White Opportunism, #BringOurGirlsBack and disposable Black bodies

Music to get yo mind right, if we ever forget how white supremacy views people of color.

 Do you remember last year in April the fervor that swept through digital spaces? The hashtag #BringBackoOurGirls could be seen accompanying photos of statespeople, celebrities, and white students. There were petitions that circulated asking for US and European military intervention into Nigeria. It has been 276 days since 273 girls were disappeared from their community. These moments sadly, but not surprisingly are not about people at all, they are about what white supremacy has to gain from allowing black suffering to be visible.

White opportunism is white supremacy’s ability to use the tragedy that it has no claim to in order to further its own agenda and goals. This opportunism often manifests as conditions like white-savior complexes and charity complexes. It comes in varying degrees, but most often in our globalized world it looks like US and Europeans latching on to tragedy in Africa to further both governmental and corporate goals on the continent, it is the new yet old parasitic relationship of colonialism. In order for this opportunism to be justified, white supremacy needs highly visible tragedy that it can reduce to soundbites, none to clever memes and hashtags. Once “liberal” progressive people (mostly white) within the US and Europe have bought into this amplifying of tragedy without critical reflection, it becomes easy for white supremacy to use the tragedy in the way it sees fit. In recent times some of the easy examples of this to see are the global popularity of Kony2012 and last year’s viral hashtag #bringourgirlsback. While the latter began in Nigeria and had very specific meaning in its local context,but was quickly picked up by mainstream white media and it mutated into something wholly different. These tragedies become more about the natural resources that African countries are rich in, rather than the human suffering the media so carefully uses as framing. Last year, Margaret Kimberley wrote an extremely telling piece last year for the Black Agenda Report, which can be found here

In our current moment, it becomes sickeningly obvious just how disposable black bodies are to white supremacy and power. Western media does not need black tragedy, it literally can ignore over 2000 murdered Nigerians because it has its own, more important tragedy. Twelve murdered French racists are much more appealing than black bodies. These deaths allow for a very different kind of opportunism, it allows The US, Europe and Israel to continue to use the rhetoric of terrorism and Islam to justify the ongoing colonization and destabilization of the Middle East and Central Asia. It also allows for white supremacy to maintain its xenophobic practices which create instability for people of color within nation-state borders. This xenophobia manifests against both immigrants and citizens of color a like. The intensity of #jesuischarlie, the use of media spectacle, and geo-political power has been mobilized in grotesque ways. this is a multifaceted and complex problem. Every example, become the perfect example of how the technology of coloniality is applied to black and brown bodies.

The situations in Nigeria and France of inseparably linked. Nigeria a former French colony whose wealth is still being robbed by France and other global corporate interests. While organizations like Boko Harem and ISIS exist in the world, we must ask who really benefits from their orchestration? InfoWars.com wrote a decent piece discussing the complexity of these organizations, where funding comes from, and how these conflicts are more about how Western interests can exploit countries natural resources than it is about actual perpetrators and victims. The narrative and visibility of black victimhood is only mobilized by Western media outlets when victims exist outside of Western nation-states and there is money to be made. The violence of coloniality is the death of over 2000 Nigerians in a few days, with little to no mention of it by corporate media, it is the money made off of campaigns like #bringourgirlsback without accountability, it is the fact that bodies become disposable and humanity is denied.

The other side of the this link is France. The murder of 12 racist has allowed France and to an extent the rest of Europe to increase their Islamophobic rhetoric, to push white supremacist violence and to deny that these acts are violence. Examples of how this plays out and the consequences for human life are things like, over 16 mosques in France being attacked, like Lassana Bathily being detained by police, with the first issue of Charlie Hebdo published since the murders selling out and issues being auctioned for  as much as $20,000.

Sometimes these type of connections seem so obvious to me, that i don’t understand how people don’t see them. when people, institution and organizations are unwilling to acknowledge how colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacy contour the narratives we seek, hear and engage with, it creates a clear divide for me. #whichsideareyouon #staywoke #iamnotcharlie


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