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The Dissonance of “Bring Back Our Girls” and African American Pain

How is it that nations that show little regard for the Black lives in their own countries, with next to no coverage for missing black children, prisons packed to the rafters with Black bodies, Black children living significantly under the poverty line in comparison to their white counterparts, can be so invested in the lives of the 200 plus missing black girls on another continent?

I reflect back to James Baldwin:

“When an African is mistreated here, for example, he has recourse to his embassy. The American Negro who is, let us say, falsely arrested, will find it nearly impossible to bring his case to court. And this means that because he is a native of this country–“one of your niggers”–he has, effectively, no recourse and no place to go, either within the country or without. He is a pariah in his own country and a stranger in the world. This is what it means to have one’s history and one’s ties to one’s ancestral homeland totally destroyed”

The contextualising of the Black African diaspora in America as “one of your niggers” and their lack of recourse in a hostile anti-Black society is important in our understanding of the national investment in bringing back the 200 plus young girls to their families in Nigeria. An honourable endeavour no doubt but one rife with hypocrisy considering the situated-ness of the African American.

The answer again lies in the “white saviour pathology” that permeates the American psyche and that of the other European countries and their colonised diaspora.

As long as America and its counterparts continue to operate under this most delusional of pathologies they must consistently cast their gaze to the East because it is there that it can fulfil the notions it believes about self, its ideals of freedom, equality, justice, democracy, superior morality, “civilisation” and it is by these virtues that it can position itself as saviour.

To cast that gaze inward would be to first acknowledge the negro as human, something that America and the West yet continue to struggle with contrary to contemporary discourse. More importantly such a gaze inward at its prisons, its “ghettos”,its failed schools, would be akin to looking in the mirror and taking full account of self. In doing so America would have to reckon with all its faux aforementioned ideals as they collapse on the body of the colonised African, the Native.

It is there that it loses its moral authority, all sense of superiority & would instead have to reckon with its own inhumanity, savagery and brutality.

The negro, being many things to America, is by mere presence most troublesome as a symbolic representation of all that America is not, juxtaposed to all that it positions itself to be.

About Joseph

natty dread bastard child of the first world. something like a literary trap beat.


5 thoughts on “The Dissonance of “Bring Back Our Girls” and African American Pain

  1. Great read Joseph. Powerful and incisive words!

    Posted by Mark Malone (@soundmigration) | May 11, 2014, 1:12 AM
  2. America loves to go crusading all over the world to “right wrongs” while deflecting away from the problems of Black, Indigenous and Brown people in America, problems which were created by and are maintained by American white power, imperialism and capitalism

    Posted by Dex Sims | May 12, 2014, 1:03 AM
  3. That definitely summed it up…wake-up! sleeping giant.

    Posted by cbama | May 13, 2014, 10:35 AM
  4. You hit the nail on the head. It’s so easy for Americans to project our ‘righteousness’ on the struggles abroad to feel good about ourselves. Meanwhile, there are thousands of girls in the U.S. who are in sexual slavery at this moment. There are millions of our people ‘kidnapped’ (incarcerated) for little more than growing up poor. Why do we think that if we protest online we’ve accomplished something? What happened to Kony after all the hoo-hah? Nothing. There’s no immediate profit in rescuing the girls, nor in doing what it would take to stop the violence in northwestern Nigeria. But it makes great fodder for the newscasters.

    Posted by Jackie Gay Wilson | May 13, 2014, 1:40 PM


  1. Pingback: Parellal Crossings: Reparations and Reconciliation | syncopated hustle - May 15, 2014

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