Short stories

Institutionalised Racism- Part 1

Uju was watching the news with her husband as it had become their custom – to watch the eight o’clock AIT news together. To them it unveiled a sense of bond, of togetherness, one that gave them a topic to talk about, the kind of topic that kept their married conversations going. They agreed to do this every evening as a ritual after Uju noticed that her husband was becoming distant. He started being distant after he lost his job with the bank during the COVID -19 pandemic and applied to other banks that interviewed but failed to take him on. He also applied to insurance companies that also interviewed him and likely dismissed him with the similar phrases “we will get in touch with you.”

They never got in touch and he had started to feel inadequate as a man. He had started to ask his wife for money to fuel his car, subscribe his phone, the DSTV package, their kids’ school fees. He had started to be irritated by little things – his wife asking him to switch off the stove while she was in the bathroom, her asking him not to forget to pack their kids lunch in a lunch box before taking them to school, her asking him to buy some food items from the market since he would be home as she would probably come back late.

She knew he felt distant because he felt less of a man; he was doing the task deemed by larger society to be feminine. She wanted him to know that she was not demeaning him by asking him to help with the tasks but for what it was help. So, she resorted to watching the news with him at eight hoping that one discussion to another could help him understand that his help really meant a lot to her.


So, they watched talks on COVID-19 – measures to be taken by financial institutions, how the government can survive by strategising, why schools, churches and mosques must remain closed, when they saw the news that an African American had been murdered by a police man in America. They watched a blurry clip of how a white police man knelt on the neck of a black man as he screamed “I can’t breathe” and until foams of white spilled from the side of his mouth, the police man did not release his knee.

At that instant the countenance of Uju’s husband changed, “that is how they keep on murdering blacks and they get acquitted.”
This is broad day murder, it’s on camera. No judge will acquit with this evidence.” Uju said.
No, that’s not what the media will ask you. That’s not what the justice system will use” He said


Like you don’t know what the media will do when they are in support of an idea. Aren’t you one of them” he said.

Uju was a columnist and editor for the Sun Newspaper. “We only use palatable and digestible words that will not stir uncontrollable uproar.
Really, palatable and digestible words, huh? That is why tomorrow, they’ll dig up something from the black man’s past to justify the police man’s actions and free, he will be.” He said.

Racial inequality, police brutality on the blacks are on the rise.” She protested.
No, Don’t say black, people of colour is palatable and digestible. It wouldn’t stir uncontrollable uproar

She shook her head dismissively, “You know that’s not what I mean.
In the Civil Rights Act of 1968 legal forms of racism was abolished. It has been institutionalised. For Decades the Federal Housing Authority did not grant loans to black people because loans were offered by grading and the black communities were ranked lowest grades. So, they received less or no loans.” He said.


Uju was more submerged in the fact that her husband had assumed an airlifted state than she was for her husband’s wide knowledge on American racism.
The Media also isn’t helping matters, he continued, “they paint blacks with criminality. The justice system is also liable of convicting blacks more than whites on similar crimes.

How did you come about all these knowledge apart from the fact that you did your Master’s degree there?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week Thursday.

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