I am no longer talking to Black Africans about Race
Bisi Alimi
907

Hello Bisi. Why did you expect us to understand in the first place? You say yourself that you never experienced ‘racialized discrimination’ till you left home. Maybe it’s just that simple. “Don’t assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding” is one rendition of Hanlon’s razor that I find useful here. Feyi Fawehinmi recently wrote a great article (titled ‘Personally’) about how his views changed with time spent abroad. In the post-script, he discusses how often he reads opinions online from fellow Nigerians that are strong and (probably wrong), but always tied up with their identity. Even living in Nigeria, opining on UK/US politics, it is still bound up with identity. You haven’t discussed your politics here, but seeing how viscerally you describe, well, everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did the same. (Now he briefly argues for a better way, and I agree with him, but it’s beside the point here).

My point is that it’s a rational position for someone living in Nigeria to hold, and we should admit that. (S)he is subconsciously (maybe even consciously) holding the thought of what they could accomplish with those opportunities, racism be damned. And thus castigating all you ‘complainers’. They’re wrong, but we would get further admitting this first. Your piece seems written with your back to Africans, telling everybody else about how we do. You know your audience better than I do, so that’s not necessarily an issue for me. But I think you’d generate more light than heat if you talked to ‘us’ about ‘us’, respecting the differences quietly made by our physical dwelling place. For one it would stress-test your positions and that could refine and make them stronger/encourage you to abandon them. (For instance, I think ‘owned words’ have been a colossal failure. Especially for black people. And seeing its use among Africans in Africa has only strengthened that position). Isn’t that half the fun of debate in the first place? lol. Thanks for the piece.

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