8 November 2005

Deeprooted racism in the media language.

Often I hear people, both ”westerners” and Africans, talking about adult men raping kids in Africa. The misconception is that by having sex with a virgin you can cure the HIV/Aids. It is not surprising that everyone feels sickened about the matter – just like they should. In Europe grown men also rape kids. We just call them paedophiles, we do not like them either, as no sexual act should be forceful and we do our best to put them in prison. Sometimes it is hard because they have the funds to travel to the different side of the world to rape kids who are not looked after in the countries where police does not have the resources to catch these criminals. I think they should not have opportunity for this, but that they should be imprisoned when found guilty. What I do not agree with is that why their African counterparts are not called paedophiles but ignorant Africans. I am sure that if any tradition in our parts of the world would give people an excuse to sexually abuse anybody, there would always be people to hide behind it. Surely few Africans are doing these crimes because they are desperate and willing to try all the methods to get healthy again and few because they were denied to get proper education, but I would argue that majority are just plain old paedophiles - the ones who are attracted to have sexual relations with young children. In our news, could an African for once just have a problem other than being stupid or ignorant?

This obviously is a matter of our media discourse which is determined by the western broadcasters and publishers. Some people were paying attention to this matter during the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when white people were reported to try to survive and African American were looting and misbehaving. It is the same matter but it has been ongoing with Africa for decades and we are so used to it that we do not ask any questions about it.

“Westerners” are always quick to point the finger to places like South Africa, where racism undoubtedly exists. What we need to understand and realise is that racism is everywhere, just like sexism, and we all need to work in order to reach some sort of equality. We need to remember that we are not any better just because our media practice is the dominant one. To prove a point I want to give few more examples. Why would I be constantly asked about the living conditions in Africa, electricity and clean water, if our media would not only give news on famine and destruction? Yes, it exists but Africa is a diverse continent and talking about it as it was just one dodgy neighbourhood is not only ignorant but also very disrespectful. Why do we raise up the issue of religion in our media only when it is other than Christianity? And lastly, and this partly confuses the earlier point, do we really think that it is only the Catholics causing the trouble in Northern Ireland? Are they fighting alone? While I am not particularly supporting anyone in this conflict I am pointing out that maybe Protestants, like Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), are having their part in the drama. Why does IRA ring everyone’s bell but not many know about UVF? These are just some questions that we should think as people who consider our media as free and unbiased.

The trouble with Africa seems to be that the propaganda has been so strong that it has also been bought by many Africans themselves. Even many “westerners” who mean good, fundraise and organise different events to help Africa are contributing to this problem. Africans are always seen as the weaker ones, the ones who need our help. Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, all the ones who I consider as “western” countries, regardless of their geographic location, are not helping Africans, Asian or South Americans to decolonise their minds. Not that they necessarily should, as it is something that needs to be done by people in question, but we do not actually want to give it a chance to happen even without our help. Have I said this already, Steve Biko – where are you when we need you.

1 comment:

Derin said...

I definitely see your point, my dad's recommendation for the issue of men raping babies was to 'line them all up and shoot them' however, that seems to be his recommendation for most crimes anywhere in the world.

I had this argument with him and my point was what you argue against, that these people doing it genuinely believe that it will cure their AIDS, who doesn't want to be cured of the disease?

I'm a bit of a naive optimist with the world, always like to see the best in people but it is probably the case that some people just do not have any good in them.

I definitely see your point. Whatever it is, they are either very scared or very sick people in need of either education or treatment is the answer.

Now that we identify them as paedophiles.... what then? No one is going to do anything about it, are they?