Colorism is happening, not only with Africans throughout the diaspora, but also with our equally melanated Indian brothers and sisters. I was surprised, but not surprised (if you know what I mean) to learn of the rampant colorism that’s happening in India. I have heard of the color caste system in their culture, where the darker skinned people, suffer more discrimination and poverty. India has a strict a centuries old, color caste class system, which has been exacerbated by centuries of British and Portuguese colonial rule. (I think it probably arises from it)
About thirty years ago, many American cosmetics giants wormed their way into the Indian culture and started advertising and selling their “skin lightening” products to Indian women. The Cosmetic giants are now entrenched in India and are exploiting the Indian people’s misplaced desire for lighter skin for all they can get out of it, and it’s worth billions of dollars! Revlon, Avon, Estee Lauder and other cosmetics giants are manipulating the insecurities of the people with their blunt advertisements for skin lightening products with names like: Refined White, Absolute White and Cyber White EX, (Cyber White EX, WTF?) and it’s aparent that the people are buying into this madness big time. What’s interesting is that those cosmetic firms which have traditionally targetted Indian women, are now, in unchecked greed, going after the men! Last year there was the brouhaha about the Facebook application that could allow users to lighten their profiles. This whole thing was a campaign launched by Vaseline, and the ad promised to “unleash what was hidden underneath your skin!” (Another WTF) In true Madison Avenue tradition, they simply use a famous Bollywood actor in their ads, but in India they go hard! There is no euphemistic wishy washiness—they just show the actors face split in half: one half its regular dusky color and the other half lightened. Aparently this approach worked well, and many MEN bought into this.
I’ve been saying it for years. It’s the media that perpetuate the cultural stereotypes. They understand the peoples’ psychology all too well, even if the people of color themselves don’t, that their oppression by whites creates their self hatred. The people are psychologically vulnerable, and ripe for the pickings. So then all the Corporate Cosmetic giants have to do is come in behind and sell a pipe dream to the spiritually broken people. Subliminally, sell the dream of looking more like your oppressors, thereby being a better person and having a better life than you could with your natural dark skin. We saw this sublimation here in North America, then in Africa and it probably occurs anywhere that dark skinned people are being oppressed by white skinned people. The desire to be something other than one’s dark skinned self is so strong that these products truly sell themselves. They fly off the store shelves. To top it off, the Cosmetics giants have no responsibility for the blatant immorality or even the safety—they can blame it all on the color caste culture of the people, so in effect it becomes the people’s fault that they are oppressed and miserable. After all, the people WANT these products!!
Thankfully, the people of India are fighting back against this onslaught of, dare I say, spiritual violence! Many groups are popping up to deal with this and there are certain Bollywood actors and actresses who refuse to be a part of the marketing of these horrid products that exploit and destroy their people spiritually. It’s such a terrible thing the way capitalism devours.
I found an interesting Indian blog called Sepia Mutiny (love the name) and they addressed this issue and posted one of the commercials ads. (the link to the article is above) In the ad a sad depressed dark skinned young man couldn’t get a girl’s attention. A properly lightened friend schooled him about using “Fair and Handsome”, a cream made just for men “rough skin instead of using the creams made for women’s soft skin”. So the depressed guy used the product, turned 4 shades lighter, got the girl and lived happily ever after! That particular post got 289 comments and counting as young East Indian commenters throughout their own diaspora discussed this important topic concerning their own skin issues. I can’t help but feel a kind of De ja vu as I watchd the video and read some of the commentary about this very compelling topic.
I hope that the Indian people continue to fight to overcome this assault, bit by bit. It’s just another instance of oppressed people of color being further manipulated for the benefit of these huge corporations for which NOTHING matters but the money in their bottom line.
Just as an addition to this article: I was recently informed of reggae artist Vybz Kartel, who has drastically lightened his skin and has incurred the wrath of his fans! Not all. It’s so sad that someone would go to these extremes to be considered acceptable to those who will never accept you. Vybz is now a very cheap version of a light skinned black man, when he was a full version of his beautiful dark skinned God appointed self! Many say he looks like a corpse, rather than a browning! But he thinks he looks fine. Well!
What have we learned from the economic crisis? That we live in the the tightening web of a police state. That contingencies for this period have been put in place since the Clinton era. We kno that between Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington and Paul Krugman, the liberals continue to get it wrong. We kno that liberal politicians lack the resolve to put away the GOP, because that means liquidating their relationship to finance bankers who manipulated us into this crisis.
The liberal reactionary police state leaves us to ponder such philosophical questions as Eliot Spitzer. He was run out of office on ethics violations last year. So did the former governor and attorney general of New York spill the beans on the Federal Reserve because he got deposed or was he discredited in office to preempt his expose of the Fed? Spitzer recently said that the Federal Reserve is a “Ponzi scheme” that created “bubble after bubble” in the US economy and needs to be held accountable for its actions. Nobody can really say Spitzer is lying, but for millions of fence sitters, the ethics violations put him in a trick bag.
Another casualty of the financial crisis, hundreds of individual retirement accounts (IRAs) set up thru Fiserv lost over $1 billion from just three Ponzi schemes. One law professor said that tapping into IRAs “would be almost like running your Ponzi scheme through the police department.” Simple enuf, since the police remain busy arresting black Harvard professors for breaking into their own homes.
Police state, bitches. As in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. As in the conviction and imprisonment of NPDUM organizer Ajamu Bandele. Or the execution of Oscar Grant on a BART platform. Police state, operating in a tightening web of economic foils and snags, designed to take down African people.
Some people shouldn’t even be able to own homes, let alone nice ones in blended communities. Because as the skyrocketing mortgage fraud pushes a new trend towards abandoned cities and homeless families the need for police increases. With only three percent of the world population and twenty-five percent of its prison population, the United States has anticipated the period of social turmoil headed our way.
Indeed, the Oreo prez blinks, wavers, swerves in a racist game of chicken, one gut check away from at least letting us think he thinks for himself. Skippy Gates, whose mission to “de-ghettoize black studies”, left himself as the only black scholar working on his project. But black folks kno why we came to his side when the pigs jumped him, and we will do it again. African people must no longer support neo-colonialism, yet we will always fight against racist, bloodsucking Imperialism.
Police state in the for-profit System. People get the opportunity to sue when it messes up your lives. That is supposed to provide a modicum of satisfaction. In a perfectly flawed System that eradicates our existence as social beings, suing cannot even be considered a form of reparative justice. You need to rise up. The ruling class knows that. You just aint copping to it. Wake up, people.
When the US government discovered big holes in its ailing economy thanks to underworld business by greed corporate, it invented bailout. Economists still fiercely differ on this. On the one hand there are those that take it as a smart move aimed at keeping the people in the main street afloat. On the other hand, there are those that look at bailout as sinking tax payer’s money to the hole. When one looks at the reasons they offer, they all seem to be right.
But again, logically, one thing makes sense. First of all, the US and other affluent countries have enough financial muscles to take on this. Secondly, the manner in which the bailout is conducted in some areas convinces, there can be romp in soon thanks to the signs the US economy is currently showing. Thirdly US caused this calamity to the rest of the world. Thus it deserves to do something about it even at the world level. Fourthly, greed and selfishness being the engines of capitalism as well as the bombs (as of now), there was no way the US would sit idly by and evidence its children dying of the disease it cultivated. It had to reap the benefits of its system as well as stand by when things go wrong.
So the first thing to do was to take on greed CEOs who offered credit generously knowingly this irresponsibility would backfire. Their gargantuan emoluments like golden parachutes, salaries and the likes were practically abolished or slashed. To make sure that these crooks do nary get away with it, the government purchases some shares in affected firms so as to ultimately, for some, own them. Currently AIG and General Motors or Government Motors as it is joked, are under government watch as it becomes the holder of majority shareholder of the restructured company, with 60% of the stock. To make sure the crime is not repeated, White House receives briefings on economy almost everyday, among which is the state of the bill of health of bailed out firms. This way, the government is doing it’s business to see to it that taxpayer’s money is not swindled.
Recently, Tanzania ’s unstoppable juggernaut-like government blatantly proposed bailout measures to her all-time-sick economy. This move sounds smart. Nonetheless, it’s already been seen as charade aimed at stealing taxpayer’s money. With rampancy of stinking corruption in the upper echelons of power, one can comfortably predict its end… it’ll end up a cropper as it morosely digs more menacing holes on the already moth-holed economy!
One thing to remember, this is the same government that stupidly nationalized almost everything, especially profit-making gung-hos Nyerere found, after felling them and proving to be shoddy as far as business is concerned. Sadly by relegating back to business, this means privatization is a hoax or much bigger mess should be expected.
Let me prove my point. Tanzania secured a loan of over 1/-tn to bail out her economy. Amazingly, this amount is a debt whose interest rate is 11%. The good government in Dar es Salaam is planning to loan the same to some unspecified companies at the interest of 2%! Reasoning and reality have been given a heave-ho of a sort! Who will pay generously forgiven 9%? Monkey business of course! If this megalomania is not stopped, Tanzania’s economy will be ruined even more under the pretext of bailing it out. How should it stop crumbling if loans are sought to be abused as the case in point?
Renowned economist Professor Ibrahim Lipumba and opposition MPs queried this and termed it as “flapdoodle” that needs a courage and heart of the mad to commit. He said, “I am getting some feelings that this plan is going to be like a crash programme. Normally crash programmes are implemented without adequate preparations.” Lipumba also added: “I listened to President Kikwete’s address …. and also read the speech budget. I could not find anywhere where an ordinary farmer is mentioned as far as the stimulus package is concerned.” Despite warnings from experts, as usual, like a wise monkey that sees, hears and does nothing, Dar is still hell bent to go on with this buffoonery!
Thanks to Yvette over at Spatterblog where I saw this.
Now the latest hype about the global economic situation involves the debate about what has caused it rather than what is actually taking place. Working class people must exercise some critical thinking, because this ruse intends to keep them in the dark. Since black folks are linked into the global economy just like anybody else, we need to get our heads out of the soaps and churches and anywhere else that does not help us gain clarity and substance on this issue.
The economists are inventing red herrings like the “global savings glut”. This is nonsense. Who believes that money can be earned thru saving? In terms of working class folks, it makes little sense to save, since inflation eats up savings. The annual 3% inflation rate results in only a 1% yearly savings on your money, if banked. Outside of the industrialized countries, there is no return because inflation is much steeper. If you are a middle class person trying to save, your higher education is not paying off.
Not only that, but the Savings & Loans crisis of the Eighties and Nineties definitely scared the US public away from savings and stampeded them towards more sophisticated types of swindles, such as retirement plans based upon 401k and KEOGHs. Just because an activity is approved by Congress, and filled with volumes of small type that only a lawyer can understand, does not make it honest. No black worker has any business playing the stock market without knowing the dollar value of one point on the DJIA or having $250k to throw away in a money-manager fund. ‘Investment’ means only fools leverage all their assets on a gamble.
So if the economists were discussing stock-based retirement funds as a form of savings, consider that misinformation. The New York Review of Books and PEN World Voices presented a symposium on the world economic crisis at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 30. At that time, the idea was proposed that savings had driven down interests rates when, in fact, the Fed and the European Common Bank (ECB) themselves dictate interest rates. Not only that, North America and Europe in no way represent the globe.
It is important to repudiate any notion which dismisses the theory that the ruling class manipulated the financial system for their own benefit. The theory proposed by the symposium flies in the face of every scandal from Enron to Bernie Madoff. It contradicts the events which demanded welfare (bail outs?) for the banks.
Folks must not be duped by the highly esteemed panelists at that event, former senator Bill Bradley, Niall Ferguson, Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, George Soros, and Robin Wells, and Jeff Madrick as moderator. Not one of them has an analysis which serves the interests of the millions of people who form the basis of the US domestic economy; not one of them even speaks the language of every day people.
When the banks pressed the Fed to raise interest rates, this became the primary trigger for the financial meltdown. While most folks think of the banks as finance institutions, the bank is a tool for making money. It is an instrument for concentrating money. Concentrated money becomes capital. Working class people lack capital. They sell their labor for a wage. Capitalists do not earn wages. They make money not thru labor or savings but by skimming value from what labor produces.
If ten laborers in a gold mine work together to extract one ton of gold daily which has a value of $900 per ounce, not one of them makes $900 per day, or even half of that. Even if their combined labor only extracts ten pounds of gold a day, who gets the money? The workers do not earn enuf to save. The value of the gold gets concentrated at the top of the chain, by people who trade paper with a value printed upon it, in exchange for the real value that has been extracted from the mine. This practice prevails thru out the bloodsucking capitalist system, where a few people live exorbitantly upon the backs of five billion working people worldwide.
This paper money has a value assigned to it. This value can be manipulated easier than anything else. After all, the paper has no real value! Today, one dollar may be as strong as yesterday’s ten dollar bill; tomorrow, that same one dollar note may be devalued so that it is only worth five cents. Entire societies remain at risk as a worker in this type of system.
So the monies the panelists claimed were tied up in savings actually were being poured into a volatile market, the stock market, another place ruled by paper tigers. Over the last thirty years, real wages failed to keep pace with inflation and the cost of living. Working people lacked the ability to save. However, amid the fears that Social Security would dry up before they could retire, they put a few hard earned extra dollars into stock-based retirement funds. Human relations managers and other company officials pulled their workers off assembly lines to sell them pyramid and ponzi schemes called a KEOGH or IRA or 401k Plan. These talks sounded something like the average MLM hustle, where the guy at the top of the chain makes all the money and the suckers who bought into it are left holding the bag. That is precisely what happened in instances such as MCI-Worldcom, Tyco, Enron, and others all the way thru the Madoff scandal. These were all multi-billion dollar scams.
Now, this symposium happened in April. Do not forget, several weeks earlier, pretty much the same crew had called for the goverrnment to nationalize the banks. Their analysis continues shifting, while the causes for this period of voodoo economics involve financial manipulation, pure and simple. Prior to the curveball idea about interest rates being dictated by savings, the pundits said that the financial crunch happened because people were living on debt, another shattered theory.
People were indeed living on debt, yet that is not the reason for the crisis. People were forced to live on debt because wages did not keep pace with rising costs. Remember the old adage: “When creditors enforce collections, that results in market corrections.” So for folks living in debt, their very existence has become manipulated by those who control wages and prices. Stay tuned to the media, because within the next few weeks they will cook up a new rationale for the problems they continue heaping on the backs of poor and working people.
Ubuntu is a Zulu word meaning “humanness.” In Pan Africanism we call this quality “humanism” but it is even more down-to-earth among the Bantu. You can find examples of what is called ubuntu thru out Africa, not just among the Zulu. Almost all Africans have some version of it. It is a quality which must be used to bring us together both as Africans and as human beings across this planet.
So I have begun my own quest for spreading it globally. On FaceBook, I joined Sherekea Clean Water Project to recruit everyone of my friends to join. Having clean water in the Motherland is important. I think it is a key component to bringing peace there and slowing the depredations of capitalism.
A few words about the most important substance in creation. Water cannot be found just lying around unless it is trapped. Gravity alone is not enuf to keep water in one place; it will evaporate or precipitate out of the sky. Water erodes the hardest stone and bursts the strongest container. Water moves; water is the substance of life and that is why it moves and that’s why it is the most precious substance on earth.
And movement is the inherent tendency of all living things. To defy the conditions of a life’s existence, to spread life as far and wide as possible, we kno that life just isn‘t possible without access to water. But aint enuf water on moon or Mars to sustain life as we kno it and love it. Whitey might be on the moon, but we can’t get clean, accessible water in Africa, the place where humanity and civilization began.
So after joining FaceBook, I started blitzing for folks to join Sherekea Clean Water Project. It’s quite an addiction of mine, and this blog has suffered for it. I apologize to my readers, who expect original stuff. Well, this is part of it.
Dranunculiasis or guinea worm is one disgusting parasite (see pic, below). It is a nematode which enters the human body thru microscopic crustaceans. There it usually matures and migrates to the foot, where it creates an ulcer from extending its head (scolex) whenever the foot enters water. However, the guinea worm can emerge from the eyes, lips, arms or any body part. It is extremely painful, potentially crippling. If it migrates to the brain, it remains dormant there in a cyst.
Well, that racist ex-prez Jimmy Carter suggests people use a rag to filter water to prevent guinea worm. This will never prevent disease and will doubtfully eradicate guinea worm. Why propose a rag when the US has companies like Calgon, Coca Cola and Budweiser which filter enuf H2O to provide clean water for Africa. Yeah, I sed it. Jimmy Carter is a racist who calls for a reactionary stop-gap measure! Capitalism is racist. It will not do anything unless a profit-motive exists. Jimmy Carter should call for clean water so women and children don’t have to walk miles. He should advocate clean water so that people no longer have to worry about river blindness, guinea worm, shistosomiasis, infantile diarrhea and countless other diseases! Jimmy Carter is not that stupid. He knows Americans aren’t that stupid. But as a liberal he is that racist, and so is America to stand for such a suggestion. I hate to call people names, no, that’s a lie… But anyhoo, let me break it down for you.
Unlike Jimmy Carter and other capitalist apologists, natural parasites have no choice but to behave the way they do. For eradication of guinea worm, the Carter Center has received $40 million at one time from just Bill and Melinda Gates building a $55 million total, yet not one water purification plant has been built from that money. Okay, there is the profit motive for Jimmy Carter. After all, how much loot does it take to supply everybody in Africa with a cheap, dirty rag? It is such a lousy idea, it just might work.
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia or snail fever, comes from a nematode (actually a “trematode”) that lives in fresh water and penetrates the skin. It is estimated to infect 200 million people worldwide. The worms grow inside the body and lay eggs. Schistosomiasis causes fever, chills, muscle aches, anemia, malnutrition, and can damage the liver, intestines, lungs and bladder.
River blindness is caused by another water-borne worm in Africa.
Infantile diarrhea is caused because of water which hasn’t been distilled, boiled or otherwise purified. It is a leading cause of infant mortality in Africa, where women daily walk miles to fetch water for cooking and drinking. So not only are people dying because of poor water, they also suffer because of lack of access to water. It is estimated that 70% of all hospital visits in East Africa are because of water-related illness.
Stop military aid to reactionaries like Yoweri Musaveni and Paul Kagame, and help people. Yeah, I sed it. Whenever you have a bottled drink, from a soda to a beer to any of the zillion of water-based drinking products on the market, just think how the facilities which bottled your favorite drink could contribute towards building water purification facilities in Africa. So that people could be liberated from water-borne disease. So that people can enjoy sanitation. So that women do not have to walk miles away from home just to provide drinking and cooking water for their families. Think about that for a moment. Then do something about it.
Remember Malcolm X.
Complimentary post: The Economics of Water
Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress
A few things about ANC and Jacob Zuma. The recent presidential victory of Zuma seems to indicate that ANC has stepped away somewhat from the politics of compromise with Imperialism. The Young Communist League, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other formations have gotten behind him in a big way. This represents a departure from the legacy of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, who were more behind building a substantial black middle class rather than working on behalf of the masses.
Because, in recent times, the African National Congress has not lived up to its words. As a student activist in the anti-apartheid struggle, the organizations that I participated in typically brought in Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO) comrades or those from Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC-A). This was because the ANC had strong liberal support from the NAACP and the white left, for example, and the other groups became marginalized. Also, AZAPO and PAC-A had vibrant Pan Africanist politics. They discussed how they not only attacked apartheid infrastructure, they also fought SADF troops and armed boers on the ground. The ANC had a policy of not hitting “soft” targets, despite the massacres white nationalists perpetrated against the African community. Now when the apartheid system released Nelson Mandela from 27 years imprisonment on Robbin Island, he scrapped the long-time demands that ANC had promised to the African masses.
Mandela’s freedom was bought for a price. Mandela veered away from the Freedom Charter; he served up the masses to a neo-colonial State which became entrenched in Imperialism. Winnie Nomzamo Mandela, his wife, walked him out of prison and Nelson walked her into prison because her politics diverged drastically from the sell out brand that he had cultivated over many years, as AZAPO comrade Mongezi Sifika-Nkomo has stated.
Prior to Mandela’s release, a wave of killings swept South Africa. This time, it was political violence masquerading at a political level. Remember the necklace, a weapon used against police agents and informers? Well, the ANC adopted it to terrorize AZAPO and PAC-A veterans. The Pan Africanist line held by these groups was that the land belonged — not to ‘all who live on it’, as the ANC Freedom Charter states — to the African masses. These freedom fighting groups had declared that the black workers and peasants own the mines and all the land. This declaration jeopardized the ANC position.
So ANC declared war on their political allies. Shortly afterward, the boers used Inkatha Freedom Party to wage a successful war of attrition on the ANC. This brought the ANC and Mandela to the table on white power’s terms. Afterwards, Mandela’s presidency opened up opportunities for rich white mining operations such as Anglo-American and Rand to expand into the rest of Africa. South Africa paved the way for “post-racialism” and the US is somewhat tailing that model.
During this period, huge “gold rushes” sparked intense wars over their mineral rich deposits of diamonds in Sierra Leone and casseterite/coltan in Eastern Congo. The profiteering done on a large scale during those wars has not contributed towards raising the living standards of African people despite the individuals who apparently live like leeches on the backs of the struggling masses. This is a direct by-product of South African “post-racialism.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, constructed by Mandela in partnership with his apartheid bosses to allow racist butchers to escape extremely serious charges concerning their heinous abuse of humanitarian rights. The South African Defense Force had been implicated in genocidal crimes ranging from direct military support and assistance of Renamo and UNITA, two vicious counterrevolutionary formations, to atrocities carried out in the townships and refugee camps against noncombatants.
The documentation on these activities is extensive. SADF carried out assassinations on people like ANC leader Chris Hani. Their jamming equipment brought down the Soviet aircraft shuttling Mozambican President Samora Machel from peace talks in Nkomati, Tanzania, where Zimbabwean and Tanzanian leaders had proposed to Machel that they form a triple front to end the Renamo depredations in northern Mozambique. The South African government, not knowing the outcome of those talks, decided to kill Machel in a manner resembling an accident. These are some of the serious crimes that the SADF and its political leadership have escaped, even while the entire economic sector in South Africa continues to be dominated by international finance capital. Thabo Mbeki carried on the Mandela policy.
International finance used the SA Tarzan sector to push the family of economic apartheid’s long-time Malawian lackey, Hastings Banda, into top leadership positions in Zambia. The Bandas have helped set the stage for destabilizing Central and East Africa.
Now, today, tho, Jacob Zuma apparently represents a sincere break with the politics of collaboration. The ANC “subsystem”, as it has been called, is being dismantled for a more radicalized vision of what South Africa should be. And this is as it ought to be. While a number of black middle class forces sought to divide the ANC and form a breakaway formation, Zuma craftily held it together and expanded his base. He restored confidence in the ANC by strengthening its core values, and taking steps to move away from Imperialism. Various charges used to slander Zuma had been dismissed and discredited. This was a tactic to stop the trend towards collectivization, towards strengthening the unions, and towards building a revolutionary component inside South Africa.
Africans cannot be dispossessed on their own land; they cannot be forced to live on that 13% of land set aside from the period of colonial domination. The boers will have to sink or swim. Zuma seems to be bringing in a new day. Forward the Black Revolution in Southern Africa!