Racism is not a conversation that we can skip anytime soon. Stephen Bantu Biko, father of black consciousness, defines Racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purpose of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. Biko, furthermore, to put meat on the bone, argues that to subjugate involves the Utensils of power. In other words, to have power here unfolds or rather shows abilities of who can control who.
By having power qualifies one the ostensible attainment of a privilege to control and dominate, creating exclusionary relations of superiority and inferiority.
Now as we allowed Biko to lead us and extricate the philosophy of racism, appendage to apartheid here in South Africa, it was, and is, whites that have control over the majority (blacks), till today. When Biko said “to be poor in South Africa is expensive “, it was after his extensive interrogations of factors that contributes to poverty, which are ultimately given birth by racism.
To say those who have power to subjugate and dominate (inferiority and superiority) in spheres of living (who have the control in terms of the economy, who owns the land, who owns the banks…) in simplistic aura; who lives in dire conditions and who lives better in proximity of CBD (central business districts). Who lives in the outskirts of the town/CBD and consequently they must pay transportation to make their way to town in order to find means of living, who stays in the shack who subsequently have to buy paraffin or charcoal to use it as a means of energy, who’s at the mercy of constant violence and brutal murdering that occur every day, who’s subjected to poor health facilities, I mean all these points to a life of a black man. All these are warranted and birthed by a white man, who has the power to subjugate and to be supreme. A completely set of racism (power and control).
Having the totality of power over the majority who are the natives, further, goes to the argument that “black people cannot be racist”, at least concurrently. We do not have power/ institutionalized power to oppress or rather subjugate another race or group of people with alternative colour of ours.
Biko teaches us that racism always presuppose that exclusion is for the purpose of subjugation.
That is why racism cannot only be concluded at the level of discrimination or rather be separated from power. Racism is also a power to control the lives of those excluded .Racism is not a conversation that we can vamoose, not anytime soon as black people in South Africa and in the Diaspora of the world, so long black people across the continent still suffer by the virtue of being black. So long whites inherently and continuously benefit over their skin colour, to be white. As Dr Frantz Omar Fanon would say “you are poor because you are black and you are rich because you are white”, we cannot rush to solve other problem of the world. Least we would be not doing any justice.
Having said that it was through a conversation of racism by black student who were redundant of racism and had to react and amalgamate to establish SASO; furtherance to constellation and birth of Black consciousness by Steve Biko who learn extensively how malevolent racism was/is which seek to be a philosophy of identity and liberation to black people (black consciousness).
It was through a robust racism conversation, that Biko saw it to interrogate black ministries (religion, Christianity) when he was invited in a conference at Cape Town, where he fervently and succinctly ventilated and lambasted Christian colonial pedagogies. How irrelevant the preaching of those pastors was since black people found no message In the Bible, in fact even today.
It was through a lived experience of being a victim of racism and a conversation that lead to Dr Fanon to write a very robust, yet societal conscious awakening books, over racism and exposing how the lives of the black people have been annihilated, abused and subjugated.
This is by understanding that our problem as black people are not first and foremost of class struggle or rather contractions as Marxists or Karl Marx stresses the order of the struggles of the world, but as black people ours is to be black to say that “it is not only capitalism that is involved; it is also the whole gamut of white value systems which has been adopted as standard by South Africa, both whites and blacks so far. And that will need attention, even in a post-revolutionary society. Values relating to all the fields—education, religion, culture and so on. So your problems are not solved completely when you alter the economic pattern, to a socialist pattern. You still don’t become what you ought to be. There’s still a lot of dust to be swept off, you know, from the kind of slate we got from white society”- Biko.
Black consciousness, therefore, becomes a solution and a response to a white consciousness that sought to appropriate and dominate the consciousness inclusivity of the freedom of black people. It directly gives identity and liberation.
Racism is very hideous, it’s very Poisonous. Jettison of our identity as black people for white genetic survival. It has distorted every echelon of our existence and being. It is has tempered, distorted our way of living, our Religion facet, Our art, our history, societal norms (Ubuntu), and our education system, to name few . Racism has eaten up everything that paramount to significance of the black man.
Till then, Racism must be always interrogated and castigated; we must always speak about it. How bad, heinous, and hideous it is. We must always lambaste it as soon as we catch its expressions. Any form we find is very malevolent. We must Deal with it.
Sibusiso Mabhola is an analytical chemistry student, at Vaal University of Technology.