By Apioth Mayom Apioth, USA
“Coffee is about white people,” was the statement recently unleashed by a Chinese cafe owner, in his self-defense as to why he refused to hire a black Brazilian as a barista in Sydney. It echoes a racialized remark spewing out of the harsh times of the segregated Deep South, isn’t it?
To decipher the hidden meaning of his statement, one would think he also meant coffee holds a significant value to the Western culture; sort of like a pleasantry they consume while enjoying the immense wealth of their civilization.
On the other hand, black culture doesn’t value coffee to the same exalted status as it is in the West; black civilization is still mired in its crippling malady, refusing to straightened up to realize its full potential. In coming to realization as to what this signifies, we refuse to let the East becomes the new heavyweights of prejudicial mythologists of imperialism.
In colonial Africa, explorers were the first fabricators who fictionized Africa to a mere land empty of people but a place where anyone can make a name for himself, or see a grandiose specter of bountiful safaris ever found on planet earth. The first task of the explorers was to exaggerate the truth about Africa; they did so to generate future sponsorships and business deals for maintenance of their already established colonies, and for creation of the new colonies.
Even today, in our 21st century, people are still sleeping on this fictioning of Africa: My Samoan associates at work only talk about going to Africa to hunt animals; and in today’s Hollywood’s animations such as the Lion King, Madagascar, and so on, you only see the animals without a single African soul making it to the screen.
I have to admit that part of the reason of why we get to see animals getting animated every so often is blatant racism; the Western world doesn’t want other people to compete with them in the film industry, especially films that are designed for their audience, because in doing so, it would be tantamount to glorifying other people’s cultures, leaving them in the dust; and the other partial reason is filtration of past colonial myths that turned Africa into a land devoid of people, where adventurous vacationers got to see copious safaris without any human interruption.
During my college days, one of my friends, who happened to be Eurasian (actually he was half Caucasian and half Chinese), reiterated to me that Asians and Caucasians get along very well. Going back to the above statement, one would walk away fully satisfied that his reiteration wasn’t far from the truth; that they are cabals clandestinely working together to mold the world to their liking.
Even today, at this very second, there are some social milieu in the Western world who think blacks and Hispanics, are the bottom pit of the global hierarchy of power, while the Asians and Caucasians are at the foreground leading the pack with a tantalizing authority.
Thus, when a Chinese entrepreneur says coffee holds a monumental value to white people, he is merely giving a laudatory complement to another camaraderie who he sees hold a sweeping exalted statutory culture to his own.
So, what is the answer to the million dollar question; “When are we going to stop writing about Africa, and black people in particular?” That is the question that Chinua Achebe thought hit the target on the nerve when he was asked by an Australian student during one of his lecturing tours about washing our hands clean from imperialist practices and racism.
And the answer to that question is precisely clear: We will interminably keep on writing until we run out of ink. Writing as an art of expression keeps on changing dimensions from one era to the next. Black people write to educate people who refuse to look at them from the perspective who they truly are.
We keep on pushing pens to cut the umbilical cord from the new generation of imperialists who wish to recycle old practices of racism, and let it dictates our futures. In addition, writing covers vast medium of cultures, epochs, and places, for example, in my country of South Sudan, people have been going through almost interminable humanitarian disasters for three generations and counting.
So, from an era starting in the 1940s up to until now, all kinds of writers have been conditioned to become news writers; it didn’t matter, and our time still doesn’t give a hoot about whether you were born to be a fantasy, adventure, or an entertainment writer; time will come when everyone involved in this art will take his or her rightful place of expression.
The East doesn’t have to go through that sad route again; it won’t do an absolute justice to the rest of human race who happened to be none other than Asians or Caucasians, if they become the new torch bearers of prejudicial imperialism.
The East have gained greater strides in the international mercantile system in the last three or so decades. Western racism on their people has fastidiously been on the decline once after they rose to the helm of the global socioeconomic ladder; there are some few pockets of Europe that still racially harass Asian students every now and then, but other than that, things are looking bright for Asians at the moment.
Meanwhile, Asians other counterparts, the blacks, still face widespread racism in Europe: In football stadiums usually populated by over 70,000 people, you can see some sections of the fans chanting monkey, and throwing bananas at the black players; and these things happen right before our very own eyes in our today’s highly social media platforms and live television programming.
The reason why European racism is lenient against Asians and heavily targeted against blacks is simple: Our economic influence in the global playground is lightly concentrated, while the Asians have a heavily clouded influence to air their grievances to whoever is mistreating their lot.
Globalization is moving heads as we speak: countless populations from many different parts of the world are moving from one part of the globe to the other, seeking new opportunities to improve their lives; and it is in this spirit of this global phenomenon that we should let something that is beyond our control takes its course to a new world order.
Be it the Westerners, Asians, Africans, or Hispanics, we ought to play it safe to the ever-demanding tune of “cultural diversity.” When that day of reckoning comes, each and every one of us will have to contribute its share to the future ambitions of humankind, since we don’t know what the future will look like, and catering to the needs of a diverse world, wouldn’t require the ideologues of a selected few; stagnation would ensue on their part.
That is why it is very important now more than ever, to give chances of life improvisation to everyone involved so that we can approach our problems on a leveled-playing field.