AFRICANGLOBE – The race card is back in the news and this time we hope that we debunk the superiority complex of people who believe that their skin colour, eyes and hair type make them God’s best gifts to creation, thereby giving them an edge over Black people.
Recently a story about the Belgian newspaper De Morgen, which denigrated United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by photoshopping (digitally altering) their images to make them look like apes (see also Newspaper apologises for showing Obamas as apes).
Since last Saturday there has been an international outcry regarding these images which are not only sickening but have once more brought to the fore race and class issues.
We thank Nigerian writer Chika Unigwe, resident in Belgium, for alerting the online community to these deplorable pictures which are not just an attack on the Obamas, but on all Black people past, present and future.
As someone born in racist Rhodesia and reading literature that always portrayed Black people as second class citizens even in their own countries, I have always argued that they can call us anything else, but when they depict us as apes and/or call us “n*ggers” or “kaffirs”, then they would have crossed the line.
Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” of March 24 wrote in part: “A Belgian newspaper apologised Monday following an outcry over an image showing US President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with their faces photoshopped to look like apes. The image was printed alongside another that implies that President Obama sells marijuana. The images appeared in Flemish newspaper De Morgen’s Saturday edition, in a satire section called “The Obama Herald”.
The paper joked that Russian President Vladmir Putin sent the photos …
“The apology from De Morgen’s editors came in an article entitled, ‘Is De Morgen racist?’ We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer accepted and that in this way it could be the subject of a joke.”
Whoever buys into the apology by De Morgen’s editors should know that this was as insincere as others before it, for this is not the first time that savages has used their so-called freedoms of speech and expression to denigrate Black people.
Racism against Black people is alive and kicking all over the world, and it’s time that we stop glossing over their meaningless apologies when we know full well that it will be repeated as many times in future.
On October 25, 2013 a story of a South Korean cigarette company KT&G pulling off an advertisement of their new brand of cigarettes “This Africa” that depicted Africans as monkeys.
According to The Telegraph newspaper of the UK, KT&G, which is “South Korea’s largest tobacco firm, announced that it will pull an advertising campaign after accusations of racism. Posters across the country featured monkeys dressed as news reporters declaring: “Africa is coming”, as part of a “This Africa” line. The campaign was widely criticised by the public online, with one forum user commenting that “they basically turned cigarette-making Africans into cigarette-making monkeys . . . isn’t this racism?”
“The cigarette packet depicted two monkeys roasting tobacco leaves over a fire, roasting and drying them in the “traditional” African manner.
“The African Control Alliance issued a statement calling for the withdrawal of the ad, saying: ‘We are deeply offended by KT&G’s shameless and insulting use of this mocking imagery,’ it views the ads as ‘at a minimum culturally insensitive.’
“It went on to say that mocking Africa to sell a product that causes death and disease is unacceptable and we will not stand for the exploitation of Africa by tobacco companies.”
KT&G in turn said the controversy was “regrettable” and that the adverts would be pulled down to “dispel concerns of racism”.
“To calm controversy caused by the company’s unintended message, KT&G is making a new advertisement. The negative reactions were totally unexpected as nobody raised the racism issue during the design process.
“Since this product contains leaves produced by the traditional African style, we only tried to adopt images that symbolise the nature of Africa . . . We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa,” said KT&G spokesperson.
In the early 90s US Communications Company Sprintnet was also forced to pull off an advert depicting Africans as monkeys communicating on the phone with the outside world. This was notwithstanding that other continents were represented by pictures of real people.
The novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain mentions the term ‘n*gger” a record 219 times. Back then Black people in America were not only slaves, but they were also called by the derogatory term, “n*gger” just like Whites in southern Africa called us “kaffirs”.
In terms of censorship, “Huck Finn” is one of the most challenged books in the US, and in 2011, NewSouth Books released a new edition of the novel where “n*gger” was replaced by “slave”. Some critics argued that this was sanitising the story, but when you are on the receiving end, you don’t feel that way, but instead feel that this was a long overdue action to redress historical insults.
As head of state and government, President Obama has to do some balancing act just like he did in July 2009 when a White police officer arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates while he was trying to gain entry into his own home.
But for how long should this go on? When a Black teenage boy Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2012, President Obama said it could have been his son or himself because he knows the reality on the ground.
Black footballers playing in Europe always get racial taunts, so too do other Black professionals including two cabinet ministers in France and Italy.
However, Black people do not owe it to anyone to assert their God-given colour. They don’t owe anyone an apology if God desired them to be what they are and not what racists think they should be.
They also know that Black is beautiful and it is out of jealousy why they attack us.