Post Truth and Alternative Facts are the latest headlines, but it’s not news to somebody like me. I have lived my life negotiating a deliberately false perception of who I am. For 500 years, black people have endured post truth and alternative facts politics. We still do, and it continues to affect our lives adversely. Now that post truth and alternative facts openly exist, I hope that institutions (politics, education, media) will act responsibly on race relations. Excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.
Post-Truth Criminal Nature
Jesse Washington aged 17 was convicted of the rape and murder of Lucy Fryer. There were no eyewitnesses to the crime. A mob seized Washington from the court burnt him alive and lynched him. The police did not intervene, and neither did any of the 15,000 onlookers.The belief that black people have criminal natures motivated that 1916 act of terror. An idea that still permeates societies.
The Independent asked if ‘Black and Muslim killers are “terrorists” and “thugs.” Why are White shooters called ‘mentally ill’?’ Subconsciously they branded the people of colour as dangerous and the whites as the hunter. I was equally alarmed by Sky News commentary on Dylann Roof. Greg Milam said ‘He is the first person to face execution for a federal hate crime conviction’, but Roof’s execution is for murdering nine innocent black people. The same light treatment is given to Alexandre Bissonnette, white supremacist terrorist, who shot and killed six Muslims but who The Times portray as a wholesome student who likes chess.
Nonetheless, the portrayal of black people remains negative. There is a hyper sense of black women’s anger. In films, black women are shown cussing 89% of the time against a mere 17% for white women. Black women are also portrayed as physically violent (56%) with white women as meek (11%). Black masculinity and aggression are also greatly exaggerated.
Alternative Facts History
White establishment has also created an alternative history. One where the history of black people begins with slavery and ignores that human culture first developed in Katanda, Congo, or that the 82nd African Division was decisive in ending the fight against Japan. Allied commander General William Slim could not be bothered to acknowledge them in his World War 2 thank-you speech. So children emerge from school not knowing the sizeable contributions Africans made to the world.
The media fills the knowledge gap with alternative facts and negative images. Slave films are sanitised and Blackface which sends the pervading message ‘black people are stupid’ is still happens. And most people’s understanding of the American civil war comes from Gone With The Wind. A narrative that suggests we should mourn the passing of slavery. Black people did not accept slavery. The first European settlers in America (1556) were not the Pilgrim fathers but 500 Spaniards and 100 enslaved Africans. They rebelled and left 150 Spaniards retreating to Haiti. American history has also erased the black founding fathers and other black patriots who distinguished themselves during the American Revolution.
Post Truth and Alternative Facts
Post Truth and alternative facts encourage negative attitudes and a lack of sympathy toward black people from the public. Given the unprofessional and violent portrayal of black women, it is not surprising that for every 100 women given prison terms for drug offences at crown court 69.5% are black women against 30.5% for white women. For men its 58% to 42%.
The truth is black women are more likely to be killed than kill, more likely to self-harm than harm and are the most educated. Despite the academic success black women are underrepresented as pundits, intellectuals and in the advertising of luxury brands. However, like black men, they are overrepresented in ghettoised, hypersexual and poverty images. We have lived with post fact and alternative truth for 500 years. It’s time that changed, and the entire establishment took ‘a crash course in cultural relativism and ethnic sensitivity’ (James Axtell) and truth!
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