On Racism, Tribalism and Our Response to the Racial Insults

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 Source: Berko, George

on Muntari and Emanuelson.

This is almost a reproduction of my comment on Ghanaweb.com in reaction to how many of our fellow Citizens responded to the news that our compatriot, Sulley Muntari and his team-mate, Emmauelson , from Holland, were racially booed in a Soccer game in Italy. My Ghanaweb.Com comment was somehow truncated on the forum, so I decided to present it here in full for our general discussion.

It is interesting to note how uniform our reactions were in condemning such dehumanizing Racist treatment of one of our own in some foreign land. We are so hypersensitive to Racism that we all spontaneously sung a protest chorus to denounce the incident. We seemed to be showing some solidarity with our offended fellow Citizen. The preponderance of our condemnation of the racist behavior of the fans that insulted our brother, Muntari, however, poked my deeper conscience to wonder whether we were being truly empathetic towards him, as a fellow human being, or we were rather selfishly protesting our individual vulnerability, remotely kicking against something we know could hurt us, too, being of the same color or Nationality as him.

Many may not appreciate the difference between the two situations for our reaction that I have embossed here in abstract. But I think there is a subtle distinction between being truly empathetic and what could be described as being selfishly protective of our own imminent vulnerability under similar circumstances. That is to say, our condemnation of the racist behavior against Muntari might not have been because we feel for him as a fellow human being, but because being of the same Race as he, we fear we would be victims of the same behavior under similar circumstances. It is obvious, then, that in the latter scenario, when we think we are inescapably included in such gross disparaging we vehemently protest. But when we see some room for our exclusion in that victimization, we have little to no problem with that, and might even escalate the victimization of the others, ourselves.

This very fine distinction I have drawn jumped at me when I realized that Tribalism and Ethnocentric hatred has been awash in our Media, and in almost the same breath with which we condemned those who taunted Muntari, we had exacted similar atrocity on others with local issues discussed on the Forum. I see no significant difference between the Tribal and Ethnic vile we trade among ourselves at home, in Ghana, and the Racism Europeans and other Races dump upon us abroad. In fact, given that most of the perpetrators of Racism against us have a significantly different color from ours, we discover some more reasonable basis, but not justification, for their Xenophobia and utter dislike for us.

Therefore, may I ask what right have we, really, to accuse the Europeans and others of Racism, while we continue to treat our own brethren next door, who even share the same Nation and color as us, but only speak a different tongue, with similar disdain? Then, the congruency also becomes apparent between the two settings in that just as the difference in color serves for the primary indication of our perceived relative inferiority to these dimwits, so does the difference in Language serve similarly in our illusive moronic perception of others among us as inferior.

The most interesting thing that I discovered in thinking about all this our human folly, exhibited by both the Europeans and us, is that the more this dehumanizing discriminatory behavior was shown to distinguish our humanity, the more the same attribute accentuated our shared humanity. So, I had to settle with the singular conviction that a bigot is a bigot, and a BIG bigot, no matter where they live or come from, how they look like, or what language they speak. It all has to do with our learned fear for the less understood, less familiar with. Various tales, perceptions and assumptions are cumulatively woven and passed on to us by our older folks, family and friends at different stages of our maturing process about these other People we know little about or have inadequate understanding of. We then add the acquired data to our protective gear and use them when we feel threatened.

It therefore behooves us all to muster the necessary will to acknowledge this social virus and determine to overcome the paranoia that drives it to manifest in us. If we won't stop our Tribalism and mutual Ethnic hatred, we should shut the H*ll up about other Races hating us and treating us like animals.

Charity begins at home. And we should do unto others what we wish done unto us, says the good Old Bible. Even the Eastern philosophies espouse the law of Karma. What goes around comes around. And we cannot reap what we haven't sown.

Additionally, we should all bury our heads in abject shame to exhibit that much bigotry day in and day out, and have the audacity to be hypocritical about it. We have no justification to condemn anyone else of any wrong that we so pigheadedly refuse to abandon ourselves. And if any of us, like Muntari, gets hurt by outsiders with the same tool we hone and polish and use at home to hurt each other, we must take no small responsibility for that; we all have to blame ourselves for it, too.

It is only when we acknowledge and strive harder than now to eschew Tribalism and Ethnic hatred among us that we can command any moral justification in condemning Racism against us everywhere on the Globe.

Our Leaders haven't done nowhere-near-enough to lead the way to curtail this vicious, dehumanizing behavior. We have indulged it in our sober, unprovoked moments as well as in our blinding rage, giving our brains no time to absorb the likely repercussions. But thinking further on, it has been said that what we observe and retain by sight is what often forms the basis for our dreams. So, our failure to behave right and treat one another appropriately, is the result of a long established wrong notions lingering in our subconscious that we fail to deal with wisely and consciously.

Thus, we all have the responsibility to search through our minds for those nutty, indecent notions about other folks and consciously and conscientiously work to detox our brains of those disparaging wrong notions. Then, and only then, would we have the right to condemn those who treat us like our brother, Muntari, was treated. If we don't have enough respect for one another, and keep undermining the other's dignity, we encourage the outsiders, the other Races, to look even much lower down upon us.

Muntari and his team-mate do not deserve that treatment, as human beings. And so does the next Ghanaian of different Tribe or Ethnicity we encounter not deserve our Tribalism. I realize that the good Citizens among us who try hard to discourage Tribalism and not practice it may feel a little hurt by this my generalized perspective about us. But the fact that we have all failed to keep the vice of Tribalism and Ethnocentric hatred under reasonable control, makes all of us tainted with its notoriety. Long Live Ghana!!!

Columnist: Berko, George