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SAMANTHA

Institutional racism the established norm

White people live inside delusions of white supremacy.

In Summary
  • The white community help each other, sideline blacks and black businesses and get away with it.
  • Instead we make jokes about how the mzungu keeps running away from us and how we keep chasing them.
Protesters hold Black Lives Matter march during a protest against the killing of black men by police in the US and calling for an end in police brutality in Kenya outside US Embassy, Nairobi on June 9, 2020
Protesters hold Black Lives Matter march during a protest against the killing of black men by police in the US and calling for an end in police brutality in Kenya outside US Embassy, Nairobi on June 9, 2020

I’m not afraid of Covid-19. I respect it. Just as I respect the speedometer on my car and other endless things that could very well kill me. But I’m not afraid of my car. And numerous other things that statistically, pose a greater danger than Covid-19. I still do not understand the hullabaloo. At least the hysteria has finally died down. And now, thanks to Tim, I have a great story about the paranoia that surrounds a virus to the point that a man bails out on good sex. I start typing.

The Colour of Racism is Peach.

As Covid-19 continues to lock down the world, the black man is facing a different type of virus. A centuries-old virus. Images of protestors marching for the rights of black citizens have been beamed around the world, after yet another victim, George Floyd, died at the hands of police. Covid-19 was forgotten and thousands of people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Black Lives Matter.

Here in Kenya, The Giraffe Manor started a Twitter storm when it said the place was now open to Kenyans, and locals, having previously bemoaned being unable to go to the establishment (unless they were staying there) are now needed ostensibly because the foreigners can no longer travel here.

Kenyan cowboys (as descendants of white settlers have always been referred) have never attempted to mingle with locals. Socially, they have their own spots – Psys and Black Cotton Club in the late '90s was a good example – they would patronise such establishments and promptly move on when the blacks started going there.

Same thing with residential areas. In Karen, for example, it was virtually impossible for a black person to purchase a home in certain places, whereas the owners would happily sell to a Caucasian. I discovered the same thing recently when I travelled to Mombasa.

A caucasian couple came to visit Diani some 20 years ago, fell in love with the place and bought a beachfront property. You’d have to be loaded to pull that off, well not so much when you’re Caucasian. They could not afford it (they were practically backpackers) but rather than the owner making serious money by selling it to a black Kenyan, they broke it up in five parts and gave this couple and five other white people extended terms of payment (with no interest) so that they could keep it ‘untainted’ and keep the Caucasian neighbours happy.

This is what institutional racism looks like. It is discrimination that has become established as normal behaviour within a society. That’s why when places like Karen become overrun by black people and an entire race moves to Nanyuki, no one says anything. Instead we make jokes about how the mzungu keeps running away from us and how we keep chasing them.

So, they colonise us, after Independence are allowed to stay and negotiate keeping our lands, they legally segregate and create their own version of redlines. To be redlined means refusing a loan or insurance to someone because they live in an area that is deemed to be a poor financial risk. In the US it is used as an effective way of hindering progress of minorities who live in these so-called redlines.

Here, it’s much simpler. The white community help each other, sideline blacks and black businesses and get away with it. So, a pattern begins to emerge. White people, not just in the US but also in Europe and clearly, in Africa, actually live inside delusions of white supremacy and construct systems and structures to enact these delusions of white supremacy, the world over.  

My phone rings and I stop typing. It’s Tim.

“Hello,” I say answering quickly. I don’t want to lose my train of thought.

“I wanted to apologise,” he says.