Friday, 26 June 2009


Philadelphia fitness expert, David Sylvester, joins 39 other professional and amateur bikers for Tour d’Afrique, a 100-day cycling event beginning in Cairo, Egypt, and ending in Cape Town, South Africa. Sylvester rides to raise money for a scholarship honoring his dear friend and fellow African American Kevin Bowser, who died in the 9/11 tragedy. Near the end of the trip he arrives in Lilongwe, Malawi, where he discovers a hip-hop clothing store called “Niggers.” Thinking at first “this is a very bad joke,” Sylvester investigates further. After talking with the two attending salesmen, Sylvester concludes, “This is no joke. . . . The bottom line is this: I rode over 12,000 miles on two continents through 15 states and 13 countries and broke two bikes in the process, to get to a store in Africa called Niggers.”

He feels guilty for his role in the vulgar ritual grammar that has grown to infect the continent he calls the motherland. “I am willing to step [up] and admit my part in the havoc that we have wrought on our mindset,” he writes in an email now posted on his website, “but I think that we all are to blame.”

Quote from article ‘The Not-So-Harmless Social Function of a Word that Wounds,’ Debra Walker King in The Handbook of the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations

Concern with his race’s ‘mindset,’ racial identification with the homeland, sensitivity to verbal slights against the race; Mr Sylvester is a better man than most Whites. But he has no idea how good Blacks have it. European man’s mindset either denies his race exists or says it does not matter; his mindset determines that his race should welcome being displaced by other races in his homeland; and how wonderful it would be if our fortunes and self-confidence had turned around to such extent that we could ironically embrace other races’ slurs against us.

Still, I did laugh.

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