Wednesday, 17 February 2016 22:02

Black Humanity in an Anti-Black Society

Written by Lindsay Maasdorp
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A group of University of Cape Town students erected a shack on campus during a protest over accommodation on 15 February 2016. Picture: Natalie Malgas/EWN.With the current upsurge in campus protests and a wave of condemnation on social media and other public platforms for the destruction caused by students at UCT, this article which was written days before the new escalation in protests is at the very least an alternative perspective to the opinions and narrative that we are bombarded with on mainstream media and on social media.
The article asks us to contemplate the question: Can a Black ‘Person’ be Human in an Anti-Black Society?


Black Humanity in an Anti-Black Society
by Lindsay Maasdorp

It is quite distressing that moving from a black radical position to an anti-black self-hating sell-out has become normal in the ‘post-apartheid’ apartheid society. Once champion of workers’ rights, Cyril Ramaphosa is implicated in their killing at Marikana. One time proponent of Black Consciousness, Mamphela Ramphele quickly became the head of the World Bank. Steve Biko was of course right, being against apartheid, does not mean you are necessarily on the side of black self-determination. If there is anything 1994 has changed, it would be the rate at which this society produces the everyday run-of-the-mill sell-out collaborator, or what Biko would have called the “non-white”:

Non-whites do exist and will continue to exist and will continue to exist for quite a long time. If one’s aspiration is whiteness but his pigmentation makes attainment of this impossible, then that person is a non-white. Any man who calls a white man “Baas”, any man who serves in the police force or Security Branch is ipso facto a non-white. Black people — real black people — are those who can manage to hold their heads high in defiance rather than willingly surrender their souls to the white man. (Biko, I Write What I Like, pg. 48).

What is it about this post ’94 state that sees ‘freedom fighters’ of the pre-94 dispensation end up as timid tigers resembling kitties in a cage? How is it that the prevalence of anti-black self-hating sell-outs, seems to breed faster than a Genetically Modified Organism chicken farm? As black people, we have been socially, politically and economically seduced to believe that we possess, in us, the ability to be free, while knowing we are functionaries within a white-supremacist anti-black state.

The argument made is that as a result of the negotiated settlement we can now vote, therefore we can author liberation, we can go to universities therefore we can become smart participants in this system, and we can accrue economic success therefore we can reside in white communities, eat at bourgeois brasseries and buy the best designer fashion.

The fight to change the material conditions of the black majority, cannot exist outside the truth that a well-resourced animal in a cage, remains an animal in a cage. And it was this debate that the #FeesMustFall movement raised when the community at the University of the Western Cape burned a building, and Tshwane University of Technology students took the fight to the police.

The counter argument arose that burning buildings and resources, or not participating in education, does harm to the black student; reinforcing the notion that to go through these academic institutions equates to liberation. This completely ignores that all sectors of the white-supremacist order create a state of dependency, and entrench black oppression.

The black person believes that if they can send their children to a prestigious institution of higher learning [which they don't deem a right but a privilege], they can escape the material conditions that define their existence. The ‘successful’ black student can move from Khayelitsha, Diepsloot or Queenstown to a better community. They can work in a nice job, perhaps become an accountant or a a political analyst as opposed to a call-centre agent, retail worker, cleaner or farm-labourer.

The norms of this white-supremacist order sets escaping blackness – which is defined by material conditions of squalor – and achieving whiteness – which is the lived experience of champagne, Sandton, and attending the University of Cape Town – as the highest form of freedom attainable for blacks.

So when black bodies destroy at supposedly inferior institutions, they are lambasted by ‘non-white’ professors, as if the animal in the cage must be just comfortable enough so as to not break the cage. These non-white academics have gone through the same anti-black education and it is these institutions that move the black beings towards becoming timid little tigers in a cage, playing with many toys.

Non-whites become anti-thought, because the origin of their thinking is based on their progression through white education. It is anti-black. It is the failure to recognise that black people can think, and are not subjects that need to be trained to be thinkers, to be human. They are reduced to operators in an anti-black factory that presses the right disciplinary button when blacks step out of line.

This conditioning of the black being in the ‘post-apartheid’ apartheid state has penetrated every sphere of black life: the social, economic, and political. The political system reduces the most radical of voices to mere leftist capitalists, politicians who argue that black people be given more ‘stuff’, ‘stuff’ which is to become a symbolic placeholder for freedom. A RDP house, free education, water and so on; but what kind of freedom can be for sale?

The social, political, and economic order have all assisted in the commodification of black beings to ensure that venturing through academia and/or politics results in economic gains, and in so doing subdues this once radical voice. The land and mineral wealth remain in the hands of the coloniser, yet the non-white indebted class, often incorrectly referred to as ‘the black middle class’ becomes the chief proponent of safeguarding the white-supremacist order.

It is this non-whites’ proclivity for whiteness that makes them safeguard the white house. Malcolm X explains the affliction of the House Nigger (non-white) as follows: “When the master would be sick, the House Negro identified himself so much with his master he’d say, “What’s the matter boss, we sick?” His master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master’s house out than the master himself would.”

The reality is that apartheid and the ‘post-apartheid’ apartheid are but different time periods in an anti-black, racist and white-supremacist continuum. The master stroke at the pre ’94 negotiations was to allow black ‘persons’ to become anti-black self-hating sell-outs, through inclusion as trained operators of the anti-black system.

The anti-black society has sustained itself for close to 400 years, how do we alter the lived experience of a black person? How does the animal in the cage, break free?

Biko says: “The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Black people must reject the cage, along with its fancy toys.

When engaging in an anti-black society it is important to remember we are black first. Just as the black students in anti-black institutions understood that paramount to the black person’s existence is black liberation. Hence everything that works against the black person is the enemy, even anti-black education. So burning a building in the context of black liberation is a small act, but of course we know that to timid kitties in the cage, you have stolen their toys. We must reject those non-whites, who are the protectors and collaborators of the anti-black white supremacist order. Our involvement in the anti-black system is to ‘burn the house down’, not to maintain its oppression of black people. We must ask again, can a black ‘person’ be human in an anti-black society?

Click Here to Read The Original Article on TheConMag

Picture: A group of University of Cape Town students erected a shack on campus during a protest over accommodation on 15 February 2016 by Natalie Malgas/EWN.

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