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THE RATS HAD NEVER LEFT by Abdusamaad (Sam) Karani


Conquering Colonists & Systemic Racism

by Abdusamaad (Sam) Karani

Pub Date: Dec. 16th, 2022
ISBN: 9781039139862
Publisher: FriesenPress

A South African psychologist surveys the lasting legacies of systemic racism in this debut book.

Borrowing from Albert Camus’ apothegm regarding the aftermath of Europe’s bubonic plague—the “rats had never left but went underground”—author Karani argues that, although we may live in a post-colonial world, colonialism’s legacy of systemic racism is still with us in “embedded mindsets.” Believing that “overcoming colonialism’s insidious impact requires freeing the oppressed mind,” the author offers readers a historical survey of colonialism and racist ideology from European enslavement of Africans through the killing of George Floyd and police response to Black Lives Matter protests. Interspersed throughout are more theoretical assessments that explore, for instance, anti-intellectualism in the United States and the toll of racism on Black mental health. Karani’s astute observations arise not only from his extensive research (the book includes 300-plus endnotes) and scholarly background as a clinical psychologist and professor, but also from personal experience. South Africa’s apartheid regime forcibly closed his father’s retail business in 1959, effectively condemning his family to poverty. Young Karani followed the leadership of Steve Biko and other revolutionaries who formed the Black Consciousness Movement. This “self-identification” as Black in a nation that divided colonized people into competing racial categories “empowered” Karani to pursue advanced academic degrees and convinced him that previously colonized people must dismantle the mental shackles and other ideological constructs left in colonization’s wake. Additionally, Karani’s later immigration to Canada, his current home, revealed an equally painful legacy of sustained discrimination toward Black immigrants and an even worse history of genocide against Indigenous citizens despite its comparative stability as a liberal democracy that nominally supports multiculturalism and human rights. This work is particularly adept at condensing longue durée history across multiple periods and continents, as well as complex colonial and post-colonial theories, into an accessible, well-written narrative accompanied by textbox vignettes and charts.

An engaging analysis of the persistent vestiges of colonialism.