[News] "What's the matter boss, we sick?"

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 19 10:57:34 EST 2015

*"What's the matter boss, we sick?"*

Dr. Hatem Bazian

The essay title is directly taken from Malcolm X’s speech entitled, "The 
Race Problem," which he delivered at Michigan State University, East 
Lansing, on the 23^rd of January 1963.In the speech Malcolm draw a 
distinction between what he termed “house negro” and “field negro” as it 
relates to the problem of race and the internalization of racial 
structures by a large segment of the African American community.The 
constructed dichotomy was very instrumental in Malcolm’s attempt at 
breaking through the constructed racial epistemic that makes African 
Americans relate to the life, joy and suffering of the slave master 
while erasing themselves in the process.It is to be seen inline and 
building upon W. E. B. Du Bois’ idea of black double consciousness.

“We sick?” represents the epitome and pinnacle of embodiment of the 
slave master in the slave’s worldview and the super imprint on the slave 
mind of the master’s dominant narrative.The slave no longer exists for 
him/herself; rather are mere personification and an extension of the 
master’s identity.

Revisiting Malcolm X’s words is instructive and timely for it can help 
explains the overwhelming response to the Charlie Hebdo murders by the 
terrorist but the failure to do so for 37 Yemenis who died in a 
terrorist attack on the same day and even in Yemen coverage it was more 
focused on events in France.More critically, the response to terrorist 
attacks in Nigeria that killed possibly hundreds did not receive any 
mention in the international press including the Nigerian coverage which 
gave more time, space and content to the deaths in Paris than its own 
domestic circumstances.

On December 16^th and few weeks before the Paris attacks, 145 were 
massacred in an attack at a school in Pakistan but once again press 
coverage in Muslim majority countries were rather limited if compared to 
the attention given to terrorist attacks in France.

A cursory examination of southern hemisphere press coverage over the 
past two weeks illustrates more than anything else Malcolm’s critique 
and diagnostic of the race problem and its internalized effects.The 
subject is not to down play the murders or to diminish the significance 
of what occurred in Paris but to confront the differing values we assign 
to human lives based on racial, ethnic, linguistic or religious 
identities.A white person’s death is more painful in public discourse 
than a black or a brown person.

In the aftermath of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s death the protests 
in the streets correctly adopted the rallying cry of “Black Lives 
Matter,” which after the gunning down of the two police officers was 
transformed by some supporters into “All Lives Matter.”Both themes are 
important and point deeply to the profound disconnect on all issues 
related to race in society today, not only America but across the globe.

In reality and in today’s world all lives don’t matter.Only the few, the 
White, Euro-American and present colonial masters lives matter more than 
other group, thus bring about the sympathy, concern and non-stop 
coverage since the material world exists as a playing field for them and 
them alone. The notion that the world has arrived at a post-racial stage 
just because Obama was elected to the White House is a figment of 
imagination totally severed from the racist reality experienced daily on 
the streets of Ferguson, NY, Paris, London or across the global south.

In reality, all lives don’t matter and critically at this time Muslim 
lives don’t matter either as the case in the invasion of Afghanistan and 
Iraq illustrates with the well-documented torture, rendition and 
intentionally targeting journalists as well as in the Israeli slaughter 
this past summer witnessed live on TV across the globe. Muslim lives 
don’t matter as the case of ISIL and Nusra plainly demonstrates as 
Europe and the U.S. did not respond to hundreds if not thousands of 
Muslims murdered and only when Whiteness was touched that the western 
world was shocked into action.

This essay is not about settling accounts or laying blame despite it 
being needed; rather to shed light on the dark corners constructed in 
our own minds that permits to see, feel and experience the pain of the 
northern hemisphere while denying it for all others.Malcolm’s “we sick” 
is to be understood and transformed today into a global identification 
with Paris’ suffering as the only measure of being and meaning.Freedom 
of speech is meaningless for the southern hemisphere for “we sick” is 
meant to silence ‘us’ and even when we speak it is not our voice that is 
heard rather the global master’s own reflection that is reproduced.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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