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SYSTEMIC RACISM

BLACK PEOPLE’S FIGMENT OF THE IMAGINATION?

If it is systemic it is broad based according to its time, space, and driving forces. It is enduring. It is transgenerational. It is endemic. It is prolific. It is a constant. It is predictable. It is routine. It is structured. It is devious: transparent one moment, subtle the next.

If it is systemic it is its own universe. It has its own domain of interconnectedness, its own self-preservation, self-perpetuation dynamics, its own fallacies contra conventional wisdom.

If it is systemic it is the noun system in applied form. The term system defines particular arrangements of processes, objects, and concepts designed to deliver set outcomes; precision assuming fulfilment of given pre-determined conceptual and operational parameters. A system represents methods to follow in order to achieve certain outcomes. A system may be natural or man-made.

If it is natural, a system may never fail to the extent that applicable natural laws remain constant. Man-made systems may never fail to the extent that they do not seek to defy the laws of nature.

Racism is a man-made system of thought and behaviour that promulgates and applies ideas that there is, by divine providence, a non-contestable unequal relationship amongst the diversity of ethnicities comprising the human race on earth.

Racism is a political power instrument. It’s a social control force exercised by elite classes to explain and justify their oppression of the weakened and broken for economic domination purposes. Racism as we know it in our times is an off-shoot from the growth of modern capitalism from the 16th Century onwards.

It functions on the irrational classification of human beings according to physical attributes, starting with skin colour and purported cognitive endowments differentiations in favour of dominant classes.

An arbitrary distinction was introduced to classify light-skinned people of Eurasian extraction as being of higher intelligence with the God-given right and power to dominate others of darker skin complexions.

According to racism postulates, the darker-skinned were meant to be at the permanent servitude of the light-skinned. This justified European colonial endeavours the world over, with Africa taking the brunt of it all through the ensuing slave trade that took multitudes of African people into plantation slavery in the Americas.

Racism appears in different forms all over the world. For purposes of this presentation I look at the Eurasian anti-Black racism. This is in view of the current state of global Black Lives Matter debates sparked by the horrific visuals of George Floyd’s heartless murder in Minneapolis, USA, on May 25, 2020.

Along the way to the Americas, millions of other African people perished at sea. As a total dehumanizing experience, colonialism and the Afro-American slave trade have left an indelible trauma in the psyche of African people in the continent and the Diaspora.

At the same time, the White Power movement that grew out of the Eurasian economic might class in North America continues to use the partly successful crushing of the Black African spirit as proof of their superiority.

Fragility of racism as a system starts already with the man-made divine providence principle. Devine providence has no basis in natural law precepts. It lacks consistency, therefore; opening itself to non-ending enquiry leading to infinite inconclusive findings. Doomed to failure in the long term.

Racism’ systematic application of manipulation and overt extreme violence as tools of oppression have persisted, hence systemic racism.

In the White Supremacy racism against the Black world context, systemic racism is the complete set of conceptual and practical tools devised to sustain the status quo of the racists’ unnatural dominance of the Black race in order to perpetuate the one-sided capitalistic exploitation of the subjugated.

The set of tools sustaining White Power systemic racism have long permeated the amoral fabric of Western society and its satellites the world over. Appearing in unique forms in the Middle East and Asia, the methods of subjugation of the downtrodden are the same, amongst others:

  • Part to total disenfranchisement of the oppressed
  • Limitation or total denial of access to education
  • Limited access to wealth creation opportunities
  • Sub-standard living conditions
  • Sustenance of squalor through deliberate minimal to zero provision of social amenities
  • Application of effective brutality against any real or perceived rebellion: police, military
  • Development of a powerful propaganda machinery across society: educational system, culture and sport, media, faith,     family
    SYMBOLS: Monuments!
  • Devise a state machinery to ensure functionalities of all the above: bureaucracy – INSTITUTIONALIZE!
  • Teach, reward, and protect agents of state machinery: impunity

Systemic racism is a living reality. It’s not a creation of novel minds. Neither can it be explained away with rhetoric. We use fine language and sophisticated wordcraft to describe it in order to demonstrate that we know well what we are talking about.

Through our articulation, we seek to give systemic racism a face so that those with eyes to see, with brains that think can have something tangible to relate themselves to as we invite them to step into our shoes to learn about our existential realities.

Systemic racism is a well-oiled machine of bigotry and ignorance. It therefore has to be addressed with superior intellectual firepower if we are going to eliminate it from the face of the earth.

In terms of application and experience, racism is a very personal trip. As an object of racism from birth in formerly officially White Supremacist Apartheid South Africa, I know racism when I see it; I know racism when I feel it. I can smell racism from afar.

My personal sensitivity to racism transcends the active or passive practitioner’s ethnicity. Racism comes in packages as colourfully diverse as the human race is. It’s only about degrees of application, and extents of actual or potential damage caused.

Given my background, it goes without saying that I know more about Eurocentric White Supremacist racism than any other form. And, that is my personal experience, and mine alone. Nothing, and no one else compares to that.

No one can define, no one has the right to want to define for me what racism is or what it is not. Doing so is in itself symptomatic of the oppressive, imperialistic nature of racism. At the individual level, application and experience of racism are relative modalities for the aggrieved.

Systemic racism is racism collectivized. Systemic racism steps over the individual and contaminates the group for eventual total domination, if not genocide at worst. In this case, racism is applied institutionally in one-size-fits-all formats.

Meaning that, for example, in the eyes and power tools dispensation of anti-Black White Supremacists’ worlds, when you are Black you are Black. It doesn’t matter how cultured or uncultured, enlightened or non-enlightened you are with regard to integration or non-integration into these worlds.

You may be a shining star highlighting values of White Supremacist ideology with pride and pomp. But, in the end, when you are Black, you are Black: arbitrarily designated as inherently inferior, primitive, savage, divinely cursed to slave for the Whiteman. It’s just the way it is with systemic racism.

It makes sense, therefore, that, to be effective and produce lasting effects, the anti-racism struggle targets systemic racism states institutions, their functionaries, and their symbols.

Because the systemic racism state is ever so strong and intrinsically inclined to apply immediate brutal force to quell dissent, it’s not strange that carnage and destruction to property shall often accompany uprisings against the system. Contemporary and historical examples of that abound in the USA, South Africa, and several Latin American countries.

In cases of extreme indiscriminate systemic racism state violence against the people as we’ve witnessed in the USA lately, the people’s rage will be such that they’ll even target their destructive energy towards “their own innocent Black-owned businesses”.

Self-harm as a form of expressing frustration, hopelessness against overly strong, insensitive forces resistant to change is called self-flagellation in the Bible, the book of systemic racism proponents, even if they hold and read the holy book upside-down.

Manifestations of the socio-economic collapse of post-colonial, post-slavery societies cannot be understood detached from the overall destructive consequences of White Supremacist systemic racism consequences.

Apparent degeneration of moral and ethical values as evidenced through rampant corruption, sexual abuse and violence against children and women as we see across the world today has a direct link to systemic racism practices over the years.

Racism as relentlessly pushed on by White Supremacists has created monsters in its victims.

Violence begets violence. Those who live by the sword die and promote death by the sword. Is this really the kind of world we want to live in in the 21st Century?

SIMON CHILEMBO
OSLO
NORWAY
TEL.: +4792525032
June 30, 2020

SMARTER ZIMBABWEANS, STUPID SOUTH AFRICANS?

IS IT TRUE OR NOT THAT ZIMBABWEANS ARE MORE SMARTER (sic), EDUCATED THAN SOUTH AFRICANS??
Asked somebody on a Facebook group, The SA Political Forum.

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

A clumsily formulated, but interesting, question which has provoked extremely intense debate on the forum in recent days. The latter manifesting more the worst than the better of our views of one another in this part of the world: Nationalism, racism, tribalism, bigotry, parochialism, xenophobia, ignorance, primitivity, nauseous arrogance, pettiness, immaturity, insensitivity, paternalism, mental derangement symptoms, lack of imagination, intellectual poverty, academic disorientation, non-culturedness, superstition, spiritual emptiness, insecurity, dumb-headedness, self-destruction tendencies, predator mentality, terribly developed language/ communication skills, cheap rhetoric, thick-headedness, anarchism, mistrust, misinformation, information distortion, history misinterpretation, manipulation, wilful ignorance of facts, e-kassie mentality, ill-defined defiance, profanity, foolish pride, as well as threats; including leadership/ rule by fear.

I do not quite recall how my first year, 1965, at school in Lesotho unfolded. What I do remember well, though, is that it was a hell lot of fun learning how to read and write for the first time. Returning from what I had then understood to have been Christmas holidays, January 1966 I discovered that I had completely new classmates at my school. The others from the previous year were in another class I heard called Padiso/ Sub B. That didn’t bother me much, however; all I wanted to do was to continue learning how to read and write. It was ever such great fun, at the request of the class teacher, to stand in front of the class reading or counting for my new classmates. Nevertheless, I recall that at some point this whole thing began to bore me half way to death; I kept reading and counting the same things all the time. I felt it was time I went to join my old classmates who were now in Padiso/ Sub B. So, I stated my wish to the class teacher. The school principal wouldn’t allow that to happen, I was told. Why??? “Because you are just too intelligent for your age, Simon. Boko ba hao bo tla bola …/ Your brains will rot if you go to higher classes while you are still under age. People who get too much education while young get mad, you see. Don’t worry, you shall go to Padiso/ Sub B when you are 8 years old” the teacher resolutely told me. So, I stayed in Grade 1 for three years, 1965-67, to keep my sanity together. Jeeezuz!

During the years 1967-69, the only meaningful school activity I recall are the almost daily after school fights arranged by older boys and girls. The idea was that boys my age should/ would beat the brains out of me because teachers at the school never stopped talking about how intelligent I was. Sadly for the matchmakers and my opponents, I would win absolutely all my fights. There was no way I was going to allow these dumb heads to kill my brains. I was also a street-smart kid. The thing is, while these age mates of mine were still working round getting the alphabet, and numbers, together, I was already reading to my class teacher and my grandmother some passages from the Lesotho Times newspaper. I am a South African child begotten of a Zambian father. At this formative school of mine in Lesotho, there were many other mixed ethnicity parentage children (representative of the ethnic and racial diversity of the Southern African sub-continent) from relatively more resourceful families in the major South African metropolis, including Lesotho itself.

In 1970, going onto my tenth year of age, I find myself in a South African school classroom for the first time. The academic excellence self-confidence developed in Lesotho got acutely shaken by my failure to understand what the textbook I was given by the new class teacher was about. Reading comprehension, of course. I struggled through the assigned reading passage, and then answered the subsequent 10 questions best I could. I got zero out of ten. The teacher expressing dismay at my explicit lack of knowledge of Afrikaans, I couldn’t reveal that I had actually started schooling in Lesotho, where there was/ is no Afrikaans spoken or taught in schools. By the time of the mid-year exams in June that year, though, I was scoring the highest all-round grades in class. Upon return from winter holidays, my class teacher called me out to where she and other teachers seemed to be discussing something serious together with the school Principal. I was told that all had agreed that I deserved to be promoted to the next class because I was just too intelligent for Grade 3, which I had in fact been forced to repeat in the first place. I declined. Why? I was afraid my brains would rot, and I would thus go mad from too much education while still young. Bummer! I kept scoring the highest grade point averages at school in South Africa till end of 1974.

First quarter of 1975 I am in Lusaka, Zambia. No school that year. Very depressing. I have never felt smaller, and more insignificant. Shattered medical studies dreams. But then again, just under 15 years of age, I discover, and enter into a space called library for the first time in my life: Lusaka City Library, British Council Library, American Library. Book, books, and books everywhere, including my Uncle Oliver’s private library at home, as well as later, the magnificent UNZA library. And there were so many magazines, journals, and other publications of all sorts to read. I became a bookworm that year. A whole new world of thinking and dreaming was opened for me; and thus began my daily English reading and writing journey to this day.

Back to school in 1976. Forced to backtrack again because, my father was told, the then South African Bantu Education Grade 7 academic standards were lower than those of Zambia. But, as soon as I had gotten into the rhythm of things at school, I was topping class grade average points, as usual. I could never understand the Grade 7 failure panic and hysteria characteristic of the time in Zambia. I, of course, passed the final exams with flying colours later in the year. South African born, Zambian dad begotten man-child would show constant, and predictable, academic excellence throughout the entire Secondary/ High School career to university; crushing class- and schoolmates from many other countries/ nations of the world, including Zimbabwe. This, despite the fact that I didn’t know what a science laboratory was until I was 17 years old at secondary school. That Zambian school children had already been exposed to sophisticated scientific education for years had also greatly intimidated me at first. There was at that time an awesome Zambian youth scientific magazine called Orbit. The story would repeat itself in Norway, both academically and professionally in my adult years.

20 years ago, after failing a Drivers’ Licence theory examination in Norwegian language, a blue-eyed Norwegian young man, upon hearing that I had scored almost 100% in the same test, exasperates, “Fffæææn/ Ssshit, I never knew that there were in fact wise negrer in the world!” Another dick head bites the dust.

The moral of this story is that when you are hot, you are hot. Your origin, or Nationality, due to various objective and subjective factors, may have some, but certainly not, decisive bearing.

My initial response to the question on the forum went as follows:
NOT true! The 5 million or so … in SA should tell a lot about Zimbabweans’ smartness, with their country messed up by (one of) the most educated presidents in Africa. We have our Msholozi, we have our legacy of inferior, for Blacks, apartheid Bantu education. But, for one of many examples, and despite acute imperfections here and there, through SASSA, South Africa effectively distributes at least R 10 BILLION in various social grants a month. 

Ultimately, it’s not so much about how smart or educated Nation(-s/ -nals) are, it’s about how they apply these qualities to meet their people’s needs and aspirations as their nations develop and progress among nations of the world.

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
9459
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
October 12, 2014

DO POOR BLACK MEN EVEN CRY?

Inspired by: Lynching Black Men

©Simon Chilembo,  09/ 12-2012

©Simon Chilembo, 09/ 12-2012

I had first picked it up in his voice on the phone. Calling him from Oslo at his work place in Pretoria about once a week in the latter part of the 1990s, I could hear him sounding ever more tired each time we spoke. He would of course express tremendous delight upon hearing my voice, proudly shouting to his colleagues,  “My son is calling from overseas!”

When I last saw him Easter time 1996, he was as charming as ever. But he was beginning to look a little frail. And it seemed he had stopped caring too much about his hair, which he always groomed immaculately before, dying it pitch black constantly.

I was just beginning to find my way around in Norway at that time myself, and coming home to Welkom that Easter, I had bought presents for everyone. I even paid for renovation work on the family house, buying some nice furniture for my mother as well. Better times had arrived. Let’s celebrate.

Pappa would be fine, I thought. At age 63 then and still working in Pretoria, I felt it was, indeed, time for him to retire, come home, relax, and enjoy life. I would do every thing possible to ensure that my parents have a good life all their days. But my ever-resilient Pappa went back to work. His work was his life. Little did I know that it would be two years later the next time we meet again after the Easter holidays, 1996. He would be in an abattoir-like city council mortuary, lying supine in a coffin; eyes open wide, staring into oblivion. The autopsy cut sewed up ugly, unbefitting a once most elegant gentleman. In the end, we are just things, I thought … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)


Simon Chilembo
Oslo
Norway
March 08, 2013