Last week when I wrote my column on the ‘The Black Man’s Burden’, I wasn’t aware of the brazenly racist attack on Black African diplomats by Ambassador Dragos Tigau, the Romanian envoy to Nairobi.
First, I want to thank Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, for blowing the whistle on this sordid affair. Mr. Kamau lived in the West for many years and knows more than most the reality of naked anti-black racism.
What I found equally appalling was the calculated silence of Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs. Mr. Tigau’s abhorrent epithet is a matter of great public concern and shouldn’t have been left to so-called quiet diplomacy.
As I wrote last week, we as Black Africans are traumatized people because of the history of enslavement, colonization and globalization. White people remind us every day — in ways both large and small — of the hierarchy of races where they sit atop us.
White people believe they own the world and all that’s in it, and that the rest of us exist to serve them. The psyche of the complex of superiority by white people over Black, Asian and Native American peoples is ingrained at home, in schools and in the larger society. In turn, buying into these hierarchies, Arabs and Asians — and even many Latinos — have come to believe they are superior to people of Black African descent.
One of the saddest facts about White-concocted racial hierarchies is that many people of Black African descent have internalized them as a given fact. That’s why, for example, the news about Mr. Tigau calling Blacks monkeys was swept under the carpet until Ambassador Macharia blew the whistle on it.
Apparently, at a meeting of Eastern European and African diplomats in Nairobi, Mr. Tigau remarked that “we have been joined by the Africa Group” when a monkey was sighted on the premises. This remark should have earned a hard right to his face from one of the Black people present. But instead, no strong response was given to such a terrible bigot. This was shameful, inexcusable, and totally unacceptable.
What’s even more stunning is that some Black people, many of whom know better, have come to the racist’s defense. I was forced to call out my brother and friend, Senator Ledama Olekina of Narok, who came to the defense of the racist.
Senator ole Kina is a fine gentleman but on this, he must eat his words and delete the offending tweet. For someone who long lived in America, his conflation of ethnic exclusion in Kenya and White supremacy is mind-boggling. Apples aren’t oranges. It’s this whataboutism that makes me think Blacks have succumbed to racial hierarchies that put them at rock bottom, and keep them subjugated and dominated by Whites. Let’s not make racists feel good about racism.
I want to make a distinction between structural racism and casual racist bigotry. The two germinate from the same White supremacist racist tree but are slightly different. Structural racism is deliberate institutionalized discrimination on the basis of race within social, economic and political universes.
It’s a criminalization of the Black body, culture and personhood in the public and private squares usually with the explicit or implicit permission or policy of the state. Its purpose is to murder the Black spirit, emasculate the Black person and take away their humanity so that Whites and their power structures can dominate them for eternity.
Structural racism is then socialized across all sectors of society, including in the media and the parenting of White offspring.
Structural racism gives normalcy to casual racism. Casual racism is the throw-expression of an individual racial bigot who may not have power over an individual Black person but who feels entitled to grind a Black man’s face in the dirt – usually for the bigot’s evil pleasure. Romania is a poor backward Eastern European country, and so Mr. Tigau can’t really exercise real power over Blacks.
But he can hide under the skirt of European hegemony to insult and demean Blacks and get away with it because whiteness itself is power. Any White person, no matter how imbecilic, like Mr. Tigau, thinks he’s superior to Blacks. Garbage racists like Mr. Tigau are most common within the lower rungs of White society.
Mr. Tigau, whose visage is a little hard on the eyes, is clearly an undereducated bigot in spite of being a diplomat.
His racist language is primordial and was more common as part of after-dinner racist jokes under classical colonialism. Racists have got smarter and employ clever language, dog whistles, or stereotypes to advance White supremacy.
The more stupid ones like Donald Trump hiss like snakes. What we can’t do as Black is to appease racists, or be apologists for them. We must confront every racist act, or utterance — everywhere. Don’t laugh if a white person calls you a monkey or nigger. Knock his teeth out.