put in place the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
TRC, deeply rooted in Christian forgiveness and the Ubuntu philosophy was established to acknowledge the injustices of the past in order to build a new foundation for a greater tomorrow.
But just as both the killings of black and brown people by the hands of police or self-appointed vigilantes have debunked the myth of America’s post-racial world, it can equally be said that recent events in South Africa are testaments that the apartheid mindset remains an issue that has not been completely eradicated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The video of Black South African man buried alive in coffin by two white racists has gone viral. This despicable act is troubling in and of itself, but what is even more troubling about the incident is that the YouTube video was posted by the same men who perpetrated the heinous act for the purposes of online hilarity.
According to Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, the victim of the coffin incident, his only crime was to have been accused of trespassing. Can you imagine a white South African accusing the Son of the Soil to have trespassed? By the way, this behavior runs deep in America – be it in our support for the Israeli government’s designation of Palestinians as refugees in their own land or Native American water protectors at Standing Rock are being accused of trespassing.
For historical context, the Dutch came to South Africa in 1652, while the Europeans started to arrive in what is now the U.S. in the 16th Century. Black South Africans in South Africa, and the Indigenous Peoples in America are deemed trespassers in their own respective countries – truly white supremacy thrives in travesty!
Well, I am not surprised because European’s usurpation and laying claim to other people’s lands is legendary. Yet, one of the most powerful tools of White Supremacy is a sanitization of history to both degenerate the truth and glorify the ‘innocent’ actions of whites.
Unfortunately, this recent video is not an isolated incident, this barbaric act reminds me of the 2008 horribawful “Reitz Four” video in which four white students forced five black workers to eat stew saturated in urine. These videos reveal the deep seated racism and apartheid mentality in the hearts of some white South Africans.
While the venom of systemic racism that permeated every strata of the American society excluded our ancestors from social dignity and economic decency, the mothers and fathers that have gone on before us have given us the baton of struggle to continue the fight against white supremacy. And as we fight, we are conscious of one James Baldwin’s powerful quotes “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
As communities of color, the political prestidigitation that produced Trump’s presidency is about to further compound our catastrophic political, economic and social existential realities in America, and we must renew our strength as we remain united in our fight against White Supremacy.
We Blacks, Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Mexicans, Jews, Gay brothers, Lesbian sisters and communities of the oppressed at large must band together to fight because we do not have the luxury to see racism, brutality and oppression being normalized!
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Assata Shakur