One of the most important lessons I learned growing up was the importance of listening to people whose experience is different from my own. It’s not a lesson I can remember learning one day, nor is it one I learned particularly quickly. I like to think I’ve gotten the hang of it now, but I have no doubt I’ve still got a long way to go.
Either way, it’s helpful to be reminded to listen, from time to time, and to have people who take the time to make it easier to do so. My fellow blogger Iris Vander Pluym, of Death to Squirrels is one such person, and I’d like to draw your attention to the series she has been working on this month: It’s Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.
The series touches on black history and activism, and while a lot of it is focused on the United States, it also touches on global issues. I particularly appreciated this talk by Mallence Bart-Williams
Of course the West needs Africa’s resources, most desperately, to power airplanes, cell phones, computers and engines. And the gold and diamonds of course: a status symbol, to determine their powers by decor, and to give value to their currencies. One thing that keeps me puzzled, despite having studied finance and economics at the world’s best universities, the following question remains unanswered:
Why is it that 5,000 units of our currency is worth one unit of your currency, when we are the ones with the actual gold reserves?
It’s quite evident that the aid is in fact not coming from the West to Africa, but from Africa to the Western world. The Western world depends on Africa in every possible way, since alternative resources are scarce out here.
So how does the West ensure that the free aid keeps coming?
By systematically destabilizing the wealthiest African nations and their systems, and all that backed by huge PR campaigns, leaving the entire world under the impression that Africa is poor and dying, and merely surviving on the mercy of the West.
Well done, Oxfam, UNICEF, Red Cross, Life Aid, and all the other organizations that continuously run multimillion-dollar advertisement campaigns depicting charity porn, to sustain that image of Africa, globally. Ad campaigns paid for by innocent people under the impression to help with their donations. While one hand gives under the flashing lights of cameras, the other takes, in the shadows. We all know the dollar is worthless, while the euro is merely charged with German intellect and technology, and maybe some Italian pasta. How can one expect donations from nations that have so little?
It’s super sweet of you to come with your colored paper in exchange for our gold and diamonds.
But instead, you should come empty-handed, filled with integrity and honor. We want to share with you our wealth and invite you to share with us.
The perception is that a healthy and striving Africa would not disperse its resources as freely and cheaply, which is logical. Of course. It would instead sell its resources at world market prices, which in turn would destabilize and weaken Western economies, established on the post-colonial free-meal system. Last year, the IMF reports that six out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa, measured by their GDP growth. The French treasury, for example, is receiving about 500 billion dollars, year in, year out, in foreign exchange reserves from African countries based on colonial debt they forced them to pay. Former French president Jacques Chirac stated in an interview recently that we have to be honest and acknowledge that a big part of the money in our banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent.
In 2008, he stated that without Africa, France will slide down in the rank of a Third World power.
I’ve mentioned before how war, espionage, assassination, and debt are all used to maintain the so-called poverty of Africa, while enriching the “former” colonial powers. Those of us in wealthy nations who do talk about this stuff naturally focus on the crimes being committed by our nations. It’s an important aspect of what’s going on, particularly because I feel it’s our duty to do what we can at our end to stop these injustices from which we benefit.
Bart-Williams describes Sierra Leone as the richest country on Earth, and she makes a powerful case to support this claim, and ties it directly to the people of Sierra Leone, and to the artists she has worked with. Understanding is a prerequisite for real justice, and as Iris says, that often means we need to STFU and listen. Check out the video at the link above, or if you prefer a transcript with images, Iris has provided that as well.
This series has one post for each day through February, and each has links to those that came before. That means that in addition to checking out everything else Iris has posted this month, you should also revisit Death to Squirrels for the rest of this month to make sure you’ve seen the whole series.