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Corporations Boycotted North Carolina over the Bathroom Bill, When Will They Stand Against Racial Injustice?By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
As the events unfold in Charlotte in the aftermath of the murder of Keith Scott — another Black man by police — questions arise as to what it will take to bring about real change in the realm of racial justice in North Carolina, and the role that corporate America will take.
As part of the so-called “new” South, with a large corporate presence and urban professional transplants from the North, the state wants to have it both ways. President Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 election, and a city such as Charlotte represents growth, progress and diversity, as The Washington Post reported, with “buttoned-up business (a banking center, an airline and retail hub), a multicultural melting pot and a farm-to-table haven.”
And yet, the state has elected a Republican-led, white supremacist state government, with a governor and a legislature that has sought the wholesale deprivation of Black voting rights, leading to the NAACP-led Moral Mondays movement.
Then there is the so-called “bathroom bill” known as HB2, which challenges a Charlotte city ordinance regarding gender-neutral bathrooms. And while the legislation has been known as an anti-LGBT law, it also eviscerated local ordinances, making it illegal for localities to expand the protections of state laws governing minimum wage standards, job discrimination and public accommodations, as the Charlotte Observer noted.
So while North Carolina had positioned itself as more cosmopolitan, progressive and tolerant than its neighbor bordering to its South — South Carolina, which had been embroiled in a Confederate flag debate of late — the state has paid a price with HB2.
According to Facing South, while state officials wish to downplay its impact, a corporate boycott of North Carolina has led to losses in the tens of millions of dollars. Over 200 companies and organizations have expressed their opposition to HB2, and they are taking their business out of the Tar Heel state. For example, PayPal canceled its planned $3.5 million complex, Deutsche Bank placed a corporate expansion on hold, and the NBA will take its All-Star Game elsewhere. The purpose of this and other boycotts, Facing South noted, is “to raise the economic and political costs of doing business as usual, to the point that decision-makers — whether lawmakers or corporate CEOs — are forced to change course.”
But what will it take for corporate America to respond to the calls for racial justice, in the midst of police violence against Black people? If they can take a stand against HB2, certainly these companies can demand that local and state governments do more and enact reforms if they want the dollars to continue flowing.
With a high-profile police killing and a continued effort at Black voter suppression — despite a Supreme Court decision rejecting North Carolina’s voter ID law and other voter restrictions — the time seems perfect for corporations to use their political muscle to benefit Black folks. White reactionary lawmakers believe they can get away with disrespecting African-Americans. For example, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents parts of Charlotte and its suburbs, said Blacks are protesting in Charlotte because “they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” as NBC News reported.
And in some cases, with blood on their hands through their role in profiting from slavery, these North Carolina-based companies have a debt to pay Black people. For example, Bank of America admitted its ties to slavery, as two of its predecessor banks had dealings with the slave trade, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Further, a third predecessor accepted slaves as collateral on loans, as Your Black World Today reported. Two companies that were incorporated into Wachovia — now owned by Wells Fargo — owned slaves and accepted them as collateral on loans or mortgages. And the founder of R.J. Reynolds, Richard Joshua Reynolds, came from a large slave-owning family of tobacco farmers. These companies can, at a minimum, support a boycott in North Carolina and a movement around racial justice, and provide support to the descendants of enslaved people in the form of employment, scholarships and community programs.
Writing an editorial in NBC News, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II — president of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays movement — summed it up best when he called the riots in Charlotte “the predictable response of human beings who are drowning in systemic injustice.” It is not about Black people hating the police, he noted, but rather people of all races “rising up against systems of injustice that shield officers who kill but leave millions defenseless.”
Declaring that “it’s the ballot or the riot,” Rev. Barber wrote that as hopeless as things may seem, we know what needs to be done to change the conditions that led to Keith Scott’s death.
“Right here in North Carolina, we have seen how people impacted by unjust policies can come together in coalitions across color and lift up a moral agenda that embraces the good of the whole,” he said. “This kind of coalition movement building is not easy, and we cannot win the change we need in a single election. But every step forward in this nation’s history has come from movements like this one.”
By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
Written by Amefika D. Geuka
An important occasion; an incident; an activity or one of a series of activities.
A set of actions; a system marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result. Webster’s
A group or arrangement of parts, facts, etc. that relate to or interact with each other; a group of logically related facts, beliefs, etc.; a method of classification, arrangement, etc.
*New International Webster’s Pocket Dictionary
Perhaps my favorite quote from the teachings of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey is: “The greatest weapon used against the Negro is disorganization.” I used to wonder why Mr. Garvey drew this conclusion from all other possibilities. I have come to agree fully with my hero, and am convinced that this too is a result of the conditioning black people were subjected to as part of the diabolical process used to convert us from the African human beings we were prior to the advent of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the slaves we became. The operative word here is process. No “slaves”‘ were ever brought to North America! Human beings were captured and brought here in chains, and through a process of dehumanization spanning nearly a century and several generations, were reduced below the level of beasts. No animals owned by our enslavers were treated so horrifically as the sons and daughters of Africa who were so unfortunate as to have been among those captured and transported here! As a collective group, we still suffer the psychological trauma infused into us as part of that process. Whereas our condition of servility and inferiority is the result of a process, most of our efforts to extricate ourselves from that mental and emotional bondage have consisted of events. If we are to regain our humanity, we must organize ourselves into a force capable of throwing off the shackles placed on our minds, and embark on a process of restoration.
By definition an “event” is an occasion, an incident, an activity, or one of a series of activities. By contrast, a “process” is a set, a system, that brings about gradual changes that lead to a particular result. Events cannot reverse or undo effects brought about by a process! Only through a counter-process can there be any possibility of doing so, and that counter-process must be designed and carried out in such a way as to lead to a particular result! To do this requires, at minimum — vision, organization, structure, resolve, and discipline. Truth be told, blacks in America have shown little if any of these invaluable traits and attributes of late! Not since the days of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) has there been an organized effort with structure designed and intended for the express purpose of restoring people of African descent in America to our African humanity! The challenge for our One Million Conscious Black Voters & Contributors (OMCBV&C) initiative is to pick up where Mr. Garvey left off when he was deported from America, take the baton firmly in hand, and run the next leg of Black Americans’ relay race toward the goal of ascending back to our “…rightful place among the constellation of nations and peoples of the Earth!”
Jim Clingman and I both were fortunate to have attended the Million Man March (MMM) on October 16, 1995 in Washington, DC, though we did not meet each other until 10 years later in 2005 when we both presented a plank in Dr. Claud Anderson’s “Powernomics” platform in Detroit, Michigan. As wonderful and inspiring as the MMM was, it was only an event; it had the potential to inspire attendees to engage in a process to realize the noble goals and objectives mentioned by the series of speakers that day. Unfortunately, the MMM’s convener did not have a plan of action to present to his receptive audience, and the only challenge we were presented with was to “…return to our respective homes and places, and join some organization that is working for the uplift and advancement of black people;” and if no such organization worthy of our support existed in our communities, we were “obliged to create one.” Just how many of the 2.5 million black men in attendance that day heeded Minister Farrakhan’s urging and did as he suggested is a story yet to be told, but we do know two “true believers” who took the Minister’s words to heart, and went back home to Cincinnati, Ohio and West Palm Beach, Florida respectively, and started planting seeds for improvement in the condition of black people. Here we are another 10 years later (2015), and those two (now) “old-geezers” are still in the hunt for solutions to the puzzle of how to get black people back to where our Creator and Ancestors intended us to be!
“Tomorrow is not promised to us;” and if there is to be a future for people of African descent, some element among us will have to step up to the plate and prove themselves capable of conceptualizing (envisioning), planning, organizing, implementing, conducting, evaluating, modifying, and bringing to fruition the particular results sought after! That is referred to as “organizing” brothers and sisters! Jim and I are trying to provide the caliber and quality of experienced leadership needed for this awesome undertaking, but leaders are only as good and effective as those they lead, and it is from among this group that the next cadre of leaders must evolve if there is to be continuity of effort and resolve. Jim is getting old, and I am even older (LOL); we both face health challenges daily. You all will have to pardon us if we appear sometimes to be impatient with the lack of or slow response from our folks to what appears to us to be “as plain as the nose on your face.” We KNOW this stuff ain’t “rocket science,” and it does not take a genius to recognize what we are up against and what would be required to overcome obstructions to our success. WE ARE and of necessity MUST BE the SOLUTION to our own problems; that is the way of life. The only question worth asking and answering is: Are we possessed of the qualities and attributes required to get the job done? If not, we will be forced to admit that as a Race we are, in fact, inferior and should throw ourselves on the mercies of our superiors as some notable blacks advise us to do!
Jim and I have started this process, and are committed to staying the course as long as we are able and have sufficient encouragement from the ranks of our people, but as the “Last Poets” warned us: “Time is running out on bullsh** changes,” so the true Black MEN and WOMEN must rise to the occasion, step to the fore, and captain our ship to safe harbor. This is not the time for fainthearted or halt-stepping negroes. Who amongst you is ready to take on this task? Events-oriented persons need not apply, because it is Nature’s law that only the strong have a right to survive, and that is because the strong are willing to assert their right to survival — and beyond that — to PROSPER!!! Start flexing your muscles people, and determine the place and role you will play in this PROCESS
By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
135 years ago today, European leaders sat around a horseshoe-shaped table to set the rules for Africa’s colonisation.
By Patrick Gathara
On the afternoon of Saturday, November 15, 1884, an international conference was opened by the chancellor of the newly-created German Empire at his official residence on Wilhelmstrasse, in Berlin. Sat around a horseshoe-shaped table in a room overlooking the garden with representatives from every European country, apart from Switzerland, as well as those from the United States and the Ottoman Empire. The only clue as to the purpose of the November gathering of white men was hung on the wall – a large map of Africa “drooping down like a question mark” as Nigerian historian, Professor Godfrey Uzoigwe, would comment.
Including a short break for Christmas and the New Year, the West African Conference of Berlin would last 104 days, ending on February 26, 1885. In the 135 years since, the conference has come to represent the late 19th-century European Scramble and Partition of the continent. In the popular imagination, the delegates are hunched over a map, armed with rulers and pencils, sketching out national borders on the continent with no idea of what existed on the ground they were parcelling out. Yet this is mistaken. The Berlin Conference did not begin the scramble. That was well under way. Neither did it partition the continent. Only one state, the short-lived horror that was the Congo Free State, came out of it – though strictly speaking it was not actually a creation of the conference.
It did something much worse, though, with consequences that would reverberate across the years and be felt until today. It established the rules for the conquest and partition of Africa, in the process legitimising the ideas of Africa as a playground for outsiders, its mineral wealth as a resource for the outside world not for Africans and its fate as a matter not to be left to Africans.
From the very start, the conference laid out the order of priorities. “The Powers are in the presence of three interests: That of the commercial and industrial nations, which a common necessity compels to the research of new outlets. That of the States and of the Powers summoned to exercise over the regions of the Congo an authority which will have burdens corresponding to their rights. And, lastly, that which some generous voices have already commended to your solicitude – the interests of the native populations.” It also resolutely refused to consider the question of sovereignty, and the legitimacy of laying claim to someone else’s land and resources.
Uzoigwe notes that: “Bismarck … stated in his opening remarks that delegates had not been assembled to discuss matters of sovereignty either of African states or of the European powers in Africa.” It was no accident that there were no Africans at the table – their opinions were not considered necessary. The efforts of the Sultan of Zanzibar to get himself invited to the party were summarily laughed off by the British.
American journalist Daniel De Leon described the conference as “an event unique in the history of political science … Diplomatic in form, it was economic in fact.” And it is true that while it was dressed up as a humanitarian summit to look at the welfare of locals, its agenda was almost purely economic. Few on the continent or in the African diaspora were fooled. A week before it closed, the Lagos Observer declared that “the world had, perhaps, never witnessed a robbery on so large a scale.” Six years later, another editor of a Lagos newspaper comparing the legacy conference to the slave trade said: “A forcible possession of our land has taken the place of a forcible possession of our person.” Theodore Holly, the first black Protestant Episcopal Bishop in the US, condemned the delegates as having “come together to enact into law, national rapine, robbery and murder”.
The outcome of the conference was the General Act signed and ratified by all but one of the 14 nations at the table, the US being the sole exception. Some of its main features were the establishment of a regime of free trade stretching across the middle of Africa, the development of which became the rationale for the recognition of the Congo Free State and its subsequent 13-year horror, the abolition of the overland slave trade as well as the principle of “effective occupation”.
Though the attempt to create a free trade area in Africa and therefore keep the continent from becoming both a spark for, and a theatre of conflict between the European powers, was ultimately doomed. The principle of “effective occupation” was to become the catalyst for military conquest of the African continent with far-reaching consequences for its inhabitants.
At the time of the conference, 80 percent of Africa remained under traditional and local control. The Europeans only had influence on the coast. Following it, they started grabbing chunks of land inland, ultimately creating a hodgepodge of geometric boundaries that was superimposed over indigenous cultures and regions of Africa. However, to get their claims over African land accepted, European states had to demonstrate that they could actually administer the area.
Often, military victory proved to be the easy part. To govern, they found they had to contend with a confusing milieu of fluid identities and cultures and languages. The Europeans thus set about reorganising Africans into units they could understand and control. As Professor Terence Ranger noted, the colonial period was marked “by systematic inventions of African traditions – ethnicity, customary law, ‘traditional’ religion. Before colonialism Africa was characterised by pluralism, flexibility, multiple identity; after it, African identities of ‘tribe’, gender and generation were all bounded by the rigidities of invented tradition.”
That first-ever international conference on Africa established a template for how the world deals with the continent. Today, Africa is still seen primarily as a source for raw materials for the outside world and an arena for them to compete over. Conferences about the continent are rarely held on the continent itself and rarely care about the views of ordinary Africans.
The sight of African heads of state assembling in foreign capitals to beg for favours is a re-enactment of the Sultan of Zanzibar’s pleading to attend a conference where he would be the main course.
Despite achieving independence for the most part in the 1950s and 1960s, many African countries have continued along the destructive path laid out in Berlin. Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere declared: “We have artificial ‘nations’ carved out at the Berlin Conference in 1884, and today we are struggling to build these nations into stable units of human society… we are in danger of becoming the most Balkanised continent of the world.” Ethnicity and tribalism continue to be the bane of African politics. “The Berlin Conference was Africa’s undoing in more ways than one,” wrote Jan Nijman, Peter Muller and Harm de Blij in their book, Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts. “The colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African continent. By the time independence returned to Africa… the realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily.”
Now, 135 years after Berlin, it is perhaps time for introspection. While it is impossible to turn back the clock, Africans would do well to reflect on what has happened since. Teaching the real history of the subjugation of the continent would help counter the myths of “ancient hatreds” that are said to fuel the conflicts on the continent. And Africans could decide to get together on the continent to debate and decide on the relationship they want with the rest of the world rather than always having that dictated to them from abroad.
Patrick Gathara is a communications consultant, writer, and award-winning political cartoonist based in Nairobi.Post Views: 4,110