OPINION: Foreign affairs is another area where racism is not talked about

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Several weeks ago, we talked about the racism that thrives in college football. Prior to that we talked about some of the racist underpinnings of the Christian religion in America. Today, we continue the discussion of silent racist matters by talking about the racist nature of foreign affairs as conducted by American and European countries.

This ironic conundrum easily presents itself in the face of the Israeli/Hamas War. As the world has come to watch on television and listen to commentators talk about the war over the last couple of weeks, one close friend asked, “Why don’t they tell us about the background that led up to this current war?” The answer to his question, of course, is that the Israeli/Hamas War, like the conflicts that have emerged over the years in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere in the so-called Third World, is shrouded in years of colonialist-imperialist racism.

As far back as 1967 when Ronald Segal wrote THE RACE WAR, more people have been exposed to the fact that there is a long-existing oppression of non-white nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands by the white nations of Europe and the United States of America. The origin of the condition can be traced to the period of European “exploration.” In its heyday, following the sanctioning and blessings of religious leaders, nearly every non-European country on the globe was claimed by one of the European countries. Colonialism and imperialistic control were the order of the day.

Then a funny thing happened in the 1960s. Many of the European countries began “granting freedom” to the Third World countries, but it only seemed funny because it was a cruel joke. Most often the Third World countries were declared politically free, but remained under the thumbs of the imperialist countries economically. Some writers called this neo-colonialism. The European and/or American countries extracted the minerals and other natural resources of those countries and exploited the laborers within the country, all the while native, “puppet” rulers ran the country politically. If and when the exploited people and/or their rulers tried to change the rules of the game, military action was threatened or actually taken by the white exploiting country, often with the assistance of other European and/or American allies. 

It happened with such regularity until Segal wrote about it. Giving it a slightly different twist, Walter Rodney wrote about it in his book, HOW EUROPE UNDEVELOPED AFRICA. The problem had also been more than hinted at by Stokely Carmichael, W.E.B. DuBois, and other astute African American observers.

In the long history of such racialized foreign affairs, Haiti represents a heightened, if not unique, case. After the Black enslaved people rebelled in 1791 and gained their independence in 1804, France, with the help of its white allies, came back with a vengeance. They settled on the country remaining free, but Haiti had to pay billions to France from that day to this. It is those extorted billions, with its interest, that has kept Haiti poor and struggling. In its dirty work, France has even been assisted by the United States of America.

One can then fast-forward to World War II. As an ally against the Nazi regime in Germany, the Jewish people of Europe, with the help of the European allied forces, were “granted” a homeland in what was Arab land. Through warfare they gained control of land in the Near East. The Palestinian people were displaced and the state of Israel was established in the area. Regardless of whether one wants to sympathize with the Israelis because of Hitler’s attempt to exterminate them, it is important to understand the part of the series of Arab/Israeli Conflicts that began in 1948 with the establishment of the Jewish state in the midst of Arab territory. In many respects, the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, see themselves as having been treated as if they were the Native Americans on the American continents. Furthermore, since 1948, there have been many expansions of the state of Israel, at the expense of the Arabs and with the help of the Western European powers. That is at least a part of the answer to the question regarding the background of the current Israeli/Hamas War. 

While there is not enough time nor space here to fully discuss the racist nature of what has transpired in so many other Third World countries, it is worth noting that rarely does one get the full, accurate background when conflicts arise in parts of Africa, Asia, or Latin America. It is most often shrouded in secrecy or simply ignored because the same white supremacists who do the oppressing and exploiting control the media, including the educational media, news media, entertainment media, et. al. Getting at the truth in these foreign affairs matters means that Black and other oppressed and exploited people often must turn to other sources or “find” the truth for themselves. 

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OPINION: Foreign affairs is another area where racism is not talked about

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
October 16, 2023