BLACK ON BLACK DISCRIMINATION IN USA
Discrimination in the USA is by gradation. Whites discriminate against blacks and people of color. Men discriminate against women irrespective of color. Latinos (people from Latin America who see their near white pigmentation as a sign of superiority over blacks) discriminate against blacks.
Black Americans, who are direct descendants of black slaves in America, discriminate against blacks from other parts of the world - especially those from Africa. And they discriminate against so called black people who are black by circumstance that they look every inch, white, but have a little black blood running through their veins.
Generally, there is a murmured type of discrimination by those whose sexual orientation is straight against gays and lesbians. Gays and lesbians in turn discriminate against themselves; by acting in an isolated manner that clearly differentiates them from the other members of the public. There is latent discrimination based on one's religious beliefs in the United States. Christians discriminate against Moslems and Moslems against Christians. The discrimination against Jews is legendary - ask Senator Joe Lieberman.
At the height of discrimination in America, blacks were openly stoned to death on flimsy reasons. At the peak of it, a black man could be lynched just for making a pass at a white lady, proven or not. How does a lynched dead, prove he did not have eye contact with a sacred white lady, you may wonder. He could also be shown the way out of an eatery simply because he strolled past an area reserved for people of superior color - ask Rosa Park.
In the midst of this, the American government through several legislations and laws both extant and dormant has tried to minimize the impact of discrimination on the American psyche. Unfortunately or do we say ironically, this odious dent on the fine American societal system has refused to go away. Discrimination is everywhere you looked at in the US. Everyone who has nose smells it. In particular its victims who are direct recipients have a nose for it, while the perpetrators behave as if it does not exist or that discrimination has vanished or legislated out of existence.
Mr. Rodney King, a black motorist was beaten to stupor by white police officers. It was captured on video by a passerby who made same public. In spite of the mountain of evidence made possible by a picture speaking more than a thousand words, the Los Angeles Police officers who did the beating were freed by a predominantly white jury.
The whole world reacted and the city of Los Angeles paid handsomely. Mr. O.J. Simpson, a black sports super star and folk hero apparently killed his estranged wife Nicole, with the help of an assassin or himself. There was a mountain of evidence. A predominantly black jury freed him. The white laid a counter ambush. OJ, as he was called with fun, is now cooling off in prison, convicted by a predominantly white jury for another offense not remotely or directly related with the murder of his former white wife.
This writer has seen discrimination at close quarters in the United States. I have seen discrimination not from whites but from fellow blacks. I have seen discrimination not on account of my religion or suspicious sexual orientation but simply because I am black from the continent. A handyman who felt I reaped on the sweat of his former slave ancestors and should not have any right to lord it over him in the secluded basement of my house, in Washington DC threatened to kill me.
He called me a mother f—-ker African who has no right to be in the US in first place, not to talk of lording it over him for buying and fixing for me an inferior air cooling system. A black tenant of mine who felt, a bloody black from the continent had no right to own property, be a landlord while, he, a tenant, called me stinking African. To add salt into injury, he called me homosexual. I am straight.
A motor licensing officer had called the cops on me and lied against me because I had accent, in order to get me into jail. I was freed by a white judge. My male children (Ogu'ike Offoaro and Osonduagwuike Offoaro) see and report discrimination every day, against them by fellow black students. They complain about discrimination even from their teachers who make condescending remarks about them, not because they have accent having been born there and speak flawless American, but because of their first and last names.
In their school which is predominantly black, they have been called Africans the booth scratchier and habitants of the forest. They have been bullied to no end. They have been threatened and chased around school compound on account of their strange variant of black origins. They have been called Niggers and they have been asked to tell their parents to take them back to Africa. In frustration I had told them to fight back. I had told them to call black Americans some unprintable names. On one or two occasions when my boys applied the daddy antidote, it worked with needed relief for my boys.
A month ago, I was in the US for two weeks. I saw discrimination once more hover over my African face. The black American barber (not my regular) gave me a dose of it. He refused to give me the hair style I requested instead gave me a cut he thought would fit my age and place of origin. He sensed my Africa origins, because of my accent which try as much as I could to conceal or to mask, still has some Okoro touch. Throughout the duration of the cut which lasted mere 10 minutes (a good cut lasts for at least 40 minutes), he did not strike a conversation.
He held the clipper with one disdainful hand and turned my head with the same hand. He was condescending from beginning to finish. When I complained, he called me names. Mother fu..ker, stinking African and all…. I endured it. After all, on a daily basis I demurred, I have endured my own Nigerian variant of discrimination - marginalization because I am Igbo from eastern Nigeria.
During the last presidential elections in the United States, the highly respected Reverend Jesse Jackson made a gaffe that betrayed the attitude of blacks against each and one another especially in the US. Unaware that the studio hot microphone was still on and running in a Fox News Channels broadcasting studio, the reverend went ballistic against the then budding ambition of Barack Obama.
He promised to cut Obama's nuts out should he continue his holier than thou sermon to black church goers on the need for quality time by parents with their kids. Jackson's unguided tirades were aimed at pooh-poohing the Obama's perceived holier than thou sermon at black churches aimed at black deadbeat fathers.
Jesse Jackson's outburst was the reflection of the greater majority of black Americans' behavior towards the budding emergence of then little known Obama. To a larger extent, it reflected the general behavior of blacks against blacks in the US. Yes, particularly, blacks who may have been seen to have compromised authentic black values.
Or blacks who have been born of privilege – usually, blacks of direct African descent or those blacks who came into America to reap on the sweat and blood of authentic black Americans. You can't come into America, with no history of racism to preach racial tolerance to a people whose grand and great parents suffered the weight of humiliation occasioned by slavery and everything so associated with.
Because Obama was not considered pure black by blacks and not pure white by whites, the then presidential candidate of the Democratic Party was pushed from both aisles of the racial divide. Obama's dilemma was also a reflection of the quiet discriminatory attitude suffered in silence by most Africans in the hands of their black American hosts.
So much is the importance attached to discrimination of all types that there is, in the American statute book, a law strictly enforced, to prevent discrimination or guide against it. However, in spite of all the well intended laws aimed at nipping in the bud the high incidence of discrimination, this ephemeral sordid act of inhumanity against man which originated from the Europe of the 14th century, thrives.
So much is the impact of discrimination that you could see it, hear it, feel it but cannot touch it. So much is discrimination manifest in everyday American life, that all you do is look at it and smile and or shake your head in melancholic resignation.
Looking at black on black relationship in America from the outside, you would think all is well and dandy. No. black on black discrimination in America is perhaps the most single draw-back against black progress in America and by extension, black solidarity all over the world. It is strange that a people who suffered the same fate in the hands of the whites, from Germany to Russia, to Japan and to the United States, have turned against folks of same ancestry.
Godson Offoaro writes from Havensgate Owerri.