Africans often pride themselves of not having race issues like their diasporan counterparts. When people of African descent highlight the impacts of racism /white supremacy on their daily lives, many continental Africans view them as excuses.These differences are especially apparent when tragedies occur such as the recent killing of an unarmed African American boy, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. On social media, many Africans are indifferent to the event because they believe, wrongly, that racism is not a problem. The belief that racism doesn’t exist or rarely happens in Africa is incorrect. Here’s why:
1.Even though African workers take heavier work loads, white workers for Non Governmental Organizations ( NGOs) make thousands of dollars a month, while their African counterparts barely survive on their salary.
2. In initiatives to “partner” with Africans, whites typically dictate how things must be done. Africans are constantly encouraged to abandon all things African and depend on European methods of doing things.
3. Less-educated whites in Africa get more opportunities than highly educated Africans.
4. African made goods are considered inferior to foreign products. For example, Dutch wax (ankara) is relatively expensive and many Nigerians would rather buy it than the Nigerian made wax that is of equal quality. In my home region, Middle-belt (aka Northeast Nigeria), when people want to insult your choice of clothing, they can say “your clothes are local.”
6.Middle and upper class Africans are now abandoning the tradition of naming for European names. This is also becoming a growing trend amongst urbanized rural citizens. When you go to my hometown, you will find Africans with names like Celine Dion or George Bush.
7. White beauty standards are becoming prevalent, especially amongst urban communities. Women and, less frequently, men bleach their skin to look like white people. Others are determined to marry white women or men in order to make mixed race children. These Africans have internalized the belief that dark skin is inferior. I have frequently heard Africans insisting that “mixed race children are more beautiful.”
8. Religion- Even though Christians and Muslim are often at odds with each other, they agree on one thing: the demonization of African indigenous religions. Many Africans are opposed to indigenous African spiritual systems. They consider African religions to be pagan, superstitious beliefs. These racist ideas were imposed by Arab (Muslim) and European (Christian) colonialism.Today, Africans are reproducing these ideas that they have internalized.
9. White power in Africa also applies to Asians and Arabs. African governments frequently favor their non black population–Indians, Lebanese, Chinese, white Americans, etc.–more than their black citizens.These groups are given opportunities to start businesses while natives are ignored. I noticed this, for example, in Sierra Leone and Liberia where most of the businesses are owned by Lebanese. When black citizens ask for loans to start their business they are often denied, but these governments give their support and resources to anyone that has “white” skin.
What is the way forward?
1. Admit there is a problem
2. Talk about it with your children at home, school, religious and secular spaces
3. Work towards solutions