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You Cannot Talk about Equality Without Talking about Inequality

July 18, 2012

To all those who like to talk about a “shared humanity” every time race is discussed. Take some time out as I prepare to rant.

I agree. We do all belong to the human race. But unfortunately, colonialism happened. Oppression took place.

People were killed, raped, used for labor and told they were not deserving of equality or dignity. In fact, a whole system of inequality was created where some had voices to speak, while others were silenced and told theirs didn’t matter. A few people (white almost all) — benefited greatly from all this. They looted land, stole resources (and justified it by telling everyone that those people didn’t know how to take care of it themselves) — they raped whoever they wished (and justified it by telling themselves they were “hyper-sexual”). They told themselves that the colonized, the oppressed were savages — simpletons — that they should be grateful for all that “help”.

In the colonial period, being stationed in far-off countries and coordinating looting and colonization was noble, much-sought out work. We have introduced more politically correct language to our aid-work, but much of it still remains western-centric, unnecessary and benefits the west.

The colonizers destroyed and devastated entire countries and their economies, exploited its people’s labor and encouraged and hardened internal divisions of caste, tribe, religion to such an extent that war, death and murder were commonplace.

Then they left.

Many centuries later — this system continues to hum along just as smoothly. But it’s called different things now —- capitalism, globalization and international aid.

When talking about equality, the conversation must begin with this historical foundation and context firmly in place. Otherwise, all we do is use the same old molds with new tools.

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