Since the emergence of MR D.J Trump as US president-elect, the issue of racism has become a burning topic. The real or perceived racist rhetoric’s of Mr Trump, during the campaign period, has led to fear, election violence and widespread protest against his emergence as the US president.
Few days, after Mr Trump emerged winner of US presidential election, Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was invited to a BBC discussion and something strange was said.
Those close to me can testify that I admire Chimamanda Adichie so much for her vocal personality. Not only do I often find time to watch interviews and events she is featured, I also do read most of her articles. Despite the fact that I am not a fan of novels, because of Adichie, I became one.
Although, while I sometimes find myself disagreeing with her views on issues, that didn’t in any way, take away the love and admiration I have for her as a person. Probably, this opinion of mine is another way of disagreeing with her.
Here is the issue.
Today, while surfing the Internet, I came across a story on Nairaland front page with the caption, ‘’Chimamanda Adichie on Trump, Racism and the KKK’’. The story was a video of her discussion on BBC Newsnight, about the outcome of the US election with Editor –in-Chief of a conservative magazine, American Spectator, Emmett Tyrrell.
As usual, I open the story and read through. However, not only did I read through the story, I equally watched the video to be sure some transcript or words, ascribed to Adichie was actually hers. As I watch the very heated and engaging discussion, in which Adichie sat down with style, emitting character and confidence, making me admire her even more. I can’t but shake my head in disbelief, when she expressed some views I consider very offensive to justify her stance on D.J Trump’s racists rhetoric’s during the just-concluded US presidential election.
During the discussion, BBC reporter, Emily Maitlis explained that some Republican members, such as Paul Ryan and others have acknowledged the fact that, US President-elect, Mr D.J Trump used some racist language while running his campaign. However, Mr Emmett disagreed . According to him, ‘’that’s not true, he, (referring to Mr Trump) hasn’t been racist he said. He went on to ask what racist comment D.J Trump made during the campaign and Adichie responded by citing the comment made against a judge handling Mr Trump’s case, in which the then Republican nominee said, ‘’a judge, a united states judge is unable to judge him fairly because he his Mexican. That is racist, said Adichie.
Sincerely speaking, Mr Emmett is being economical with the truth. Every objective follower of US presidential campaign wouldn’t deny the numerous racist comments made by Mr Trump. Yet Mr Emmett did, which is what most political pundits often do to defend their favoured politician.
As I was pointing out the bias and sentimental position of Mr Emmett to the person watching the video with me, Adichie didn’t allow me; instead, she fired a disgusting missile about racism to justify her stands. I mean, she made a very offensive remark, similar to what she said made Trump a racist.
‘’If you are a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is. I am sorry, you really don’t’’. Adichie said.
Firstly, there is something fundamentally wrong with Adichie’s statement. In fact, everything is wrong with it.
Here is why.
According to Adichie, Mr D.J Trump is racist, because he said a judge won’t judge him fairly because he his Mexican. Then, Adichie went on to say, ‘’If you are a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is.’’ Meaning, you can’t discuss racism fairly simply because you are white.
If D. J Trump is a racist based on what he said about the Mexican judge, I am afraid, isn’t Adichie also guilty of the same offence for what she said about white people ?
Mr Emmett responded appropriately by saying, ‘’ Do you know the false consciousness, which is the theory you are talking about in concept. I mean, you are saying, I cannot even open my mouth here because I am a white man?’’. The stunned white man felt very hurt and confused.
But that’s exactly what Adichie is saying. That a white man can’t talk racism fairly or get to define racism appropriately because he his white. This in itself, is a racist comment I believe.
Instructively, when US president-elect, D.J Trump made those racist remarks about the US-Mexican judge, thousands, if not millions of white men and women in America condemned him for racism. So did thousands, if not millions of coloured people, including African Americans.
Similarly, other thousands, if not millions of white men and women defended Trump against the same accusation, and so did coloured people, including African Americans.
Paul Ryan, quoted by BBC reporter Emiley, as acknowledging Trump to have used racist language is also a white man. It is, therefore, unreasonable, and highly condemnable for Adichie to look down on Mr Emmett, by claiming he cannot define racism fairly simply because of his colour or race.
By extension, the racist statement made by Adichie isn’t just about Mr Emmitt as a person, it went beyond him. It is indirectly telling all white men and women who have been condemning racism that no matter what they do to stand against racism, in the eyes of people like Adichie, they can’t be fair because they are white.
Let me conclude by stating that, the word racism itself cannot be claimed to have originated from coloured people or Africans. While the root of the word is not clear, Linguists generally agree that it came to the English language from Middle French.
To then claim that a white man cannot define racism, simply because he his white is not only ignorant and offensive , but it is also racist.
Abdulrazaq O Hamzat