There are two stories in the biblical Genesis that have been used by some to explain why certain people have dark skin. One story says that Noah cursed the descendants of his son Ham because Ham happened to see Noah naked. The evidence of this curse was dark skin. Another story says that black people are descendants of Cain, who was “marked” by God, after killing his brother Abel and lying to God about it. The first story was often used to justify slavery in the United States… – Tope Folarin, 2013 winner of the Caine Prize.
As a law student we are unfortunately burdened with the task of learning general principles of law and their exceptions. And the funny thing is that an exception can have an exception. Like in the law of contract! But I’m not going to bore you with that. Here is what I have to say.
There have been recent killings in the United States Of America! And these killings are always QUESTIONABLE.
As a general rule #ALL LIVES MATTER. #ALL LIVES MATTER! #ALL LIVES MATTER! #ALL LIVES MATTER!
But for every general rule, there are exceptions.
1) All lives do not matter to the Bokoharam people!
2) All lives do not matter to the Fulani herdsmen. The only humans they know are their cows!!!
3) All lives do not matter to the Police folks who shoot at the IPOB members.
4) ALL LIVES DO NOT MATTER TO THE WHITE COP WHO KILLS A BLACK-AMERICAN CITIZEN without any reasonable cause.
General Rule = Hashtag All Lives Matter = #AllLivesMatter
Exceptions = Sometimes a/some specific life(ves) matter(s) = #BlackLivesMatter.
Examples : 👇👇👇
1) If we are to start a trend in the social media for the terrible acts done by the Bokoharam members it’s going to be #TheLivesOfThoseInTheNorthMatter
2) For the Fulani herdsmen it’s going to be
3) For the IPOB
4) And finally for the BLACK-AMERICAN killings it’s going to be #BlackLivesMatter
Why am I even writing this? I read a post on Facebook that got me thinking “why would someone think like this?”
This is the post :
The IPOB protester shot by our soldiers were not BLACK lives. No.
They were red or yellow lives and do not matter.
Bridget that was cudgeled to death in Kano is not a BLACK live. No.
She was an orange or pink live and does not matter.
All the victims of Nimbo Massacre were not BLACK lives. No.
They were purple or blue lives and do not matter.
People who are killed or lynched in Nigeria are not BLACK lives. No. They are either Igbo people or Biafrans or Christians or gays or thieves first before anything else.
Only people who die in America or abroad are BLACK lives and they are the ones that matter.
I was really surprised. As a Nigerian, you never even think about the color of your skin – unless you’re FURO WARIBOKO of BLACKASS!
In Nigeria when you fill formal or informal forms, you do not see a blank space for RACE. We don’t need that. It’s very visible to blind and audible to the deaf. However, provisions would be made for your Sex, Tribe, Religion. So you’re likely going to be identified as a FEMALE IGBO CHRISTIAN or MALE YOURUBA MUSLIM or THE OKIRIKA WOMAN WHO IS A CHRISTIAN or THE HAUSA MAN. These are our tags.
And so if IFEMELU of AMERICANAH was In Nigeria she would have given one of her blog posts the heading :
Why Nigerian Women – Both Igbo and Yoruba and Hausa and Tiv and Kalabari and Isoko etc – Love Buhari
Why Dark-skinned Black Women – Both American and Non-American – Love Barack Obama!
Which brings me to this; your experience in Nigeria as a dark-skinned person is never going to be the same with those in The USA. Another blog post heading by IFEMELU :
* Understanding America for the Non-American Black : What Do WASPs Aspire To?
* Is Obama anything but Black?
* Traveling While Black
* Open Thread : For All the Zipped-Up Negroes (This particular blog post was short) ;
This is for the Zipped-Up Negroes, the upwardly mobile American and Non-American Blacks who don’t talk about Life Experiences That Have to Do Exclusively with Being Black. Because they want to keep everyone comfortable. Tell your story here. Unzip yourself. This is a safe space.
My God! I need to read AMERICANAH AGAIN!
Talking about Unzipping and telling stories, VINCENT A, A Nigerian in the United States of America wrote an Interesting piece. ( http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/black-lives-matter).
A few months here, and I decided to go to the post office. I can’t remember why; I think it had something to do with my passport. But after I’m done at the post office, I’m walking down Central Square feeling pretty good. The sun is starting to set, and Boston is strangely not showing its bipolar sleeves this evening. Not too hot, not too cold. There’s a nice wind even.
I’m almost at my dorm when I hear someone screaming, “Hey! HEY!” I turn around to see a heavyset, middle-aged white man racing toward me. I start to panick. I’m clumsy as hell so I probably dropped my ID card or my debit card on the sidewalk, and he spotted it. I reach into my pockets, but even as I’m tapping around and feeling both cards secure and in place, I start to realize something is wrong because his face is contorted in rage, and he’s not approaching me in the “Hey, you dropped this” kinda way. He’s approaching me in the “You utter piece of shit” kind of way. Next thing I know, his arms are around my shirt, and he’sshaking me and telling me to confess.
“I saw you!” he says. “I saw you grab her wallet. Where is it? Where is it?”
He’s screaming in my face. I notice one of the MBTA buses parked by the side of the road, but only vaguely, because my head is somewhere else, adrift in confusion, and as it sinks in what he’s accusing me of, and as he begins to say “why can’t you niggers–”, I completely lose it. I start to scream at him. I start to push him off. I start to yell about calling the police.
“Call the police!” he tells me. “Call them right now.”
We’re interrupted by someone hanging out the bus, yelling at us to get our attention. It’s another man and he’s saying, “You got the wrong guy! You got the wrong guy!” For whatever reason, the man holding me chooses to believe him. He lets me go. Without saying a word–a single word–he turns around and begins to walk toward the bus.
I stand there, stunned, waiting to see if he’ll say anything, but he keeps walking, and in a tone so unlike mine, I yell profanities at him until he’s in the bus and out of sight. I turn around, and people are staring at me. Their expressions are variations of a theme–annoyed, judgmental, concerned. I keep walking into my dorm, shaking with such anger. When I’m in my room, I almost cry. But I force myself not to.
All I see is that man’s pink bloated face as he screams in my ears, “Why can’t you niggers–”
Let this story sink in… . He would never have had this experience if he was in Nigeria.
I’ll do well to summarize Page 327 of Americanah!
Dear American Non-Black, if an American Black person is telling you about an experience about being black, please do not eagerly bring up examples from your own life. Don’t say “It’s just like when I…” You have suffered. Everyone in the world has suffered. But you have not suffered precisely because you’re an American Black. Don’t be quick to find alternative explanations for what happened………You see, American Blacks actually don’t WANT it to be race. They would rather not have racist shit happen. So maybe when they say something is about race, it’s maybe because it actually is? Don’t say “I’m color-blind”, because if you’re color-blind, then you need to see a doctor and it means that when black man is shown on TV as a crime suspect in your neighborhood, all you see is a blurry purplish-grayish-creamy figure. Don’t say “Were tired of talking about race” or “The only race is the human race.” American Blacks, too, are tired of talking about race. They wish they didn’t have to but shit keeps happening…Don’t put on a Let’s Be Fair tone and say “But black people are racist too.” Because of course we’re all prejudiced (I can’t even stand some of my blood relatives, grasping, selfish folks), but racism is about the power of a group and in America it’s white folks who have that power…Try listening, maybe. Hear what is being said….If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you’re uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more.
This is me saying #BLACKLIVESMATTER and until you know what it’s like to a BLACK IN “THE ABROAD” then say nothing.
The farthest I’ve been from home is Ibadan. And in this part of the world, I am THAT FAIR (complexion wise) IGBO GIRL (Because for some reasons I can’t explain All Fair Girls Are By Default Igbo).
BLACK (RACE) is not a thing in Nigeria. Igbo is a thing. Yoruba is a thing. Your tribe is a thing. Your Religion is a thing. Your societal stand or class is a thing. Mainland and Island is a thing. But RACE will never be a thing in Nigeria.
#BLACKLIVESMATTER. Do not bring up philosophies that hold no water.
Ask Questions. Listen.