Until the black man learns his lessons, let him carry his cross and wallow in his misery.
In view of the unabating lynching of the black men in the United States of America (USA), I risk appearing as brutally insensitive to the plight of black people.
No, I am brutally honest. I think the events in the US are a wakeup call to all black people around the world. All over the world, black people are fast asleep in every sense you can imagine.
In Africa and its diasporas like the US, the transnational solidarities and intergenerational mandate for the pursuit of black emancipation as a lifetime commitment have been abandoned.
The freedom of the black race is no longer a priority to the black elite in Africa and the black civil rights movement in the Western world. Revolutionary and selfless leadership has become old-fashioned.
Everywhere, blacks have abdicated the virtue of revolutionary struggle in favour of social activism that draws inspiration and validation from the very neoliberal and supremacist structures that oppress us.
More fundamentally, blacks think that they can sub-contract their struggles to the neoliberal project that they see as the new medium for delivering their freedoms.
Black people’s mental and cultural universes are clogged with eurocentrism, coloniality, and consumerism. Some of our academics now even argue that consumerism is a space we can assert and celebrate our democracy and freedoms. This, amid, oceans of poverty and forests of slums that define Africa and its diaspora. The tomfoolery of the black race defies logic, but as they say the eyes are useless when the mind is blind. Indeed, the black mind is blind to its own history, culture, colour, and community.
As black people, we have a wealth of history that tells a good story about our collective revolutionary struggles through the decolonisation project.
Decolonisation is a product of the Bandug Conference in Indonesia in 1955 where Africans and Asians vowed to fight and defeat imperialism. The first tricontinental conference in Havana in 1966 further proclaimed decolonisation as a feasible resistance imaginary for the global south as constituted through race and colonial experience.
As a geo-political imaginary, the global south finds nuanced articulation through the lived experiences of the so-called people of colour that have been rejected by Euro-American empire.
The two conferences did not only create transcontinental solidarities between the Blacks, Asians, and Latinos, but they also reinforced decolonisation as the penultimate in bringing about the total liberation of Africa and the diaspora. These trans-affective solidarities saw black civil rights movement leaders like DuBois and Malcom X visit a number of Africans in deference to the decolonisation movement and worldview.
As a political and epistemic project, decolonisation is about the struggle to rehumanise the people of colour, particularly blacks who have suffered dehumanisation through slavery, colonialism, and free market fundamentalism.
Yet across the globe, black people are running away from decolonisation to seek shelter in the neoliberal project and accommodation in whiteness. Ironically, the matrices of coloniality are deep-seated in neoliberalism as the centre of the whiteness of power.
Across Africa and its diasporas, decolonisation is seen by the black elite as an archaic trope that has lost its revolutionary agency to free black people. Hypnotised by the narcotising spoonfuls of capitalist honey in the form of accumulation of wealth and copious consumption, the black elite in Africa and its diasporas have abdicated the duty of decolonial labour in favour of neoliberalism thus betraying the dreams freedoms for the black race.
Yet, the neoliberal project will never be able to articulate the black struggle because it is a product of enlightenment’s abyssal thinking of the dismemberment of the black race from the human family.
Therefore, black common sense would tell us that you can never free yourself using your master’s ideological tools that ensured your enslavement in the first instance.
The colour line of racism, long diagnosed by DuBois, is a line that ex-communicates the black race from humanity. It does not matter how long you have lived in the US or the UK or how many degrees you have as a black person, the humanity of the black person is discounted by scientific and systemic racism which are a major pillar of Western capitalism.
While neoliberalism presents human rights as universal, the reality of the black struggle is that of asserting our humanity in a colonial, modern, oppressive and Western-centric world.
The geo and biopolitics of Euro-American modernity has been based on racial hierarchies for over 400 years. Its neoliberal language of human rights, good governance, cosmopolitanism, and globalisation has worked to fool only the less discerning.
So, blacks need to return to the source. Decolonisation’s locus of enunciation is anti-racism, anti-capitalism, and black consciousness.
It confronts structural racism of the empire where blacks are denied opportunities, including their land and the minerals it habours. Black consciousness as a marker of those that have suffered dehumanisation is not reverse racism. On the contrary, it carries the symbolic signposts of historical memory as a lens of a struggle that is continuous because it seeks to transform systemic injustices. Black consciousness unites Africa and its diasporas and helps us to forge collective futures that transcend borders. Black consciousness gives us community in our nightmare of dislocation. It is about the realisation that we are divided by colonial borders, but our disenfranchisement by the empire is still the same whether you are in the global north or the south. Decolonisation believes in a sustained struggle based on the unity of black people across continents.
It views racism as systemic and structural and not just an event linked to the lynching of black men and women.
In fact, the lynching of black people is a metaphor of what has been going on for hundreds of years, even in so-called civilised world and post-independent Africa. By turning our backs to decolonisation, we as the black people have resigned our collective fate to civic protests as our armour against the empire.
Yet, our problem is bigger than protests because it needs a sustained cultural and political struggle for black emancipation based on a collective strategy that unites all black people in the agenda of self-empowerment and transformation. It’s a struggle that requires us to unlearn a lot of things.
We need to unlearn how we raise our children, what schools they attend, what books they read, and what television they consume. We need to unlearn what success is, what investment is, how we spend our money, where we spend our money, and what we spend it in. A lot of African presidents are billionaires.
They have become richer than their countries. A lot of black American celebrities are millionaires. Money is spent on yachts and hedonic life styles instead of transforming black communities and creating intercontinental solidarity projects that can create foundations for black lives and unleash black political and economic agency.
As such, decolonisation is not a part-time job. It is a life-time project, requiring a conscious transforming of the self and community from the bottom up. It is about changing our value system and inoculating ourselves from the grip of inferiority complex and the paltry benefits of consumerism and greed. We can never get this from protests. Protests can never dismantle the structure of racism and white supremacy.
They may appear efficacious for now, but in reality, they unmask a kind of black politics that is not only intellectually bankrupt, episodic, and reactive, but also haunted by a spectre of temporality that fails to speak to systemic racism as an enduring problem in our lives. It’s a kind of politics that shows how we as black people have failed in our inter-generational mandate of decolonial resistance as a continued struggle.
For this, the black race shall continue to pay the ultimate price. Martin Luther mourns all of us as black people from his grave.
Last Moyo is a professor of media and communication studies based in South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity.
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