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Previously on Facebook: On Chimamanda Adichie’s Comments On Racism

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has no time for white men who want to redefine what racism is.

The feminist author appeared on BBC Newsnight on Friday with R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., founder and editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine The American Spectator. Discussing Donald Trump’s campaign, Tyrell argued with host Emily Maitlis’ comment that Trump’s language has been racist.

“That’s not true, he hasn’t been racist,” Tyrell said, but Adichie wasn’t having it.

“I’m sorry, but as a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is, you really don’t,” she said. “You don’t get to sit there and say he hasn’t been racist when objectively he has.”

There has been a lot of backlash over these comments made by Adichie, people mostly arguing against her reasoning.

Here’s one by Chiedozie Dike, that backs her up.

“I’m not going to pretend like I understand this lamming on her choice of words any more than its being a splitting of hairs. What’s even more troubling for me is that I’m getting a ‘White Lives Matter in response to Black Lives Matter’ vibe from these arguments and they are darn annoying. Because just as the White Lives Matter proponents choose to ignore that what people mean when they say Black Lives Matter is that “Black Lives Matter, too,” y’all are conveniently forgetting that there was context for what Chimamanda said.

“They were discussing Donald Trump and his racist, divisive rhetoric. Emmett is a white man. Chimamanda is a black immigrant. I don’t understand how y’all can miss that when she says “As a white man, you don’t get to define racism,” what she means is that as someone who benefits by default from the structure of racism, you don’t get to define racism over us who suffer from it. As a man who wasn’t directly attacked by Donald Trump’s divisive, xenophobic Islamophobic statements, you don’t get a definitive say about him being racist over those whom he constantly attacked.

“How is this even hard to grasp except you’re trying hard not to see what’s so stark?”


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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2 comments

  1. In the context of the discussion, I get what she was saying but she said racism is an objective reality–which trumps that statement. If it is so, then you don’t have to belong to a certain race to be able to define it. Besides, racism is not the exclusive experience of non-whites.

  2. The statement made me flinch just a little — not because I don’t agree with the core of it, but because that is something about the phrasing that is unapologetically brutal. Maybe she could have been more diplomatic in the way she said that.

    But fundamentally she is right. Blacks can be racist, too. Yes, I suppose. But there’s a power dynamic that ensures that racism is a much more powerful tool in the hands of the dominant group ( in today’s world, that’s the White Race). Same way, sexism is a much more powerful tool in the hands of the dominant gender (in today’s world that’s the Male.)

    If I was having a conversation with a woman about gender inequality, and she told me there are issues in gender inequality I don’t understand as a male and therefore am not in a position to pontificate about I will completely understand and agree.

    If you’ve never had to worry that your black accent or your black name (Taniqua, Nashawn, Jamal) will be a problem in getting a job, if you’ve never had to worry that the bank won’t give you a loan because your collateral is located in a “high risk” zone, if you have never walked into a store and have security follow you around, if you’ve never been pressured at work to do something about your natural hair because it looks unprofessional, if you’ve never been stopped and shot by police for anything from a burst tail light or looking at a police officer “the wrong way”… then you may not understand the intricacies of racism, and as such you don’t get to pontificate to people of colour about it, and you sure as heck don’t get to define it.

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