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2018: S…holes must teach a..hole a lesson

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Last week this column began to look ahead to the year 2018 and the challenges confronting us as a people.It ended with raising the abominable reality of the re-enslavement of black people in North Africa, asking why are we, descendants of the same genetic strain, not as outraged about that as we seem to be on relatively trivial matters. I had asked, “Do we not see this as, not merely a return to the darkest days of the 19th century, but as an affront to black people everywhere?”

Regrettably, we, the people whom the late, great soul singer Marvin Gaye reminded that we are “darker than blue”, seem not to have gotten the message. It is a message forcibly reinforced when the big retail firm H&M dared to promote an advertisement which portrayed black children as the habitual black monkey, the “coolest one in the jungle” as it touted. Then the “girlfriend’ of the leader of the party which leads the racist anti-immigrant campaign in Britain got into hot water because of public racist statements.

As if these were not too much to swallow, the leader of the supposed “free world”, the President of the United States of America, with which country we profess undying solidarity, friendship and affinity, made it absolutely clear what is the basis of his immigration policy. The USA does not want immigrants from “shit-hole countries,” such as those in Haiti, Africa and Central America, he insisted; we want more from countries like Norway, he claimed. If there were ever a clearer expression of “keep America white,” this was it.

For those uncomfortable with Donald Trump’s statement, then simply consider, why should Norwegians want to migrate to the United States? Norway has a much higher standard of living than the USA and, indeed, is ranked No. 1 in the United Nations Human Development Index. The USA is 10th in this table. What Trump was obviously saying is that we (USA) welcome immigrants from white nations, not from what Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth”.

Predictably, Trump’s outburst has provoked widespread condemnation worldwide. Interestingly though, many black people, and their official spokespersons, seem to be condemning him for his “unacceptable” attacks on Haiti and African nations. That might make us feel good about our “solidarity” with Haiti and Africa, but the reality is that Trump was not just talking about them, he is referring to us all, calling us “s…hole nations.” But who better to know about “s…holes” than an “a..hole”?

Sadly, Trump was blunt and undiplomatic, but the underlying reality is that it is the same attitude that is prevalent in the white power structure on the global stage, to us all. Just ask our leaders, our diplomats, our trade negotiators. If they are honest, they will tell us that the proposals and recommendations that they hand down to us, whether through the hypocritical pronouncements of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the major “white” nations, about “tax havens” and money-laundering in developing countries, ignoring Geneva, London and Jersey; or in the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which graduate the same “s…hole” nations to middle-income status, so as to deny us development loans on concessionary terms; or, even in negotiations between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations on future trade and cooperation relations, the “s…” word may be silent, but the underlying premise is the same.

That may be unpalatable, but it is true. It means that we must not try to hypocritically feel that we are upset about Trump’s remarks, but it is “not us” to whom he was referring. It means that it is not just “solidarity,” but our own survival at stake. It means that we cannot afford splits in our ranks and hide when the USA opposes the rest of the world on UN resolutions on Palestine, or sanctions against Cuba. Diplomats from our so-called “s…hole” nations cannot be attending thank-you receptions for not voting against the USA. We are all in the same slave ship together. Haiti has taught us what to do once we are on the plantation.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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