Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies’ Powerful Piece: It’s Time To Question America’s “Authoritarian Demagogue” That Rules Our World
An insightful opinion piece from The New Yorker has been making its way around the Internet, and for good reason.
Titled Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About and written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, it discusses the fundamental need for a shift in consciousness to occur — a need that has so badly been stifled by the continuous drone of propaganda.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election proved to be one of the most controversial elections in recent history, leaving many fearing that a country born from an idea of freedom, that has worked tirelessly to combat racism, misogyny, and anti-intellectualism, will once again be ruled by and for the white man. A melting pot of people with varying races, genders, sexual orientations, and incomes cannot survive peacefully in a nation that asks to build walls. And no, not just the infamous wall separating the U.S. and Mexico, but walls against people of our own nation. As Adichie says: Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement.
The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators.
The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity. Even before the election took place, a question seemed to loom in the background: What is happening to our world? People are beginning to wake up from the brainwashing of mainstream media, of government control, that instills fear and pushes us down a one-way path of no return, with little to no room for thoughts or actions that are specifically our own, not crafted by someone else. People can see something isn’t working. We are realizing that many of our current societal structures cannot exist forever without change. Economic, governmental, political, environmental, and healthcare models are being challenged because people see that we have simply outgrown what has been. Adichie urges: Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein infamously urged people to come to terms with the fact that the two-party system is broken. We must vote for our values, not our fears, she said. We shouldn’t be manipulated into thinking we only have two choices.
The fact that many still fail to recognize this reveals how deeply we have been brainwashed. Adichie’s offers a poignant revelation of how white identity politics have shaped our present world: This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation.
The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white.
The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.
The corruption and bias of mainstream media, and its role in this continuous brainwashing, has caused an uprise of alternative media outlets to speak the truth for the betterment of humanity, and the movement has only continued to grow in popularity. Patience is growing thin for media outlets that don’t prioritize education and information over motive. “Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters,” she says. Adichie also points out the desperate need for us to not just know of, but also acknowledge and take action on the unjust inequalities that no longer have a place in our nation, or in our world: Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest.
The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women. She urges us to make the art of questioning a priority. Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite? And she concludes by asserting that now is the time to discuss the reality of alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this. Adichie’s piece is nothing short of brilliant, but more than anything, it’s a desperate call for action. We can no longer ignore the reality that our consciousness is shifting. We must continue to wake up, help others wake up, and make the change we require to live in a better world. .
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