Somehow, it has become generally accepted that black is more than just a colour. Sadly, many schools of thought associate the colour with evil, and this has translated into how many people around the world perceive black people, and Africa in general.
For example, it was recently discovered that the U.S. has set up covert prisons and interrogation sites for terrorists in remote areas around the world. These deadly detention centers known for unspeakable atrocities were dubbed “black sites.” Why “black”?
These negative ways of symbolizing blackness are in daily use in human circles of all kinds, including by black-skinned persons themselves. This should be of concern to any black person, particularly since the colour white has been historically free of negative representations despite the numerous atrocities committed by white people.
Boxing legend, Muhammad Ali was one of the critics who spoke against the association of coloured people with crime, poverty, and disease.
In his 1968 interview on a popular television show, Ali questioned why black was often associated with bad and white with good, accusing the West of consciously trying to discredit and criminalize people of African descent. It appears he had a point!
Mainstream white America has a long history of giving blackness evil, unhealthy, hostile, and morbid representations. The evil interpretation of the colour and its association with Africans did not start today.
According to history, the greatest pandemic is ever known to mankind which occurred as far back as 1347 was dubbed the “Black Death”, despite the fact that there is no evidence tracing the plague to Africa.
The Black Death, also known as the Great Mortality, was the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history. It is believed to have resulted from an infectious fever caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, an organism contained in rat flea and transmitted from rodents to humans.
Many critics and historians like Mark Welford, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa, questioned the reason behind naming the plague Black Death other than a name related to the Silk Road, which would have been more fitting given the course of its spread around the world.
In his 2018 publication titled Geographies of Plague Pandemics, Professor Welford explains the name of the Great Mortality should have directly linked it to the Silk Road, given the network’s role in spreading infectious diseases around the world in its time.
“The Silk Road allowed the sustained transmission of diseases endemic to Central Asia to move out along the Road to Europe,” he wrote.
Judging by the origin and history of the plague, many schools of thought believe that the decision to name the pandemic the Black Death exhibits a racial agenda against Black Africans who continue to be linked with crime, poverty, and plagues.
A major point of note is the conception propagated through movies and literature that black denotes and describes a group of people who are not worth trusting.
The recent wave of police brutality across Europe and the United States have exposed the perception of black people around the world. For example, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man was shot dead while jogging in Georgia, Georgia Floyd was chocked to death despite not resisting arrest and being in hand-cuffs; the list is endless.
Just like it was in 1347 with the Black Death, black continues to be associated with evil, and sadly so.
What are your thoughts on how this misrepresentation can be addressed?