The entire capitalist world stretching from Europe to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and of course – occupied Palestine – are all societies built on settler colonialism and institutional white supremacy. Anyone who knows even the slightest thing about any of that is not surprised by European racism against colonized peoples. Those who study and organize deeper around the subject are also aware of the fact institutional means even the communities targeted by institutional white supremacy are subject to people within their own communities adopting the posture of the white supremacist system against others within the colonized landscape.
An example of the latest is the responses coming from the African (Black) communities around these attacks against Asians. Lots of us are indicating a complete lack of empathy towards these attacks. Our rationale for this troubling mindset is the degree of anti-African sentiment and practices that exists within Asian communities.
Its not my intention or responsibility to defend Asians who practice white supremacy against African people. It’s a very complex history and situation. From the ever growing and contested presence of China throughout all of Africa, to the long standing tensions between inner city African communities in the U.S. and Europe and Asians who own and operate businesses within them, these issues have a long history. I myself grew up in an inner city community dominated by Asian grocers who despite the fact they depended upon our patronage, and watched us grow, consistently treated us in a criminalized fashion. So, without question, different segments of the Asian community in its relationship to Africa and Africans have much work to do.
African people also have much work to do regarding this question. First, we have to learn how to develop tools of analysis that extend beyond viewing everything through our trauma lenses. Everyone everywhere has an opinion, but very few of us are doing any scientifically based study and organizing around any of these questions. This shows in the shallowness of our perspectives.
First, like the African community and every other community, the Asian community isn’t monolithic. There are Chinese, Japanese, Koreans (North and South), Vietnamese, Hmong, Filipinos, etc. Many of us who grew up in those inner city communities lived right next door to Filipino families. Families that experienced similar hardships that we did in those communities. This is important to note because in 2020 its clearly no longer acceptable to have a simple race analysis of anything. Without question, Africans (and everyone else) needs to learn how to adopt a class analysis to guide our interpretation of what happens in this world. Its that class analysis that helped me realize that in the community like the one I grew up in, although the bulk of the businesses were Asian run, whenever other communities – whether Arab or even those Africans who established businesses – none of them ever had a sterling record of quality service and respect for the community. I was accused of stealing and mistreated by an African grocery store and it didn’t feel any better just because the people dehumanizing me look like me. In fact, it felt worse. The point is the reasons for this are driven by class conditions as well as racial ones.
In my view, the Asian Beauty Salon owners who mistreat Africans are the same as those African preachers who meet with and support the current empire president. They are the same as the multitudes of Africans running around here, like Kanye West, Bill Cosby, and plenty of other African celebrities, Faith leaders, politicians, and everyday people, who are criticizing African people and blaming us for our suffering conditions. I’m not going to single out Asians while ignoring my own people who betray us because I have a class analysis. Those people have nothing in common with us because their class interests align with this power structure, regardless of their race. For instance, have you ever wondered why the perception of China and Chinese people, Japan and Japanese people, isn’t exactly the same as the perception of the Philippines and Filipino people? Vietnam and Vietnamese people? The latter people don’t have the same prestige as the former Asian people do they? Why? Because the power of the countries dictates the respect the people within them receive. Since Africa is weak, that’s why we suffer the way we do.
This capitalist system is built on dehumanizing African people because for capitalism’s sake, Africa must be dehumanized. This strategy of ensuring everyone dumps on Africa/Africans is the only way the imperialists can ensure no one dares humanize us because once that happens, it can no longer be possible to mistreat us on a systemic level. And, once that’s not possible, the system that steals our human and material resources cannot function. In order to continue to perpetuate this system, every aspect of how everyone is educated in this society is geared towards dumping on African people. Again, even other Africans learn this. Look at the fallout from the Colin Kaepernick led protests against police terrorism. You couldn’t even count the number of Africans who lined up to parrot the capitalist system’s condemnations of the protests so that those Africans could gain favor from the master. If this is systemically how this society works, and there is endless evidence to confirm it is, why would Asians or anyone else be expected to behave differently?
Richard Pryor had an iconic (and now ironic) comedy routine in 1973. It was during the time when many Vietnamese who were aligned with the reactionary powers in Vietnam, who were losing the war, were coming to the U.S. In Pryor’s routine, he joked that the Vietnamese were lined up as they entered this country and “taught how to say the word n - - - - r so they can become good citizens!”
African people should know better than anyone that we don’t need to let ourselves become frontline troops for white supremacy. Its critical at this time that we remember that we really don’t know where coronavirus originated from. Most of you agreeing with the term “Chinese Virus” are operating based 100% on information you are receiving from the system that has lied to you your entire life. A major tactical reason that white supremacy works so well against African people is because the system continues to keep us disunified and our lack of unity makes us easy targets to pick off and oppress. Imagine if we as a united people, from Kenya to Kansas City, refused to take the bait and told the capitalist world “we have our issues with our Asian kin that we will continue to work out, but we refuse to let white supremacy use us as fodder against them.” Our ability to learn to adopt healthy platforms like this will begin to build the dignity that will prevent systemic white supremacy from being able to subjugate us as easy as it does. Pan-Africanism is the objective that brings that dignity in place for us and with that forward advancement in our path, we can end our own suffering. That will never happen as long as we are being played by the people stealing everything from us.
Its time for us to say no to white supremacy. We should decide not to adopt their racist line against Asian people. Doing so does nothing to advance us as a people. Besides, we shouldn’t be willing to help them do anything to anyone because no one knows better than us what happens in that scenario.