The coronavirus pandemic has caused a uniform application of nationwide lockdowns around the world. The lockdowns have been labeled by the United Nations news as “repressive laws”, governments have acknowledged that they are a necessary evil that must be implemented to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
It is quite saddening to note the global awareness of how repressive the regulations are because of coronavirus but fail to notice that this has been the reality for black people for centuries. Repression, restrictions, and deprivation have been common features in black lives as I highlight below.
During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, black natives on the African continent were hunted down and traded like commodities. The possibility of being found and kidnapped by slave merchants limited the freedom of movement that black people had on their continent. They could at any time be picked up for moving around. This parallel what is happening today since the freedom of movement has been taken away from everyone. If anyone is found breaking this law, they can be arrested by the police. The freedom of movement for African people has always been limited.
On the other side of the ocean, African people were sold into slavery. In this system of oppression, they were not allowed to move without a letter from their slave masters. These letters can be equated to modern-day letters for essential service workers to move around. Black people for the longest time have been exposed to the ills of the so-called, “new normal” under coronavirus.
After the Berlin West Africa conference, Europeans took up the task of apportioning Africa amongst themselves. They illegally occupied Africa through oppression and reliance on their superior military equipment. For over 100 years most parts of Africa were under white minority rule. Under this system, whites took over most of the arable land. In South Africa, black people were put into Bantustans to exclude them from using similar utilities as the white people. This settlement arrangement is like the quarantine of people with the coronavirus. The same way black people were excluded from the general white population with stigma, all coronavirus cases are now treated in a similar fashion.
Small business owners have been excluded by governments from lists of essential service providers. During colonialism, black people could not be business owners. The coronavirus lockdown regulations are leveling the playing field. There is no preference given to white business owners. There has been outrage aimed at the government for these lockdown regulations and their far-reaching economic effects, but black people have been living in a similar fashion over the years.
The state of emergency, which was implemented by most governments under the lockdown was used by various military states in black neighborhoods. Military force was used to clamp down the uprisings for independence from oppressive white rule. These states of emergency were omnipresent in black lives for centuries and barely 3 months in people are complaining.
There has also been speculation about the fears of Chinese domination of the west. Africa has been a victim of western domination and is still being exploited at the benefit of the west. The coronavirus has made everyone vulnerable to everything.
Due to centuries of economic exclusion, black people struggle to acquire certain necessities. Most African countries do not offer social grants or free education and healthcare. For the greater part, the African economy is informal, and the income is not steady, affecting various aspects of black lives as follows:
Black people in modern times still struggle to travel because of several reasons. They lack the money required to be able to travel to other parts of the world. Furthermore, African passports are not the strongest globally. Therefore, there is always the strenuous visa application process to western countries including America, England amongst others which can deny you the freedom to travel. Under the coronavirus, everyone is now barred from traveling due to border closures. Suddenly, we are all not wanted in other countries. African immigrants are refused the right to dock in European countries because they are considered undesirable. During the pandemic, various ships with western foreigners have been denied the right to dock in some countries because they too are now undesirable.
The coronavirus has overwhelmed the best healthcare facilities to the point where everyone is just as vulnerable to not receiving healthcare. This has been systematically removed from black people because they cannot afford healthcare.
As black people struggle with poverty, in a lot of circumstances, children are forced to drop out of school because it is too expensive. With the new lockdown regulation, even the wealthy cannot attend school. Although initiatives are being implemented for online education, the fear of children missing out on education has become a reality. This fear is an everyday reality for a lot of black people.
Hopefully, this pandemic brings an end to the cluelessness of the western world and white people about black people and their struggles. There should be a global goal to create equality and social change to remedy all the ills that affect every day black lives.