Scapegoats

When Albinos Are Fair Game,
Human Dignity Is Shot Down

There’s another bloody wave of killings of albinos going on in Africa, and once again, superstition and ignorance are behind it. It’s now happening in Malawi but it’s, in every way, equally as brutal as it’s been in Tanzania and other places.
Obviously, many are eager to toss their two cents into the well of possible reasons for the murders. But it all goes down to what Jean Paul Sartre’s play Final Exit proposes: hell is other people. Or, the pathological fear of ‘the other.’
Albinos, as Jews in Nazi German, the Roma in present Europe, or Mexicans and Muslims to a certain U.S. presidential candidate, often play the part of our inner boogeyman, full of the same treacherous intent and magical powers only our own deepest fear possess.
As such, they’re easy targets for unbound racism, prejudice, histeria, and even worst, the illusion that by destroying them we’ll somehow purge all that we consider ‘wrong’ inside ourselves. Make that into a ritual and call it tradition, for legitimacy.
Make it into a market and call it an abomination. According to a 2015 Red Cross report, an albino arm can be purchased for $4,000 in Africa, while the whole body can sell for about $75 thousand, which is usually raised by witch doctors among wealthy, but secretive, customers.
After last year’s staggeringly cruel acts committed against albinos in Tanzania, the United Nations chose June 13 as the International Albinism Awareness Day. It couldn’t come now at a better time, as 18 Malawians are believed to have been bludgeoned to death since 2014.
The brutality of the crimes make it hard to strike a proper balance when it comes to punish them. The Amnesty International, which released a report condemning the murders, has positioned itself against the death penalty for accused killers, as some in Malawi are proposing.
Three years ago, we published the post below which resonated with people in different continents, albino and not so. It seems that we’ll be posting it for a least a few times more. Albinos, who didn’t choose to become a magnet to fascists, may as well serve as symbols to the human dignity we all have the right to pursue and not be killed for it.

THE HUNTED

The Haunted Beauty of Albinos
& the Bigots Who Can’t Bear it

After months of relative peace, the brutal chase was on again back in 2013, when a seven-year old Tanzania boy had his hand chopped off by thugs disguised as spiritual healers. That false beliefs and carnage never cease to fester in such impoverished land is no surprise.
As it’s nothing new that a supernatural being is ‘ordering’ the murder and dismemberment of innocent humans, exacted by the hands of their ignorant priests. But it’s still staggering that what’s essentially an ancient medical condition would incite such unconscionable acts for so long.
We could spend the day here discussing that and many other cases, with their particularly gruesome patterns and all the gory details. Instead, we choose to celebrate what’s considered the ‘otherness’ of albinos who, after all, have to put up with all the limitations of their own condition.

The work and lives of South African models Thando Hopa, and Refilwe Modiselle, Tanzania Albino Society’s Ernest Kimaya, Afro-Brazilian Rosemere de Andrade, the India’s Pullan family, documentarian Harry Freeland, Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, plus a cadre of highly successful artists and thousands others, only assert the power of their dignity as human beings.
We offer today’s post as a solidarity gesture to albinos everywhere and their plight, not a repulsive patronizing pat on their scared backs, because it’s clear that neither such condition is an impediment to greatness, nor that to stand with Albinos requires preaching and outraged diatribes.
We hope the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, recovers, of course, he being only the latest in what appears to be an increasing series of savage attacks for their supposedly ‘magical‘ flesh. Let’s hope too that TAS gets the resources it needs to go after the culprits and those who cover up for them. In the real world, ignorance should never be a bliss.

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Read Also:
* Photo Retouch

Photo Retouch

Photographer Known For Essay
on Albino Family Dies in Brazil

The plane crash that killed Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos this week threw the country’s succession of President, and still front runner, Dilma Rousseff, into grief and turmoil. But it also may help us correct an injustice of sorts, in a completely unexpected way.
Along with Campos, eight other people also died: the two co-pilots, two political aides, a cameraman, and a photographer, Alexandre Severo, well known in Brazil for an essay on a rare multiracial family that counts both black and albino kids among its members.
As it turns out, Colltales had published a post on albinos last year, and included a photo of the Fernandes de Andrade family, taken by Severo. Except that his name was not mentioned on the credit of the picture, only Reuters’, its license holder, which is correct but incomplete.
Severo, 36, had already an established career when he portrayed the unique group in 2009, black mother Rosemere, and her two black and three albinos kids, all from Severo’s homestate city of Olinda, Pernambuco. Chances for that to happen: one in a million.
Actually, to prevent yet another correction, let’s say that those odds are estimates; we don’t have scientific data to support such claim. Nevertheless, there’s no need to estimate the challenges for such a poor group of Brazilians for it’s downright hard to even fathom what they go through every day.
As far as we know, the five are doing fine, but again, we have no data to back that up. So we hope, just like albinos do, that they are, and that health issues don’t get in their way to a fulfilling life. Also, that we all come to understand their condition and, more importantly, that our prejudices don’t hamper their right to be loved and respected.
That was the point of our story, anyway. But not of this one. For this is a due correction that we needed to make, and a sign that Severo’s work will outlive him and honor his legacy. In his short life, he managed to link his name to a theme of love and racial equality, almost as rare today as the genetic mutation that triggers albinism.
Tip of the hat to you, brother.
_______
Read Also:
* The Hunted

The Hunted

The Haunted Beauty of Albinos
& the Bigots Who Can’t Bear it

After months of relative peace, the brutal chase seems to be on again. Last week, a seven-year old Tanzania boy had his hand hacked off by thugs disguised as spiritual healers. That false beliefs and carnage never cease to fester in such impoverished land is no surprise.
As it’s nothing new that a supernatural being is ‘ordering’ the murder and dismemberment of innocent humans, exacted in the hands of their ignorant priests. But it’s still staggering that what’s essentially a medical condition would incite such unconscionable acts for so long.
We could spend the day here discussing this and many other cases, with their particularly gruesome patterns and all the gory details. Instead, we choose to celebrate what’s considered the ‘otherness’ of albinos who, after all, have to put up with all the limitations of their own condition.

The work and lives of South African models Thando Hopa, and Refilwe Modiselle, Tanzania Albino Society’s Ernest Kimaya, Afro-Brazilian Rosemere de Andrade, the India’s Pullan family, documentarian Harry Freeland, Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, plus a cadre of highly successful artists and thousands others, only assert the power of their dignity as human beings.
We offer today’s post as a solidarity gesture to albinos everywhere and their plight, not a repulsive patronizing pat on their scared backs, because it’s clear that neither such condition is an impediment to greatness, nor that to stand with Albinos requires preaching and outraged diatribes.
We hope the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, recovers, of course, he being only the latest in what appears to be an increasing series of savage attacks for their supposedly ‘magical‘ flesh. Let’s hope too that TAS gets the resources it needs to go after the culprits and those who cover up for them. In the real world, ignorance should never be a bliss.