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“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott, Friday 4-12-19 guest, Activist, Rev. Raymond Brown

“Time For An Awakening” guest for Friday 4/12/2019 at 8:00 PM (EST) 7:00 PM (CST) was New Orleans Activist, Rev. Raymond Brown, President of National Action Now Civil Rights Organization. In the wake of the Black Church burnings in Louisiana, and the arrest of the White Extremist allegedly involved, we received an update from Rev Brown.

“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott, Sunday 04-07-19 guest Dr. Ray Winbush

“Time for an Awakening” for Sunday 04/07/2019 at 8:00 PM (EST) 7:00 PM (CST) guest was Author, Activist, Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University, Dr. Ray Winbush. The critically acclaimed author of “Should America Pay: Slavery and The Raging Debate On Reparations”, and Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, talked about the history around the demand for Reparations, and other topics with us.

“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott, Friday 4-05-19 guest, Activist, Isaiah Njoku

“Time for an Awakening” for Friday 04/05/2019 at 8:00 PM (EST) 7:00 PM (CST) guest was Activist, Organizer, President of Black Student Union at U.C.L.A,   Isaiah Njoku.    Mr. Njoku talks about the Black student organizations  list of demands calling on university officials to address what they describe as instances of “anti-blackness” across campus.

Why Every African Should Embrace the Pan-African Struggle for a United Africa

Sebastiane Ebatamehi Mon, Apr 1, 2019

The Pan-African struggle is not an individual one, it is collective, and Africa needs you.

The concept of Pan-Africanism is perhaps more popular now than it ever was. There are great Pan-African activists scattered on the continent of Africa but only a few like Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba and Kemi Seba can match the determination of the early pan-African heroes.

One thing that has contributed to this, however, is the fact that modern education and innovation has taken the minds of African youths off Pan-Africanism. So, even though it is something they have heard of, they do not believe it is a worthy cause. To them, slavery and colonialism were in the past and Africans should embrace the future.

It is even surprising that many Africans see Pan-Africanism as a cult or fraternity of some sort, how sad?

Africa is battling with unthinkable poverty and underdevelopment despite its wealth and natural resources. Our people are dying and terror is upon the land. We have a duty to fight for Africa because we do not have any other continent that we can call our own.

To achieve this, we must all put aside our individual agendas as countries in the African continent, and uphold the general agenda of African unity, development, and progress. It is only by this that we can truly succeed as individual nations and collectively as a continent.

All it takes to be pan-African is to decolonize one’s mind from western interference that tends to put us at war with ourselves and people. It is in a simple acceptance that Africa’s redemption lies in her unity and to preach this ideology to others.

The definition of Pan-Africanism is not a bogus one. Schools of thoughts are divided as to whether it is a movement or barely an idea. In all fairness, it is safe to say it is both.

Pan-Africanism is generally accepted to umbrella the ideas and policies that preach Africa as a single entity which must unite in order to experience any tangible progress. There is a fundamental similarity among people of African descent and we share the same history.

Africans everywhere all live with the horrid history of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. We have a common enemy as we have always had. In the past, it was slavery and colonialism, now it is neo-colonialism (or imperialism).

Also, the cultural and traditional similarities between African nations are proof that we share the same roots and belong together. This is perhaps the greatest credit of pan-Africanism in its proof that African peoples share a common destiny.

The struggle for Pan-Africanism is not one that involves arms or war. In fact, the intellectuals are needed more than the laborers if we are to succeed.

To be a Pan-African, you do not need to register anywhere or belong to a particular group. Although there are various political and civil Pan-African groups and movements structured for different purposes around Africa, membership in a group or movement is not needed to be a Pan –African.

What we all need to do individually is to decolonize our minds and eliminate the beliefs imprinted in us that we are different and lesser than the white man.

Africa is one and colonialism is in its worst stage than it ever was during the slave era. What we are experiencing today is neo-colonialism and as Kwame Nkrumah said in his book, this is the last stage of imperialism. Africans cannot remain slaves forever.

Where does Africa stand today? Where we created by a lesser God? Are we as they say that Africans were created to serve the white man as hewers of wood and drawers of water? Do we not have a right to own and control our resources? Are we created to be exploited? Is our continent a lab for European superpowers to test their assault and chemical weapons? Why is the West so interested in Africa’s disunity? Why can’t we be truly independent? Why must Europe and America control our economies and leaders?

In your sincere answers to the aforementioned questions, lie the true reasons why we must all be pan-Africans. Africa needs you!

What are your thoughts?

READ MORE AT: https://www.africanexponent.com/post/9984-pan-africanism-africas-only-chance-for-unity-progress-and-development

How Reconstruction Still Shapes American Racism


A group portrait of the first African-American legislators in the 41st and 42nd Congress

By Henry Louis Gates Jr. April 2, 2019

During an interview with Chris Rock for my PBS series ­African American Lives 2, we traced the ancestry of several well-known African Americans. When I told Rock that his great-great-­grandfather Julius Caesar Tingman had served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War — enrolling on March 7, 1865, a little more than a month after the Confederates evacuated from Charleston, S.C. — he was brought to tears. I explained that seven years later, while still a young man in his mid-20s, this same ancestor was elected to the South Carolina house of representatives as part of that state’s Reconstruction government. Rock was flabbergasted, his pride in his ancestor rivaled only by gratitude that Julius’ story had been revealed at last. “It’s sad that all this stuff was kind of buried and that I went through a whole childhood and most of my adulthood not knowing,” Rock said. “How in the world could I not know this?”

I realized then that even descendants of black heroes of Reconstruction had lost the memory of their ancestors’ heroic achievements. I have been interested in Reconstruction and its tragic aftermath since I was an undergraduate at Yale University, and I have been teaching works by black authors from the second half of the 19th century for decades. But the urgent need for a broader public conversation about the period first struck me only in that conversation with Rock.

Reconstruction, the period in American history that followed the Civil War, was an era filled with great hope and expectations, but it proved far too short to ensure a successful transition from bondage to free labor for the almost 4 million black human beings who’d been born into slavery in the U.S. During Reconstruction, the U.S. government maintained an active presence in the former Confederate states to protect the rights of the newly freed slaves and to help them, however incompletely, on the path to becoming full citizens. A little more than a decade later, the era came to an end when the contested presidential election of 1876 was resolved by trading the electoral votes of South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida for the removal of federal troops from the last Southern statehouses.

Today, many of us know precious little about what happened during those years. But, regardless of its brevity, Reconstruction remains one of the most pivotal eras in the history of race relations in American history —­ and probably the most misunderstood.

Reconstruction was fundamentally about who got to be an American citizen. It was in that period that the Constitution was amended to establish birthright citizenship through the 14th Amendment, which also guaranteed equality before the law regardless of race. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, barred racial discrimination in voting, thus securing the ballot for black men nationwide. As Eric Foner, the leading historian of the era, puts it, “The issues central to Reconstruction —­ citizenship, voting rights, terrorist violence, the relationship between economic and political democracy ­— continue to roil our society and ­politics today, making an understanding of Reconstruction even more vital.” A key lesson of Reconstruction, and of its violent, racist rollback, is, Foner continues, “that achievements thought permanent can be overturned and rights can never be taken for granted.”

Another lesson this era of our history teaches us is that, even when stripped of their rights by courts, legislatures and revised state constitutions, African Americans never surrendered to white supremacy. Resistance, too, is their legacy.

By 1877, in a climate of economic crisis, the “cost” of protecting the freedoms of African Americans became a price the American government was no longer willing to pay. The long rollback began in earnest­: the period of retrenchment, voter suppression, Jim Crow segregation and quasi re-enslavement that was called by white Southerners, ironically, “Redemption.” As a worried ­Frederick Douglass, sensing the storm clouds gathering on the horizon, put it in a speech at the Republican National Convention on June 14, 1876: “You say you have emancipated us. You have; and I thank you for it. You say you have enfranchised us; and I thank you for it. But what is your ­emancipation? — What is your enfranchisement? What does it all amount to if the black man, after having been made free by the letter of your law, is unable to exercise that freedom, and, after having been freed from the slaveholder’s lash, he is to be subject to the slaveholder’s shotgun?”

What confounds me is how much longer the rollback of Reconstruction was than Reconstruction itself, how dogged was the determination of the “Redeemed South” to obliterate any trace of the gains made by freed people. In South Carolina, for example, the state university that had been integrated during Reconstruction (indeed, Harvard’s first black college graduate, Richard T. Greener, was a professor there) was swiftly shut down and reopened three years later for whites only. That color line remained in place there until 1963.

In addition to their moves to strip African Americans of their voting rights, “Redeemer” governments across the South slashed government investments in infrastructure and social programs across the board, including those for the region’s first state-funded public-school systems, a product of Reconstruction. In doing so, they re-empowered a private sphere dominated by the white planter class. A new wave of state constitutional conventions followed, starting with Mississippi in 1890. These effectively undermined the Reconstruction Amendments, especially the right of black men to vote, in each of the former Confederate states by 1908. To take just one example: whereas in Louisiana, 130,000 black men were registered to vote before the state instituted its new constitution in 1898, by 1904 that number had been reduced to 1,342.

And at what the historian Rayford W. Logan dubbed the “nadir” of American race relations—the time of political, economic, social and legal hardening around segregation — widespread violence, disenfranchisement and lynching coincided with a hardening of racist concepts of “race.”

This painfully long period following Reconstruction saw the explosion of white-supremacist ideology across an array of media and through an extraordinary variety of forms, all designed to warp the mind toward white-supremacist beliefs. Minstrelsy and racist visual imagery were weapons in the battle over the status of African Americans in postslavery America, and some continue to be manufactured to this day.

The process of dehumanization triggered a resistance movement. Among a rising generation of the black elite, this resistance was represented after 1895 through the concept of “The New Negro,” a counter to the avalanche of racist images of black people that proliferated throughout Gilded Age American society in advertisements, posters and postcards, helped along by technological innovations that enabled the cheap mass production of multicolored prints. Not surprisingly, racist images of black people­ — characterized by exaggerated physical features, the blackest of skin tones, the whitest of eyes and the reddest of lips — were a favorite subject of these multicolored prints during the rollback of Reconstruction and the birth of Jim Crow segregation in the 1890s

We can think of the New Negro as Black America’s first superhero, locked in combat against the white-­supremacist fiction of African Americans as “Sambos,” by nature lazy, mentally inferior, licentious and, beneath the surface, lurking sexual predators. The New Negro would undergo several transformations within the race between the mid-1890s and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, but, in its essence, it was a trope —­ summarized by one writer in 1928 as a continuously evolving “mythological figure” — that would be drawn upon and revised over three decades by black leaders in the country’s first social-media war: the New Negro vs. Sambo.

The concept would prove to be quite volatile. Supposedly New Negroes could be supplanted by even “newer” Negroes. For example, Booker T. Washington, the conservative, accommodationist educator, would be hailed as the first New Negro in 1895, only to be dethroned exactly a decade later on the cover of the Voice of the Negro magazine by his nemesis, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Harvard-trained historian. Du Bois had globalized his version of the New Negro in a landmark photography exhibition at the 1900 Paris Exposition and then, three years later, in his monumental work, The Souls of Black Folk, mounted a ­devastating ­attack on Washington’s philosophy of race relations as dangerously complicitous with Jim Crow segregation and, especially, black male disenfranchisement. Du Bois, a founder of the militant Niagara Movement in 1905, would co-found the NAACP in 1909. And while Douglass had already seen the potential of photography to present an authentic face of black America, and thus to counteract the onslaught of negative stereotypes pervading American society, the children of Reconstruction were the ones who picked up the torch after his death in 1895.

This new generation experimented with a range of artistic mediums to carve out a space for a New Negro who would lead the race — and the country — into the rising century, one whose racial attitudes would be more modern and cosmopolitan than those of the previous century, marred by slavery and Civil War. When D.W. Griffith released his racist Lost Cause fantasy film The Birth of a Nation in 1915, New Negro activists responded not only with protest but also with support for African American artists like the pioneering independent producer and director Oscar Micheaux, whose reels of silent films exposed the horrors of white supremacy while advancing a fuller, more humanistic take on black life.

Their pushback against Redemption took many forms. Denied the ballot box, African American women and men organized­ political associations, churches, schools and social clubs, both to nurture their own culture and to speak out as forcefully as they could against the suffocating oppression unfolding around them. Though brutalized by the shockingly extensive practices of lynching and rape, reinforced by terrorism and vigilante violence, they exposed the crimes and hypocrisy of white supremacy in their own newspapers and magazines, and in marches and political rallies. But no weapon was drawn upon more frequently than images of the New Negro and what the historian Evelyn Higginbotham calls “the politics of respectability.”

Assaulted by the degrading, mass-­produced imagery of the Lost Cause, its romanticization of the Old South and stereotypes of “Sambo” and the “Old Negro,” they avidly counterpunched with their own images of modern women and men, which they widely disseminated in ­journalism, photography, literature and the arts. Drawing on the tradition of agitation epitomized by the black Reconstruction Congressmen, such as John Mercer Langston, and former abolitionists, such as the inimitable Douglass, the children of Reconstruction would lay the foundation for the civil rights revolution to come in the 20th century.

But what also seems clear to me today is that it was in that period that white-­supremacist ideology, especially as it was transmuted into powerful new forms of media, poisoned the American imagination in ways that have long outlasted its origin. You might say that anti-black racism once helped fuel an economic system, and that black crude was pumped and freighted around the world. Now, more than a century and a half since the end of slavery in the U.S., it drifts like a toxic oil slick as the supertanker lists into the sea.

When Dylann Roof murdered the Reverend Clementa Pinckney and the eight other innocents in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015, he didn’t need to have read any of this history; it had, unfortunately, long become part of our country’s cultural DNA and, it seems, imprinted on his own. It is important that we both celebrate the triumphs of African Americans following the Civil War and explain how the forces of white supremacy did their best to undermine those triumphs­—then and in all the years since, through to the present.

READ MORE AT :http://time.com/5562869/reconstruction-history/

Ernest Withers: Undercover Agent for FBI or Forced to be a Spy?

By Sybil C. Mitchell, The New Tri-State Defender Published January 24, 2019

On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday (Jan. 15), allegations of counterintelligence versus arguments of unwilling victim of the FBI were passionately voiced during a discussion of Preston Lauterbach’s new book, “Bluff City: The Secret Life of Ernest Withers.”

A capacity crowd filled the book-signing space at Novel Memphis for the event that yielded riveting exchanges regarding the life and actions of Withers. The late and renowned civil rights-era photographer had pretty much unfettered access to Dr. King and movement figures national and local.

Lauterbach’s book attempts a balanced and unbiased perspective on what Withers’ legacy will be: a traitorous informant who spied for the FBI or a blackmail victim forced to do as he was told.

There is no doubt whether Withers funneled information to the FBI and was paid. But, says Lauterbach, the reasons why evolved just as the man did. It was a combination of several factors, he contends.

“Ernest Withers was a man with an extreme hustle bone,” said the author. “You have to remember that he had a wife and eight children to feed. He was paid, but Mr. Withers was doing what he needed to do to feed his family.”

Documents released after his death chronicled his secret relationship with the FBI. Those documents formed the basis for “A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement,” a book by ex-newspaper investigative reporter Marc Perrusquia.

On Monday night, Lauterbach talked at length about the now iconic “I Am A Man” sign and slogan that came to embody the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis and a struggle for racial equality. The famous photo that galvanized the striking workers and turned myriad eyes on Memphis showed Withers’ gift for not only framing the moment, but staging a scene.

“His motto was, ‘Pictures tell the story.’ The sticks that held the signs were used as weapons of violence in that first march. When the rioting broke out, it served the FBI’s purpose of discrediting Dr. King as a nonviolent leader and to embarrass him,” said Lauterbach.

“The Black Invaders took the blame for the violence, but they were actually there to protect Dr. King. J. Edgar Hoover needed that violence to be pinned on the Invaders. He wanted to create as much conflict between the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference]) and the black power group.

“Withers admitted buying the lumber for the sticks and the saw for the lumber,” said Lauterbach. “As the rioting began, the police swooped down on marchers with excessive force.”

A spirited exchange began between those who saw Withers’ actions as betrayal and others who leaned more sympathetically to characterize his actions.

“We marched with Dr. King. We were there,” said the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr., pastor emeritus of New Sardis Baptist Church. “That is, perhaps, the most damnable revelation – that those sticks were made as weapons of violence.

“He could have gotten us killed. The rioting started, and the police came down in force. I’m wondering now if I might have been a target of the FBI. My family might have been put in danger.”

The Rev. Bill Adkins, pastor of Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith, recalled the day of the march.

“We were lining up for the march,” said Adkins. “And just before the march started, a pickup truck pulled up, loaded with signs. Anyone who wanted a sign could get one. After the march got started, the next thing we knew, windows were being broken, and the police moved in.

“I agree that we could have all been killed or seriously hurt. It never occurred to anyone, I’m sure, that the sticks attached to the signs were weapons of violence. These revelations are very disturbing.”

While some believe that Withers was guilty of counter-spying and working against leaders of the civil rights movement, others felt the term “informant” simply did not apply.

While the photojournalist was providing Hoover and the FBI information on everything he could, there is no proof that anyone was actually hurt by his reports, one member of the audience suggested.

“It could very well be that Withers didn’t tell the FBI anything they didn’t already know,” said Lauterbach.

“But however one sees him – as either a good man or a shadowy figure – Mr. Withers endured many trials and hardships as he recorded the movement with images that really did tell the story,” Lauterbach said.

“He was down there in Little Rock (Arkansas) when his mentor, former Tri-State Defender editor Alex Wilson, was beaten so badly that he sustained neurological damage to the head. This was a man he was very close to. Informant or not, the FBI was 100 percent the real power structure. It was Hoover who manipulated the civil rights movement. Let’s not forget, Hoover tried to make Dr. King commit suicide.

“Withers was a victim of ‘economic segregation.’ With a wife and eight children, he must have felt the pressure of financial hardship.”

Lauterbach explained that Withers “might not have seen himself as an informant.”

Adkins wasn’t buying that.

“Mr. Withers took photos of everything, including strategy meetings and closed sessions where we planned every move,” said Adkins. “Nobody put Mr. Withers out of those meetings. He was constantly moving around taking photos of everyone.

“We had no idea he was cooperating with the FBI. There is no way he didn’t know that he was acting as an informant and betraying the movement.”

Lauterbach countered with the argument that Withers was a conservative and concerned about the communist leanings and anti-war sentiment that was ever-growing.

“He may not have felt he could do anything other than what he was doing – reporting the actions of civil rights leaders to the FBI,” said Lauterbach.

“There are facts to support both sides – that Mr. Withers became an FBI informant for money, or he felt it was something he had to do to care for his family,” said Lauterbach. “Readers are left to make their own conclusions.”

Asked whether Withers had any regrets in his latter years, Lauterbach said he believes so, pointing to this reflection attributed to Withers:

“I was the cause of those signs being used as clubs. I bought the lumber and the saw to cut that lumber. I started the violence. People were hurt by the police and attacked with tear gas and billy clubs.”

READ MORE AT: https://lasentinel.net/ernest-withers-undercover-agent-for-fbi-or-forced-to-be-a-spy.html

“Federal Sentencing Guidelines Demoralizes the U.S Constitution”

By: Antone White 

The U.S Constitution body of rules and principles endows protections and enforcements of private rights( as to life, liberty and property). The constitution body of rules reposes ultimate power in the people, by the people and for the people of the United States to preserve and maintain a liberty thesis of “Freedom, Justice and Equality”.

The genius of the “Constitution Protection” was established to safeguard its democracy against the will and tyrannical effect of a government to imprison and exercise complete control over its citizens; stemming from the oppression of England’s Star Chamber. The protection ordains that an individual’s life, liberty or property can only be stripped away by due process of law; from results in either a plea of guilt (by the individual) or by a jury of its peers upon proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The foundational role of due process is that all citizens have entitlement to a presumption of innocence! Otherwise, a person may not be convicted of a crime unless the government proves them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; without any burden placed on the accused to prove its innocence. Due process grounds citizens’ the right to a trail by jury. Thereby, according to an underlying provision in the “Due Process Clause” of the U.S Constitution, “ no courts, nor any officer of law may presume a person guilty of a crime enough to demand sanctions ( as to life liberty, or property).

However, congress legislated a policy imputed by the United States Sentencing Commission in 1984; the Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines. Spanning three decades, almost four, these guidelines have eroded the foundational tenants of America’s Democracy bringing forth a Jim Crow climate that systematically demoralizes criminal defendants “Constitutional Protection”, at sentencing.

At sentencing, the courts are authorized to consider “relevant conduct” for the purpose of calculating the sentencing guidelines, which may include uncharted crimes that otherwise are inadmissible at trial.Even more, the courts are permitted to extract offenses from acquitted and dismissed charges which consequently nullify principles of the 5th Amendment of the constitution that decrees ..” no person shall be held to answer for an infamous crime, unless on the presentment of an indictment of a Grand Jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.

In a constitutional system that relies upon the jury to stand as a great bulwark and neutral arbiter between criminal defendants and government bent on depriving them of their civic duty; hereof, an axiom adhered by Judge Millet of DC Circuit Court of Appeal:

 “Allowing courts at sentencing to materially increase the length of imprisonment based on conduct for which the jury acquitted the defendant guts the role of the jury in preserving individual liberty, and preventing oppression by the government”.

The unfairness perpetuated by the use of uncharged, dismissed, and acquitted conduct to heighten criminal defendants sentences in federal court are uniquely malevolent. As well as a dubious infringement of individuals rights to due process and trial by jury.

Imagine the abhorrent act of a man or woman’s sentence being double, triple or virtually scaled to a lifetime of imprisonment for crimes or otherwise conducts for which they were neither charged nor convicted. One wonders what the reaction of the jury would be if the jurors were told at outset:

“If you convict the defendant on one charge, but deadlock or acquit them on the other count, that the court may utilize a different standard of proof and consequently sentence the defendant as though he was convicted of both “

Would this resonate with the jury as being fair and worthwhile of their time and effort while still respecting the admiration for our system of justice? I sincerely doubt it!

For the constitution to have meaning it must not be pure words we recite but also the words we live by as Dr. Martin Luther King Junior emphasize from Birmingham jail or April 16, 1963.

“An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law”

*For more information on the Star Chamber, read article “Star Chamber: How Secret Courts Fuels Mass Incarceration”

Trump’s rise: African-American politicians must lead on Africa’s affairs

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Trump’s rise: African-American politicians must lead on Africa’s affairs

Benjamin Talton

Trump’s disregard for Africa and its affairs is worrying but presents a unique opportunity for progressive black leaders to shape US foreign policy

The Black Caucus continued with some relevance into the new century. But its collective voice has diminished to near silence. (Reuters/Joe Skipper)
The Black Caucus continued with some relevance into the new century. But its collective voice has diminished to near silence. (Reuters/Joe Skipper)

A Donald Trump presidency has grave implications for US relations with Africa. His meteoric political ascension ushers in an era of right-wing domestic extremism and international disregard.

Trump has exhibited an unabashed lack of interest in Africa. This is a continent where numerous countries play a key role in the US war on terrorism. Africa’s geopolitical importance also extends from its numerous natural resources, which are essential to global manufacturing industries. Other areas of import include its growing population, China’s broadening involvement, and rapid democratisation in many countries.

Trump’s lack of substantive interest in African affairs is worrying. But his disregard presents a unique opportunity for progressive leadership to shape US foreign policy.

The political left should leverage Trump’s foreign policy weaknesses to strengthen rather than weaken international partnerships. This is much the same as Democrats did during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The left should also expand rather than retract US support for Africa’s democracies, democratic movements and its economic development.

African American elected officials, in particular, have an opportunity – if not an obligation – to reassert themselves on African affairs.

Visionary leadership in dark times

I was fortunate to come of age during the 1980s. It was a decade in which the Congressional Black Caucus exercised considerable influence on African affairs. In fact, it had greater influence than any African American organisation in history.

Reagan viewed issues of the global south through a Cold War lens. He was fixated on anticommunism. Such a narrow framework blurred the details of local and regional politics. But it provided opportunities for the Black Caucus to shape political narratives that advocated a radical departure from traditional US-Africa relations.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Black Caucus’s initiatives toward African countries were shaped by progressive, activist politicians. Their roots lay in the civil rights struggle, the Black Power Movement and organised labour.

Its leaders included such charismatic, activist legislators as Ronald Dellums and Maxine Waters of California, Mickey Leland of Texas and Pennsylvania’s William Gray.

This high water mark of African American influence was a unique moment in US history. It holds many lessons for today’s politics. To effectively mobilise African American congressional leadership, it is useful to understand the Black Caucus’s strategic vision, nimbleness and political acumen during the 1980s. This was the decade of strength, despite the obstacles of the Reagan administration’s fixation on communism.

History’s lessons

Congressman Charles Diggs, a radical Democrat from Detroit, Michigan, was the founding chairman of the Black Caucus in 1971. He and his colleagues thrust African issues into congressional foreign policy debates. These included apartheid in South Africa, ongoing Portuguese colonialism, white-minority rule in Rhodesia and democracy and oil in Nigeria.

Diggs was a model activist legislator. He led official delegations to Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. He also created an NGO to raise awareness and funds in response to the growing famine in the Sahel.

Donald Trump has little interest in or knowledge about African affairs. Reuters

Under his leadership, the Black Caucus submitted legislation and resolutions to steer US policy toward a country-specific approach and away from anticommunism as the determinant for where the US engaged in Africa.

During the 1980s activist Black Caucus members demonstrated solidarity with leftist regimes in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. They led the push for historic anti-apartheid legislation in 1986 and record-level famine relief in 1985. They pushed the US government to give greater market access to African goods and political and humanitarian support for southern Africa’s Front Line States, the organisation of southern African countries opposed to apartheid.

The number of African Americans in Congress increased during this period. They asserted themselves as the most strident critics of Reagan’s Africa policies. The Black Caucus countered his deleterious programmes with the triple threat of legislation, mass organising and protests. They also coordinated with organisations such as the Free South Africa Movement and, beginning in the late 1970s, TransAfrica. Black Caucus members helped launch both organisations.

These are mere snapshots of the array of issues that kept the Black Caucus at the centre of US political discourse through the 1990s.

The decline of the Black Caucus

The Black Caucus continued with some relevance into the new century. But its collective voice has diminished to near silence. Many factors contributed to its current weak and largely symbolic political position.

In 1995, Congress eliminated funding for all legislative service organisations, including the Caucus. This forced its members to raise money for their initiatives.

Another constraint was George W. Bush’s War on Terror. This radical foreign policy crowded out possibilities for a progressive, humane foreign policy toward global south nations in the early 2000s.

During the Obama presidency, African American elected officials generally avoided presenting alternatives to the president’s policies. They feared weakening his capacity to withstand attacks from the right. Without this tacit support, it would have been impossible to push his policies past an obstructionist Republican-controlled House and Senate.

The Trump mandate

The consequences for African economies will be dire if Trump privileges a terrorism lens and pulls away from trade agreements, as he has threatened.

His trade policies will imperil the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which President Bill Clinton signed in 2000. The result will be increased tariffs on US imports from Africa. The Black Caucus must make the importance of AGOA evident to the public and the new US president. It must work to protect this legislation.

It should also protect Obama’s important Africa initiatives, particularly Power Africa, Feed the Future and the highly innovative Young African Leaders Initiative.

Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington. Reuters

The Black Caucus must chart the US economic path in Africa. Trump’s protectionist policies will cause the economies of the leading US trading partners in Africa – South Africa, Nigeria and Angola – to tailspin. The Black Caucus should use press conferences, press releases, conferences and legislation to make clear the ways the US benefits from these African economic giants.

Ethiopia is also a country to watch. Although US-Ethiopian relations have recently strained around human rights and governance issues, Ethiopia has enjoyed a special status under Obama. This is largely through its cooperation in fighting terrorist groups in East Africa and its contracts with the Boeing Company. The Black Caucus must raise awareness of the US-Ethiopian partnership. But it must also demonstrate support for the ongoing movement for true democracy and political freedoms in Ethiopia.

In addition, the Black Caucus should outline specific ways the new administration might bolster the vibrant democracies of Ghana, Namibia, and Botswana. They must be promoted as examples for the entire continent.

Recently, its members have spoken out forcefully in support of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls. Their actions are laudable. But symbolic stances must be accompanied by policy and security recommendations for the US as it confronts Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

During the Trump presidency, African American elected officials would do well to look at their own history of acting within Congress on behalf of African governments, movements and issues for strategies toward a progressive agenda on African affairs. It is imperative that the Black Caucus define the popular narrative for the US approach to African countries. They should weaken Trump’s hand before he whittles Africa into a caricature of terrorism, poverty and migration across the Mediterranean. History is the Caucus’s greatest weapon.

Benjamin Talton, Associate Professor of African History, Temple University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Africans vs. African-Americans – A White Supremacist Success

By A. Peter Bailey

I had a recent conversation with a young, intelligent, hardworking African-American during which he expressed deep hostility towards Africans. When asked why he felt that way, he told me of two incidents that occurred when he dated a young African woman from Nigeria and another from Ethiopia.

The Nigerian’s father exploded when she brought the young brother to her home. He demanded that the young man leave immediately since he didn’t want his daughter involved with any African-American.

When the young Ethiopian woman took him to an Ethiopian club, she was angrily pulled aside by an Ethiopian male and asked loudly, “Why you bring him here?” Again, he had to leave immediately.

I told him that I understood his feelings, having myself had several run-ins with Africans who spoke with hostility and contempt about African-Americans. However, I continued, African-American are not innocent when it comes to dealing with Africans. On numerous occasions I have heard some African-Americans speak with contempt about Africans, even going so far as to call them “jungle bunnies.”

The image of Africa for too many African-Americans comes from Hollywood films and from American television, newspapers and magazine reporting. The Hollywood films often depict Africans either as scantily clad villages or providing some kind of service to “superior” White folks. The journalistic reporting much too often can lead readers to believe that one third of Africans are living in dire poverty, another third are sick or dying from AIDS and the final third are killing each other in endless conflicts. I have actually heard some African-Americans wonder if there are cities or universities in the continent.

I told the young man that such attitudes as mentioned above by Africans and African-Americans are among the most unfortunate victories of the proponents of White supremacy. I also told him that when the average person of European descent sees a Black man or woman, he doesn’t care if he or she are from Lagos, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Harlem, USA, Kingston, Jamaica or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All that person sees is a Black person who he has been told is inferior to him or her.

White politicians, educators and business persons also see a Black man, but they are clever enough to know that one of the best ways to keep the upper hand over all Black people is to discourage unity among them by any means necessary. So they use psychological toxins to encourage Africans to believe that they are better than African-Americans and African-Americans to believe that they are more civilized than Africans. Way too many Black people have been infected by these toxins.

It is time for serious Black folks from throughout the the world to develop a psychological inoculation against this insidious, debilitating infection. It can be done, we just have to put our time, energy and resources into it. If we don’t, the temporary success of the proponents of White supremacy will become permanent.

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