In its simplest form, racism is discrimination based on the color of one’s skin. ‘The Fourth Generation Diagnosis’ [4G] will present the issue of racism by defining it as a historic process.
The process itself is put in place when a particular discriminatory paradigm is structured to govern the black race.
The structure aims to govern at any given time while it also elaborates a perspective which derives from its basic assumptions.
Generally, contact between different groups of people is usually characterized by polarization and its resultant tension. That tension is more likely to be greater when the distinguishing difference is race. The 4G diagnosis shall examine the case of racism particularly black people.
Over time, discrimination against black people has gone through four phases. The first phase was prior to 1884 before the present territorial boundaries were formed during the Berlin conference generally called the scramble for Africa.
During that period multipolar tensions existed between big and large tribes and ethnic groups. There also existed multipolar relations between a few empires, namely the Mali, Ashanti, Sokoto, Bamoun, Oyo, Kaabu, etc.
The ideological assumption of the colonial structure was expressed in a simple proposition: ‘Black men are primitive, uncivilized and in some cases not human enough’ [he did not have a soul, others claimed]. As a result of that assumption and its corresponding propaganda, Africans were treated, more or less, like other animals. There one purpose was narrowly defined as being of use to his conqueror.
Outside Africa, the story was the same. Blacks were made to be slaves till 1833 when it ended in England and in the United States when it was officially made illegal in 1865.
Under the two structures, the logic is the same. A was subhuman to be at the service of the superior human(s). Both structures were operative despite the fact that one group of Africans were in a foreign land and the other group of Africans were in their own land.
The second phase of discrimination was from 1884 until the 1960s when the new colonies of Africa got their independence. The second phase was also operative in the Americas from 1865 till the 1963 when segregation ended.
The discrimination paradigm was the same for the black race irrespective of the tribal region. It was admitted that Africans were human but with limited intellectual capacities. For example, in America, blacks were defined as 3/5 of a person while in Africa Africans were given just the limited potential that would enable them to better serve their colonial masters.
Thus it was concluded that there was no need to teach black people the sciences because either they could not understand science or conversely blacks would cease to be a servant if he had the same skills as his master.
It is important to note that once the slaves were set free in the United States , the whites still needed labor and resources. The plan was simple, instead of bringing more labor force into the America, they said: “let’s colonize them in the various southern states and make them work for us”. Such a internal colony would come to be called ‘sharecropping’.
Meanwhile in Europe, the Berlin conference was held. It divided Africa into pieces of flesh on which the western nations would feed. It is during this period that we could see many plantations being created all over Africa. In Cameroon, the first plantation was established by the Germans in 1907; that is, two decades after the Berlin conference.
In reality, the slave model industry that existed in the Americas had been transferred to Africa. In other words, there was no need to transport people into the new American continent anymore. Taking the war into the opponent’s land, into the heart of Africa, was the strategy. It was a more efficient method and preempted civil unrest in European nations.
While blacks were segregated in the Americas, Africans were strategically segregated from white colonists and other tribes, but in their own land.
After the new territories got their independence in the 1960s, another system of neocolonialism was established. The new leaders were poorly educated on European strategy. They ignorantly signed military alliances with the west [Senegal], joint monetary policies [Cote d’Ivoire and Franc CFA as did all the French colonies], obliged the new government to consent with the colonizers for the appointment of new leaders [Cameroon], to hold the colonizers as privileged partners of trade in arms, public contracts and education etc [Cameroon, Guinea Conakry, and most of the French colonies], although they would be the worst partners when it came to concessions and progress.
This was the third phase of discrimination based on a strategy put in place to exploit Africa. This phase is marked by a skillful indebtedness, limiting economic possibilities and an unfair trade system called ‘free trade.’
Also, while segregation in the USA officially ended in 1963 the same pattern applied to African nations and remains the same infrastructure that was and is applied to blacks in the USA and other parts of the world, e.g., live in high debt, limited economic prospects, unfair deals disguised under the slogan of land of the free.
What is most important about these stages is that despite the fact that they underwent the same types of marginalization over different territories, the methods of struggle were similar.
In some cases, they worked together. For example, W.E.B Dubois had championed the cause of African independence and worked with the newly elected leaders towards the construction of a free and better Africa and for its children. It should be stated that during the Pan-African Congress in 1921 [Belgium], W.E.B. Dubois was present and he had always worked for the Pan African vision.
In 1927, a similar conference was held in New York where he was also present. He even represented Africa in the U.N.O. in 1946 through the N.A.A.C.P. after a dialogue with Walter White.
In the fourth generation diagnosis, Africa is on a different stage: no longer considered subhuman [1st stage], or just unfit to mingle with others [2nd stage] or should be openly discriminated against or cheated [3rd stage]; it is a stage where he is considered to be like all other human races but must prove himself, else he remains what he was considered to be.
This stage is the post neocolonialism in Africa, post social cruelty and institutional cruelty in the West, at least openly. More clearly, in the 4th generation, any African can create his own business and make it as big as he wishes [Dangote:23 billion net worth in 2014]. He is free to build his own school and teach what he wants, create industries and change his life as well as that of his fellow citizens.
In the West, the blacks are also on the verge of doing the same things; to establish themselves to some extent, the way they want and to attain the success and freedom they desired.
But the methods deployed by the west to subjugate have only changed forms. Therefore, in this 4G stage there are important questions that need to be asked. How much has the white man changed to make race relations better?
In the case of Africa, he is determined to get mainly natural resources after the trade of humans has become less viable. It follows that, he has not changed his purpose that much. Also, how much have we Africans changed in order to oppose him more effectively?
This is the most important part. As it shows, we Africans have not changed that much! In fact, are we more united than before? Have we learned his secret on how to produce great weapons including the ultimate weapon – nuclear? Have we mastered his craft in creating things, changing materials into bright nice objects? Have we established the rule of law so that all feel protected? Have we stopped killing one another? Have we reduced our recreational habits in order to replace them with inventive and creative ones? To all these questions, the answer does not soundly strike the positive note.
It is rightful therefore to ask which is easier: to continue asking the other actor to change even when he shows unwillingness, or to change ourselves following a pattern that will automatically oblige the other to bow and comply?
Common sense opts for the second while at the same time it remains legitimate to call both parties to dialogue, to requests for reforms, and to apply political pressure to adjust for a more proportionate distribution of the wealth. It is also most necessary and urgent to invest in the right options: in ourselves and in each other.
The 4G Diagnosis addresses not our fathers who inherited the independence legacy, not for those who fought against segregation in the West under its brave leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X. The 4G is a discourse to us; it is the heritage of all the former three. We know the opponent; we know that we cannot oblige him to do all we want. But we know what it takes to change ourselves for the better; and we know the weakness of the other.
We have discovered our potentials and we know what is keeping us down. We have come to understand that we can’t continue to blame others forever on what happens to us.
We have seen friends like us from Asia, south America and even the West, at times, less intelligent, but who nevertheless have great industries, have organized businesses, have stable families and have stood up to defend their own all the time. It is no one’s responsibility to defend us or to make us prosperous but ourselves.
In the 4G discourse we hold that, as W.E.B. Dubois championed the cause of Africans and their progress, it should be the responsibility of Africans to champion the prosperity of blacks outside the continent especially those who underwent slavery. But how can this be accomplished? The answer is a simple one.
The answer is for us to build a great Africa. A peaceful, loving, united Africa wherein others can identify themselves with it without second thoughts and without shame.
The reason for this proposition is a key aspect in the 4G diagnosis which should be stated clearly: so long as Africa is poor, divided, exploited and at war with itself, others of African descent shall continue to be seen with the same disdain. We hold the responsibility to make a change. We shall solve the problem of racism by solving the problem of Africa, to a greater extent.
During the Japanese invasion of China , the brutality was beyond measure. Chinese were slaughtered like sheep and maltreated like sub humans. It was a time when the Japanese had developed the idea of co-prosperity sphere which established their racial superiority. But today, when there is a slightest disagreement between china and Japan, the Japanese are the first to propose peace talks while the Chinese are quick to displaying war planes as a show of force. There has never been respect for other nations/people except when they rise to the status of power: military, political, industrial and economic.
Our forefathers have fought the most difficult battles: against slavery, against segregation and against popular normative discrimination. What fight do we have today? Just to love one another more, protect each other, educate each other, and built our economic and political power.
Also, the 4G analysis presents the black question as a singular problem. It is not by solving one’s individual problem that the black question shall be solved. It is not an American problem, a UK problem, or a Ghanaian problem. While blacks are not allowed in certain areas in the US, in Kenya today, Africans are denied access in a Chinese restaurant inside Kenya during certain periods of the day. Not even Barack Obama as a president of the USA is safe from racism because he connects to that same group that suffers the same prejudices.
It is not the individual saving himself that the group shall be saved; it is the group saving itself that every individual shall be saved. But in order to do so, each person has to be the best he or she can make of themselves, for we cannot invest in corruption, idleness, and greed then expect the group to be at its best in relation to us.
It is a singular problem also because the blacks abroad cannot be fully liberated when Africa has not liberated itself, and for Africa to completely liberate itself, it must envisage unity of all its descents and elaborate strategies for their protection and prosperity.
The 4G is you and I. It is a generation that wants to create its own heroes like the Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Nkwame Nkruma, Mandela etc. It is a generation that is more open, that wants to assume responsibilities and make a change. It is a generation which holds that its potentials and positive possibilities cross in their time.
That greater progress shall be achieved and that the history of the black race has not been completely written because a brighter part of it is still to come. This brighter part lies on him to create. And by doing so, he shall gain the respect that had been denied to his ancestors. It is a generation which believes that the relation between peoples/races is influenced significantly not by how they look but by what they have achieved. It is a power and materialistic dynamic where those with the instruments of power gain respect naturally: arms, money, and law.
It is our responsibility to leave to the 5th generation a legacy of which that they can be proud. One which will make them all believe that the story of the black man will not always be the same. That it will not be a story of occupying the last position in social hierarchies everywhere in the world.
It is a stage at which he and she shall rejoice at being at the top; for men and women do not generally feel morally compelled to respect others; but they are compelled to respect what others have achieved.