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Organised America still fails human rights test

Monday July 29 2013

By MUTHONI THANGWA

The American society is supposed to be one of the most liberal in the world.

Actually some of the most powerful speeches on human rights have been made by American civil rights activist. A good majority of them black and fighting for the rights of Americans of African origin.

In multicultural societies in which the divide is by race and colour, human rights tend to have an additional racial subdivision.

But once again American society seems to fail the liberal test with the conclusion of the Zimmerman case. A black American teenager was shot dead by an adult male ‘standing his ground’.

In some ways America is no different for a black person, especially a black male in 2013, than it was when blacks were slaves picking cotton in the Mississippi Delta towns at the turn of the last century.

It is a highly racist society. Don’t be mistaken, no one talks about it, but everyone lives it every day of their lives. In an address to the nation on the issue of the Zimmerman shooting, President Obama pointed out the salient issues of the racism in American.

It is manifested in the genuine terror of those white women who will not get into a lift with a black guy – well just in case!

It is that security personnel in a store who will follow around a black person in case they attempt to shop lift. But America is a country of contradictions. By and large, it is a beautiful highly organised nation.

This is one country where they have found ‘dawa’ for all sorts of madness. The madness of Matatus on the road is chicken feed in America.

No one dares to indulge their road rage, as the penalties are so high that the temporary madness can only be enjoyed once.

No one skips lights for you shall be caught on camera – eventually and cured permanently of your misconduct. But law enforcement officers are my all-time favourite of all Americans.

They simply repeat the same instruction to a potential, imagined or real offender in an almost robotic manner until you get it or they get you. It is just that simple.

This has created order in society and it is the lure of this order that has many immigrants, legal or illegal caught in the spider’s web.

It is this order coupled with infrastructural and social amenities and an internal subterfuge perception system that makes racism a silent background throb that one can pretend to ignore.

It is this pretence that ensures that 40 per cent of prison inmates in America are black. That percentile is larger than the representation of Black Americans in the national population which is at 30 per cent.

A Harvard University Sociologist, Bruce Western argues that prison is the new poverty trap for African Americans.

Racism in American is what negative ethnicity is for Kenya. Yet America has managed to keep the racial hostility under wraps and out of main stream political and development agenda.

The Black American in the social arena is the talented sportsman, musician, actor and actress and small pockets of entrepreneurs, talk show hosts and politicians.

In short, America only suits Africans with special talents, which translate into more dollars than one can be spend.

That is the one language that surpassed racism in America, the dollar. All other black people in America experience racism in more ways than they care to admit.