Theory & Essay

White People Really F*cked Some Sh*t Up, Didn’t They?

Colonialism is a motherf*cker, ain’t it? We all know that the “man’s” intrusion into Africa royally screwed up the world. But maaaaaaaaan, everybody in DC should look at the closest white person and just be mad like we all collectively decided to watch Rosewood. On a jumbotron. At the White House. On a Tuesday.

See, according to a recent book by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halpern called “Tinderbox” imperialist douchebags came in the door (we said it before), and took HIV/AIDS from its closely knit community at its point of origin and sent that ho travelling around the world. First Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, then pilgrims handed over blankets of death to unsuspecting non-ticket scalpers (that was f*cked up…Hail To The Redskins), and then random ass slave trader dudes come to the Congo, run into the one mothertrucker who had HIV who had smanged somebody else and next thing you know we’ve created the AIDS epidemic in the early 1900s because the man couldn’t keep it in his pants.

I’m paraphrasing of course, but this recent story – actually a reprint from the book – published in the Washington Post entitled “Colonialism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago” was interesting for so many reasons. Here are some excerpts (in case you miraculously hadn’t heard about this yesterday somehow):

So HIV’s first journey looked something like this: A hunter killed an infected chimp in the southeastern Cameroonian forest, and a simian virus entered his body through a cut during the butchering, mutating into HIV.

This probably had happened many times before, during the centuries when the region had little contact with the outside world. But now thousands of porters — both men and women — were crossing through the area regularly, creating more opportunities for the virus to travel onward to a riverside trading station such as Moloundou.

One of the first victims — whether a hunter, a porter or an ivory collector — gave HIV to a sexual partner. There may have been a small outbreak around the trading station before the virus found its way aboard a steamship headed down the Sangha River.

For this fateful journey south, HIV could have ridden in the body of these first victims, or it could have been somebody infected later: a soldier or a laborer. Or it could have been carried by a woman: a concubine, a trader.

It’s also possible that the virus moved down the river in a series of steps, maybe from Moloundou to Ouesso, then onward to Bolobo on the Congo River itself.

There might even have been a series of infections at trading towns along the entire route downriver. Yet even within these riverside trading posts HIV would have struggled to create anything more than a short-lived, localized outbreak.

Most of this colonial world didn’t have enough potential victims for such a fragile virus to start a major epidemic. HIV is harder to transmit than many other infections. People can have sex hundreds of times without passing the virus on. To spread widely, HIV requires a population large enough to sustain an outbreak and a sexual culture in which people often have more than one partner, creating networks of interaction that propel the virus onward.

To fulfill its grim destiny, HIV needed a kind of place never before seen in Central Africa but one that now was rising in the heart of the region: a big, thriving, hectic place jammed with people and energy, where old rules were cast aside amid the tumult of new commerce.

It needed Kinshasa. It was here, hundreds of miles downriver from Cameroon, that HIV began to grow beyond a mere outbreak. It was here that AIDS grew into an epidemic.

It really is an interesting article. Mostly because much like everything else negative that happens in the world, there’s a plausible link to slavery, imperialism, and colonialism here as well. Most people think that HIV made its mark in the 1980s and while its true that’s where mankind collectively began to notice it, apparently HIV was traversing the Central African plains for decades.

Anyway, I don’t have much else to add here aside from the fact that you can probably now say that if something’s wrong, it’s probably white people’s fault. And no, not individual white people…but the institution of whiteness. That institution that refuses to move off the sidewalk when I’m walking towards it. Or just move out the way.

I wanted to share this article for those who hadn’t seen it. What do you think? Is it surprising? More of the same? Or Does it even matter?

Personally, my only thought was one of, “that sounds about right”. And for some reason, that disappointed me. I shall delve into that.



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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • naturalista88

    After napping off a migraine & struggling through my French homework, I read this and now I am more depressed than earlier. Ugh, #minuswell go to bed *shuffles off*.

  • HIV/AIDS is a disease made by the white man to eliminate black people. It is not a secret. We know whats up! The endemic in Africa is a carefully orchestrated strategy to wipe an entire continent. Oh well, we have fallen into their trap, and now through sheer ignorance-on some people’s part and a lack of education and access to proper resources are actually making the white man’s dream come true.

  • CrioulaBonita

    Studying both HIV and whiteness/blackness, etc, I am very interested to read this article. But, yeah–what you said: everything can be blamed on Whiteness. sigh.

  • Cheech

    Being the child of Nigerian immigrants, honestly I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen the effects of arbitrarily drawing borders as well as cleaning out a country when they want their independence has done. But at the same time, very few black leaders have made this world a better place so to be honest, we as a species have some role in this f*ckery

  • nillalatte

    I think chimps are more the problem than people. They carry a variety of diseases including Ebola. Want to see a nasty bug? Educate yourself on Ebola. It’s pretty phucking scary.

    Colonialism destroyed a lot of Nations. It wasn’t a pretty time for Native Americans either. 25million slaughtered. It’s kind of hard to celebrate Thanksgiving knowing how that turned out later.

    It’s okay. Blame the white man. But, not just any ole white man. The white man with money or political clout. All those little ‘secret’ societies that plot for power and dominance. Yup, those white men. I’m all for it because they do have a way of phucking up the world.

  • Justmetheguy

    ” Personally, my only thought was one of, “that sounds about right”. And for some reason, that disappointed me. ”

    You and me see eye to eye then. Because that was my reaction. That was an interesting article. It made me think about Malcolm Gladwell’s book Tipping Point that discusses how epidemics start and what factors must be present for something containable to reach the epic proportions of “epidemic” status. It’s a really interesting book and there are some parallels between his theories and this book. Good post Petey, I didn’t know the history of AIDS, but I feel a lot more educated now than I was 15 minutes ago. Thanks and sh*t.

  • I’m using this article to “agree” with anyone who endorses White History Month

  • Leila

    “Without “The Scramble for Africa,” it’s hard to see how HIV could have made it out of southeastern Cameroon to eventually kill tens of millions of people”

    Man….Interesting article, but also makes me mad at the same time. I need time to digest this.

  • Val

    I saw a doc on PBS called, “Guns Germs & Steel”. According to this theory Europeans were able to conquer the world because they had guns and germs and steel. Those three things allowed them to kill millions.

    It was an interesting documentary. It made me wonder then what would have happened if Africans had learned to make steel and guns first and then began exploring and spreading their germs.

    And this post once again makes me wonder not just how different the world would be but how different would our individual Black lives be.

    That’s what I think about it.

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