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Race or capital: Where does the problem lie for the post-independent state?

22 Aug 2021 at 08:10hrs | Views
Many would like to believe that all the atrocities faced by people of color during slavery, colonialism and apartheid were just but a matter of European economic interests. But very few are willing to concede to the view that colonialism, slavery and apartheid was in and of itself directed to Africans because they were blacks. Despite the need for cheap labor and so on, I maintain that colonialism and slavery was embedded in racism before anything else. ‘People of color suffered at the hands of whites because they were just black. Africans were colonised, enslaved and raped mainly because the European white male felt he was more superior.'

For so long the world has relied on radical political economic theories to unpack human relations and especially race relations. As a result some serious questions have been left unanswered due to theoretical limitations. Till date, radical political economic theories are still failing to understand human relations beyond capital and labour value chains.  Topics like racism, hate crimes and even ethnic violence have persisted without mitigation due to the absence of appropriate theoretical tools. In this article, I argue that Africa made a mistake by abstractly borrowing Marxism and class theories to approach colonialism. I submit that people of color were not enslaved and colonised because they were the working class or the peasants, instead I submit that Africans were oppressed because they were black.

Before we go further, I want you to keep these questions in mind; if by any chance all human beings were white would we have undergone colonization, slavery or apartheid? Better yet, if you and I were not black would we have been sold into slavery or set for pass laws that prohibited us from buying good quality alcohol, laws that prohibited us from using the same public toilets as the white race? These are just random questions that l want you to consider before you set your mind on reading this article.

It is true that the colonizer needed labor from the black man, there's absolutely no doubt that land was an important factor in the colonial spreadsheet but what all of us should be asking is, why black land in the first place? In fact if we say colonialism was just about land and labour why therefore did the colonizer continue to develop sadistic tendencies which in many instances were propagated for no financial gain whatsoever. Later into apartheid, we see how most of the laws worked on sending men to gold mines to work and labor for peanuts. But, keep this in mind, it was the black man's job to do the heavy tasks, it was a race thing for the white man to believe that the black man was supposed to live a low life, it was a race thing and not an economic thing to think that African blacks would be the best people to oppress. It was also a race and not an economic thing to think that the white race is more deserving of a better education than a black man. It's a race thing again to believe that the white man had the right to vote and a black man didn't. Furthermore, it's a race thing to think you can live in a better neighborhood and eat better food and get a better job than the black man. So you see dear reader, the race issue has always been the reason that inspired apartheid, the belief that the white race is better and is superior.

Let me ask you this, if race was not the factor that inspired apartheid how do you explain the current wave of racism were Gorge Floyd (USA) can just be killed in the street (not in any plantation or factory). Were Gorge Floyd gets killed by a group of white police officers who are neither his employers or owners but are just acting on the view that Gorge Floyd is black and therefore his life does not matter. I believe we are fighting racism right now. It is not the work of the white ancestors that we are experiencing racism now, rather it is the work of the current racists who are making sure that the system of racism continues unabated.

I want us to reach the conclusion that, racism was a huge factor in determining whether or not colonialism, slavery and apartheid would take place. Perhaps if the African region was comprised of non-melanin beings then we would have taken a different historical turn. Supposedly one of harmony and peaceful means. But, because the continent was latent with blacks, the means were not harmonious nor were they peaceful. Race was used as a tool to determine the superiority of the white race. Race was the main instrument of apartheid, colonialism and slavery as it enabled the dominance of the British imperialists. Let me leave by pointing out that, this article does not in any way say that all white people are racists, the article agrees that race is a form of politics played by some sections of society. And as such there are some sections of the white community who believed and still believe in race politics. It is on that note that I find it necessary to point out traces of racism in our society and in the process expose these racists hiding behind blind spots of political theory.

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Savannah Shannon Smith- is a historian who has avid interests in identity politics and social policy.

Source - Savannah Shannon Smith
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