Comparing Black People to Monkeys has a Long, Dark Simian History
THE IRISH TIMES: Salome Mbuga, founder of migrant women’s network Akidwa, said as a black woman living in Ireland for 21 years, she had “on many occasions had to challenge racism and discrimination”.
“Many people of African descent have very bad experiences fighting to be respected, fighting for services for their children.”
Black children had bananas thrown at them as they walked with their father comparing them to monkeys.
Dr Lucy Michael of the University of Ulster said black Africans suffered the most sustained racism and the impact on children was the most worrying aspect because, perhaps unlike their parents, they would be less able to rationalise the abuse.
Acts of “everyday racism” may not warrant criminal investigation, but could “be just as damaging to the individual as a violent attack”.
“Everyday racism is the racism other than that which ‘bad’ people do, the everyday things we see and tolerate and start to normalise and start to ignore. But when we start to look for it, it is everywhere,” said Dr. Michael.
In other incidents a black woman was threatened in a pub and had a drink thrown over her, while in another a black man was assaulted by six people while walking alone in Dublin city centre on mid-week evening.
“We need to understand that many of these incidents pass under the radar but the drip-drip-drip in a person’s life accumulates and damages their ability to participate, to contribute and damages their mental health,” Dr. Michael added.
TakePart: Images comparing black people to monkeys are as old as America. Sometimes it’s obvious that the association is racist—a quick Internet search of “Michelle Obama monkey” will give you an idea of just how overt and offensive things can get. Then there’s the line that a controversial T-shirt from San Diego–based fashion brand Just Add a Kid is blurring.
Black kid’s face with a banana-eating monkey body of Just Add a Kid Tshirt company. Is it racist or adorable? Source: TakePart
The company’s shirt features the body of a monkey holding a banana. That’s paired with Just Add a Kid’s custom hanger bearing the smiling face of an African American boy. Together, the shirt and the hanger create the impression that the black kid is a monkey eating a banana.
The company released a statement stating that this particular instance of the monkey T-shirt being partnered with the African American boy hanger was a mistake.
“The widely distributed and inappropriate picture of a mismatched ‘Just Add a Kid’ hanger with one of our T-shirt products was not authorized, condoned, or tolerated by our company,” wrote spokesperson David Oates in a statement. “We sincerely regretted this occurrence and immediately directed our retail partner to change the product placement.”
Not everyone is buying the company’s apology. “Let’s stop putting the offensive material out there and just say BOYCOTT JUST ADD A KID!!!” tweeted CarolCubby.
DAILYNEWS: Italy’s first black minister Cecile Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was pelted with the fruit as she was making a speech at an assembly in Cervia. She was dubbed an orangutan by a fellow politician has suffered another racist attack — after a spectator threw bananas at her during a rally.
Kyenge, who was once compared to an orangutan by a fellow politician, presents a shirt reading in Italian, ‘If you close with racism, a world opens up.’ (ROBERTO MONALDO/AP) Source: Daily News
Roberto Calderoli, vice president of the Senate — Italy’s upper house — and leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party compared her to a primate.
“When I see images of Kyenge I cannot help think, even if I don’t say that she is one, of a resemblance to an orangutan,” he told a rally.
He later apologized, but only after being forced to by rival politicians.
“It is sad and a waste of food, considering the economic crisis,” Kyenge later wrote on Twitter.
“The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions,” she added.
Daniel Alves was commended for his response of eating a banana thrown at by a racist fan during Barcelona’s 3-2 away win at Villareal on April 27, 2014. Source: sports.ndtv.com
sports.ndtv.com: The young man is accused of throwing a banana on the pitch near the 30-year-old Alves as he was about to take a corner during Barcelona’s 3-2 away win at Villareal on April 27. (Alves Eats Banana Thrown at Him)
Alves won praise after he took a bite from the banana and got on with the game, drawing worldwide attention to racist incidents in Spanish football.
“My only concern is that the kid lost his job and I don’t want that. I don’t want to hurt anyone. He made a joke and it caused an uproar,” Alves told Catalan radio RAC 1 in an interview.
“I ask that they give him his job back,” he added. Spanish police arrested the suspected culprit, who could face up to three years in jail if convicted of inciting discrimination.
Villareal banned the man from their facilities and stadium and cancelled his club membership.
Left, Neymar in support of Daniel Alves. Right, Ota Benga, Bronz Zoo, New York, 1906. Brazilian soccer star Neymar with his son on his lap and two bananas, in support of Daniel Alves and in protest against the racism present in the soccer world. Source: rioonwatch.org
Spanish newspapers said the suspect was a member of the support staff of a junior Villareal team, and thus lost his job through the sanction.
Villareal declined to comment on the matter so as to protect the suspect’s identity.
Spanish football authorities fined Villareal 12,000 euros ($17,000) on Wednesday but the Spanish government’s anti-violence commission has said it will appeal for a heavier punishment given the “seriousness” of the incident.
Alves said he did not want to give the impression that the whole of Spain is racist.
“It is not something that has just happened now. I don’t want to generalise, to say Spain is racist. I am saying there is racism in Spain. I have been here 11 years and in those 11 years it’s been the same, people call me a monkey,” he said.
JUNKEE: When opposition fans taunted Alves with monkey chants. “I go through this constantly in all the grounds I go to,” he said at the time. “It is a shame, as fans can like you or not, and there can be heated moments within games, but the crowd should just support their own team… Until action is taken, nothing can be fixed.”
“You have to take it with a dose of humour,” he said. “We aren’t going to change things easily, but if you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective,” Alves said.
Pape Diop Image: europe1.fr
Just a week after the banana-throwing incident, Levante’s Senegalese midfielder Pape Diop condemned Atletico Madrid fans for making monkey chants at him during his team’s shock 2-0 win over the La Liga leaders.
adelaidenow.com.au: Viv Anderson, in 1978, became the first black player to represent England. As a young Nottingham Forest substitute he was pelted with fruit one day and returned to his seat.
“Get your arse back out there then and fetch me two pears and a banana,” quipped manager Brian Clough.
“It was Cloughie’s way of having a bit of fun with a racist act,” Anderson later said.
“He pulled me over and said: ‘If you let people like that dictate to you, I’m going to pick somebody else, because you’re going to be worrying about what the fans will say’.”
Anderson will strike a chord with Eddie Betts.
Liverpool’s John Barnes backheels a banana that was thrown onto the pitch during a match against Source: The Advertiser
Jamacian player John Barnes turned out 80 times for England and, as a key man of the great Liverpool team of the late ’80s, was the regular focal point of bananas launched from the terraces. Not to mention on-field abuse.
“Players called me n***** to my face. It happened in training, in matches. Any black player of my generation had it. In 1984 with England in Brazil, I had it with the National Front.
“There wasn’t a game in the 80s when you didn’t get racial abuse as a black player. I got racist abuse at Liverpool when I played for Watford. Then I played for Liverpool and didn’t get it.”
The sea change came through a lowly administrator with the Greater London Council, Herman Ouseley, who, in 1993, set up a project to tackle racism in football called Kick It Out. Making football free from discrimination was his aim.
It made a difference to the point that Ouseley is now Lord Ouseley. More importantly racism has been kicked, almost entirely, into touch from English football grounds.
Dark Simian History: Black People compared to Monkeys
SIMIAN – as a noun, simian is a monkey or ape. Something monkey- or an ape-like can be described using the adjective “simian”. So, something can be simian without being a simian. (Vocabulary.com)
As an adjective, “characteristic of monkeys or apes,” c.1600, from Latin simia “ape,” from simus “snub-nosed,” from Greek simos “snub-nosed” (like the Scythians), also a masculine proper name, of unknown origin. Biological meaning “pertaining to monkeys” is from 1863. The noun meaning “an ape or monkey” first is attested in 1880. (Dictionary.com)
A movie ” Planet of the Apes” Image: Cine Mundo
THEWORLDPOST: Comparing Black People to Monkeys has a Long, Dark Simian History
This article is a foundation essay. These are longer than usual and take a wider look at a key issue affecting society.
In the history of European cultures, the comparison of humans to apes and monkeys was disparaging from its very beginning.
When Plato – by quoting Heraclitus – declared apes ugly in relation to humans and men apish in relation to gods, this was cold comfort for the apes. It transcendentally disconnected them from their human co-primates. The Fathers of the Church went one step further: Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint Isidore of Seville compared pagans to monkeys.
In the Middle Ages, Christian discourse recognised simians as devilish figures and representatives of lustful and sinful behaviour. As women were subject to an analogous defamation, things proceeded as one would expect. In the 11th century, Cardinal Peter Damian gave an account of a monkey that was the lover of a countess from Liguria. The jealous simian killed her husband and fathered her child.
HOTBED OF MONSTERS
Several centuries later in 1633, John Donne in his Metempsychosis even let one of Adam’s daughters be seduced by an ape in a sexual affair. She eagerly reciprocated and became helplessly hooked.
Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of the soul, is the process by which a metaphysical soul passes from one physical body to another, through a cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In this way, everyone has a mortal body and an immortal soul. For tens of thousands of years, people have understood this to be the way the world works. Source: Medium
From then on, the sexist manifestation of simianisation was intimately intertwined with its racist dimension. Already Jean Bodin, doyen of the theory of sovereignty, had ascribed the sexual intercourse of animals and humans to Africa south of the Sahara. He characterised the region as a hotbed of monsters, arising from the sexual union of humans and animals.
The history of a narrative by Antonio de Torquemada shows how in this process Africans became demonised and the demons racialised. In the story’s first version (1570), a Portuguese woman was exiled to Africa where she was raped by an ape and had his babies.
A good century onwards the story had entered the realm of Europe’s great philosophical thought when John Locke in his 1689 essay Concerning Human Understanding, declared that “women have conceived by drills”. His intellectual contemporaries knew well that the stage for this transgressing love-and-rape-story was Africa because, according to the wisdom of the time, drills lived in Guinea.
In the following centuries, simianisation would enter into different sciences and humanities. Anthropology, archaeology, biology, ethnology, geology, medicine, philosophy, and, not least, theology were some of the fields.
KING KONG’S REEL RACISM
Literature, arts and everyday entertainment also seized on the issue. It popularised its repellent combination of sexist and racist representations. The climax was the hugely successful classic of Hollywood’s horror factory, King Kong.
Gigantopithecus – the closest nature ever came to producing a real King Kong – weighed five times as much as an adult man and probably stood 3m (9ft) tall, according to rough estimates.In its heyday a million years ago, it inhabited semi-tropical forests in southernChina and mainland south-east Asia. It is one of the largest apes to roam the earth over 100,000 years ago, refused to adapt to a new diet after the last ice age and became extinct. It refused to eat its greens laid out in the new savannah grasslands and remained partial to its preferred diet of fresh and fermented fruits of the remaining forested sanctuaries.Source: yournewswire.com
At the time of King Kong’s production the public in the US was riveted by a rape trial. The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenagers accused of having raped two young white women. In 1935 a picture story by the Japanese artist Lin Shi Khan and the lithographer Toni Perez was published. ‘Scottsboro Alabama’ carried a foreword by Michael Gold, editor of the communist journal New Masses.
One of the 56 images showed the group of the accused young men beside a newspaper with the headline “Guilty Rape”. The rest of the picture was filled with a monstrous black simian figure baring its teeth and dragging off a helpless white girl.
The artists fully understood the interplay of racist ideology, reactionary reporting and southern injustice. They recognised that the white public had been thoroughly conditioned by the dehumanising violence of animal comparisons and simianised representations, as in the reel racism of King Kong.
LABELLED WITH DISEASE
Animalisation and even bacterialisation are widespread elements of racist dehumanisation. They are closely related to the labelling of others with the language of contamination and disease. Images that put men on a level with rats carrying epidemic plagues were part of the ideological escort of anti-Jewish and anti-Chinese racism.
Africa is labelled as a contagious continent incubating pestilences of all sorts in hot muggy jungles, spread by reckless and sexually unrestrained people. AIDS in particular is said to have its origin in the careless dealings of Africans with simians, which they eat or whose blood they use as an aphrodisiac.
An estimated 760,000 deaths from HIV/AIDS and related complications were recorded in Africa in 2015, compared to the 1 million deaths in 2010. This year 2017,HIV/AIDS are no longer the major cause of death for the people of Africa, latest statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed. However,although the number has gone down, experts opine that the number is still quite high considering the preventive methods and education efforts have improved. Source: thelogicalindian.com
This is just the latest chapter in a long and ugly line of stereotypes directed against different people like the Irish or Japanese, and Africans and African Americans in particular. To throw bananas in front of black sportspeople is a common racist provocation even today.
WHY ARE BLACKS ABUSED?
What explains this disastrous association of black people defamed as simian? A combination of factors might be the cause:
- the prevalence of a variety of great apes in Africa, closest in size to humans. The Asian great ape population is more limited, while in the Americas one finds monkeys, but no apes;
- the extent of the aesthetic “distance” between whites and blacks, their greater degree from a white perspective of physical “otherness” (deviant not merely in skin colour and hair texture but facial features) as compared to other “nonwhite” races;
- the higher esteem generally accorded by Europeans to Asian as against African civilisations; and
- above all the psychic impact of hundreds of years of racial slavery in modernity, which stamped ‘Negroes’ as permanent sub-persons, natural slaves, in global consciousness.
Large scale chattel slavery required reducing people to objects. Precisely because of that it also required the most thorough and systematic kind of dehumanisation in the theorisation of that reality.
THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Long before post-Darwinian “scientific racism” begins to develop, then, one can find blacks being depicted as closer to apes on the Great Chain of Being. Take mid-19th century America in circles in which polygenesis (separate origins for the races) was taken seriously. Leading scientists of the day Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon, in their 1854 Types of Mankind, documented what they saw as objective racial hierarchies with illustrations comparing blacks to chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.
As Stephen Jay Gould comments, the book was not a fringe document, but the leading American text on racial differences.
Darwin’s revolutionary 1859 work, On the Origin of Species, did not discredit scientific racism but only its polygenetic variants. Social Darwinism, triumphantly monogenetic, would become the new racial orthodoxy. Global white domination was being taken as proof of the evolutionary superiority of the white race.
If it now had to be conceded that we were all related to the apes, it could nonetheless be insisted that blacks’ consanguinity was much closer – perhaps a straightforward identity.
TARZAN = WHITE SKIN
Popular culture played a crucial role in disseminating these beliefs. The average American layperson would be unlikely to have been reading scientific journals. But they were certainly reading H. Rider Haggard (author of King Solomon’s Mines and She) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan). They were going weekly to the movies, including the genre of “jungle movies”. They were following daily comic strips like The Phantom – Africa’s white supercop, the Ghost-who-walks.
Africa and Africans occupied a special place in the white imaginary, marked by the most shameless misrepresentations. Burroughs would become one of the bestselling authors of the 20th century. Not just in his numerous books, but in the movies made of them and the various cartoon strip and comic spin-offs, of his most famous creation, Tarzan of the Apes.
Tarzan would embed in the Western mind the indelible image of a white man ruling a black continent. “Tar-zan” = “white skin” in Ape, the impressively polyglot Burroughs informs us. It is a world in which the black humans are bestial, simian, while the actual apes are near-human.
Burroughs’s work was unprecedented in the degree of its success, but not at all unusual for the period. Rather, it consolidated a Manichean iconography pervasive throughout the colonial Western world in the first half of the 20th century and lingering still today. In this conflict between light and dark, white European persons rule simian black under-persons.
The Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s Tintin series, for example, includes the infamous Tintin au Congo book, which likewise depicts Africans as inferior apelike creatures.
While Tintin is generally regarded by all readers as a hero without fear and without reproach, always ready to go save the poor and to descramble the most dangerous political situations for democracy, yet there is two albums that make a part of shadow humanistic adventures of the hero: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo. These two albums, whose adventures are located respectively in the former Soviet empire and the former Belgian colony, attempt, too, in an exemplary way in the world history of the twentieth century. They are mostly illustrations “remarkable” the image that the West, here in Belgium, may get the rest of the world including the African people under the yoke of colonial nations. It is packed images that represent a very particular mindset. Source: usslave.blogspot.com Image: YouTube
Unsurprisingly, “macaques” (monkeys) was one of the racist terms used by whites in the Belgian Congo for blacks, as was “macacos” in Portuguese Africa. In his 1960 Independence Day speech, Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba blasted the oppressive legacy of Belgian colonialism (to the astonishment and outrage of the Belgian king and his coterie, who had expected grateful deference from the natives). He is reputed to have concluded:
Nous ne sommes plus vos macaques! (We are no longer your monkeys)
The story seems to be apocryphal – no documentation has been found for it – but its widespread circulation testifies to the decolonial aspiration of millions of Africans. Alas, within less than a year, Lumumba would be dead, assassinated with the connivance of Western agencies, and the country turned over to neocolonial rule.
RACIST CROSS-CLASS ALLIANCES
The use of simianisation as a racist slur against black people is not yet over, as shown by the furor in South Africa sparked by Penny Sparrow, a white woman, complaining about black New Year’s revelers:
From now [on] I shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys as I see the cute little wild monkeys do the same, pick and drop litter.
Sparrow’s public outburst indicates the deep entrenchment of racial prejudices and stereotypes.
This does not stop at class boundaries. The internet has overflowed with ape comparisons ever since Barack and Michelle Obama moved into the White House. Even a social-liberal newspaper, like the Belgian De Morgen, has deemed it kind of funny to simianise the First Couple.
Cross-class alliances against declassed others are a hallmark of racism.
Theodore W. Allen once defined it as “the social death of racial oppression”, that is:
… the reduction of all members of the oppressed group to one undifferentiated social status, beneath that of any member of the oppressor group.
Animalisation remains a malicious and effective instrument of such a form of desocialisation and dehumanisation. Simianisation is a version of this strategy, which historically manifested a lethal combination of sexism and racism.
Human beings are the deadliest and ugliest creatures ever existed on this plant and they are going to destroy this planet as well.