White Supremacy Through The Lens of African Neocolonialism
Countless of us have come to develop an understanding of how white supremacist beliefs render possible the sustained practice of racism within the parameters of Western society. But, in the far away places where it is disguised under the promise of African independence, white supremacy has long operated under a veil which continues to assure its anonymity. Then, as commendable as penetrating every aspect of Western society might be, we may speak of white supremacy as ingenious not for that specific act but rather for the intricate way in which it lingers in places it once was long after it is gone.
Reinforced by a history of colonial rule, white supremacy manifests itself today as an ideology of domination that centers the white identity at every turn of its economic, political, and societal systems. In its homeland, we best identify it as a subtle way of life composed of divisive rhetoric, skewed standards, and wrapped in police-enforced oppression. But beyond those borders, it is present in ways that are just as horrific.
Going back in time, we remember the resistance with which African demands for independence were met in the 1960s. Precisely to preserve their political and economic patronage over the area, colonial powers established trade agreements with former empires to secure their long-term financial needs. To ensure that this system of cooperation and compliance would be maintained, African leaders were lured in overtime with monetary bribes. While this interdependence has yielded widespread corruption and weakened political systems, it continues to emulate the exploitative doctrine upon which it was built. Today, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a long history of deadly wars over the foreign extraction of natural resources such as diamonds, gold, and copper leaves the country divided. In Rwanda, the ethnic polarization stemming from the arbitrary carving of nation-states that cut across geographical and ethnic groups by Western powers leaves many with a bitter memory of their past. Across the economic region of the ECOWAS, fifteen countries hold a currency whose financial regulation, banking activities, and budgetary policies are controlled by their former colonial power, France. Legally obliged to put 50% of their currency reserves in the French treasury as well as another 20% of financial liabilities, these African countries only retain 30% of their revenue. Unable to devalue their own currencies to gain better export prices and forced to sell unprocessed raw materials with low added value, these countries are left with a funny semblance of sovereignty and narrow political will.
Between human rights atrocities and stalling Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, white supremacy has bred political climates where economic development is nearly impossible. Among all former European colonial powers, France has been unique in its refusal to decolonize which is why, in its subtleties, French post-colonial rule continues to manifest in everyday life in its former empires. Taking Côte d'Ivoire as an example, it is easy to notice the dominating presence of French companies across economic sectors as well the historical contexts that have influenced the naming of shops, streets, and hotels alike across the country. Our thinking would then be terribly clouded if we assumed that the plea for African independence ended with the conclusion of the colonial era.
African thought-provokers have appropriately characterized the state in which its nations find themselves as a state of impoverishment rather than siloed poverty. In itself, that statement represents an appeal for the expansion of our understanding of the fight for Black liberation. It suggests that the fight for racial justice fought in your homeland is that which your neighbors fight beyond your borders, across the ocean. Devoid of doubt, we must know that our paths are all branches of the same tree as we march towards our mountaintop.