What do we do next?


I’ve really struggled to write this piece, it’s weighed on me mentally because at the point of research and inquiry into what I wanted to convey as a message, I realized I was unable to find concrete definitions for what racism and white supremacy has become, and yes, they have both evolved. One of my biggest problems was the complexity of being black and the idea around it , it seemed to be far from just skin colour, it seemed deeper than just the nappy toughness of my hair, and it was definitely more than the fake wide white smiles that welcomed me into public transportation. Another challenge was how narrow the architects of modern day slavery had been able to design it, they have constructed a mentality so slippery and shady, you would question your personal experiences with racism. It’s the feeling where you just felt unfairly treated because you were black but then you start to rethink if it was just ethics, company policies, your tone of speech or mere coincidence, it is often none of the aforementioned, it is often racism. 

Then I faced the challenge of collectivity, questioning the singular idea that all black people are the same, and realizing it is absolutely false, and it’s even still unknown to some of us. It’s not that we are ignorant but we aren’t collectively as a community one, the idea of our oneness is even more farfetched when you speak of the cultural diversity that exists within a lot of African nations and the ethnic battles within those many cultural divisions as well. What I believe in essentially is that black is black, in the physical sense of it but ideally and ontologically, we are all encountering various struggles that are unique to various branches of this one black global community, and what we all have in common regardless of location on the globe or preference in cuisine, is that we are all still oppressed, and that is the bottom line.

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  • For the African American teenage boy who wants to become like Kanye west, a fashion mogul and award winning music director, the narrative is different.
  • For the middle aged British Somalian man, who is trying to feed a family he has just started as well as establish a local business, his struggle is peculiar, because he is not just black but Muslim.
  • It is then a more complicated issue for the undocumented Muslim African American woman, who having dealing with all these issues has to endure the misogyny that is threaded into the knit of her being, just because she experiences a menstrual cycle.
  • The story is different as well for the seventeen year old international student from Ghana who has no idea of his sexuality or what is cool or not, and is thrown into the den of British boarding school, racial bullying and the ceremonial mental issues that come as a bonus.

Being black has never been harder, well that’s a lie if you consult hindsight and view the history books, but then again it’s arguable, because although we get to sit at the front of the bus and use the same toilets as other human beings do and get to vote and get to start our own businesses, we still get killed for no reason, we still get arrested for no offence, we still don’t get employed even when we meet the qualifications and we still get called “nigga” by Caucasians. So what has really changed, how now can we define this refined struggle. In the words of Frances Lee Ansley and I quote:

 “By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economical and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings” 

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The institutionalized racism that has so clogged the progress of the journey to equality is by far the most irritating, it sits comfortably at the top of the list alongside police brutality. My question really is, what then becomes the mark or measure of progress, we claim the world has changed and there’s more love in the ozone layer or whatever, but is there really more love in the hearts of humans, is the human race really worth having faith and hope in? I’ve heard people say violence is not the answer and I’ve heard people say we cannot afford to lose more black lives to a cause in which victory is almost mythical. My argument has always been that if we then don’t fight, if we then aren’t ready to lose our lives, what then can we do? Because regardless of all we have done, regardless of all we have achieved, regardless of the diverse ranges and dimensions of struggles we face daily, we are still being oppressed. If war has ever been more timely, if dialogue has even been more useless, it seems it’s today, in a world where a man who is openly racist and non-condemning of white supremacists is being paraded as leader of the free world, the disgust in the throats of freedom fighters in their graves is imaginable.

The struggles and progress so far made seems to be a ridicule as we progress in time, the  fight and struggles we conquered in the past begins to seem meaningless and the issues seem to re-arise, but coated and vaguely conveyed, padded into the idea they refer to as freedom of speech, which doesn’t necessarily assure us that the speech we have liberty to freely expressed is being heard or heeded to. The practicality of it all, is that we have to break the institution that oppresses us, the reality of it is that we don’t know how to go about this breaking, we’ve thrown our hands in the air and still gotten shot, we’ve bent on one knee and still gotten ignored, we’ve swarmed out in numbers to protest and still gotten a mere appeasement, what do we do next?

Paul Olaniyan


The Move

One thought on “What do we do next?

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