“Diversity”: The West’s Trump Card
FIFA has repeatedly blared its Vuvuzuelas about the Russia 2018 edition being the “best World Cup ever” according to FIFA President, Gianni Infantino. Perhaps he was emphasising from all aspects—financially, on the field, and most importantly, integration-wise; considering how volatile and antagonistic football fans have been in recent years in Russia, much more, to that distasteful phrase “people of colour.”
But just as the self-acclamations have rolled in, same as France’s World Cup win been the main global media theme. Besides sparking social media memes, reactions about Africa finally winning the World Cup—most exemplified by the row between The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah and French Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Gérard Araud—it has been celebrated for the team’s multiracial makeup symbolising a diverse, yet a unified nation. France 1998, hosted and won by France featured more than a dozen. 2018’s version: 19 of the 23-man squad propelled France to her second World Cup title. The Belgian squad which finished third—their best ever run at the FIFA World Cup—had 10 players of parental migration.
Diversity—multi-ethnic, multicultural, interracial—or whatever else one employs in expression and depiction of different races and ethnic groups coexisting within a recognised territory, promotes such humane things like bridging cultural gaps, ethnic ideologies, religious sentiments, social perceptions and stereotypes, and other ideals of human existence.
However, diversity only exists truly within the context of race. When “diversity” is mentioned in and by the West, please understand that it is a thinly-veiled word for a discussion about race-related matters. France’s world cup win has unavoidably led us back to the sensitive issue of “diversity” or rather race, and thus, racism. Perhaps you noticed my diction to relate the subject matter with “sensitive.” Yes! Sensitive because of how easily its form can, has and continues to be manipulated by the West to suit ulterior motives with nationalistic tendencies. And in the face of diversity, most of its concern has predominantly featured Africans.
The past, however, presents a clue to how we got here because as the eternal writer Chinua Achebe rightly points out “If you can’t tell where the rain began to beat you, you will not know where the sun-dried your body.”
The barbaric Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from the 16th until the 19th century which shipped over 2.5 million Africans to the Atlantic world and the Berlin Conference of 1884 brutally set African nations on the path to colonialism. These created patterns of control, subjugation and plunder of both human and natural resources, and a well-crafted orchestra for continuous rip-offs—a concept remodelled after short-lived decolonial triumphs into neo-colonialism—bringing into view failed leadership, basic infrastructural collapse and other debilitating ills. As such, the intense need for migration has remained. With immigration policies enforced, but still largely capitalising on the brain-drain syndrome plaguing Africa, the West continues to endlessly benefit especially in those nation-states where Africans are vastly populated, solidifying its case for diversity: Belgium, London, France, the United States among others.
But diversity means fluidity to the West. Something which can be turned to suit different purposes, and at will; something which can be wielded as a trump card. When immigrants—the major proponents of diversity—excel in their respective fields of profession, they are lauded and widely celebrated as “French,” “English,” “German” or “American” citizens, painting pictures of national integration, multiracial/cultural coexistence and harmony devoid of racism, police brutality et cetera. But when anticipated results are individually or collectively negative, the migrant’s ancestral charts, immigration status, social media activities, and in most cases, issues with the law enforcement—usually tailored around criminal records—become the dehumanising modes for the West. In fact, the inputs of these immigrants are questioned with such impunity as to invalidate their legitimate status of citizenry, and by extension, their humanity. In simple term: racism.
Writing for The Players’ Tribune in its June edition, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku in his piece I’ve Got Some Things to Say noted: “When things were going well…I was reading newspaper articles and they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, ‘the Belgian striker.’ When things weren’t going well, they were calling me ‘Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker of Congolese descent.’”
Politics and policies in the West are shaped on ethnic sensationalism and bigotry, even more when they become keys to creating international perception or pushing foreign policies.
Diversity—a word with the potential to be positively gratifying to humanity—does not mean equality to the West. Neither does it mean acceptance or total integration. On accounts of its selective pander in moments of glory and disappointment, diversity suggests that, sadly, it remains a trump card for the West’s continuous global socioeconomic and political dominance. Ask Karim Benzema’s France. Ask Tiger Woods’ United States. Please ask even Mesut Ozil’s Germany!
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