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Book details
  • Genre:POLITICAL SCIENCE
  • SubGenre:Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights
  • Language:English
  • Series title:Africa Seminal Ideas Series
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:236
  • Paperback ISBN:9780996834322

Of Black Servitude Without Slavery

The Unspoken Politics of the English Language

by Agwu Ukiwe Okali

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Overview
An undoubted reality of modern life is the growing dominance of English as the language of communication across cultures. With the acquisition of English, people acquire, not just the words and expressions, but, most critically, also the system of thought and mindset associated with the language, such as the inherent notion in the language of the “blackness of bad/badness of black; whiteness of good/goodness of white” embodied in such expressions as “black mark”, “black spot”, “black sheep”, “white lie”, “white knight”, “white magic” etc. The book avers that this systemic and inherent anti-black/pro-white bias in the language creates (or, maybe just reflects) a mindset, or even system of thought, that, unavoidably imported into the realm of race relations, promotes a situation in which black people effectively are held in perpetual psychological servitude, and white people may, from childhood, be burdened with a mindset of inequality of the races, which they have to work hard to overcome. Among the more serious consequences that flow from this state of affairs for both black and white people, and for society at large, as noted in the book, is the fact that the "systemic defamation" of the black race flowing from the "blackness of bad/whiteness of good, etc." terminology, together with its underlying mindset, appears on its face, to militate against the idea of race equality; and so, far from promoting it, must, in fact, appear to the undiscerning mind, to legitimize the opposite. The result is racial discrimination, and, in the extreme case, the devaluing of a black life relative to a white one (e.g. in law enforcement situations). These matters are all explored in the book, which then goes ahead to propose an effective way for society out of this major quandary.
Description
The importance and influence of the English language in modern life cannot be gainsaid. Not only is there a large and growing number of people who communicate in it - about one quarter of the world’s population by some estimates - but it is by far the world’s favorite second language, that is, the language more people are likely to speak than any other in addition to their own native tongues. Indeed, one of the enduring realities of modern life is the dominance of English as the language of communication across cultures. As goes Anglophone culture, so goes the world. With the acquisition of English, one also acquires not just the words and expressions, but, most critically, the system of thought and mindset associated with the language. Therein lies the crux of the matter: the unfortunate implications of this global dominance of the English language for the black race, and which implications form the subject of this book. Everyone knows that in English bad things are “black” and “black” things are not good (e.g. black spot, black day and blackmail). By the same token, good things are “white” and “white” things are not bad (white knight, white magic, white lie). The unfortunate, and dangerous, thing is that this categorization is not only widespread throughout the language, but is systemic and systematically applied. This “blackness of bad/badness of black” concept, together with its accompanying mindset, and the consequences which flow from it for both black and white people, and for humanity at large, is the focus of this book. Of Black Servitude Without Slavery: The Unspoken Politics of The English Language avers that this “blackness of bad/badness of black” mindset, unavoidably imported into the realm of race relations, creates a situation in which black people effectively are held in perpetual psychological servitude, and the white person, independent of himself or herself, is imbued from childhood with a mindset of negativity towards “black” things, thus, wittingly or otherwise, negating the notion of equality of the races, which mindset he or she actually has to work hard to overcome. In substantiation of this averment, the author undertakes an exposition of the role and impact of the “blackness of bad” mindset in the daily lives of both black and white people, and ultimately of society-at-large. Among the contexts in which the subject is analyzed are those of race relations, the black image and black self-esteem, Western aesthetics, including the idea of beauty, constitutional law,and the administration and enforcement of criminal justice. The author, after thus exploring the broad ramifications for society of this essentially systemic defamation of the black race embodied in the "blackness of bad/badness of black, etc." terminology, with accompanying mindset, goes on to proffer a unique and effective solution, together with an implementing campaign, to remedy this situation as an urgent imperative of our time. Of Black Servitude Without Slavery: The Unspoken Politics of The English Language is a book of wide-ranging coverage that would engage anyone involved or interested in issues of philosophy, politics, linguistics, human rights, race relations, law, social justice and equity, and, for that matter, social behavior.
About the author
Agwu Ukiwe Okali is the Founder-Chairman of The Okali Seminal Ideas Foundation for Africa (OSIFA®), a non-profit Foundation dedicated to fostering and facilitating a more effective participation of Africa in the world of ideas. Born in Nigeria, Okali holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees from Harvard Law School. Okali had a distinguished career at the United Nations, last serving as Registrar of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, with the rank of United Nations Assistant Secretary General. His victims-oriented restitutive/restorative justice idea influenced key aspects of the set-up of the permanent International Criminal Court in 1998.
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