Once Aryan Skynet Goes Live It Doesn't Matter Who Pulled The Switch
For most of a century, the partisans of the Soviet Union would make great bales of propaganda hay out of the treatment of blacks in the U.S.A. and other capitalist countries. Communism, contrarily, favored the black man’s liberation from his white colonialist oppressors – or so the story went. Many blacks around the world would find themselves seduced by various Marxist philosophies. W.E.B. DuBois, while wary of perceived racism within the Communist Party U.S.A., looked to Russia as “the most promising modern country”1. Paul Robeson, too, professed his “warm feelings of friendship for the peoples of that land”2. The Soviet Union provided military aid to multiple African nationalist movements during the Cold War, seeming to bolster its image as the ideological alternative to American racism – but had prejudice really been eradicated from the heart of the New Soviet Man of the Bright, Shining Socialist Future? Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Carter, averred, “The worst racists in the world are the Russians.”3 Soviet support of black nationalists fighting the Apartheid government of South Africa, for example, would seem to support the sincerity of the Communist Party’s public abhorrence for racism – but how did the Russians react when Africans were actually in their midst?
In 1959, at the urging of DuBois, Khrushchev established the Soviet Union’s Africa Institute to promote academic fellowship, and during the 1960s the number of Africans studying in the U.S.S.R. would swell. “As these institutional initiatives were being finalized African students began to trickle into the U.S.S.R.,” writes Maxim Matusevich:
As of January 1, 1959, there were only seven students from sub-Saharan Africa officially enrolled in Soviet institutions of higher learning. However, between 1960 and 1961 the number of African students in the U.S.S.R. increased almost ten-fold, from 72 to over 500, eventually reaching some 5,000 by the end of the decade. […]
Despite the prevailing climate of complacency and the general timidity of their Soviet peers, Africans protested vociferously against poor living conditions, racist incidents, restrictions on travel within the U.S.S.R., restrictions on dating Russian girls, and restrictions on forming national and ethnic student associations. As early as March 1960, African students in Moscow petitioned the Soviet government to curb the expressions of crude racism by Soviet citizens. On another occasion, two African students refused to be part of a long established Soviet practice – an annual dispatch of thousands of Soviet students to work in the countryside during the harvest. The objectors from Chad and Morocco argued (unconvincingly and probably mockingly) that in their cultures men under 25 years old were not allowed to work in the fields but rather had a special obligation “to engage in leisure activities.” At about the same time four African students […] were expelled from Moscow State University for defying an administrative ban on the Black African Students’ Union. Their expulsion and subsequent departure from the country received wide coverage in the Western press. The students publicly accused university officials of suppressing the union as well as of imposing severe restrictions on the circulation of “books and jazz records.” […]
The death of a Ghanaian student in Moscow, in December 1963, which his friends suspected to have been a homicide, occasioned an exceptionally angry reaction among African students in the U.S.S.R. They staged a protest march on the Kremlin [and appear to have set fire to at least one car in the process, judging by Associated Press archival footage] demanding a Bill of Rights for African students in the country […] More trouble brewed in 1964 and 1965, with African students in the U.S.S.R. frequently reporting racist attacks, fights with Soviet youngsters, and even feeling compelled to carry knives for protection. Komsomol officials at Moscow State University (MGU) grudgingly acknowledged several instances of scandalous behavior exhibited by Soviet students but also argued that Africans and other foreigners at MGU had a limited understanding of the selfless and romantic nature of Soviet young men, many of whom preferred the hardship of toil in remote Siberia to the pleasures of Moscow high life. One wonders if it was the “romantic nature of Soviet young men” that fueled the passions of one youthful geography major who threatened to “lynch” an African student married to his Russian fellow student. Or was it a disagreement over their respective work ethics that led another MGU freshman to call upon his African roommate to “pack up his stuff and go back to Mali”?
In May 1965, the Soviet authorities tacitly linked the African student community in the country with the idea of political subversion when they expelled a black American diplomat, Norris D. Garnett, for “conducting anti-Soviet work among students from African countries.” Garnett’s departure from the scene hardly had the desired long-term effect. Just a few years later, 800 African students went on a week-long strike, this time – in Kiev, in protest against the expulsion of a 23-year-old Czechoslovakian woman for marrying a Nigerian fellow-student. That same year a Nigerian student sleeping in his dorm room in the city of Lvov (L’viv) was attacked by “a drunken Russian with a chisel.” The attacker was reportedly incensed by the Nigerian’s successes with Russian and Ukrainian girls. The incident quickly turned into a major fight involving other Nigerian students who had come to the rescue of their compatriot, and as a result three of them were expelled “for attacking and beating up a Soviet citizen.” Discrimination or alleged discrimination aside, the students’ resentment, it was noted, stemmed from “the sole fact of their living in a communist country.” Once in the Soviet Union, Africans, “even self-proclaimed leftists,” had to reconcile “the obvious discrepancies between what is said and what actually exists.” And what “actually existed” in the Moscow of 1960s and 1970s were “the crowded living conditions, lack of privacy, monotonous diet, inadequate sanitary facilities, and the overall drabness of life.” A former African student at Moscow State University, writing about his experiences there, maintained that of all foreign students in the Soviet Union, Africans were most upset by Russia’s depressed style of living […]
There was “no splash of color to relieve Moscow’s damp gray”4, and the Russian cultural diet of the time was famously lacking in the urban flava to which blacks are known to be partial. Kidding aside, the Soviets’ blacks appear to have quickly fallen into a pattern of obnoxious behavior that will be immediately familiar to the American reader: lazing, complaining, chasing white girls, and getting into fights – constituting a demographic liability and a constant threat to public order – all while blaming crazed, irrationally hateful whites for their problems.
“What I learned in six months in the Soviet Union is what some Africans will never learn,” Kenyan bellyacher Nicholas Nyangira moaned in an article syndicated by the Associated Press in 1965. “They are taken to Russia’s showplaces and never experience the race hatred that I experienced at the University of Baku.” Nyangira claims, furthermore, to have always gone in fear for his life. “We were referred to scathingly as ‘the blacks’,” he continues, his tears positively seeping through the newsprint. “Many local people had never seen an African before and because we were black they hated us.”
Several Kenya students got beaten up. Usually it would begin with abuse, then lead to violence. It was advisable to walk in pairs because if there was trouble you could expect no help from the police.
I don’t remember a week that went by without an African student being robbed or attacked.5
Dindu nuffin? Check. Racist police? Check. Chimpout? Check. Sympathetic U.S. press coverage? Check. Tracing the track of the entitled black through the ages, can any of the preceding – or any of the following – possibly come as any surprise? Matusevich picks up with Russians’ attitudes toward Africans at the close of the Soviet era:
Glasnost lifted the floodgates to prejudice and crude racism and let loose the virtual anti-black hysteria. And many Africans blamed Gorbachev’s “revolution” for not feeling safe in the streets and public places of the Soviet cities. A Nigerian journalism student at Kazan University wrote to a Moscow newspaper: “One day I decided to have my lunch in nearby café. As soon as I opened the door, I was met with jeers and cat-calls by young girls sitting around a table, laughing and cracking unfriendly jokes about me…” The enterprising Nigerians soon learned to play curious mind games to save their skin during the growing number of unfriendly encounters. One of them, for example, when approached by a group of hoodlums, pretended to be an American black. The trick worked as the toughs abandoned their original belligerent intentions and “immediately simulated keen interest and began to ask questions about Steve Wonder, Michael Jackson, etc.” The ploy, however, was not 100% fail proof and between May and August of 1990 at least four Nigerian students were severely beaten up and one allegedly killed in Moscow on grounds raging from “being a monkey” to dating Russian girls. Considering the growing public paranoia about HIV-AIDS, for any African to approach a Russian girl was increasingly becoming a risky proposition. […]
“As a result of a deliberate racist campaign, we are now being called SPID (SPID is a Russian abbreviation for AIDS) on the streets by Soviet youngsters.” Soviet street folklore, with its characteristic sexual undertone, tied together the much professed (and mocked) “love” of the Soviet officialdom for the developing world and the appearance of the disease in Russia. A popular joke provided “alternative” transliterations for the original Russian SPID (AIDS) wherein the term was variously interpreted either as Sotsialnoe Posledstvie Internatsionalnoj Druzby (Social Consequence of International Friendship) or Spetsialny Podarok Inostrannyh Druzej (Special Gift from Foreign Friends). Africans residing in the Soviet Union were far from amused though; the joke encapsulated the growing popular dissatisfaction with the regime, which “wasted precious resources” on people who (in the words of one populist politician) “have just descended from the palm tree.” […]
While the Soviet-style paternalism, that permeated the pre-perestroika publications on Africa, was being gradually toned down, so was the concern for the continent. Africans residing in Russia on the eve of the Soviet collapse noted on many occasions that coverage of Africa was reduced to simplistic and highly stereotypical catalogues of its bane and woes. In the media, the very word “Africa” was often supplanted by cherny kontinent (black continent), the place of danger and wasted opportunities, and a proverbial black hole devouring scant Soviet resources. The stage was being set for the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Africa as it was for the debilitating wave of racism and xenophobia soon to sweep across the post-Soviet spaces.6
But, seriously, Russia – why import blacks in the first place? Everybody knows the Russians invented breakdancing:
Rainer is the author of the blockbuster Alt-Right film book Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.