Jim Crow, Segregation, Separate but Equal, Zionism, Ghettos, Ethnic Federalism; the names are always different but the end is always the same. The powerful figured out a long time ago that the best way to conquer the masses and subdue people into a state of perpetual dependency to the state (by extension the aristocracy) is to shatter humanity into innumerable factions. The playbook is simple; first elevate one class above the other then splinter the rest who are not part of the class that has been conferred privilege by the establishment. Even though all, including the supposedly privileged class, struggle in either insolvency or anxiety, they are too busy fighting one another to notice their common oppressor.
Did you know that apartheid in Afrikaner means apart-hood—heid is a word for hood in Dutch. The despicable South African government was just playing the same game of divide and conquer which has been foisted on humanity since antiquity—a playbook that is still in practice in the 21st century. With each successive generation, the virus of segregation becomes harder and harder to identify. As technology advances, so does the cunning of those who govern with equal parts brutality and duplicity.
There are certain quarters of this world where apartheid is codified and is a de jure practice enforced by the state to keep the people apart and away in different hoods. In my native land Ethiopia, the TPLF government led by Hailemariam Desalegn uses euphemisms to hide their depravity. Ethnic Federalism is the label they use to keep the country divided using tribe as the invisible line to partition the country. A country which thrived for 3,000 years is now being eradicated from within as a government who serves the interests of global capitalists is intent on nullifying the very existence of Ethiopia (read They Planted a Pentagram in a Biblical Nation)
In Israel, the litmus test is religion but in the end the end result is legalized apartheid. People have a right to exist and live a life where they can pursue happiness and opportunity. This right extends to Jews and non-Jews alike—no people in this world should be targeted for exclusion because of their identity. As Jews have a right to a homeland, so do Palestinians. Some Zionists though choose to focus on their right while denying others of their liberty. Living conditions in Gaza and the West Bank rival that which Jews endured in the Ghettos of Warsaw and Germany during WWII. By the by, my condemnation of Zionism—which is an ideology based in ethnic supremacy—is not a condemnation of those who practice Judaism anymore than should my condemnation of ISIS be seen as a condemnation of all Muslims (read Zionism is not Judaism).
Where Israel and Ethiopia practice de jure apartheid, America and most of the world perpetuate a softer version of de facto apartheid. I’m writing this article a block away from the White House; as I was walking up 14th St a few hours ago, I passed by the Marriott Hotel where people were being dropped off in stretch limousines that cost more than most middle-class workers make in five years. Yet on that same block, I counted six people who were asking for change with all their possessions in a bag right on the sidewalk they call home. Gentrification and social stratification is the 21st century apartheid in America.
In the 50’s and 60’s, signs on business doors used to read “no colored allowed”. Fast forward to the 21st century and the newest exclusionary tactic is “only paying customers allowed”. This is nothing more than apartheid based on income and economic viability. We are so busy chasing our tails trying to keep up with the rent and showing to the world that we have it made we rarely focus on the ways the least among us are treated as second class citizens in our own nation. It is easier to protest and march for an injustice in far off corners of the world while we ignore the hurting and the invisibles who reside at our footsteps—we only notice when injustice arrives at our doorsteps.
This is what happens when we live in apart hoods; we see only our suffering while we ignore the plight of others. Today’s Washington Post contained an article titled “The job market just recovered from the recession. Men and white people haven’t.” This article seems innocuous enough when given a first look, but stop and reflect on this thought for a moment. First, do you feel like the recession is over? I know Wall Street is in record territory, though that party is not going to last too much longer (read Unity or Dissolution). Ask yourself, do you feel more secure now than you did in 2008 when the recession started? The answer is most likely no because more than 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck—hello perpetual economic anxiety!
But there is something else more nefarious at play with the Washington Post and really the way society at large views justice. We are trained and conditioned as a society to always look through the prism of race, identity and ideology. The Post is feeding into this narrative as it paints a picture where the recession lifted for all except men and “white people”. The homeless people I counted on 14th St were “black” and “white”, men and women. For two and a half years, I have witnessed a litany of homelessness and hopelessness in multiple states throughout America. Poverty does not differentiate between identity and ideology—indigence is an equal opportunity destroyer.
The powerful know what they are doing; as long as they can cleave humanity into cauldrons of labels and categories, we will always focus on our differences instead of uniting to defend our common interests. So they keep on pushing separable grievances as if our pains are not connected to the pains of others throughout the world. Injustice is rooted in economic inequality, it is from this well that all other rivers of iniquities flows to drown the lives of billions globally. If we don’t wake up to this fact and realize that our interests are interconnected, we will all continue to suffer in apart hoods nonetheless connected by tribulation. #ApartHood
“Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.” ~ Khalil Gibran
If you appreciate the message behind this write up and want to connect others to stand up for justice without being apart in different hoods, share this article on social media using #ApartHood
I know the Ghion Cast below will come across as jarring to some, but check out the video where I discuss the way race is being foisted upon us to impose identity on us and to perpetuate injustice.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss the ways ideologies and identities are used to splinter us which then become the root of wars throughout the world.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.