‘Natives’ mainly explores the history of Commonwealth citizens in modern Britain, with the primary focus being on those of a African of Afro-Caribbean origin as Akala slowly, patiently, yet quite thoroughly debunks the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by the various institutions, from the police to the education system, which perpetrate the insidious, yet pervasive, form of racism which has dominated the West.
The crux of Akala’s argument is that the concept of white supremacy is embedded within the psyche of not just the West, but the whole world. It may not be as ubiquitous or as visceral as it was in the past, but it is still there, lingering within the sub-conscious of both the oppressors and the oppressed. This statement doesn’t mean that all white people are, consciously or not, racist, it just that the institutions, systems and values which shape the world are geared towards white people, from the English school system which has in-built systemic racism against young black boys, to our media which all too portrays ethnic minorities in the most cloying or cliched ways.
However, even more fundamental than this is their ownership of history and therefore the truth, with the horrors of imperialism being either hidden away (literally and figuratively) or ignored . So called proponents of humanism and liberty such as Kant and J.S Mill in fact only believed in equal rights for white men, with other races being classed as backwards savages, with the enlightenment used as an excuse for subjugation rather than benevolence, with altruism masquerading as blithe self-interest, culminating in the spread of imperialism and the horrors of the Second World War. Nazi Germany was the inevitable conclusion of hundreds of years of Western imperialism.
Akala’s primary purpose, I think, is one of acknowledgement. Only by fully acknowledging their past and the racial inequality embedded within Western societies will we be able to take the first steps in trying to dismantle the system and institutional biases which deny so many people their most fundamental right: their sense of humanity.