Two days ago, on November 13th 2015, there was an attack on France by terrorists (allegedly a part of ISIS) that left approximately 128 dead and another 200 injured. After this was reported by literally all news sources; from CNN, BBC to FOX and The Guardian and New York Times, of course I would say everyone who had the Internet knew of this attack. At my university (DePauw), in the middle of our Ring Sing show- which is a gathering of the students (about 800 or more) to highlight our football team and support them before their rivalry game- WE had a moment of silence for the French lives lost. Those students who had not heard of the attack, now knew. Of course I had the moment of silence but my mind was definitely not silent because this became a moment of reflection for me. Why was I having a moment of silence for French people and not the Lebanese people? How come we had never had a moment of silence for Eric Garner in a public forum? How come we hadn’t had a moment of solidarity for the Mizzou students that were facing racial issues throughout the week? Why did France make its way into DePauw and most importantly how come it did not seem to bother most people unlike if it had been other bodies?
Additionally, Facebook had the option to change your profile picture by adding an overlay of the French flag to show your support to France. However, Facebook was not the only media forum that did this. Snapchat had a filter of Pray For France. Twitter’s largest trend was #Pray4Paris that Friday and Instagram’s trends also included different #PrayForParis hashtags. Companies, universities, businesses and people created quotes and picture to stand in solidarity with France and these got reposted by hundreds of people. Needless to say again, if you had the Internet and/or a TV you were sure to know of the Paris attack. Did I mention Beirut, Lebanon had experienced a bombing that same day? Did you know? You probably did not because even I did not until the next day.
Now, is there a problem with the media covering the Paris attacks? Absolutely not! Is there a problem with the media flooding me with the Paris attacks and not the Lebanon and other atrocities? Absolutely yes! And this is what I want to address. I want to address the institutional and systematic dominance of the West reflected in the media. I want to address why I will NOT pray for Paris but pray for the lives lost. I want to address why I would NEVER pray for Paris. I want to address the State of France NOT the people of France.
Let us understand that the State of France is different from saying the people of France. The State as described by the West “has an impersonal relationship” (Chabal and Daloz) with its people and in order for it to succeed “it has to be institutionalized” (Chabal and Daloz). Also, it is important to note that under Political Science analysis, France is a “democratic” state and NOT a fully democratic state because there are different things that are not exercised e.g. religious freedom- as France at some point banned the veil as in Islamic turbans, hijabs and Burqas. So let us understand the power of this democratic state of France (Jackson and Rosberg).
France is one of the world dominating powers. It was one of the largest colonial powers of Afrika- in control of most west Afrikan countries, Gabon/Congo and Madagascar. France’s “most profitable colony” was Haiti. After the abolishment of slavery, France FORCED Haiti to pay colonial tax worth 150m Francs (worth billions of dollars today) of which Haiti fell into debt that it is still recovering from. Let us not ignore the “alleged” participation of France in the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 where approximately 800,000 people died. Lastly, Congo experienced the loss of approximately 5 million people at the hands of France and they are still also trying to recover from the economic tragedies caused by colonization. So remind me why I am preparing for a country whose success has been acquired from the deaths of billions of people? At least ask me to pray for the people but not France. I have no intention of mourning France because it has smiled at the taste of my people’s blood. I have no intention of mourning France because it dances and drinks to the cries of my people. Oh I have no intention of mourning France because it has normalized the deaths of my people. And you know what? I cant help but think of the fact that taking down France by these terrorists challenges the power of France.
Why am I so upset over this media thing though? Because in February; when the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred, the media tried to force me to be Charlie (#JeSuisCharlie) and now its guilt tripping me into praying for France because I mean France is the place with the “oh so beautiful magnificent Eiffel Tower we all dream to see”. But the media has never asked me to be Burundi, which for months is undergoing an ethnic cleansing. Never has it asked me to be Kenya after the Garissa attacks by ISIS at a University. I was not asked to be Syria even after the picture of the dead 3 year old went “Viral”. I was not asked to be Nigeria after terrorists attacked people. I was not asked to be Lebanon and I was not asked to worry about the plane crash in Egypt. But I have been asked MANY times to be WHITE France.
“Hegemony is the dominance and subordination in the field of relations structured by power. It is a method of gaining and maintaining power. It is neither a direct nor a loud stimulation of thought but rather a normalization of subordination and indirectly forces people to choose their subordination” (Lull, Hegemony). The media is the biggest weapon used in hegemony. Mass media is how the dominant (France) subtly influence their audiences (People of color) to perceive social roles and routine personal activities. So for those saying the issue with media cannot be solved over Facebook,let me remind you that FACEBOOK IS A MEDIA! By challenging Facebook, you use it to educate your audience.
France is a white supremacist capitalist classist state. It has institutionalized the subordination of all that do not fit the system. I personally can, therefore, NOT mourn the State of France. Not after it has used its power to continue the enslavement of my people. And I choose to unapologetically decline Facebook’s request because (to paraphrase Malcolm X) I am Black (Afrikan) first. My sympathies are Black (Afrikan). My alliance is Black (Afrikan). My objectives are Black (Afrikan). I am not interested in being or praying for France because France has never been interested in the well being of my people.