To any African saying #Blacklivesmatter is not their concern: Racism doesn’t care if you are African or African American. You will still face injustices in your African country because racism has made us believe that White people and everything White is Superior.
This week has been hard for so many Black people especially our African American Family. I’m taking this time to post about what I am feeling: so many feelings but mostly ANGER.
Racism is a virus that needs to be eradicated. It is so far reaching. As someone who has experienced both overt and covert racism, this is something that I talk and think about all the time. As a teen, I lived in a community that was very anti-black and valued whiteness so much that microaggressions and blatant racist behavior became a normal thing for me. I couldn’t speak out because I was a minority. Experiences like that and many others have shaped the way I view the world.
I am an African, a black African. And there are many Africans who think that there is little to no racism in our African countries. They think that this #BLACKLIVESMATTER is an African American battle. But that is so far from the truth. Racism is very alive in our communities and it is so ingrained in most of us that we do not even notice it. Racism in Africa is believing that White people and everything White is Superior.
Racism in Africa is why:
- We ignorantly retort to all lives matter so we can appease our White friends/connections.
- We witness establishments in Africa give attention to Bazungu and then turn around and treat us like we don’t matter.
- We prefer to listen to country music and judge hip hop, R&B, reggae, dance hall, etc. Even when the message is the same.
- We have and prefer White/non-Africans in management positions in business establishments.
- We look down on our local cuisines and food.
- We utter things like ‘I need to go to America or [insert any western country] to live a better life’
- We cut our hair with the excuse that it is hard to manage/looks improper but let students of non-African descent keep their hair.
- We see and experience police brutality but remain indifferent.
- We see how our African governments treat Africans citizens like shit.
- We go through the Ugandan education system and we can tell you all about Canadian prairies
- We are aware how a lighter shade in complexion grants us entry into certain spaces.
- Almost everyone wants to work, volunteer or at least intern with the UN, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision.
- We bend over backwards to grab the attention of and entertain our white guests in hopes that they will ‘see us’ even to the destruction of our fellow Africans.
- We work so hard to get an ‘accent’ because we know the privilege it affords us.
- When we go abroad, we distance ourselves from our African American kin because ‘we are not like them’.
- We don’t consider ‘abroad’ as Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan or any African country aside from South Africa
- We prefer to marry men or women lighter than us because God forbid, the child is darker than the parent.
- It is easier for a white person to open a company/NGO. When a black person does, we are thoroughly interrogated especially when it comes to the source of funds.
- We would rather have a White guest speaker than a Black speaker for a graduation, conference, evangelistic meeting, etc.
- We jokingly or irritably say ‘my hair is like steel wire. If only I had munyerere’
- We find that western passport holders can easily enter our countries but we have to prove ourselves worthy of western visas.
- We doubt a Black person’s credibility until they mention their ties to USA, UK, etc.
- We casually dismiss black pain, suffering and death because we’ve been told we are strong and have tough skin as compared to Bazungu.
- We think being called a Northerner or South Sudanese is an insult especially when we are not.
- We know proximity to Whiteness: spouses, children, best friends, lovers, coworkers, classmates will grant us access to certain places and things.
- We dismiss or know little about our history but somehow know all about the Third Reich, the American revolution (minus the African Americans), the Berlin Ball, the Great Wall of China etc.
- We treat our brothers and sisters in the north (of Uganda) and South Sudan like shit until western media tells us they have the most gorgeous skin!
- We ask ‘abadugavu, ani yatuloga?’ regarding our lack of economic growth and development.
- We are indifferent seeing Black bodies suffering, impoverished, poverty stricken but immediately feel empathy when a White body is shown in similar situations.
To any African saying #Blacklivesmatter is not their concern: Racism doesn’t care if you are African or African American. You will still face injustices in your African country because racism has made us believe that White people and everything White is Superior. I’m praying that this is the year we as Africans realize that Whiteness and gate-keeping Whiteness does NOT benefit us.
I am Angry. But I’m also calling upon Africans and anyone who follows me to join the fight against racism. Thinking that our struggles are not linked to African American struggles divides us. We all know that there is power in numbers. Let us, Africans, join the fight against racism because the change coming will affect all of us for the better. Their Liberation is our liberation.
To support black people and educate yourself, follow the links below:
- Follow this link to get more reading resources on racism and how to Understand it as a Ugandan.
- Trevor Noah put into words what most people are failing to understand about the fight for black freedom in this video.
- No White Saviors is a Ugandan organisation committed to dismantling the harmful ways in which whiteness presents itself on the African continent and non-white communities all around the world. They also have a podcast here.
- The Conscious Kid is committed to educating white people and parents about their privilege and how they can use it for the good of their fellow men through diverse educational materials.
- Rachel Cargle is offering lectures on the same topic for people committed to learning to dismantle racism.
- And lastly, actions speak louder than words, so donate what you can to the protests.
Until next time, FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT.
10 thoughts on “#BLACKLIVESMATTER: How Racism Manifests Itself in Africa”
Thank you so much for using your platform to inform and educate. This is something that needs to be said. An argument I, a young adult, have had with older relatives countless times. Again, thank you!
On Sun, Jun 7, 2020 at 10:16 PM A Kitchen In Uganda wrote:
> Sophie posted: “To any African saying #Blacklivesmatter is not their > concern: Racism doesn’t care if you are African or African American. You > will still face injustices in your African country because racism has made > us believe that White people and everything White is ” >
This is a timely and heartfelt post, Sophie. I can relate to your anger, I’m angry myself and I’ve talked about this in my recent post. As a follower and reader of your blog, I appreciate the links you shared here in order to support one another. I’ll check them out.
Thank you Khaya.
Thanks for this Sophie. Xx
We have a lot of work to do.
Thanks so much for this, this fight comes back to us as well. So we can also find peace and comfort in our communities, own our identity more and hold our leaders accountable for their actions.
That is absolutely true!
White privilege is alive and kicking in Uganda and sometimes I ask myself what I’ve done to deserve being treated so well? However, what is interesting is how Uganda has such a great culture of hospitality, regardless of where you are from and that goes beyond skin colour. Welcomes and greetings are big part of why this country is a delight to live in. Uganda has been singled out for her welcoming attitude to refugees, for example.
I have cringed at many of the points that you’ve made. Sometimes random strangers come up to me and want to have their photo taken together. My friends and I will get preferential treatment because people assume that we have money (but no-one likes being used so that preferential treatment has a negative aspect to it which is very uncomfortable).
It’s quite common for expat friends to be invited to make a speech at a wedding, even when they barely know the people getting married! It’s embarrassing for those of us who just want to be ourselves and melt into the background. It’s also embarrassing when we feel those actions will reinforce the stereotypes. The assumptions are many and it’s tiring to challenge them (but we try!) Every week I get emails from Ugandans who want me to connect them with my Muzungu friends. Why? I ask them.
On a positive note, one initiative I’m really enjoying being a part of is promoting domestic and regional tourism. When I started writing about travel and safaris in Uganda, it was definitely ‘just a white thing.’ I love how that is evolving.
Thanks for your great piece Sophie.