Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Letter of the Day: Obama may be a 'waste man' after all

Published:Monday | April 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Chronixx's colloquial "waste man" comment directed at the president should not be written off as simply a young man being disrespectful and out of line. However, his expression must be read within a wider context of how imperialist and neocolonial powers continue to use black faces in white masks to exploit and oppress black people and other racialised groups globally.

Obama, under the banner of the United States, has acted no differently from warmongering and capitalist-driven American administrations before him. Like his predecessors, his tenure in office has served to maintain an oppressive economic order against developing countries and even within his own nation.

Yannick Pessoa's blog 'In defence of Chronixx: Obama may really be a waste man!' did a superb job in speaking to the many hardships the Obama administration has been responsible for globally but has been uncritically overlooked by his admirers.

I can understand the jubilation and pride of having lived to witness a black president of the most powerful country in the world. Oppressed groups tend to expect people from within their ranks, who are in significant leadership positions, to commit themselves to eliminating centuries of economic and cultural oppression. And, of course, there is the obvious proud feeling of racial or group affirmation that has historically been denied to them.

However, with the track record of the adverse effects of US foreign policies on developing countries and the abuse of power by some African leaders against their own people, history has repeatedly revealed that not all black leaders are significant players in our struggle to transform the social order. Far too often, many of these leaders have served only as symbolic representation instead of challenging or attempting to dismantle the various systems of oppression.

Indeed, Chronixx's comments are in line with Marcus Garvey's and many other Pan-Africanists' who have cautioned us against the black faces who will be used as tools to carry out and maintain white supremacy.

Commendably, Chronixx has capitalised on his celebrity status to represent the voices of exploited working-class people. Chronixx's comment reads no differently from musical artistes who spoke out against South Africa's apartheid, nor does he depart from the tradition of his Rastafarian faith that condemns imperial and colonial systems. In other words, they mercilessly 'fyah-bun' and chant down Babylon!

Ironically, we vehemently value and defend democracy, yet we still live in societies where only a few are afforded the right to speak without fear of undue harm or retaliation. Unfortunately, the voiceless or the oppressed play into their own silence by pandering to respectability 'politricks'!

Lisa Tomlinson

Toronto, Canada