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Let us not discriminate against any tribe or colour

UREPORT
By Ayienga Masiga | February 22nd 2017

Merriam Webster's definition of racism is 'A belief that certain races of people are by birth and nature superior to others'.

Through an accident of birth, the most vicious member of a 'superior' group is inherently better than the most virtuous member of an 'inferior' group.

When a member of the superior group commits a crime, for example, culpability is assigned to him as an individual. Compassion is often expressed for the difficult personal context that led to the crime.

Responsibility for crimes committed by individuals belonging to the inferior group, on the other hand, is always assigned to the collective, with collective consequences.

The perception is that, because the group is inherently inferior, aberrant behaviour is the norm, not the exception.

This helps to explain why one man was described by police during his arrest in Charleston, South Carolina, as being 'very quiet, very calm and not problematic'.

So much so that he was given a meal on the way to jail because he was hungry. Another man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was described as having 'a very hollow look in his face, kind of a thousand-yard stare... (Who) would not communicate and...was not normal'.

Dylann Roof, a Caucasian American, walked into a Church and shot dead nine African Americans in cold blood. The hollow-eyed man, Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed African American was shot dead by police after his car stalled on the road.

Because racist beliefs are demonstrably false and easily debunked, they can only be maintained by building a system that is purposely designed to maintain the privilege of one group at the expense of the rights of another.

A core strategy is to systematically dehumanise target groups while continuously humanising the privileged group. That is how a cold blooded hate-filled killer became non-threatening, even worthy of a little compassion, while an unarmed and distressed motorist became a deadly threat to be eliminated.

In Kenya, being prejudiced is a national pastime. We think nothing of belittling women and ethnic minorities simply because they are not like us.

How many times do we sneer at someone for being just a woman who has gotten too big for her overpriced stilettos? Or scornfully speak about ethnic groups that are too venal, or arrogant, or lazy, or mendacious because they are just not us?

Our prejudice is on display every day, used expertly to justify our ill treatment of others. Kenya is all about the other. The fundamental way by which we define ourselves is against an inferior other. This is why corruption is virtually encoded in our DNA.

We are, after all, simply taking from the other, of no account to us, to support our own. It is perfectly justifiable to 'eat' from Serikali. Just like in the colonial days when taking from the Mzungu was an act of resistance, not theft.

It is why we see no contradiction in our churches, mosques and temples being filled to capacity every week, yet our country gets medals in the corruption Olympics year in year out.

Let us contemplate the document promulgated in 2010 which declares, in part, that every person has the right to life, is equal before the law, has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected, has the right to freedom and security, and the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. Yes people - that's the Kenyan Constitution.

While we must always hold our leaders to the highest standards of care, we must never forget that they were not birthed in a vacuum, or raised in a vacuum. They do not live in a vacuum.

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