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Like the Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, who traversed the American hinterland with a notebook in hand taking notes in 1832, I devoted a whole month to travelling throughout Zimbabwe, listening to my fellow countrymen and taking notes. I had made arrangements to give public lectures at four universities. At Africa University, a learned professor asked why it is that Zimbabweans still have two narratives instead of one human narrative. Another professor asked if the election of President Barack Obama in the United States has helped to ease racial tensions.

The answer to both questions is no. The election of Obama has in fact made racial tensions tastier and allowed many white racists to come out of the woodwork and blame all their problems on an incompetent black president. Never mind the fact that our recession and banking problems started in president George W. Bush’s time, 2007-2009. The prolonged recession has made the Republicans unforgiving and careless in their speech, calling the president a “liar” and worse.

A Republican icon, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, was held as a role model by Republicans. Bundy challenged the authority of the US government, whose land is adjacent to his. He has been allowing his cattle to graze on federal land since 1998 and has refused to pay very small fees demanded by the authorities. He blames his problems (with the federal government) on people of colour who, he says sponge on the government, and have impoverished everybody. This billionaire rancher’s narrative reveals his world view.

“I want to tell you one more thing about the Negro.” He observed that in the projects (government housing) “the doors were usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have anything to do. They didn’t have anything for their kids to do. They didn’t’ have nothing for the girls to do, and because they were on government handouts, now what do they do? They abort their young children they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I have wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton, and having a family life doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t have any more freedom. They got less freedom.”

The narrative of this racist is that people of colour are better off picking cotton on his plantation without pay the proceeds of which are entirely set aside for his own enjoyment. That is why my dear professor, we, the children of Abraham have one narrative and the children of Pharaoh have their own narrative. This great billionaire rancher rightfully hates people who get “freebies” (eat for nothing) but he has not paid his ranching fees since 1998. Please, God give us patience. Bundy is not in jail and he has owed the Internal Revenue some taxes since 1998.

At the time of writing, Obama is in Japan on tour. He was presented with a report of one of the American “big men,” Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles basketball team, the Clippers. Sterling owns his own basketball theatre which seats 50 000 customers. He is one of those US figures, like Bundy, a millionaire who made it from scratch, larger than life, who see himself as little god. Sterling dines and wines with his girlfriend publicly, has lavished several fancy cars and a condominium in some fancy neighbourhood.

He speaks before thinking, as he is entitled to. The revelations below came about because his wife picked a quarrel with his girlfriend. Sterling told his girlfriend that: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associated with blacks (Magic Johnson, a former basketball player). I am just saying that it is too bad that you can’t admire him privately. Don’t bring him to my games. OK.”

In another rant, when he bought a sports field, he blamed the smell on blacks. It smells “because all the blacks in this building, they smell, they are dirty.” Commenting on this record, Obama was shocked at these “extremely offensive racist statements. When ignorant folks want to aertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to say anything, you just let them talk.” This kind of response is classical Obama speak.

According to Obama, the answer to the question of whether the US has passed the bar of race discrimination is no. “The US continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation that is still there, the vestiges of discrimination.” To give the US credit, however, racism, though seething, is usually punished harshly when exposed. Sterling is being investigated even as we speak by the National Basketball Association. Sterling has been banned from basketball for life and fined US$2 million for the comments.

I have also been informed that the US attorney, is researching whether Sterling can be charged with depriving citizens of their right to pursue happiness. Such charges are cranked up to embarrass rather than to convict. Sterling’s girlfriend, V. Stiviano is a person of colour. Ha! Ha! This is some kind of racist. Though fined US$5 million in two housing discrimination cases, Sterling has a heart for black kids. He has contributed 2 000 tickets so they can enjoy the game he loves. Nevertheless, Sterling’s and Bundy’s world view is not part of my narrative.

These two cases have gripped the attention of the US media for a week now, and have involved the president. The significance is that these two men are movers and shakers of the universe. Sterling is the largest property mogul in Los Angeles. His basketball team alone employs hundreds of blacks. His private thoughts explain why whenever the economy goes south blacks are the first to be dismissed. When the economy is on the rebound, blacks are the last to be hired. It also explains why blacks suffer disparities in salaries.

It also explains why blacks are paranoid about racism. It also explains why, no matter how good the economy is, blacks have an unemployment rate three times higher than normal. This event is eye-opening to those unbelievers who accused blacks of paranoia. This is by no means an isolated case.

Twenty years ago, the president of Texaco Company was tape-recorded in the gym referring to a black woman vice president of his company as “that Negro chick. She dares ask for a raise.” Now Texaco is an international company. It probably exports its racism abroad.

Source : Financial Gazette