As I sit on the sofa in the living room watching the verdict for the execution of an innocent unarmed teenager, being declared
White police officer shoots unarmed black man. What does the media say? ‘Thugs’, ‘criminals’, ‘gang related’.
Black men being stopped and searched. What does the media say? ‘Thugs’, ‘criminals, ‘gang related.’
Asian, Arab and Muslim men being stopped and searched. What does the media say? Terrorist.
White man shoots dead 9 black people. What does the media say? Mental illness.
See the difference?
Why is it that the police and the media are able to paint a story with a different brush? Why are people so blind to what has been happening in what is supposed to be ‘the United States of America?’ United? I think not.
Why are some black people just as blind? It’s like we choose to be blind as we’re told to shy away from talking about racism because it’s ‘too sensitive’. Or it’s because we’re too scared of being seen as the racist instead. I posted the following images on Facebook, in response to the Charleston shootings, and as I expected, people reacted.
One of my black friends sent me a long message expressing how she didn’t like what I posted and why. Now she’s entitled to her opinion as everybody is, but what got to me the most, is how she was so fast to accuse me of ‘attacking white people’. She didn’t even bother to ask me what my intentions were.
Why are we as black people so quick to judge each other, yet when a white person says something we agree instantly? Take this video for example, another black friend posted this and lo and behold, other black facebookers (myself included), posted.
It’s like some of us need a white person to acknowledge the problem before its ok for us to make a racial statement on social media. This time, I didn’t do this. I posted this video a day after telling my audience exactly what I thought about Obama, followed hours later, by those pictures – all to demonstrate the imbalance of the representation and treatment of ‘coloured’ people, compared to Caucasian people. Is this really so bad that I should be accused of attacking?
Let me make this clear, I do not hate white people. I dislike the fact that we are living in a world where a white supremacist system uses the social construct of race to divide us, which is then perpetuated by the police and by the media. I have not heard one news reporter question this. Think about what you see on TV. Sometimes I feel like we’re living in 1984 – and I don’t mean the time era, I mean the novel. For those who aren’t familiar with this dystopian novel, it’s set in a society where freedom does not exist. The political party ‘Big Brother’ controls everything, and I mean everything. Telly screens in the workplace, in public places – even in your own home, watching you like hawks to ensure you turn a blind eye to oppression. Yes the society we live in now isn’t as extreme as this, but it’s not a million miles off.
It has got to a point where we have to ask ourselves why? Why are we living in a society where a system works to divide us based on race? Why is the media perpetuating rather than challenging this? Why does the media choose to label Muslims as terrorists and black people as criminal gang members, yet when a white person commits mass murder the media glosses over it and says ‘mental illness’. Really? Ok. Are we supposed to just sit there and nod in front of the TV box?
It seems there are still some black people within our communities who have the ‘post-slave master syndrome’ and this is why we continue to blame each other or accuse each other of making the issue worse. My friend perceived my actions as ‘adding to the problem’, yet she had no solution to offer apart from calling for ‘black and white people to unify’.
I’m sorry but what? Black people can barely unite with each other let alone with other races, so to say that is just laughable. A lot of us still need to learn to love ourselves first. How can all Americans unite when American society doesn’t even love, respect and most importantly, acknowledge ‘coloured people’? I’ve been told to stop living in the past but why does no-one say this to Holocaust victims, or to British people who continue to commemorate both world wars which may I remind you, broke out because Britain couldn’t keep itself out of political tensions and alliances – hmmm sound familiar today? I bet so.
Yet, when it comes to slavery and colonisation we’re told to forget these historical events. Excuse me? You want us to forget what white supremacy has done to our people? Why? Because there’s no minute silence to encourage us to remember, no national recognition to make us reflect? Because there’s none of that we think it’s ok to tell each other to forget? Or do we want to kid ourselves into thinking that we’re living in a post-racial world? Sorry but this is not a post-racial world we’re living in. We are not accepted in the way we like to think. We wear suits to look ‘presentable’ or put chemicals in our hair and skin to conform to European beauty standards, or we get the highest education possible to prove our intelligence, but this is not enough – the same way Muslims are seen as terrorists regardless of their character.
I was told that by posting those pictures that I’m ‘segregating’. So am I not supposed to say anything and just stay ignorant? I was told that ‘black people need to stop playing the victim’. So, if your family member was gunned down by the police, you’re just going to ignore it and say I’m not playing the victim here? Whether we like it or not we are the victims – victims of a system that refuses to even acknowledge that America was built on the blood of Africans – and not to forget the native Indians who were slaughtered to make way for this.
The black community carries deep and painful wounds only black people can truly understand. Telling me to stay silent is like me putting TCP on my wounds every day – and we know what that feels like. Excruciating . So what will we do? Talk to each other, or let the silence scream louder than our internal pains…
– Eunice –
As a platform for black voices, this is a place to be celebrated. It is the only museum of it’s kind in place and see for yourselves the untold story of our people.
Location: Windrush Square, Brixton, London, SW2 1EF
Here are the photos we took of the archive! This museum has a library which can be accessed at certain times – check the website for more details. It also has a shop and a café. Me and Ogechi spent hours in deep discussion with a man working in the café who happened to be reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Soon others were drawn into our conversations and we pretty much ended up being kicked out at the closing hour…P.S to the lovely brothers enlightening us, we shall meet again muhahaha!
So, come along and re-discover a lost history. Seek, learn and teach!
– Eunice and Ogechi –
There are 54 countries in Africa (islands included) so why does the media continue to portray it like a country? The generalisation of Africa needs to stop. Why? Because it’s creating a misleading representation of Africa and African people which is being accepted by the public audience who watch read or listen to the news. Generalising Africa undermines the essence of its cultural identity – an identity met with little or ignorant understanding.
A woman working in a Catholic school returned from her missionary duties in Kenya. She returned to find angry parents who didn’t want her to teach at the school anymore. Why? Ebola.
As we now know, Liberia is Ebola free. Sierra Leone will be free in ‘a matter of weeks’, according to the UN Ebola chief. Cases have fallen dramatically it’s barely in the news but, let’s remind ourselves that the three countries heavily affected by this virus were Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All are situated in WESTERN Africa. And Kenya? EASTERN Africa. In fact it’s 5900km (3474 miles) away. To put that into perspective that’s further than the distance between England and where I’m from – Ghana.
The distance between Ghana and England? 4994km (3072 miles). See how VAST the continent is? Why could those parents not see this vastness? Pure ignorance. It’s clear they perceive the entire continent to be a place of death and disease. Think about what you see or what you have seen on TV. Is it the same old images of a poor, defenceless, hunger struck Africa, where everyone lives in mud huts?
What about the other side of Africa – its natural beauty, its rich and diverse culture, its buzzing nightlife – yes there are bars, restaurants and clubs in African countries. I don’t deny that there’s famine or disease but this is not the case for all 54 countries in the continent. So why should the media make it seem so?
The so called ‘lazy labelling’ of Africa by the media is a deliberate way of misleading people into perceiving the continent in a negative light. What is so difficult about specifying the African country of the continent you are reporting about? You might be thinking so what? What’s the big deal? When you combine the fixated images of poor, starving and diseased Africans with little attention paid to specifying the country or countries affected, you at the receiving end, begin to form a biased view of Africa.
A few months ago, Ogechi told me that during her biology lecture, her class were looking at cystic fibrosis, and the lecturer asked, “What environment factors contribute to disease?” One student answered, “Africa, because it has a lot of bacteria….” This is exactly the ignorant perspective of Africa too many people in society have today. How so? Well for starters, cystic fibrosis is a common autosomal recessive disorder usually found in populations of white Caucasian descent, such as those of Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, it is predominantly a European disease, not African. Ogechi insisted the lecturer made this clear, yet the student still answered with Africa. Why? Because of the same degrading images she sees via the media. This is how she sees Africa. Instead of thinking according to biological fact, she answered based upon the media’s perception of the continent which has then influenced her perception. This is the power the media has over the mind.
Cast your minds back to the Band AID 30 Ebola single. How dare Bob Geldof write such lyrics – ‘There is no peace and joy in west Africa this Christmas’. Excuse me? Again, throughout the crisis there were only THREE countries since February 2014 that were affected. Aside from the eight cases in Nigeria, six in Mali and one in Senegal, the rest of Africa was EBOLA FREE. Now, as we know these countries are clear of the virus.
So why did Geldof write ‘West Africa’? Is the region of West Africa made of three countries? No. Ghana is well within the western region yet it has always been Ebola free, exactly like its neighbors, Ivory Coast, Togo and Burkina Faso as well as the other nine countries in the region. Geldof could have written, ‘There will be no peace with Ebola this Christmas’. Simples. I thought of that in 10 seconds flat. Don’t see why he couldn’t. For someone who has always wanted to help the suffering, I’m (still) surprised and disappointed to see that he doesn’t truly understand Africa for what it is. Even he has fallen into the trap of generalization.
Fuse ODG, real name Nana Richard Abiona – a key Afro-beats artist who has bought Ghanaian flavors to the British music scene, turned down the opportunity to sing as part of the charity single. He said,
“I pointed out to Geldof the lyrics I did not agree with, such as the [line]… ‘There is no peace and joy in west Africa this Christmas”…. “For the past four years I have gone to Ghana at Christmas for the sole purpose of peace and joy. So for me to sing these lyrics would simply be a lie.”
Fuse’s answer is the perfect example between the African and the non-African British public being misled by the media. Fuse has been to Ghana, the majority of British non-Africans have not. Perhaps they should go and set foot on African soil, feel the African sun beating down, help themselves to mangoes growing on trees and go SEE for themselves what the media never tries to show them.
“That image of poverty and famine is extremely powerful psychologically” Fuse explained.
“With decades of such imagery being pumped out, the average westerner is likely to donate £2 a month or buy a charity single that gives them a nice warm fuzzy feeling; but they are much less likely to want to go on holiday to, or invest in, Africa. If you are reading this and haven’t been to Africa, ask yourself why.”
Fuse was spot on. What some African countries need is investment not charity. It’s as simple as that. Why is the British public content with donating when they could be investing so maybe one day, they wouldn’t need to donate anymore? Think about it.
It seems to me that we are living in a world where it is choosing to halt Africa from thriving economically and even visually. Look at the video Geldof released with the single. It had a West African woman – again no country specified and she was suffering. She was on her deathbed yet she was still being filmed. If this was England no such thing would occur. When the first white American/British victims (I say white, not to pull out the race card, but to show you the unfair representation between white American/British aid workers and black Africans infected by the virus), were diagnosed with Ebola did you see them on their death beds? No. You saw them all being whisked away in an ambulance and being placed on the first plane back to America or the UK. See the difference?
You might say Geldof allowed for such images to be shown to the public to create sympathy for the victims so they are more likely to donate. What is more important, a person’s dignity and the right to die in dignity or to gain sympathy votes? This was a dying woman not a dying animal. Why is it that they abandoned respect for her but not for the Americans and British who were infected with the virus?
Ask yourself this question. Why is the media trying to influence your thinking of Africa in the ways I have shown you? Why? Don’t be fooled by what you see, for George Orwell once wrote, ‘the people will believe what the media tells them they believe.’
So what do you think? Is society’s perception of Africa and its people influenced by the media?
– Eunice –
From north to south, west and east, from the tight Afro textured hair of the west and south, to the loose curls of the north and east, Africa has a dynamic and diverse sense of beauty.
From the ebony smooth and silky African to the cocoa brown skin to the caramel and whitest African, it’s hard to see why our identity as Africans, separates us and thus, so much hatred for my skin yet, it’s not a sin.
Our beautiful beaming eyes – realise the lies that coincide with society’s perception of acceptance and righteousness. My full lips and wide nose and round face is not necessarily the case on the cover of these magazines which seems obscene, why am I not seen as a beautiful queen?
Why is African beauty not magnified like European beauty? African beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes, no need to bat your eyelids, I’m tryna let you know what time it is.
In the words of India Arie: I am not my hair I am not my skin I am not your expectations no, no I am not my hair I am not my skin I am a soul that lives within
African beauty just like the continent, full of everlasting resources and riches, from Ghana the Gold Coast, to Nigeria – the hub of oil, to Kenya with safaris, to Egypt and Morocco and the hub of algebra. Maths and science created by this great continent yet our rulers seem ever so incompetent!
Africa is seen as poor and underdeveloped, who told you this? This is blasphemy! This ain’t history, this is a forged folktale like the Greeks would sow onto travesties to preserve the ‘history’. I’m here to tell you Africa was an empire to be messed with. Why do you think the Americans and the British came? Y’all think this is a game! Let’s be real, because of US, we were made slaves, tortured and beaten while their ancestors were living in caves.
No I ain’t ashamed of my continent. No matter how hard you tried to hide the history and beauty, and to make Africa look ugly, you will never succeed because Africa is honey so sweet and sugary you can’t get enough of it, yet the truth is so bloody. I ain’t no dummy.
Don’t ever forget Africa is beauty and I am African royalty, I rule with authority, I show off flamboyantly this is my specialty don’t mistake this for novelty, this is more than poetry, I am proud of African beauty.
I hope you can see me with respect not just the look of my booty, it is my legal duty to address the masses if not then I fear my skin will end up mocked in classes – oh wait that’s already happened it’s actually depressing, we are out here stressing , got my people stressing we in need of a medicine. Beauty should be defined within, not just by the colour of my skin, word to Dr King.
– Ogechi – ©