The black body is the cheapest, most lucrative resource in the view of white capital

The time magazine cover this week shows that we are still in 1968 and black people's lives still do not matter to most whites. I cannot use a blanket to label whites as one but I would like to highlight that most of them actually do not see themselves as equal to blacks. Police brutality in the US has left many of us alarmed just to say the least. Martin Luther King would be turning from his grave if he knew that what he fought for is now being trampled upon.

Black lives huh?
Here is an excerpt form a columnist in the Eye witness news Phumlani Pikoli. He says the black body is the cheapest, most lucrative resource in the view of white capital.

Time is not moving anywhere and every day is a reminder that the lives of black people don’t matter the world over. We see this in the seemingly endless recycled stories of racial tension, violence and abuse that have come to dominate headlines, most recently with Baltimore in the US. These tales merely confirm that the system is broken and was not meant to cater to those for whom it was not built.

American civil rights activist and author W.E.B Du Bois put it more eloquently when he wrote:

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”

The death of black teenagers in America at the hands of white policeman is not in any way surprising, and neither are the highlighted cases of violence and abuse committed by white men in South Africa that deprive black people of their rights to safety and dignity. These incidents are not isolated, nor are they mistakes. Rather, they are orchestrated by a system that serves to preserve a status quo that deprives the black life of ‘grievable’ value.

There should be no acquiescence of the now more glamorous brutality and oppression that black people suffer today. Which is to say, the methods and tools of coercion may have changed but the goal has remained the same. Instead, there needs to be a greater interest taken in the cause and effect of such incidents. We need to ask ourselves: for whose ears are we screaming that our lives matter? We’ve been screaming this for centuries and what value has the world bestowed upon our lives? The black body is the cheapest, most lucrative resource and tool in the view of white capital, yet we fail to openly admit to ourselves that in those eyes we’re merely objects to be used.

Fanon greatly summed up this point in the book Black Skins White Masks published in 1967, while addressing a Hegelian argument of reciprocal recognition in the master and slave narrative. He writes:

“Here the master laughs at the consciousness of the slave. What he wants from the slave is not recognition but work.”

So, by not recognising black deaths it is easier to get work out of them. The very nature of the inherited infrastructure that the ANC government functions under is a stark reminder of this. The divisions are still being reinforced by legacies such as the Urban Areas Act that continues to haunt the present, and cast a long shadow over the future of black mobility through space and time.

The normalisation of keeping black people as peripheral beings, assigned to the city outskirts or parts of the city that would otherwise be considered uninhabitable for white people, further entrenches the malignancy of a system designed to bottom barrel a community to the dregs of the imagination.

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” - W.E.B. Du Bois.

UCT student Djavan Arrigone allegedly urinated on the head of a black taxi driver before hurling racial abuse at him. Another student from the same institution was involved in a racially motivated attack on Delia Adonis, who also happens to be a witness to the Arrigone case. Tim Osrin beat up a domestic cleaner he caught walking the streets of Kenilworth, Cape Town, claiming he thought that she was a prostitute. So, if the woman had been a sex worker then his actions would have been justified? Muhammed Makungwa was almost run over before being whipped with a sjambok in Rondebosch, Cape Town, because a white man thought that he had broken into his car.

All of these actions point to one prevailing psychology of superiority, entitlement, violence and acting with impunity with no accountability. These psychological features are institutionalised into the dominant system of control. For as long as black people attach their meaning of being to the white construct of blackness, we’ll forever be screaming upon deaf ears that our lives have value while begging for recognition.

The fires burning in Baltimore may signify rage at a system that doesn’t recognise the humanity of blackness, but rage can only go so far. In a country where a black cop is charged with a felony and suspended for hitting the hand of a white person, while policemen who gun down black teenagers and pre-teens alike, are acquitted of any charge - what real hope can there be? The same country that adds five years to the sentence of 24-year old Maurice McCreary for killing the dog of a policeman.

We can no longer stand idle, begging to be accepted or seen. It’s time we reassert our value. It’s not an easy step to take but it is a necessary one. When the system devalues our lives it means that it is not our system and we should no longer prop it up. The days of sullen superiority can no longer apply. We need to create a paradigm in which we are allowed to exist and progress through time, rather than remain looped in it.

Also read :

Justification for reparations?

Xenophobia : Why black South Africans are attacking blacks and not whites

Afrihatred and schizophrenic Afrikans

Why did the world stop at Charlie Hebdo killings but pass right on in Kenya killings?
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