In a bipartisan meeting about immigration policy in the White House, donald trump asked why the United States allows immigrants from “all these shithole countries”, (in reference to African countries and Haiti) instead of immigrants from countries like Norway. Basically, immigrants from predominantly white countries are preferable to those from predominantly Black countries in his America. Cue the outrage on the internet. Everyday I log onto twitter, there is some outrage because donald trump has said or tweeted something wildly inappropriate and deeply offensive. Or something about his girl crush Hilary Clinton. Everything inappropriate, everything meant to ire everyone who is reading it, besides his base of course. Donald trump is a racist, that much is crystal clear. Add sexist, misogynist and homophobic to that pile. I lost any will to be outraged by what he says or things he does because nothing about his words or behaviour is shocking anymore. He was a racist before he ran for office, a sexist before he became president, and nothing has changed, except he now has a wider platform that enables his bigotry in the form of the GOP besides 280 characters. What’s more, his supporters know the kind of person he is. He has always been that way, lived his life of privilege as a civilian that way, and is never going to change.
This is a man whose biases informed his decision to run for office, because he couldn’t fathom how a Black man rose through the ranks to become President of the United States. Whose racism informed his shady business dealings when he was sued in 1973 along with his father, by the government for violating the fair housing Act when he refused to lease home to Black tenants. Whose racism inform his weak policies whilst in office; the travel ban, the threat to end the DACA programme, to build a wall between Mexico and America… His racism not only forms the base of his ideas, they are the sum of the whole of who he is as a human being. Ill informed and morally bankrupt. In 1989, without having any knowledge of the case against the Central Park Five, other than their race and ethnicities; Black and Latinos, trump took out an ad in the newspapers, condemning these young men, and calling for their execution, but has conveniently refused to acknowledge their innocence or issue an apology when it was found to be a grave miscarriage of justice against these young innocent men, and the confession of the real rapist. This is donald trump.
Excuses will continue to be made for his uncouthness, some, his stupid and deplorable supporters, will praise him for “saying it like it is”, whilst others will acknowledge the remarks as problematic, but will stop short of calling it racist. Why is anyone surprised by the barbaric behaviour of someone who has only proven himself to be a barbarian? There should be no surprises here because this is who he is; trump’s America and his base, whose ideals he embodies daily.
Trump’s words should not be a cause for alarm or outrage, and to most it is not, but what is troubling is the America that has emerged under his presidency; an America where white supremacist are said to be “fine people”, puff pieces about them run in papers like the New York Times, liberals try to understand their ideology as if an allegiance to hitler is not telling enough of their mindset. But what should be infuriating is the reaction of the media. Most every narrative in the western media in relation to African countries and Caribbean countries like Haiti, implies that these countries are shitholes. Some cannot even be bothered to think of Africa as a continent of countries. To them, Africa is a country, as they jaunt on their safaris and expensive resorts that only appeal to their western narrative, a false narrative. Shortly after he assumed office, Emmanuel Macron referred to Africa as a nation with backward principles and implied its people were savages. The visa requirements for citizens of African countries coming to the west tells a complete story of how exactly Africa, to whom they owe everything, with whom they have the closest ties, is a shithole to them. Of course they think of us as people from shithole countries, living in our huts and riding on donkeys. They conveniently forget the fact that they were the ones who came to our countries- uninvited, ripped our land of its natural resources, sold us for money because we were the shitty possessions they could not even hold on to, our lands savaged by white men with their guns… Their history books will tell you they discovered the world, but we know different. Fuck the narrative of Christopher Columbus, he was a thief. He discovered no land, he stole the land from the natives, who lived on the land way before he arrived. Or the story of Pocahontas that Disney has westernised for their own comfort sidelining the real story of the kidnap, rape and forced marriage of a child by white men.
This outrage is duplicitous, the media has been complicit in this thinking, they have informed this type of behaviour and encouraged these misconceptions.
Africa is a continent of countries, rich and poor, hard and soft, lands where opportunities are few but people survive even when faced with the most dire of situations. Riddled with issues rooted in hands of old colonial masters from the west. The history of the world and west, as it is written today, was written by white men for their convenience, sighting alternative facts on their civilisation. They dragged our ancestors on boats, bound them in chains and forced them to work on their plantations without pay. Africans give you more despite having less. They don’t look at you sideways despite not being of the same colour; they are open and friendly. African slaves built the White House, where generations of slave masters have lived and ruled. Their labour never rewarded. The history of America is steeped in slavery, wealth of the south is borne out of slave labour. The very fabric of American society is threaded by the free labour of African slaves. The media in its portrayal of Africa has painted a picture of a continent of starving nations, sidelining the role of the west in that. Belgium’s King Leopold and his reign of terror over the Congo Free state, a country he used for his personal wealth and amusement. Reigning with violence and only violence under the pretext of ending slavery. He had mercenaries rule in his stead, forcing workers to dig for gold, mineral, oil and everything under the earth for his wealth. Apartheid in South Africa, the dark history which still plagues a nation.
Nations like ours was not founded poor neither did they start out barren. Nothing about the history of the world as it is written today is real or true because it paints a picture that abdicates the west of its guilt.
Haiti enriched France and much of Europe. Their independence was gained after the very first slave rebellion against the French and in turn Europe and America punished their audacity to fight for freedom by imposing trade sanctions on them. In order to be seen as a free country, they had to pay for their freedom, a country already struggling with poverty, it took them generations to pay for it; in order to so, they borrowed money from banks in America and when it came time for the debt to be paid, the American government invaded Haiti and occupied it for nearly twenty years. Western sponsored terrorism and theft in the form of trade sanctions have buried Haiti from one coup to the next. The natural disasters that have destroyed much of her land and taken thousands of lives, and the man made disasters brought on by America when it dumped cholera virus in the waters of Haiti. Haitians have had to withstand the most dire and unfair share of struggles that should not be meted on to mankind; natural disasters, poverty, poor governance and still they survive in instances which people like donald trump could not even begin to imagine. Haitians made America what it is today, they were part of the Tuskegee airmen who fought in WWII and endured the segregation rampant in that era, without Haiti there would be no New Orleans; they defeated Napoleon in the revolt of the then named Saint Domingue, and made the Louisiana purchase possible for the American government. And after the occupation of Haiti, a lot of Haitians moved to New Orleans where their culture has remained, as has their history.
The west and its media are complicit in its narrative of Africa, the same narrative that informs the thinking of the most powerful individuals who happen to not only ascribe to racist ideals but also perpetuate this thinking.
Africa is a continent of fifty-five countries, an entire continent rich in minerals and oils and wild life and soil. Sweat and toil is not alien to us, blistering heat and wintery colds, our seasons change, we till food from the ground and we have market days. Cities with sky scrappers and villages with mud huts. Medicine women and men, medical doctors and surgeons. Modern culture and ancient traditions. Kings and Queens, Obas and presidents. We are not without our faults and problems, but the west is not without dirt and blood on its hands. Africa is not defined by the narratives of the west, she was before the west and will remain long after west. The west is indebted to Africa for every single thing she has and the media will do well to start acknowledging that part of her history.
How is that for a “shithole country”?