think, world

cyberNomads

"..is an online community for the international black Diaspora with focus Black Europe coming together to recover and document their own social, artistic and academic history establishing the “mothership” databank.

Our goals are
:

  • academic information to tackle stereotypes and racism
  • decrease the social isolation by networking the community and its supporters
  • cultural and political change through technology"

blackorwhitesmall.jpg

I wasn’t sure whether I should broach the issue of this on my blog – however, Sokari’s recent thoughts on racism over at Black Looks reminded me that there IS a need to talk about these things.

When I lived in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa – it never occured to me that I should associate with other WHITE people in order to explain Kenyans that stereotypes like white people = rich aren’t really true. As a heterosexual person, it also never occured to me that I should join other heterosexuals to support and explain my sexual orientation to others.

Sure, those are different situations & circumstances and just as it’s good to see people networking and helping each other, it is sad (for me!) to see that there’s an actual need for such groupings.
Why can’t the world just be tolerant enough to accept and respect others – without making a big fuss about it?

Why should I be regarded a stranger when I go to Kenya and apply for a job with e.g. dayliff.com as a water engineer just because I am a Mzungu? Why are people crying foul when I openly turn this subject around and ask a counter question of why there’s still a difference between skin colours & origin?

As for me, there’s no difference. Neither in Kenya nor in Germany.
But what about the other people?

Posted by

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Google+.

10 comments » Write a comment

  1. “Why can’t the world just be tolerant enough to accept and respect others – without making a big fuss about it?” Exactly!
    I think it will happen, just a little slower than we want it.

  2. I think that is THE big WHY? I found it hard to understand the minds of some of the people who left comments on the “Gay marriage banned post” last week – 2 I deleted because they sat very squarely in the realms of the KKK and BNP of the far right yet they were written by black women, Nigerians. How people carry that kind of hate inside of them I do not know and why – imagine all the energy it takes to hate like that?

  3. Ati, do you want to apply as a waste water engineer at Davis & Shirtliff? I guess that would be a good job for you if you have completed your studies. Btw. do you know a good career website that lists jobs in Africa?

  4. Pingback: Riemer-O-Rama » Kikuyumoja’s realm…

  5. That is a good question and at times I wonder too the ulterior motive of these exclusive association and JKE I think Kenyans are more tolerant than most country to “white men” although another blog for another day I have a question on the so called “white Africans” integration with Africans and how they view Africans and at what level do they associate themselves with Africans ,youknow the maid, the askari etc

  6. Imagine all the energy it takes to hate like that? –> I like this comment, yeah it takes a lot of energy, but I can’t say that I am not wasting my energy from time to time. But I am still young and I’m still in progress.

    I just remembered my behaviour at the time I returned from Kenya. I was discriminating every white man or woman. I looked for contacts only to black people and I avoided to talk to whites. I just hated the way whites, or in this case, germans were thinking and acting or even not acting. My disappointment went with time.

    Gosh, I tell you I am proud of my friends and of myself, there are old people, young people, handicapped, non-handicapped, homosexuals, heterosexuals, blacks and whites and my birthday parties are very special even if some of my friends every year see difficulties to talk to each other in the beginning

    i talk to much, pole sana

  7. My take on this.

    First off, there might be more than just straight-up racism at play here. There is that factor that, for want of a better term since I am not a sociologist, I will call it reverse racism. (Black) Kenyans have a stereotypical view of whites as having better access to good jobs (among other resources). While they might not resent this, it seems to me that it worries them to some extent to think that they may perpertuate this by actually giving these jobs to them.

    This means that if you interviewed for a job, you might not get it, not because you are white but because the organization does not want to be perceived as favoring whites. In the US/Canada, they call this “reverse affirmative action” and there is a good example of it here.

    Aside from this, you have to remember it might not be the fact that you are white, it might just be ordinary competition for the position. Undergraduate un-employment stands at about 50% meaning that there is heavy competition for any advertised position. This is in spite of the fact that the candidates to be accepted have usually been pre-selected in many cases (usually some relative or friend of whomever is doing the hiring).

  8. It is not only about reverse racism as Ntwiga put it, its just that its everywhere and a lot of people complain but never go into self reflexion…that is why I like Mwendes comment so much- there are so many stories to be told-not only about black and white, handicapped or not, hetero or homosexuals…it goes right down to the question of what should be considered normal and what not- what a nuisance!!!!!!!!…as all of you said, what a waste of energy…I know of a black american who- on his “back to the roots journey” got discriminated in Kenya by what he thought where his own people, just because his forefathers were sold by chiefs to be slaves-and when I worked for an american firm in europe we were asked to fill out a questionaire stating our race- we all wrote “cosmopolitan” shaking our heads (I do know the idea behind it is not to discriminate, but still: everytime I had to fill that form I had the inner feeling: race does matter)…there are loads of stories like that, and I feel there is real need for action so that everyone can live and let live…even here in Germany a politician can be asked to take his hat just for basically stating” being homosexual is ok”…To be honest: I don’t care who or what people are or do, as long as they aren`t criminal or hurt me in whatever way. geee, its everywhere, our (pop)stars sing about it and I bet there are people out there happily singing along and acting differently .
    I could go on and on…respect, honesty and tolerance- a difficult triangle to achieve if you want it to be in equilibrium…it would be so wonderful we would be judged by the way we act and who we are- and not by superficial criteria…in the end I think that people who discriminate in whatever way must have an inferiority complex of some sort- just crazy. And it is about ideals that need to be lived. A lot of people just talk but don’t do anything. Everything starts with putting thoughts into words-and I thank Kikuyumoja for giving us this platform to discuss! It is up to us to be “a good example”- even if we might not live to see the results…Asante Sana Kikuyumoja

  9. @Ntwiga, I see your point on the Kenyans who have never left Kenya and met white individuals who are just as struggling view. However, I can also say as I had said earlier, the very Whites who come to Kenya , who live in Kenya as expatriates or otherwise barely integrate with other Kenyans beyond the askari, the maid and the gardener and the tour guide, so that perception that every white man has money and access to job lives on the mind of Kenyans and they do not know any better by assuming so, maybe JKE the whites should open their “homes” more so to speak to kenyans other than their missionary villages where they make a difference but also make real friendship and integrate with ordinary Kenyans who may not necessarily need the rescue from the missionaries. Myabe then, the stereotype will lessen.The way I see it ,they are not any better than the blacks who form organization in Europe because such alienation is what causes “suspicion” on the other because the person who is suspicious knows no better.

    I agree the unemployment rate is high and that may cause resentment on the Kenyan citizen if they perceive that he is getting the job just as when we are abroad and the economy of our host is not doing well, then there is high unemployment rate, the immigrant is the one who bears the scorn. All in all racism is alive and well , but as someone commented on my blog , believe there is good in every each one of us however different

  10. Organisations, or platforms such as these are formed to provide space for people/ideas which are not catered for by the mainstream. I assume that the purpose of this group is not to get together and explain their blackness to white people, but rather to collaborate, network, share ideas. I see it a resource centre for black people and it is probably filling a gap that exists, in terms of information at least. It may be sad, but they are necessary. As a black woman in Switzerland, the only likeness of myself I see in popular media, that famous mirror, is either in need, in distress or has committed a crime. Or is a purveyor of love – emergency or otherwise, to paraphrase Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Not to mention that all black people anyway come from Africa (you know that big hot country in the south). Now, if this is the image i see in the mirror everyday, surely I need a alternative that reflects a few truths – organisations like this fit in here.

    Before I came here, I had no idea of the isolation that a black person can live in in Europe. Not just physical, but intellectual as well. Simple things, like where to do my hair, get ‘African food’ were not advertised, say, in Blick, or on national television. It is thanks to organisations like this that I was able to meet some of my needs. It is also thanks to organisations like these that I was able to go through my ‘migration depression’ (my term) without ending up in a nuthouse. It is also organisations like these that fill the information gap for Swiss people who want to know more about Africa, apart from you know, war, famine, the usual things.

    So, people will eventually get along no matter how they look – not in our lifetime though. And associations such as these will be important in dismantling barriers, at least I hope so.

    About your Kenyan experience, my pesa nane is that because Kenya is ground zero for what I call ‘benign apartheid’ (there goes the oxymoron to end all oxymorons) the tables are now getting turned on white people who had it good for far too long in Kenya. And I’m not saying that it is a good thing – it is just a legacy of colonialism.

    And because racism is about power and privilege, it will not end until these two facts are addressed.

    I am blogging on your blog – thanks for bringing this up.