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Looking Past Our Racist Assumptions To See Africa

Flying into the lovely and modern city of Tunis. The tap water is better than DC’s, and the city smells better than New York. Much better.

It’s the country where they shot the Tatooine scenes in the first Star Wars movie.

How I end up feeling half the time I talk about Tunisia
This classic video deftly lampoons all the Save Africa BS.
John Green demonstrates all the things you can fit in Africa, if you’re will to bend Maine down a bit.
  1. It’s a fucking continent. It contains 54 countries. It has deserts, rain forests, beach resorts, massive cities, very cold mountains, too much water, not enough water, poor people, rich people, and middle class people. It is, in fact, the second largest and second most populated continent.
  2. Let’s revisit that middle class thing. It’s got a little over a billion people. Of those a quarter or a third — depending on which metrics you use — are middle class. That’s a middle class which is around the size of the North American middle class. Not just the USA, but a continent-to-continent comparison.
  3. While some countries in Africa are greying, (meaning the birthrate is low, combined with youth emigration) African demographics in general skew young, and increasingly ambitious. That means if you people in the US/Europe/Japan want any working tax payers supporting your social security payments in your old age, you’d better start courting young African immigrants.
  4. But good luck with that, because many African economies are growing fast, and infrastructure is springing up all over the place. There’s a lot of reasons for people to stay in Africa, depending on which of the 54 countries they’re in; some are doing better than others. Also, Africans know the West is racist and will treat them like crap, so our ability to attract them will be limited.
  5. In many African nations, access to women’s healthcare is better than it is in Texas. That is, admittedly, a damn low bar, and they should do better.
  6. Africa has had eight women as heads of state. Continental North America has had one, in Canada, for 5 months. (There was also Acting President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot of Haiti, but if there’s somewhere you regard even more as a smoking crater than Africa, it’s Haiti.)
  7. There isn’t much famine in Africa. In fact, in many countries, obesity is becoming a public health crisis. Sound familiar, America?
  8. When you get down to it, we’re all Africans. That’s where the human species comes from. So it’s fair to say Africans, on the whole, have done pretty well around the world. Certainly better than all the other hominids we’ve encountered.
  9. African history isn’t just a dark story of native tribes living hunter-gatherer lives. That’s a lie promulgated by 19th century anthropologists who were drafted to support the scientific racism at the time. Somehow, after throwing out most of the scientific racism as the garbage it was, no one has bothered to update the bullshit made up about Africa. When most of our ancestors were barely banging rocks together, people from the region around the Horn of African were smelting iron for the first time and establishing trade with the Mesopotamian civilizations and that other great African civilization, Egypt.
  10. Sub-Saharan Africa also witnessed a few great empires while Europe was having a dark age, and established some of the great libraries of history. The Library of Timbuktu (in Mali) also housed a bunch of the Islamic research Europeans based their scientific age on. So that was pretty handy.
  11. The debt America owes to Africa isn’t mainly the Atlantic Slave Trade; it’s the debt all of humanity owes to the mother of our species. Africa is the cradle of both our biology and culture, and it has remained as vibrant, dynamic, and full of complicated drama as it was thousands of years ago.
To the left is the Ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a palace and city complex dating from around the middle ages. To the right is the Ruins of Carthage, where the Roman empire learned its tricks, more than a thousand years earlier.

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A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection. Season 2 stars @anildash @alanalevinson @ftrain @hipstercrite @itsthebrandi @jamielaurenkeiles @vijithassar @yungrama @zeynep. Season 1 available on DVD shortly.

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