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Bigots are Yelling for Black People to ‘Go Back to Africa!’ – But What Does It Mean? And Is It Possible to Return?By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
Posted by David Love
“Go back to Africa!” It is the phrase du jour for racist whites, typically when used as part of a bitter, angry, expletive-laden rant against Black people. There are so many examples of the popularity of this insult these days.
A Beaufort, South Carolina teacher told a Black high school student to go back to the continent after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. In Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans told the African-American community to go back amid calls for the city council to remove the Confederate flag from a local museum. A Black student at Southern Illinois University was told the same thing when she was confronted by Donald Trump supporters in a residence hall. And at Trump rallies in Chicago and Cleveland, Trump supporters were heard yelling the phrase, along with other racial epithets.
“If you call yourself an African-American, go back to Africa. If you’re an African first, go back to Africa,” said a white man to a Black woman and #BlackLivesMatter supporter at a Trump rally in Cleveland this past March, as reported by MSNBC.And recently, a Bank of America employee in Atlanta was fired for her racist Facebook rant.“When a bigot says ‘Go back to Africa,’ he or she is simply being nasty and irrational,” Dr. Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Ferree Professor of American History at the Pennsylvania State University, told Atlanta Black Star. Moses is the author of Classical Black Nationalism: From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey and Liberian Dreams: Records of an African Return 1853, among other works. “I am not wise enough to know to how one can best respond to nastiness and irrationality.”
To be sure, there is a nastiness to the phrase, particularly when accompanied by other insults, threats and acts of violence. For example, in October 2014, when a group of Black protesters outside a St. Louis Cardinals game sought to bring attention of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, they were met with a crowd of virulent white racists. As Crooks & Liars reported, the white fans responded to the Black protesters by chanting “Let’s go Cardinals,” which changed to “Let’s go, Darren!” in honor of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown. While attempting to initiate acts of violence, the white fans told the protesters to go back to Africa and called them jobless, while one of the white men called a Black activist a “crackhead.”“We’re the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have!” shouted one white woman at the African-Americans, as a number of fans began chanting “Africa, Africa” – shorthand for the suggestion they go back to the motherland.
“Go back to Africa!” It is the phrase du jour for racist whites, typically when used as part of a bitter, angry, expletive-laden rant against Black people. There are so many examples of the popularity of this insult these days.
A Beaufort, South Carolina teacher told a Black high school student to go back to the continent after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. In Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans told the African-American community to go back amid calls for the city council to remove the Confederate flag from a local museum. A Black student at Southern Illinois University was told the same thing when she was confronted by Donald Trump supporters in a residence hall. And at Trump rallies in Chicago and Cleveland, Trump supporters were heard yelling the phrase, along with other racial epithets.“If you call yourself an African-American, go back to Africa. If you’re an African first, go back to Africa,” said a white man to a Black woman and #BlackLivesMatter supporter at a Trump rally in Cleveland this past March, as reported by MSNBC.And recently, a Bank of America employee in Atlanta was fired for her racist Facebook rant.“When a bigot says ‘Go back to Africa,’ he or she is simply being nasty and irrational,” Dr. Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Ferree Professor of American History at the Pennsylvania State University, told Atlanta Black Star. Moses is the author of Classical Black Nationalism: From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey and Liberian Dreams: Records of an African Return 1853, among other works. “I am not wise enough to know to how one can best respond to nastiness and irrationality.”To be sure, there is a nastiness to the phrase, particularly when accompanied by other insults, threats and acts of violence. For example, in October 2014, when a group of Black protesters outside a St. Louis Cardinals game sought to bring attention of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, they were met with a crowd of virulent white racists. As Crooks & Liars reported, the white fans responded to the Black protesters by chanting “Let’s go Cardinals,” which changed to “Let’s go, Darren!” in honor of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown. While attempting to initiate acts of violence, the white fans told the protesters to go back to Africa and called them jobless, while one of the white men called a Black activist a “crackhead.”
“We’re the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have!” shouted one white woman at the African-Americans, as a number of fans began chanting “Africa, Africa” – shorthand for the suggestion they go back to the motherland.
nd part of the assumption among whites is that Black folks should be happy to be in America, which, through its kindness and generosity, has rendered African-Americans the most fortunate Black people around. There is a perverse, outlandish assertion that Black people — kidnapped at gunpoint and brought to these shores in the belly of a slave ship, and, if they survived, were raped, tortured and forced to toil in prison camp plantations — should leave if they cannot appreciate all that white people have done for them. Of course, the parties to whom Black people would presumably return the favor came to North America from Europe — unannounced and uninvited — and stole the land from the indigenous population right from under their feet. Yet, never are there any calls for whites to return to Europe.
This sentiment was best articulated by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan in 2008.
“First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known,” Buchanan wrote on his website.
“Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream,” he added. “Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks — with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas — to advance black applicants over white applicants.”
While the concept of returning to Africa is pejorative and insulting when articulated by white racists, it also represented a movement throughout history, with Blacks and whites involved in “back-to-Africa” movements — Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 19th century, Marcus Garvey in the early 20th century, and Pan-African activists and intellectuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Kwame Ture settling in West Africa. It is a complicated history.
“In the later editions of From Slavery to Freedom, John Hope Franklin gave a nuanced analysis of the multiple and complicated reasons why some whites and blacks supported African deportation before the Civil War,” said Dr. Moses.In that book, Franklin wrote that as early as 1714, there was a proposal to send Blacks back to Africa. Whites believed the races could not live together in harmony, and free Black people could not adjust to life in America, and created a problem for maintaining the system of slavery.“There is no adequate history of the American Colonization Society,” said Moses of the organization which helped relocate thousands of freed Black people to what would become Liberia. “There is no satisfactory treatment of Henry Clay’s advocacy of African deportation or of Abraham Lincoln’s decreasing interest in African deportation, as he evolved from a Whig to a Republican. In my view, Lincoln was never convinced of the practicality of deportation, for reasons that Alexis de Tocqueville had articulated,” Moses offered. “I touched on my reasons for believing that Lincoln was not serious in my biography of Alexander Crummell (Oxford UP, 1989). As for Jefferson, I think he was absolutely insincere about African deportation. Jefferson was a complete phony, and like many populists he used democratic rhetoric to cover up aristocratic programs. He never joined the American Colonization Society and contrary to popular belief, never supported the abolition of slavery. Jefferson only called for ending the Atlantic slave trade except in order to inflate domestic slave prices,” he added.
“I would suggest that no discussion of the Back to Africa movements, either the white racist ones, or especially the Black ones (such as Garvey’s), is complete without considerable explanation of the nadir of race relations,” said James W. Loewen, the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; Lies Across America; Sundown Towns; Teaching What Really Happened; and The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader. During the nadir, which began during the end of Reconstruction and lasted through the early 20th century, was a time of white supremacy, Jim Crow segregation, racial terrorism and a loss of civil rights for Black people.
“Going back to Africa was hardly irrational, given how race relations grew worse and worse after 1890. That needs to be explained, lest Garvey, et al., come across as charlatans,” Loewen, who taught race relations at the University of Vermont, told Atlanta Black Star.
Meanwhile, many African-Americans today are crossing the Atlantic to live in Ghana, once a major starting point of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and one of the first African nations to emerge from colonial rule. While millions crossed the Middle Passage by force via Ghana for a life of permanent enslavement in America — 40 percent never making it to the other side — some of their descendants are returning for a better, more comfortable life, business opportunities and to rediscover their roots.
Ghana has a Right of Abode program that grants permanent residency and dual citizenship to people of African descent. According to the African-American Association of Ghana, 3,000 African-Americans live in Ghana, most in the capital of Accra. So, some Black people are going back to Africa, but they are doing so on their own terms. And as the future becomes more difficult and more uncertain for people of African descent in the U.S., certainly more will consider the optionPost Views: 469
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
By Zack Linly
As reports of police overreach and brutality in the black community become more and more commonplace in mainstream news, many black people are feeling a strange combination of frustration and relief — relief because the shootings of unarmed citizens have become part of a national discussion, but frustration because, time and time again, we hear the same dismissive and deflective responses from white America:
“There must be more to the story.”
“If you people would just do what you’re told.”
“Cops have a hard job.”
“White people get shot too.”
“He was just another thug. Good riddance!”
“Why do you people make everything about race?”
“What about black on black crime?”
“All lives matter.”
I’ve grown too disillusioned to be relieved and too numb to be frustrated. I’m just tired.
I’m tired from sacrificing millions of once healthy brain cells reading through the comment sections of race-based web articles — thread after thread, chock-full of black folks trying to navigate oblivious whiteness. At some point, we really need to ask ourselves: Why even bother?
Why are we losing solid hours out of our day, wearing our fingertips numb on keyboards and touch screens in an attempt to explain to some dense dude-bro why “All lives matter” is a messed up and functionally redundant response to “Black lives matter”?
We’ve spelled it out for white America a hundred different ways that their beloved police forces are full of officers who are simply more volatile, fearful and prone to harassment and abuse of power when dealing with us — and it’s costing us our lives. We’ve laid out all the statistics and all of our millions of personal testimonies. We’ve made it clear that even though the subject of police brutality, as a sensationalized national discussion covered by mainstream media, is a relatively new phenomenon, it is an issue as old as our involuntary occupation of this country. With all of this information readily available and reiterated constantly, it’s beyond ridiculous that the simple words “black lives matter” require any added explanation at all. And yet, here we are coming up with a dozen analogies trying to, even further, simplify it.
“Hey man, you wouldn’t go to a cancer rally shouting ‘All diseases matter,’ would ya?”
“Hey Scottie, ‘Save the rain forest’ doesn’t mean ‘Kill all the other forests.’ ”
“Hey Kip, when a house is burning, you don’t turn the fire hose on some non-burning house because #AllHousesMatter.”
Can we please stop?
We need to stop acting like white people don’t take the same reading comprehension portions of standardized tests all through middle and high school that we do. They know how analogies work. They got it the first time — they just didn’t care.
If they really considered the affirmation of one life mattering to be a denial of the same for all others, then they would consider “Blue Lives Matter” to be just as offensive as “Black Lives Matter.” But they don’t.
Not only are they unoffended by #BlueLivesMatter, but they consider any concession or policy change aimed at countering black vulnerability to be unearned special treatment — while they actively advocate giving police officers protected class status, oblivious to the fact that they already have it.
Only, I’m not sure they’re legitimately oblivious. They know damn well there isn’t a state, city or county in this country where the penalties for crimes committed against cops aren’t a hell of a lot steeper than they are for civilians. They know they don’t need a protest, riot or hash tag to ensure that thorough investigations will be done to bring cop killers to justice. They’re not worried about dead cops being put on trial for their own murders. They’re not worried about a not guilty verdict for the murderers of police officers or even a reluctance to bring charges. No one’s looking into a dead cop’s record, fishing for reasons to justify his or her demise. They know that cops have the delusional admiration of the vast majority of (white) America in their corner.
So how could anyone possibly believe that we, as a society and as a system, don’t already do everything in our collective powers to ensure that value be placed on police lives?
Could it be that white people actually aren’t as concerned with supporting the police as they are in maintaining a counter-narrative to black complaints about racist police misconduct? Could it be that their counter-narratives to race issues in general are largely disingenuous and, often, just plain spiteful?
Could it be, and I’m just spit-balling here, but could it be that white folks are … completely full of it?
This is why I submit that black people should simply disengage with white America in discussions about race altogether. Let them have their little Klan-esque chats in the Yahoo and USA Today comment sections. We need to stop arguing with them because, in the end, they aren’t invested like we are. They aren’t paying attention to these stories out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children and spouses; they are only tuned in out of black and brown contempt. This is trivial to them, a contest to see who can be the most smug, condescending and dismissive. When black people debate these issues, we do so passionately — not always articulately, and often without a whole lot of depth to our arguments — but we always come from a place of genuine frustration, outrage and fear. When most white people debate the very same issues from an opposing stance, they do so from a place of perpetual obtuseness and indifference. Their arguments always seem to boil down to “If it isn’t my experience, it couldn’t possibly be yours.” Even “well meaning” white folks tend to center themselves in the discussion
(#NotAllWhitePeople #IDontSeeColor). Yes, there are plenty of white people who aren’t racist, who think shouting “Blue Lives Matter” is wrong, who truly do wish things would change. But the fact is, they figuratively and literally have no skin in the game.
I understand that white people are mad. They’ve gone their whole lives being the default for social and cultural normalcy and never really had to think critically about race at all. Now a black first lady addresses the nation, and she talks about slavery. Now social media identifies and challenges their micro-aggressions. They’re getting the tint snatched off of their rose-colored glasses; that “Shining City on the Hill” they know as America is starting to lose some of its gloss. And they ain’t here for that — but we are.
When Beyoncé released the video for “Formation,” featuring a black kid in a hoodie, a “hands up, don’t shoot” banner and a sinking police car — then performed the song while paying homage to the Black Panther Party smack in the face of white America during the Super Bowl halftime show — she provided us with a bottomless open bar of white tears. But instead of getting good and drunk like we should’ve, too many of us were arguing with white folks about why nothing she did was racist, “reverse racist” or anti-cop. We should’ve just taken the win and left the field.
During the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump plagiarized a chunk of a Michelle Obama speech. And a lot of you were out here arguing with Trump supporters and other assorted delusional white folks who had the audacity to claim there was never any plagiarism at all. What you should’ve been doing was joining me, Jesse Williams and our beloved Black Twitter in intentionally misattributing black quotes to Mrs. Trump because it was fun.
I had a field day:
“Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna crumble” – Melania Trump
“When he f— me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cuz I slay” – Melania Trump
If Colin Kaepernik’s decision to stand against social injustice by sitting during the National Anthem has shown us anything else, it’s that much of white America is more bothered by our methods of protest than they ever will be about the injustices we’re protesting. Let’s dispel the notion that if we only protested better, white people will miraculously become more receptive of our message and less scornful of our audacity in speaking out.
The fact is, we can fight systemic racism without white validation. We can continue shutting down bridges and highways every time there’s a new Alton Sterling, Philando Castile or Korryn Gaines in the news and let white folks complain about the intrusion on their lives. We can continue moving our black dollars into black banks and keeping our money in our businesses and communities. We don’t need them to “get it” for us to keep fighting.
And likewise, white people who truly want to be allies can find their path to ally-ship without black validation and without us having to take time out of our days to educate them. They can find their own curriculum and figure out for themselves how they can do their part in fighting the good fight. And they can do it without the promise of black praise. And, I’m not about to keep checking to see if they’re doing that much. Because it’s not my job – and it’s not yours, either.
Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it.Post Views: 366
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
JOSEPH BLACKBURN BASS 1863 – 1934
Joseph Bass was born in 1863. He was an African American teacher, businessman and newspaper editor.
From Jefferson City, Missouri, Joseph Blackburn Bass taught school for seven years but in 1894, William Pope, editor of the Topeka Call offered him the job of newspaperman. In 1896, Pope died, and Joseph Bass became owner, publisher, and editor. In 1898, Nick Chiles purchased the newspaper and changed the name to The Topeka Plaindealer. J.B. Bass worked as Chile’s associate until 1905 when he moved to Helena, Montana to establish The Montana Plaindealer. Bass wrote, edited, and published the Plaindealer at 17 South Main Street in Helena, aided by an assistant, Joseph Tucker, from March 1906 to September 1911. An activist and promoter of civic organizations, Bass embraced progressive political goals and urged Helena’s sizable African American population—more than 450 in 1910—to be entrepreneurial and engage in cultural uplift. In 1906, Bass helped organize the St. James Literary Society, based in the St. James AME Zion Church. Three years later, Bass spearheaded the Afro-American Protective League, an ambitious statewide organization that meant to defend African Americans in Montana from racism. The group lasted only a few months, but Bass had established himself as a community leader. Two years earlier, in 1907, he helped organize a Helena chapter of Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, which included more than a dozen businesses in town, and in 1908 Bass created the Afro-American Building Association, a self-help group of African American real estate owners in Helena.
In 1911, he went to San Francisco for one year, then on to Los Angeles for a brief visit around October 1912. J.B. Bass decided to stay and in late 1912 he paid a visit to the California Eagle, which was on 1328 Central in L.A. In 1913, Charlotta Spear hired J.B. Bass to do a limited amount of newspaper work, including running the newspaper for two weeks while she traveled north. At the end of 1913, she offered Bass the position of editor of the Eagle, they married in August 1914.. Joseph Bass held that position until his death in 1934.
An excerpt from Charlotta Bass’s column, “On the Sidewalk,” dated April 2, 1937, reads: “My last visit Sunday was to the grave of the late editor of this paper, J.B. Bass. I did not lay a large bouquet upon the grave of him who sleeps beneath, but gardenias three in number, with their fragrance mild but sweet, conveying a message I cannot here repeat.”
“Together we started,
“Together we parted,
“He sleeps, and I go on with the task, he would have me complete.
“Fellow traveler, I do not ask for a lift–
“I can carry my load.
“I only ask that you do not block my path.”
Black Past,Joseph Bass
CHARLOTTA A. BASS 1874 – 1969
Was an African American educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist. Bass was probably the first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States; she published the California Eagle from 1912 until 1951. She used her influence as the publisher of a newspaper to uncover injustice and fight for civil rights.
Bass was born Charlotta Amanda Spears in October of 1880 in Sumter, South Carolina. She was the sixth of 11 children between Hiram and Kate Spears, but very little is known about her parents or her early life. Bass moved to Rhode Island soon after graduating from high school, and found work selling ads and doing odd jobs at a newspaper. She grasped the nuances of the business over 10 years of employment at the Providence Watchman. After moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1910, she found work selling subscriptions to the African American newspaper the Eagle.
Two years later, the Eagle’s publisher, J.J. Neimore, took ill and asked Bass to take over the operation of the paper upon his death. The surprise bequest made Bass the first African American woman to run a newspaper in the United States. However, the Eagle was in dire financial straits when she finally assumed the role of editor and publisher. Determined to correct the paper’s course, Bass changed the name to the California Eagle, and began hiring staff that were less interested in society reporting and more dedicated to reporting on the issues of the day. In 1912, she hired Joseph Blackburn Bass to be the paper’s editor. Bass had been one of the founders of the Topeka Plaindealer. He shared his concern with Spears about the injustice and racial discrimination in society. He eventually became Bass’ husband and they ran the newspaper together.
By 1915, the paper was staking out firm political stances. Bass ran editorials denouncing D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, a film that many found offensive for its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan and ideas of white supremacy. Bass’ protest motivated African American newspapers around the country to join her in condemning the film. When she realized the true scope of influence the media possessed, Bass redoubled her efforts to use the Eagle as a tool to fight for the rights of African Americans. The paper tackled issues such as fair access to housing, segregated schools, and illegal hiring practices by corporations. The Basses powerfully championed the black soldiers of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry who were unjustly sentenced in the 1917 Houston race riot. They also covered the case and supported the “Scottsboro boy,” nine young men who were framed and convicted of rape in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931.
During the 1920s, Bass became co-president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by Marcus Garvey. Bass formed the Home Protective Association to defeat housing covenants in all-white neighborhoods. She helped found the Industrial Business Council, which fought discrimination in employment practices and encouraged black people to go into business. As editor and publisher of the California Eagle, the oldest black newspaper on the West Coast, Charlotta Bass fought against restrictive covenants in housing and segregated schools in Los Angeles. She campaigned to end job discrimination at the Los Angeles General Hospital, the Los Angeles Rapid Transit Company, the Southern Telephone Company, and the Boulder Dam Project.
By the mid-1930s, the Eagle was in solid financial shape, and with a circulation of 60,000, was the largest African American newspaper on the west coast. Her husband’s death in 1934 was an emotional blow to Bass, and a key transitional point in her life. When she recovered from grieving, she began to dedicate herself to political activism beyond the newspaper. Bass worked diligently on the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign that urged African Americans to take a personal stand against discriminatory hiring practices, and only spend their money at businesses that hired, or were run by, African Americans. Soon, she began to consider the possibility of running for public office.
After rallying a group of black leaders in a battle against Los Angeles mayor Fletcher Bowron, Bass became convinced that politicians were not representing the issues that were important to the people. Although her group was successful in pressuring Bowron’s office to expand its Committee on American Unity, none of its other demands related to racism and discrimination were addressed. In 1945, Bass ran for Los Angeles City Council, and in 1950, became the Progressive Party’s candidate for state senate. She didn’t win either race, but gained a taste for politics and a platform for voicing ideas provided by political debate among candidates.
Because Bass’ political rhetoric was decidedly leftist as the United States entered the McCarthy era, and as suspicions toward communists, intellectuals, and activists reached a fever pitch, she found herself under surveillance by the FBI. In 1950, she was called before the California Legislature’s Joint Fact-Finding Committee on un-American Activities. Though neither Bass nor her paper were found guilty of any wrongdoing, she was subjected to surveillance for the remainder of her life. This did little to slow her political ambitions, however, and in 1951, after nearly 40 years as the managing editor and publisher of the Eagle, Bass sold the paper and began preparations for what would be her greatest challenge. Bass served in 1952 as the National Chairman of the Sojourners for Truth and Justice, an organization of black women set up to protest racial violence in the South. Also In 1952, she ran for vice president of the United States on the Progressive Party ticket with Vincent Hallinan. She did not aspire to win, but rather to broadcast her views into a more public and national forum with a motto of “Win or lose, we win by raising the issues.” The bid for the vice presidency made Bass the first African American woman to run for a national office.
Despite her splashy appearance on the national stage, Bass continued to be dedicated to political work in and around Los Angeles throughout the remainder of her life. She never saw the city become the place of racial harmony that she envisioned, but during Bass’ life, Los Angeles was one of the most progressive cities in the United States, due in great part to her own efforts. When Bass moved just outside of Los Angeles in 1960, to Lake Elsinore, she opened her own garage as a community center and reading room. She hosted voter registration drives and became a regular participant at local protests against South African apartheid policies and on behalf of prisoners’ rights.
Throughout her journalistic and political careers Bass fought for the rights of African Americans across a range of practical issues. In the course of her work, she befriended the famous activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Although Bass never was elected to public office, she was successful in her attempts to galvanize national energy around discrimination and civil rights.
In 1966, Bass suffered a stroke that confined her to a convalescent home. On April 12, 1969, she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in Los Angeles. She is buried alongside her husband in Evergreen Cemetery, East Los Angeles, California.
blackpast.orgPost Views: 374