Race and Sex: Paradigms of Supremacy
by Ras Tyehimba
July 03, 2003
The global rise of Eurocentrism has seen the concomitant rise of white supremacy and gender discrimination, the likes of which has never been seen before in human history The patriarchal archetype of Western civilization is rampant with racism and sexism. Racism can be defined as a systematic exclusion, discrimination, and oppression of a group of people based upon certain characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, size and shape of lips etc. Racism which is often more overt than sexism is far more than prejudice based on race, it is the creation of systems, mechanisms and institutions that deliberately seek to keep a people down on the basis of race. Racism is more than random individual acts. It is not merely 'I hate Afrikans' or 'I hate Indians,' but rather it is the power and capacity to systematically back up that thought with action. This racism has its genesis around the time of the slave trade in the 15th/16th century with race being used both as a pretext and a justification for the enslavement, degradation and extermination of indigenous people across the globe. This racism is quite different from the cultural chauvinism and ethnocentricity that existed before.
Sexism is the systematic discrimination and oppression of a particular sex, in this case the female sex. Sexism is clearly present in mostly all of the mainstream religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. For instance in the biblical creation myth of Adam and Eve, the woman is blamed for the downfall of 'man'. I choose to deal with racism and sexism together because they are both the products of the same patriarchal white supremacist paradigm that is the essence of Western civilization. It is this paradigm that has spewed destruction, oppression and corruption everywhere it has set its foot. Thus the inferior status occupied by the woman and the subsequent oppression meted out to her is justified and attributed to the divine will of God. And who would want to go against the infallible divine word of God as manifested by the Bible, the Church, the Pastor, the Koran etc. People have been 'psyched' to believe that it is blasphemous to challenge these so-called authorities and holy texts. It is a historical fact that the Christian Church was instrumental in creating and perpetuating the rationale that sustained the concept of superior/inferior divisions of humanity along the lines of race and sex. It was the Christian Church that sanctioned enslavement of the 'pagan' people and in fact the first slave ship was named the SS Jesus Christ of Lubeck.
According to the esteemed historian John Henrick Clarke "It is too often forgotten that when the Europeans gained enough maritime skill, and gun power to conquer most of the world, they not only colonized the bulk of the world's people but they colonized the interpretation of history itself. Human history was rewritten to favor them at the expense of other people. The roots of modern racism can be traced to this conquest and colonization."
Racism/white supremacy has now reached new peaks during the processes of colonialism and neo-colonialism and even now where the form of oppressors have changed, the oppression remains. To get an understanding of the extent of the scourge of white supremacy (white over brown over black) one only has to look at who constitutes the developed countries versus who constitutes the (under) developing countries. Who are the world powers that impose themselves on everyone else? The developed countries are white and conversely the majority of (under) developing, so called 'third world' countries are non-white. This is no accident. The wealth of all the developed countries have been attained from the resources (both natural and human) of less physically developed countries by often resorting to murder, trickery and violence.
Generally speaking, it has now become politically incorrect to be overtly racist. The worldly powers that be perpetuate illusions of 'one love', 'rainbow people', 'multi-ethnic/multi-cultural society', 'national unity' etc. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the concept one love, this very attractive expression (like the rest) is often used to mask injustice and oppression and maintain the current status quo of white supremacy. Even though people say often that race does not matter to them, when push comes to shove, a different story often immerges. Such illusions of 'one love' are dangerous because they give the impression that everything is smooth and harmonious and therefore ignoring the oppressive reality of many people. If a person discusses race and racism (far less discuss sexism), the person will be automatically branded racist. So colorblindness is encouraged on all fronts resulting in superficial ideas that all people are the same except for certain different characteristics like hair and skin color. At the surface level this might seem very enticing and attractive, but deeper analysis reveals that this only encourages ignorance of historical experiences of people that are very essential for their development and a proper understanding of themselves. It is a historical fact that different peoples have had different experiences, therefore their needs in some aspects will naturally be different. This is especially highlighted by the failure of European education, religion and politics to deal adequately with the unique needs of non-white people.
One giant misconception is that racism and sexism can be individually wished away. But no matter how many 'abracadabras' people mutter, racism and sexism won't disappear into thin air. How can such things simply disappear when they have been imbedded in us for centuries? We are being constantly bombarded by racist/sexist myths via the media, via the educational systems, via organized religion, via our family. So much that most people are not even aware of it. And because some people are not experiencing it directly, it is hard for them to relate and understand the quantum of oppression and discrimination that certain people face on a day-to-day basis. Who feels it, knows it. For example white people often can't understand the white privilege that is reserved for them and if they do they just ignore it. It is also equally difficult for them to understand racism properly because they are not experiencing racism firsthand. Likewise, males have great difficulty in understanding the nature of sexism and their own role in it because they lack the direct experience of this oppression. So most of these people can do no better than perpetuate patronizing attitudes without properly understanding their own role in the oppressive cycle and what they can do to curb it.
Understanding certain myths that have often been deliberately created to maintain a certain (dis)order is very essential to understanding ourselves and the world at large. For example, in Trinidad and Tobago, an island in the Caribbean where I currently reside, there is a gigantic myth that Afrikan people are not very good at business. Examining this carefully would reveal that after emancipation from chattel slavery Afrikans refused to work on the plantations any longer and so the colonial authorities began bringing in East Indians to work on the plantations in a process called indentureship. Deliberate policies were concocted to keep the Indians and Afrikans divided so that unity against the common colonial master would be difficult. After indentureship had officially ended, East Indians were given a lot of land and more people including Syrians, Lebanese and Chinese were brought in (and treated favorably) to act as a buffer between the lower classes and the colonial population. Despite the fact that a lot of Afrikans entered into business ventures, they were deliberately squeezed out by an unrelenting racist neo-colonialist ruled society, whose idea of a civilized society did not include successful Afrikan businessmen. Syrians, Lebanese and Chinese people became integrated into the ruling class following the social stratification of white over brown over black. The very few Afrikan businessmen that survived had to overcome massive hurdles (including disingenuous foreclosures on property) that were erected by the colonialist financial institutions, which fear the possibility of blacks gaining any sort of power. Often such issues can't be discussed openly without accusations being made by reactionary elements of 'dwelling in the past'.
I'm not writing to argue that males and females are totally the same, because I don't think that they are. Rather, they have complementary roles. The restricting of the female principle is a characteristic of a patriarchal/male-dominated society that certainly was not one of ancient indigenous societies. The role of women in developing a nation is very important and it is often said that a nation can rise no higher than the level of their women. It is also said that once you teach a woman you teach a nation, because she will pass on that knowledge to her children. This is important because before a woman can nurture consciousness in others she must first nurture it in herself. Women must explore the unique capabilities and powers of their divine femininity and be guided by the love, integrity, intuition and sensuality that lie there within.
Amon Hotep in an article titled Developing Woman stated, "Women must not see themselves as opposition to men, just their equal. Women should seek out the strengths and powers of their own feminine nature. This male-dominated world has taught that strength and power can only be derived from the masculine nature and through masculine expression. Nothing can be further from the truth. True strength and power can only be derived from the harmony that comes from free men and women."
It is true that our females are no longer celebrated; they are degraded and saturated with the poisonous self hatred of male ignorance and arrogance. For example women who don't look a certain way or don't conform to certain Eurocentric notions of beauty are made to feel inferior and less than. So the essence of a woman - her feminine divinity is ignored, and thus the whole world suffers. The cosmic creation dance of the male and female energies is not reflected in the world because certain fools thought/think it wise to ignore the feminine aspect. This imbalance is largely responsible for the societal ills, wanton destruction of flora and fauna and environment pollution seen across the globe. It is typical male arrogance that thinks that everything can be controlled and conquered though brute physical force. It is this ignorant male arrogance that is responsible for unleashing onto the world the likes of George Bush, Ian Smith, King Leopold, Cecil Rhodes, Mussolini, Hitler and a host of other globetrotting male megalomaniacs. It must be understood that superiority complexes along the lines of race and sex have caused complementary inferiority complexes to become imbedded in the psyche of the beneficiaries. Notions of inferiority are common among and even propagated by members of the oppressed class, whether it be black people, women, or both.
Furthermore, despite the best attempts by Eurocentric pseudo-science to prove otherwise, it has now been proved beyond reasonable doubt that humanity started in Afrika. It is now understood by many that everyone originated from a common Afrikan ancestor and that different racial characteristics came about as people trekked out to different parts of the globe and their bodies changed over time to suit the unique climatic conditions. This information should be beneficial to some people especially as it is likely to encourage discussions about race and racism and the impact it has had on the world. It is very imperative that in aiming towards a higher level of humanity, reasoning about sexism and racism be encouraged and not swept under the carpet. Despite the good intentions of people there are no shortcuts or substitutes for reasoning through certain key issues (that affect us all directly or indirectly) in order to arrive at a higher level of understanding.
Response from Rootsie
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