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The Problem Isn't the Color of the Oppressor's Skin - the Problem Is a Meme

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Feb 6, 2015
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Have a look at this 2 minute clip from the film Schooling the World: The White Man's Last Burden:

The clip went viral on Facebook, generating 120,000 shares and over 2000 comments.

The subtitle, "the white man's last burden," comes from a 1899 English poem, which epitomizes the racism and 'humanitarian' delusions of white colonial culture during this era. Given the subtitle, it's important to note that the problem isn't inherently a problem with white people. The problem is a meme, or set of memes, which grew from the many dominator cultures of the past several thousand years and which eventually spread to inhabit the minds of white European culture.

If you raised a white child among an indigenous tribe without these memes,
the child would have no conception of the racist, colonial/superior/inferior complex that afflicts colonial culture.

This meme in its simplest form is: "Our way is the one right way to live and everyone else should live the way we do." And, "Those that don't live the way we do are backwards, wrong, inferior to us, etc."

This "one right way" meme has infected our conceptions of virtually every aspect of life: one right economic system (capitalism), one right religion (pick one), one right country (ours), one right way to live (European civilization), one right sexual orientation (straight) etc.

It also follows from this meme that there is a hierarchy of superior and inferior. White > other colors. Male > female.

Thankfully more and more of these oppressive and delusional hierarchies are being challenged. But of course many hierarchies remain invisible or remain oppressive despite the historical gains.

Sexism for instance remains rampant despite everyone more or less agreeing that sexism is wrong. Colonialism continues today under the banner of the more
euphemistically benign term "globalization."

But the problem isn't the inherent identities of the oppressors, it is rather the memes in their heads which they were socialized to believe in from a very young age, to the point that they are mostly unaware of them.

Barack Obama is a good example of a non-white person who was socialized by the dominant culture and has come to represent the interests of that dominator class (the interests of empire, the rich, etc).

The same will hold true if Hilary Clinton gets elected next year. The gender will have changed but the memes which have infected rich white men will still be in charge of the country.

This is why diversity in politics is pointless if the ideological beliefs remain the same.

This is also why I believe in MLK Jr's strategy of 'defeating evil, not people.' It's not the people that need defeating, but the toxic memes that live inside their heads.

 

 

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin...”


― Malcolm X

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