In preparing for this piece, I asked a few people how they knew that they were black. This survey did not go the way that modern media might have led us to believe.
After looking at me in puzzlement, people that I asked took a moment and then talked about externalities—black isn’t a thing, it is a negative space. Being black is not a quality we are consciously born with, it is a social marker we adopt and live with. Most people just know that they are people, full stop. Colour is a taught thing. But who teaches it?
Colour-based racism isn’t nearly as universal as one might think, even though distrust of otherness is. Capitalism has a lot to do with this. Before Europeans started trying to conquer the world, there was plenty of interlocution between cultures of different cultures. Don’t believe me? Feel free to research the African Samurai.
To make it even more complicated, the people of Australia and Madagascar and other islands developed dark skin independently. Like many physical features, the colour of our skins is a response to the environmental conditions we live in. Indigenous people of the Arctic Circle can eat amounts of vitamin A which would kill anyone else, and the Sherpa of the Himalayas have been Summiting Mount Everest long before some European “explorer” male claimed to do so.
This lies at the core of the Black Lives Matter movement. There are many layers to this, but let me begin with one: slavery. Before Africans were shipped at great cost across the Atlantic, Europeans had tried to enslave Americans. It was unsuccessful due to the genocide they visited upon them, and cultural incompatibility. Capitalists then tried to enslave fellow Europeans but there were not enough to go around.
Africans from the West of the continent came from rich, deep societies. Africans are resilient. Africans built the world’s most capitalist nation, on their backs, through its crops, with their blood. And that is why being black is a threat. It isn’t even about being black: it is about self-respect and identity.
People are trying to use the All Lives Matter credo to weaken the Black Lives Matter movement, and it is pathetically laughable. Of course all lives matter - except to those who benefit from the system remaining the same. We shall remain beaten in the streets, broken, trying to earn a dignity that was ours to begin with. And so, distracted, we will forget to ask: why does one per cent of humanity own 99 per cent of the property? Africa has everything anyone could ever need - it always has. It gave rise to us all, and it is the future of us all.
The Black Lives Matter is a fight against the very worst of what capital has done to humanity.
Black lives matter because life matters. It really is that simple. Know that anyone who says otherwise hates humanity. Black. Lives. Matter. Otherwise, no lives matter at all.
Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]