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Why am I a “Person of Color”?

How am I a person of color, as I’m a deviation from the norm, when science has affirmed that mankind was conceived in “Africa”. I am colored compared to whom given that the first humans were actually my complexion? What makes me a “minority”, as if I’m somehow segregated from the rest of humanity? Why am I labeled “black”, as if I’m invisible and have no light in me at all? Why do we accept these insidious labels without questioning them and realizing the underhanded intentions of the nefarious souls who imposed these brands upon us?

Here is an indisputable fact: race was invented by racists. Black, white, yellow, red; these terms are nothing more than brands—the same way ranchers brand cattle—meant to ghettoize humanity in order to keep us perpetually divided. Race is a malicious way of dehumanizing us and conditioning us to see each other as objects instead of fellow human beings—the full scope of our lives distilled into colors as if we are crayons.

Whereas the caste system in India is evident, in America it’s veiled and just as insidious. From the moment we are born until turn back into dust, we are programmed to view ourselves through colors. Duan Ruff, a brilliant adviser at Colorado State University, used to always concluded meetings with his students by saying “remember, black is a position”. He knew what most people don’t understand, black is a social order imposed by bigots in order to keep us mired at the bottom of society’s ladder.

Know this, our ancestors, who lived on the continent that got rebranded to Africa by the same monsters who started the slave trade, did not call themselves “black” before colonizers used brute force to subjugate them. Free people used to call themselves by the names their parents gave them or by the communities where they lived. It was not until they were snatched and turned into chattel that their names were erased and replaced with racist labels.

Ponder this for a minute, if the term “colored person” is offensive, how is “people of color” accepted? If the term “blacks” is rejected, why are we taking pride in being called “black people”? Generation after generation, we keep looking for an identity only to stray further from our roots. I am not insensitive the suffering that has led people on a quest to find meaning through meaningless labels; after all, I can point to a map and say for a certainty where my forefathers are from. Others are not so lucky and this void they feel in their hearts leads them on a journey of discovery. Sadly, the journey keeps ending in the dead ends of imposed identities that were always meant to marginalize us.

A century and a half after slavery ended, the very labels that capital prisoners resisted for generations are now freely accepted by their offspring. The descendants of Europeans likewise got bamboozled into seeing themselves as a color and now accept the term “white” as their form of identification. You can travel the world over and you will not find one person who is truly “white” or “black”, it’s impossible because black and white in their truest forms are invisible. Besides, if you think you are either white or black, put your skin up to the picture below and let me know if reality matches your indoctrination.

Go ahead, test your complexion next to these two colors and tell me if you have ever seen anyone of either these two complexions.

What many fail to see is that this camouflaged form of apartheid is the very reason why discrimination continues to fester. The establishment, from politicians, pundits to media personalities, have zero interest in ending racism. To the contrary, racism is a trough from which many swine on all sides of the political and social divide feed from. It’s easy to see when racists like Donald Trump pander to bigots on his side, what is harder to detect are race baiters who happen to be of “your tribe” when they whisper to the grievances of their base.

Not too long ago, Ilhan Omar, when asked if Muslims should be feared, quickly responded in ways that drew the ovations of her supporters and the ire of her detractors. Without missing a beat, Ilhan noted:

“I would say our country should be more fearful of white men across our country because they are actually causing most of the deaths within this country. And so if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe—Americans safe inside of this country—we should be profiling, monitoring, and creating policies to fight the radicalization of white men.”

The rational answer would have been “no one should be feared, it is immoral to collectively judge and to single out people based on their skin color”. But our politics is not based on rationality, it is fueled by zealots who have a vested interest in keeping people segregated and stirring their side into states of outrage and perpetual animosity. It’s not only politicians who thrive through our divisions; every institution of note from academia, church, Hollywood and beyond is dependent on slicing and dicing humanity in order to create customers out of victims.

I know there are a lot of people who think that Omar is some heroic truth-teller who is standing up to power. Let me dispel that thought; no matter how much Fox News and some on the right pretend to hate her, the truth is she is the best friend of the status quo. The whole system of “divide and conquer” depends on demagogues on all sides whispering antipathy into the ears of their followers and fracturing society based on our differences. This is the reason, after all, why the establishment LOVED Malcolm X as long as he was saying ‘white devils” and vilifying “the other side”. As soon as he wised upon returning from Mecca and started to fight for inclusive justice, BANG! he was taken out.

If Omar was a courageous voice of the oppressed, she would shed light on the true sources of racism, which Democrats are just as complicit in purveying. Instead, she focuses on one racist and praises the same Obama and bombed her homeland Somalia and joins league with a party that enacts policies like NAFTA and Quantitative Easing which exacerbate social inequalities. There is not a champion of the people to be found in DC, they are all following a business model that will enable them to accrue wealth and success.

When I was pursuing my MBA, the tactics used to create demand and launch a product line was one of the lessons that really stood out. There is a tried and true way to succeed in business, it’s all predicated on following these steps

  1. Identify (or manufacture) a problem
  2. Come up with a solution
  3. Cultivate your demographics (base)
  4. Drive your message to your base

In politics, step four requires the cultivation of the “other side” whereby the base is conditioned to view people who are not in their camps as the enemy. The surest way to enslave humanity is stop getting them to say “we” and instead program them to feed into the paradigm of “us versus them”. At the foundation of “us versus them” is race and the endless list of labels that fracture America and the world.

Bob Marley once sang, “we have to liberate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”. When you finish reading this article, you should really go back and listen to “Redemption Song” one more time. Marley knew that the biggest chains we have to overcome are not the ones at the hands or the feet but the shackles in our minds. Until we walk away from racial labels and view ourselves through our cultures which are deeper than colors, we will continue to be the property of people who gave us brands to begin with. #WeAreNotColors Click To Tweet

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

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.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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