Arvindus

Contemplationam

Afro-Subjectivity

Since the end of the second world war and the establishing of the United States as world power the Dutch culture is strongly influenced by the American culture. One of those cultural influences regards the Afro-emancipation movement which in the Netherlands does have its independency but nevertheless is strongly influenced by that in the United States. As example thereof the Black Lives Matter movement can be mentioned, which as powerful expression of Afro-emancipation in the United States gave directly a strong expression impulse to the Afro-emancipation in the Netherlands. The power of this expression impulse is both in the United States and in the Netherlands also due to the given that anti-fascists have joined the Black Lives Matter movement. For the goals of the anti-fascists have an overlap with that of the Afro-emancipation. Anti-fascists strive as opponents of the strong state, to which fascism strives, in radical sense for the dissolution of the state, and the Afro-emancipators strive as fighters for the betterment of the social position of citizen with African roots (which here shall be indicated with the prefix ‘Afro-‘) for the dissolution of the supposed supremacy of the social position of citizens with European roots (which here shall be indicated with the prefix ‘Euro-‘). The goal of both aforementioned movements is the undermining of the present status quo.

Under terms like ‘white supremacy’ and ‘white privilege’ it is considered by Afro-emancipators that Euro-citizen occupy preeminent social positions and have priority in the assigning thereof. This priority position of Euro-citizens in relation to Afro-citizens is by the Afro-emancipation movement thought to be systematised, something which is indicated with the term ‘institutional racism’. Citizens of such societies grow up in systems which depict Afro-citizens as inferior and Euro-citizens as superior. Like a blank cotton piece of cloth colours pink when it is submerged in a pink dye bath, thus people become coloured with racist conceptions in societies with racist systems. Because people themselves grow up in those systems and become part thereof they are usually not conscious of the nature of that system, which they themselves from their received formation maintain. Afro-citizens who however see through this system are considered as awakened for the reality of the system and are as such called ‘woke’ (a word coming from the English word ‘wake’ or ‘awake’).

Concretely the system is maintained by cultural expressions and a change of system is by the Afro-emancipation movement then strived for through removal of elements which maintain the institutional racism. Thus the Afro-emancipation movement in the Netherlands strives for instance for removal from the public space of elements which glorify the colonial past, such as among others statues of sailors from the colonial period and street names which contain their names. Very famous is also the battle which is waged to bring an end to the figure of Black Pete. There’s also an effort to reform the use of language. In that the Afro-emancipation movement has been for instance successful in the moving of the Dutch media to replace the word ‘blank’ as indication for the European roots of people for the word ‘wit’. An important goal is also to replace the present written history with regards to the Dutch colonial past by a written history from Afro-Dutch perspective.

With the aim to rewrite history the Afro-emancipation movement actually also enters academic science. This science is especially since the enlightenment in the eighteenth century characterized by empiricism or sense perception and by the ratio or logic. It is from these two that the Afro-emancipation movement also finds resistance in the realization of its goals. Axioms of the Afro-emancipation movement are by counterforces generally refuted on ground of empiric data and rational processions thereof. Counterforces thereby often point to the constitutional principle of equality being in force, which ordains in equal cases an equal treatment. With cases like ethnic profiling by the police are often ethnic criminality figures brought in. And by Afro-citizens supposed cases of racism are by the counterforces often placed outside the definition thereof.  

The above described rational refutations by counterforces are by the Afro-emancipation movement usually disposed of with the term ‘whitemansplaining’, an English neologism which could be freely translated as ‘explanation by the white man’, whereby ‘-plaining’ is derived from ‘explaining’. The term has a pejorative connotation and indicates that the user of the word thinks low of the explanation of the white man of a supposed racist situation. The Afro-emancipation movement considers that the ratio of the Euro-citizen is not sufficient to explain a supposed racist situation as undergone by an Afro-citizen. According to the Afro-emancipation movement the correct explanation of racism against an Afro-citizen needs the emotional experience of an Afro-citizen.  

Here a very meaningful point in the present consideration is reached. Because the above means that for the finding of truth the Afro-emancipation movement considers Afro-emotional experiences as more important than empiricism, rationality and logic. This rationality on which the academic sciences are based is then by the Afro-emancipation movement considered as something which is brought in by ethnic Europeans. Science is colonized by European ratio and the Afro-emancipation movement wants to decolonize it through replacement by Afro-emotional experiences. The objectivity of the ratio must be replaced by the subjectivity of the Afro-emotion.

This has a somewhat ironic character because it is the ratio with its objectivity which from the enlightenment onwards led to the acknowledgement of equality of all people and to the abolishment of Afro-slavery, where before that ethnic Africans were still held in slavery from Euro-subjective conceptions.  

Now the ethnic European people which during the enlightenment let this rational objectivity with regards to human equality being born have strongly internalized this. Human rights are cherished and after a fall back during the two world wars one has become very heedful of an undermining thereof. It is therefore that with every supposed inequality of rights citizens hurry to join movements which fight that supposed inequality of rights. This we see happen with movements which fight a supposed discrimination of women, such as the Me Too movement, and we also see this happen with movements which fight a supposed discrimination of Afro-citizens, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

With the fighting for human rights and principles of equality of course a noble battle is waged. However one must heed that the goal is not exceeded because of which then is battled for an undermining of the principles which are the ground for the coming to being and maintaining of the aforementioned. The battle for the true realization of an equal treatment in equal situations of Afro-citizens is good to wage. However the obtained ratio based objectivity cannot be handed over for an emotion based Afro-subjectivity. The colonial history can be rewritten through removal of Euro-subjective elements, but not by assimilation of Afro-subjective elements. Written history should just like all other academic sciences handle objectivity above every subjectivity.

Fight for the equality of Afro-citizens at the cost of racism but not for Afro-subjectivity at the cost of objectivity.