Could racism towards Black Africans be intrinsic to Arab culture?

This article is reblogged from the site Rising Continent.  Please go there and support their efforts.
 Posted on October 5, 2011 by Kevin Bismark Cobham

This is what I wrote recently in response to my abject disappointment at the deafening silence from the Arab world regarding their racism towards Black Africans. It was addressed to the “progressive” Pan Arab website and FB page: “jadaliyya” following their article giving tribute to the scholar and activist Edward Said on the anniversary of his death.

“Fine article, making reference to Black intellectuals too, such as Fanon, Malcolm X, MLK, Cabral. …Which begs the question: WHEN will and other Arab voices which claim to be progressive, to be for peace and justice, speak out loudly against Arab racism towards Black Africans? When? What is it about the humanity of the Black man, such that one can see article after article in jadaliyya mercilessly exposing the deceits and contradictions of Empire and its Arab puppet stooges, yet not one word since February (I would be happy to be proved wrong) about the racism intrinsic to the rebel cause, the wider anti Black racism in Libya or that of the Arab world. I don’t live in hope for change in this regard any time soon. The prejudice appears too intrinsic of culture, too profound….it needs to be ousted.”

And this is what I wrote on a friend’s wall after he had posted a quite simple yet powerful photo of an exiled Palestinian and an American Jewish woman holding placards. Hers read as follows: ” I’m from Austin Texas, Israel would pay me to live in his land because I am Jewish”. His read: ” I’m from Palestine, I cannot return to my land because I am not Jewish”.
“The Arab world, whilst rightly calling out this racism, needs to speak against its own racism against Black Africans. If they want to further the bonds of solidarity and call us to action regarding Jewish racism in Palestine ( it is right that they should)…then why the Arab silence regarding the lynchings, rapes and ethnic cleansing by the Nato stooge “rebels” in Libya? Speak up Arab world, or be damned by your murderous, racist hypocrisy.
One can also mention Sudan, Mauritania, much of the Sahel region, where racist Arab supremacist attitudes are very much at large. BDS against Apartheid Israel, by all means……but let us ask why so many in the Arab world are silent about their racism to the Black African. No Black person now is safe in an African country: Libya….murderous racism is the reason.”

I desperately want to be proved wrong. Wrong to form the view that racism towards Black Africans is so intrinsic of Arab cultures that it prevents them, in the main, from expressing the solidarity-creating outrage which we hear from so many brave Jewish voices condemning the colonial entity which is Apartheid Israel.

The racism inherent in the founding of the state of Israel and its perpetuation, are anti-imperialist indicators, helping create that consciousness necessary to understand just why the West supports that state, and why it must be opposed by forces for peace and justice.

The racism inherent in the founding of the NTC in Libya and prior to that the lies used to tap into latent Western racial prejudice against Black African peoples, so that Empire/Nato could step in, are also anti-imperialist indicators, helping create that consciousness necessary to understand just why the West supports the “rebels”, and why they must be opposed by forces for peace and justice.

The Arab world rightly identifies for our attention the Orientalist cloak spread across their lands and in particular in Palestine, beneath which the racist ethnic cleansing of Arabs by the Jewish state occurs.

The progressive Arab world should now identify that same Orientalist cloak which is being spread across Libya, beneath which the racist ethnic cleansing of Black Africans by lighter skinned Africans occurs.

Pan African voices which say little or nothing on this issue need urgently to question that silence. Pan African unity is meaningless as an idealised objective if African voices remain complicitly silent.

This is not a divisive dig. This is a “hang on a minute” moment.

Arab world, is ours a common struggle or are those just words? Pan Africanists, speak up!