19/06/2020

Am I black enough?

 

George Floyd, millions of men and women, millions of young people, in two hundred countries, made up the longest funeral procession in history. You were a member of a Reformed Church in Houston, which sees death not as a moment of despair but as a gathering of solidarity and hope. In just one day you created millions of blacks, browns, niggars... of all colors, who shout in all languages ​​their rejection of lynchings and ordinary injustice.

Their anger is the anger of the vast multitudes and that of the new generations who will no longer consent to any secular persistence of discrimination against minorities, neither in your country nor in their own countries, this daily, insidious, random and lawless oppression.

But their anger is also an intimate drama: it is the anger of millions of Afro-descendants in the world. Whatever their condition, whether they come from an impoverished, relegated and suspicious minority community; or are a free majority force; either united or divided; or members of hostile nations or tribes... Everyone asks themselves in their innermost depth: "Am I black enough?" That is: Am I sufficiently supportive, sufficiently vigilant, and sufficiently aware of the contemporary consequences of slavery, Apartheid, and forced labor?

And you, my grandchildren, Florence and Nathanael with Persian eyes? You and Ayo, our little blond yoruba, are going to ask yourselves the same thing. Your Africa is to the world what African-American minorities are to the Americas: the opposite and the denial of the progress of others. "Will you be black enough?". Meaning, rebellious enough, insurgent enough, proud enough, confident enough. Will the only things that remain forever be our music, our souls and our arts as unique metaphors for our greatness and our freedoms?

And me, the "half-breed", born without color, can I fulfill my destiny alone? Can I survive alone and colorless when so many women, men, and children are predestined to suffer inequality and stolen destinies?

For a long time I believed that there was no intimate relationship between being black or white, that only class barriers mattered, that possessing  republican merit was what built successful lives. At the time, I felt moved by the creation of an association representing the blacks of France. As if we had to define ourselves through the mere gaze of others, whether by sympathy, desire or hatred, and as if we had to accept ourselves as a minority just because we were "visible"... What sense can there be to an identity imprisoned in a skin color?

This imprisoned identity is particularly unbearable for the half-breeds who constantly suffer from the baffling experience of a minoritarian racism, which is nonetheless universal.

As a banker in France, I did well as a black man; as Prime Minister in Africa, I did well as a white man.

Now, I think I understand.

Through manifestations, the younger generations are showing the invisibility of colors and the universality of values. The only component to achieve a successful life is to rid ourselves of our own hatred through Law and freedom. Whether the police are black or white, like their victims, there is only one choice that counts: commit to those who do not have the option of choosing their fate.

Values ​​against colors, the greatness of the invisible and the misery of the visible, marches of pride and the right to indignation. Thank you George, I understand now.

 

Lionel Zinsou is the President of Terra Nova and the President of SouthBridge.

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