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Time for an Awakening Media host the The 90 minute Black Power Roundtableon Saturday, October 31th. The Saturday evening discussion was moderated by Sister Zakiya Sankara-Jabar
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Queen Mother Mashariki Jywanza
Dr. Kamau Rashid
Obi Egbuna Jr
Dr. Wes Bellamy
Prof. James Small
Time for an Awakening Media host the The 90 minute Black Power Roundtableon Friday, October 30th. The Friday evening discussion was moderated by Eric Keith Grimes/Brother
by Norman (Otis) Richmond
The Afro American Progressive Association (AAPA) was one of the first Black Power organizations in Canada. It was organized by Jose Garcia, Norman (Otis) Richmond and D. T. in Toronto in 1968. Their first public event was a commemoration of the assassination of Omowale El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). The meeting took place on Bathurst Street (Toronto’s Lenox Avenue) the Home Service. Guest speakers were Jan Carew, Guyanese-born scholar/activist who later would write:” Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean” and Ted Watkins. A year before ancestors like Austin Clarke, Howard Matthews and others started the ball rolling.
Watkins (1941-1968) was an African born in America who played Canadian football. Watkins played wide-receiver for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders. He won the Grey Cup with Hamilton in 1967. He previously played college football at the University of the Pacific in
Stockton, California. Watkins was killed in 1968 allegedly robbing a liquor store.
This is a direct quote from a Canadian daily: “STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) -Ted Watkins, Negro professional Canadian football player, and a leading Black Power advocate’ in Canada, was shot dead in an attempted liquor store holdup Sunday, police said.”
“The AAPA’s newsletter was called Harambee (Swahili) for ‘Let’s pull together.’”
The Black Youth Organization (BYO), the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), the Biko Rodney Malcolm Coalition (BRMC) and Black Live Matters spring from the AAPA. The AAPA’s newsletter was called Harambee (Swahili) for “Let’s pull together.” Harambee preceded “Contrast,” “Share,” “Pride” and the “Caribbean Camera.”
Chris Harris has been one of the few attempting to keep the untold history of the Black Radical Tradition and the AAPA alive. Harris’ article, “Canadian Black Power, Organic Intellectuals of Position in Toronto, 1967 – 1975” was published quietly. He is quoted extensively in David Austin’s 2014 Casa de las Americas Prize winning book on Caribbean Literature, in English or Creole, Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal.
Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report talks about how a Black miss-leadership is high jacking the African liberation struggle in the United States. Ditto for Canada.
The untold story of the Radical Black Tradition in Canada is beginning to unfold. A new autobiography, Burnley “Rocky” Jones Revolutionary by Jones and James W. St. G. Walker gets the ball rolling in this work. Jones gives credit to the AAPA in this volume for keeping the radical Black tradition alive in the Great White North.
Jones discusses how tribalism ruled during the late sixties and early Seventies in Toronto’s history. Africans born in Canada organized as Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Barbadians or Black Canadians. He talks about a rally that took place at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on Bloor Street in Toronto.
“Jones gives credit to the AAPA in this volume for keeping the radical Black tradition alive in the Great White North.”
Says Jones: “The chair was José Garcia, of the Afro American Progressive Association, a Marxist, and Black Nationalist organization in Toronto. Although that organization was Canadian, its name reflected the interaction with the States; there was continual movement back and forth across the border with Detroit and Buffalo, with Panthers and CORE and various Black Nationalist associations. Many of these people were also at the conference, in particular a group known as the Detroit Revolutionary Union movement, DRUM, extremely militant and connected to the Panthers.”
Jones was incorrect on the name of DRUM; DRUM is an acronym for the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement. The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement was an organization of Black workers formed in May 1968 in the Chrysler Corporation‘s Dodge Main assembly plant in Detroit. While I was a co-founder of the AAPA I was also a member of DRUM, which later would blossom into the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.
The term Afro-American had nothing to do with Black America. It was inspired by Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). The group was a Pan-Africanist organization founded by (Omowale) Malik Shabazz in1964. The group was modeled on the Organization of African Unity, which had impressed Malik during his visit to Africa in April 1964. The purpose of the OAAU was to fight for the human rights of Africans in America and in the Western Hemisphere who speak English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento. One of the co-founders of the AAPA, Jose Garcia, could speak Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish, French and English better than me. We were internationalist from the get-go.
“It was Carlos Cooks who first defined the difference between the terms Black and/or African as opposed to ‘Negro.’”
While we were moved by Malik, he was influenced by a person who if imperialism has anything to do with it will be written out of history – Carlos A. Cooks. Cooks was a Caribbean man who used the term African-American to unite Africans in the West. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His parents were from the nearby island of St. Martin. Robert Acemendeces Harris, author of Carlos Cooks and Black Nationalism, pointed out: “It was Carlos Cooks who first defined the difference between the terms Black and/or African as opposed to “Negro” and fought to have the latter word abrogated as a racial classification. You can even ask Richard Moore, a foundation member of the African Blood Brotherhood (and author of The Word Negro And Its Evil Use) about this. Or you can read the documentation in BLACK NATIONALISM: A Search for Identity in America by Prof. E. U. Essien-Udom of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
I was blessed to have heard Richard B. Moore speak in Montreal in 1967 and met and work with Elombe Brath, a disciple of Cooks. Moore spoke at a Black community meeting that I attended during Expo 67. When I first went to Detroit and met General Gordon Baker Jr. I found a copy of Brath’s comic book “Color Them Colored” where he ridiculed everyone from Harry Belafonte to Malcolm X for not being “Black” enough. Baker explained to me how he had for a brief moment associated with Cooks African Nationalist Pioneer Movement.
There are aspects of Cooks philosophy I united 1000 percent behind. At their convention called in 1959 the ANPM called for the abrogation of the word Negro as the official racial classification of black people and to replace the term with “African” when speaking of land origin, heritage and national identity (irrespective of birthplace ) and the proud usage of “black” when dealing with color (in spite of complexion).
“Elombe Brath’s comic book ‘Color Them Colored’ ridiculed everyone from Harry Belafonte to Malcolm X for not being “Black” enough.”
There are others aspects of his views that I totally disagree with. I have always united with Huey P. Newton’s statement, ”Blackness is necessary, but not sufficient.” I was never down with Cooks’ anti-communism. When Fidel Castro visited Harlem, Cooks refused to meet him. Malik took the opposite view.
Brath is quoted in Rosemari Mealy’s book, Fidel & Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting. Says Brath, “While Malcolm as an individual was developing as an anti-imperialist champion, he boldly met with Premier Fidel Castro when the Cuban leader stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, arguing a class analysis in non-Marxist terms, that is, the field Negro versus the house Negro.
Cooks however, took a completely different position. U. Essien-Udom, a Nigerian who wrote Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America, published in the early 1960s, discussed Cooks and Malik. Udom points out: “Nearly all of the present-day black nationalist groups are anti-communist. Recently, Mr. Carlos Cooks (African Nationalist Pioneering Movement) in a 4th of July speech in Harlem self-righteously explained how in the Thirties they (the nationalists) were having street fights with the communists and they do not welcome ‘the regime of Dr. Fidel Castro’s Cuba.’”
“Instead, Mr. Cooks expressed some admiration for ex-President Bastisa. He said that under Batista Negroes had a “fair deal” in Cuba and that Premier Castro’s regime was a returning to “white supremacy.” For a brief moment in my history I did have a problem with Cuba. This was because of the anti- communism propaganda we were taught from the womb to the tomb in the USA where I was born.
For a brief moment I supported Jonas Savimbi‘s The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Founded in 1966, UNITA fought alongside the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan War for Independence (1961 – 1975) and then against the MPLA in the ensuing civil war1975–2002). UNITA received military aid from the imperialist USA and apartheid South Africa while the MPLA received support from the Soviet Union and other members of the Socialist block at that time. We apologize to Africa for this error in judgment.
In the 21st Century Africa, Africans and the oppressed generally must be anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-sexist and be for socialism — period. As Fred Hampton used to say, “If you are afraid of socialism you are afraid of yourself.”
What would he be preaching today?
May 25, 2017
What would el Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) be doing at 92 years of age?
Our Black Shining Prince was born on May 19, 1925, and joined the ancestors on February 21, 1965, assassinated, receiving multiple gunshot wounds while preparing to deliver a speech to the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. He was 39.
Before his passing, the Nigerians gave him the name Omowale. In Yoruba it means “child who has come home.”
No one can say for sure what Malcolm X would be preaching today, but as he taught us, “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.”
These words were uttered at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, during a speech on the nature of revolution at the Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference on November 10, 1963.
One of the founders of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, General Gordon Baker Jr. was in attendance that night and yelled “We’ll bleed” as Malcolm X told the audience, “You’re afraid to bleed. The white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You’ll bleed for white people, but when it comes time to seeing your own churches bombed and little Black girls murdered, you haven’t got no blood.”
We know that Malcolm X was deeply interested in bringing African and Asian forces together. The first large-scale Afro-Asian Conference, a meeting of Asian and African states, most of them newly independent, took place on April 18 to 24, 1955, in Bandung, Indonesia. We also know that politically his views were leaning heavily toward socialism.
Shortly before he died, he went on record saying, “It’s impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. You can’t have capitalism without racism.”
He was a firm supporter of British-ruled Kenya’s Land and Freedom Army and the so-called Mau Mau Revolt against white settlers.
Even as a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X had a non-Marxist class analysis of the struggle. Go back and listen to him talk about the house Negro and the field Negro on the Message To The Grassroots speech.
We can bet Malcolm X, with his one-liners, would use social media with the best of us. He understood the role of newspapers and other media in revolutionary struggle.
All the organizations that moved Africans in North America and the world had newspapers. Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) had the Negro World. The Nation of Islam had Muhammad Speaks, and Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s Black Panther Party had the Black Panther newspaper.
In his book, Remembering Malcolm, Benjamin Karim, Malcolm X’s assistant minister at Mosque Number 7 in Harlem, writes about how Malcolm X loved cartoons to counter what he called “spookism.”
“Don’t get so wrapped up in God that you lose sight of the world,” Malcolm used to tell us, Karim writes. “And don’t get so wrapped up in the world you lose sight of God: you have to maintain a balance. When you are spooked out, you have definitely lost the balance. You go and get that brother and take him somewhere and watch cartoons.”
Karim also tells how Malcolm X taught him and other ministers the importance of communication. “At the first meeting of the class, Malcolm listed some requirements: a notebook, a dictionary, a thesaurus, an etymology text, a library card and an open, willing mind.”
American cultural historian Maurice Berger called Malcolm X “a visual strategist” and “keen steward of the Nation of Islam’s visual representation.”
In a 2012 column for the New York Times, he writes that, “Malcolm X often carried a camera, his way of ‘collecting evidence,’ as [Black photojournalist] Gordon Parks once observed. He relied on photographs to provide the visual proof of Black Muslim productivity and equanimity that sensationalistic headlines and verbal reporting often negated.
“When photojournalists visited the community, he tried to steer them toward the kinds of affirmative images – contented family life, children at play and school, thriving businesses and institutions – that might subtly ameliorate the negative texts that he knew would inevitably accompany them.”
It must be mentioned that Malcolm X’s Grenada-born mother, Louise Little (née Norton), wrote for the Negro World. Georgia-born Earl Little, Malcolm X’s father, and Louise met and married in Montreal at a UNIA convention. Both were followers of Pan-Africanist Garvey.
Malcolm X talked about the importance of languages and hit the nail on the head when he predicted Chinese and Arabic as important in the future.
In The Autobiography Of Malcolm X, written with Alex Haley, he wrote, “I don’t know anything more frustrating than to be around people talking something you can’t understand. Especially when they are people who look just like you. In Africa, I heard original mother tongues, such as Hausa and Swahili, being spoken, and there I was standing like some little boy, waiting for someone to tell me what had been said; I never will forget how ignorant I felt.”
Malcolm X made it crystal clear before his death that he was a Sunni Muslim. However, he also questioned following anything blindly.
In a speech in Detroit on April 12, 1964, he pointed out, “Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. Put your religion at home in the closet. Keep it between you and your God. Because if it hasn’t done anything more for you than it has, you need to forget it anyway.”
Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and grew up in Los Angeles. He moved to Toronto in the 1960s after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He produces Diasporic Music, a radio show for Uhuru Radio, and writes a column for the Burning Spear newspaper.
“…to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
~ Assata Shakur
For the past 65 years, the United States of America has avoided answering for its continued crimes against humanity, through the strategic use of “window-dressing” reforms, and handpicked “Negro” ambassadors. The use of Black entertainers to protect America’s image against foreign accusations of human rights violations, was a strategy devised by the Eisenhower administration during the Cold War.
When we examine the modern day Criminal Justice Reform movement, it readily exposes itself as another attempt by America, to cover its long trail of human rights abuses. The movement, as currently constructed, was birthed in the early 2000’s by the Brookings Institute, and was meant to serve as a Democratic Party, policy carrot, during the 2004 election. As fate would have it, this initial push for criminal justice reform was drowned out by the sound of the nations war drums, and wouldn’t be picked up again for more than a decade.
During Barack Obama’s 2nd term in office, the issue of Criminal Justice Reform was put back on the table as a strategic policy baton (i.e. hand-off to Hillary Clinton), for succession planning. Rapper Jay Z, having replaced Reverend Al Sharpton, as Black America’s #1 surrogate for the Democratic Party, was at the forefront of the newly revived, Brookings Institute, reform discussions. Serving as Barack Obama’s Chief Hip Hop Ambassador, Jay Z was given unprecedented access to the Democratic Party’s media outlets, to lead the public discussion on the need for reform.
Jay Z, like Eisenhower’s “Jazz Ambassadors” before him, has very little awareness of how his hard-won political capital, within the Black Community, is being mined for the political gold needed to finance the Democratic Party’s domestic and foreign agenda. On the local level, neoliberal criminal justice reform was needed as the policy center-piece for the 2016 presidential platform of Hillary — My Prisoners at the Governor’s Mansion — Clinton.
It was strategic enough, as a policy, to ingratiate Hillary Clinton with the Black community — by presenting it as something she was “doing for us” — while at the same time it could be pitched as non-race-specific policy, to avoid alienating the Democratic Party’s, racist, white voter base.
To add even more weight behind this political gambit, Obama summoned his version of Eisenhower’s “Jazz Ambassadors” to the white house, in the middle of a hotly contested Democratic Primary between HRC and Bernie Sanders, for a so-called “Criminal Justice Reform” summit (4/15/16), which was nothing more than a thinly veiled Hip Hop recruitment gathering for Hillary ’16.
On an international level, it was the strategic cover America needed to drown out the continued claims of human rights violations, as evidenced by the disproportionate number of Black men, and growing number of Black women, being held in America’s political concentration camps.
Enters Meek Mill
The November 2017 sentencing of rapper Robert “Meek Mill” Williams, was the catalyst needed to galvanize Jay Z, the State, and the Democratic Party’s billionaire donor-base, around a single issue: PROBATION REFORM.
The lunacy of Meek Mills arrest and imprisonment, was so outlandish that it made international headlines, positioning Meek as America’s new, most iconic “Political Prisoner,” overnight — The former being, Mumia Abu Jamal.
Meek’s arrest was political gold for the Democratic Party’s reform agenda, because it provided a grassroots movement, that appeared organic enough, to move full steam ahead with neoliberal criminal justice reform. Meek’s release also symbolized just how this new “reform” movement, would be used to drown out advocacy efforts on behalf of Political prisoners.
Just as Obama’s rise to the presidency, forever deafened the cries for justice by African Americans, Meek Mills ascendancy as America’s most iconic political prisoner, has aided in silencing the cry for justice by the Afrikans that have been held captive, since before Meek was born.
Meek’s Cinderella debut, and helicopter ride to the Sixers game, completely overshadowed, Mumia Abu Jamal, who on that same day, was finally back in court for his long awaited hearing to have his case reopened.
Articles you may find interesting: How “Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform” Institutionalizes a Right-Wing, Neoliberal Agenda
But even beyond Mumia, the great tragedy, and injustice of this corporate-owned reform movement, is that it has allowed American policy makers to spin a narrative that U.S. Mass Incarceration is somehow the result of a “broken system,” and not the direct result of neoliberal policies intended to deal with the threat of Black radicalism.
The sad irony here, is that two Black men who are the products of America’s fear of creating a new generation of George Jacksons and Fred Hamptons — Meek Mill & Jay Z — are both having their ignorance weaponized against the same group of political prisoners, who were the impetus for the neoliberal era of Mass Incarceration in America.
That any Black man in America would be willing to entertain a discussion on Prison reform, that doesn’t involve the release of these political prisoners, and the pardon of those still in exile (e.g. Mama Assata Shakur) is the deepest of tragedies.
But even with my deep feelings of betrayal, I still continue to hope that our Brothers Meek Mill & Jay Z, will experience a legitimate awakening, as they had no control over the manufacturing of their consciousness, which has ultimately shaped their character.
In the wake of the generation of George Jacksons and Fred Hamptons, America sort to provide itself with an army of Jay Zs and Meek Mills, from which they could handpick the winners and losers. The consciousness of this new generation of black male youth has been manufactured to embrace hyper capitalism, and rugged individualism. Thoughts of collective struggle, don’t have a chance of entering such a mind, without the light of a proper political education.
“As a slave, the social phenomenon that engages my whole consciousness is, of course, revolution.”
~ George Jackson
This lack of proper analysis, is one of the reasons why Jay Z can name drop scholars like Ruthie Gilmore, to score criminal justice points, but wouldn’t be caught whispering the names of any of our political prisoners, in earshot of his corporate sponsors.
This inability for Jay Z to wrestle with his own contradictions, makes him the perfect running back on behalf of the State, and corporate America’s private interests. Sometimes I ask myself, “does he realize how he’s being used to run interference, or is he blinded by the prestige and corporate deals that come with being useful?”
In no case was this more evident than his “Obama approved” trip to Cuba in 2014. Six-months ahead of Obama publicly announcing that he was easing restrictions on travel to Cuba, Obama skillfully uses his Hip Hop diplomacy to signal a change is US policy with Cuba, the same way Nixon used Ping-pong diplomacy, to signal a change in foreign policy with China.
What was despicable about Jay Z allowing himself to be maneuvered in the interest of US foreign policy, was the Obama Administration also added Assata Shakur to the FBI’s most wanted list, and placed an additional one-million dollar bounty on her head, within one-month of Jay Z’s return from his Hiplomatic excursion to Cuba.
To date, Jay Z has never come out an condemned the Obama Administration, or America, who he assisted with changing their Cold War policy towards Cuba, even as they doubled-down on their Cold War policy towards Assata.
To be fair, I genuinely believe, that both Meek Mill and Jay Z feel they are doing the right thing. The challenge I have with them, is they’ve both shown just how willing they are, to abandon the struggle of their people, when it aligns with their economic interests.
During his visit to the Breakfast Club to discuss “standing up for reform,” Meek Mill was asked by one of the hosts (at the 18:18 mark), if he’s concerned with his activism around prison reform “f*cking with those peoples money?”
All y’all gotta do is give me a warning, I’ll get out y’all way. I aint here to sacrifice my life for everybody… I’m here to sacrifice my life for my family and my son…
This one statement by the famed freedom fighter, sums up the consciousness of an entire generation — where the movement builders of yesterday, have been replaced by the brand builders of today. This notion that I will fight for my people, as long as it comes with corporate endorsements, speaking fees, a one-way ticket to the island of Black excellence — and no resistance from my oppressor, is the prevailing consciousness of our generation.
This cancerous mindset, as well as the aforementioned reasons, is what led me to write this open letter to you (Dr. Shakur). Marcus Garvey once said, “What you do today that is worthwhile, inspires others to act at some future time.” It is my hope that by writing this open letter, it will inspire others to examine and confront their own fears, as I have done my own.
Only time will tell if the island of Black excellence, can be transformed into an edifice of maroon resistance, or if it’ll remain America’s decadent colonization scheme, for it’s newly manumitted slaves — who falsely believe that the chains of mental enslavement can be broken with dollars.
“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”
~ Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey
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.
Political genealogy matters. If you want to understand the basis of someone’s political thought, you must first examine their political origins to understand the threshold that crossed them into consciousness. Historically, within the African-American community, there have been two distinct strains of political thought, which emerged simultaneously after emancipation: African political thought, represented by Martin Delaney; and Negro political thought, represented by Frederick Douglass.
After the North lost the war to the South, the reconstituted US federal government was forced to pay reparations to its former slave-holding citizens, as compensation for their loss of property; in the form of African bodies. These formerly enslaved persons were now recognized as wards of the state, conferring upon them a change in legal character — from private property to state property. This monumental transaction would lead to 100 years of debate, around a central issue, that would come to be known as the “Negro Problem.”
How does America deal with it’s newly freed, but unwanted Negroes?
Forward-thinking white Americans began devising solutions to this question far in advance of the abolition of slavery. The proposed solutions ranged from conservative repatriation schemes, devised by the American Colonization Society, to more liberal/benign approaches, which involved the removal of Black men, and the reproduction of whiteness through the children of Black women.
FYI — For more information on the latter method, you can checkout the following presentation that I gave, last year, titled: Black Fertility, Underemployment, & Racial Extermination in America
Whether conservative or liberal, white Americans were in complete agreement on two cardinal principles, which became the bedrock of the post- Civil War, political landscape:
The following excerpt was written by Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, in what became his most notable opinion, during his time on the bench — the 1857, Dred Scott Decision:
neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument….
They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race….
the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution. The right to traffic in it, like an ordinary article of merchandise and property, was guaranteed to the citizens of the United States, in every state that might desire it…. And the government in express terms is pledged to protect it in all future time if the slave escapes from his owner. This is done in plain words — too plain to be misunderstood.
With this landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court openly declared that black people were not considered citizens of the republic. Some might argue that the 14th amendment forever solved the question of citizenship, as it pertains to the descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States, but then you’d have to ask yourself, how can that be the case when African Americans are still fighting for “full citizenship” 151 years after its passing?
Furthermore, the contradiction of citizenship remains, in that, African Americans were still governed as a problem to be solved, well up until the 1960s — when white America devised a final solution to the “problem,” following the decade of race rebellions. It was during this period that the US government, operating through the person of Richard Nixon, determined that “the issue of race could benefit from a period of ‘benign neglect’.” From this moment on, all matters pertaining to the “Negro Question” were both discussed, and acted on privately(i.e. in secret).
As African Americans, our political orientation towards this question, is the primary factor that shapes the whole of our political outlook in this country. If you accept the premise of the question — that African Americans are indeed a problem in need of solving — you will set yourself to the task of solving it. Naturally, you’ll arrive quickly at the most expedient solution to dealing with the “race problem,” which is: Black Americans need to be made white.
This notion of Black Americans being amalgamated and assimilated into the whiteness of America, is an idea that garnered much traction during the closing decades of the 19th century, and the early decades of the 20th century— especially among the, mixed-race, Black elite. The ‘political’ thrust behind Negro amalgamation can be traced directly to the father of Negro American thought, Frederick Douglass.
The 1866 delegation…
In the Winter of 1866, Frederick Douglass led a group of delegates to meet with the newly installed President, Andrew Johnson, to seek his assurance that the “amendment prohibiting slavery,” would be “enforced with appropriate legislation,” and to petition, for the Negro, the right to the franchise:
In the order of Divine Providence you are placed in a position where you have the power to save or destroy us, to bless or blast us — I mean our whole race. Your noble and humane predecessor placed in our hands the sword to assist in saving the nation, and we do hope that you, his able successor, will favorably regard the placing in our hands the ballot with which to save ourselves.
~ Frederick Douglas
Johnson asserted, that on the issue of slavery, “a great national guarantee has been given, one that cannot be revoked.” He further stated, that as a former slave-holder himself, many of his “slaves” followed him to the White House, “while others are occupying and enjoying [his] property with [his] consent.” But on the issue of the franchise, he outright rejected the request, on the grounds that it would be tyrannical to subject the white masses to the whims of the Black vote, and would certainly lead to race war:
While I say that I am a friend of the colored man, I do not want to adopt a policy that I believe will end in a contest between the races, which if persisted in will result in the extermination of one or the other.
…is it proper to force upon this community [White America], without their consent, the elective franchise, without regard to color, making it universal?
…It is the people of the States that must for themselves determine this thing. I do not want to be engaged in a work that will commence a war of races.
~ Andrew Johnson
Douglass attempted once more to remind the President of the Negroes service to the country, during the great war, and that a precedent had already been established for Federal action at the State level:
It as been shown in the present war that the Government may justly reach its strong arm into States, and demand from them, from those who owe it allegiance, their assistance and support. May it not reach out alike arm to secure and protect its subjects upon who it has a claim?
Once again, Johnson rejected the request, and suggested to the members of the delegation, that they consider emigration, or convincing the white masses, that they would not be harmed by granting the franchise to the Negro.
In parting, Douglas turned to Johnson, and to his fellow delegates, and made the following statement: “The President sends us to the people, and we go to the people;” — to which, Johnson replied, “Yes, sir; I have great faith in the people. I believe they will do what is right.”
Counsel of defeat…
Douglas, like many of the thinking Negroes of his time, held deeply ingrained anti-African sentiments. Many subscribed to the white supremacist belief that Africans (i.e. Black people) represented a savage race, as compared to Europeans, who were civilized — and the lesser races should be judged, based upon how closely their society mirrored the culture and customs of Europe. Therefore, the suggestion of separating from white people is a notion they wouldn’t accept.
As you can see from the excerpts quoted below, the idea of African inferiority — and by extension, white superiority — is an idea that Douglass internalized, nurtured, and defended throughout his lifetime:
Douglass in 1852 (Pre-emancipation)…
We believe that contact with the white race, even under the many unjust and painful restrictions to which we are subjected, does more toward our elevation and improvement, than the mere circumstance of being separated from them could do. The truth is sometimes acknowledged by Colonizationists themselves. They argue (for a diabolical purpose it is true) that the condition of our race has been improved by their situation as slaves, since it has brought them into contact with a superior people, and afforded them facilities for acquiring knowledge. This position is sound, though the hearts that gave it birth, are rotten. We hold, that while there is personal liberty in the Northern States for the colored people, while they have the privilege to educate their children, to speak and write out their sentiments, to petition, and in some instances, and with some qualifications, to exercise the right of suffrage, the time has not come for them to emigrate from these States to any other country, and last of all, to the wilds of Africa.
Douglass in 1870 (Post-emancipation)…
“Our future is here, we know nothing about Africa. Within the next fifty years, we will be running this county, and living in complete fellowship with our white brothers.” (Douglass pictured below with his 2nd wife, Helen Pitts-Douglass.)
In spite of all of Americas failings, Frederick Douglass adamantly believed that the United States government would do right by the Negro, and would eventually act to make us whole. Even after emancipation was defeated, reconstruction betrayed, and slavery reestablished, Douglass still held faith that America would act to redeem its lost children.
This was a belief that was purely rooted in fantasy, as Douglass was well aware of the level of struggle necessary to bring down the institution of slavery — and he knew that the same, or a greater amount of force, would be required to destroy the system of racial caste in America. During the height of the abolition struggle, Douglass reached the conclusion that slavery would not be ended unless it was brought down by violent means, but he himself was not willing to strike the blow.
[Brown]** has attacked slavery with the weapons precisely adapted to bring it to the death. Moral considerations have long since been exhausted upon Slaveholders. It is in vain to reason with them. One might as well hunt bears with ethics and political economy for weapons, as to seek to “pluck the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor” by mere force of moral law. Slavery is a system of brute force. It shields itself behind might, rather than right. It must be met with its own weapons.
— Excerpt written by Frederick Douglass, in the November, 1859, issue of the Liberator, about John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry
Likewise, he was not willing to strike out against racial caste, but instead encouraged capitulation, as a means to solving the “race problem,” in America. In Ronald R. Sundstrom’s, The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice, he revisits some of the core arguments advanced by Douglass during this period of time:
In his multiple capacities he argued that the long-term solution to racial division in the United States, known then as the “race problem,” or tellingly as the “Negro problem,” was the end of racial separation through assimilation and amalgamation. He held that newly emancipated black Americans should assimilate into Anglo-American society and culture. Social assimilation would then lead to the entire physical amalgamation of the two groups and the emergence of a new intermediate group that would be fully American.
Bearing in mind, the negative view that Douglass held of Africa/Africans — as backwards and primitive — Europe became the ideal expression of humanity for all forward thinking Negroes. Having abandoned her promise, Douglass believed that the only way forward for the re-enslaved American Negro was through continued amalgamation and assimilation, buttressed with constant political agitation, to force America to make good her promise of citizenship for her darker hued children.
In the closing decade of the 19th century, Frederick Douglas wrote two of his final rhetorical appeals, in an attempt to persuade white America, to once again take up the cause of the Negro:
In both speeches, he spoke directly to the “negro problem,” and urged his audience to reframe their view of the challenge, as a national issue, rather than a negro issue:
The United States Government made the negro a citizen, will it protect him as a citizen? This is the problem. It made him a soldier, will it honor him as a patriot? This is the problem. It made him a voter, will it defend his right to vote? This is the problem. This, I say, is more a problem for the nation than for the negro, and this is the side of the question far more than the other which should be kept in view by the American people.
— Excerpt from “THE RACE PROBLEM” Delivered before the Bethel Literary and Historical Association in the Metropolitan A. M. E. Church, Washington, D.C. October 21, 1890
On January 9, 1894, Douglass gave, what is frequently described as, his last great speech: “The Lessons of the Hour.” He used this address to recap the harvest of rage African Americans had reaped, since emancipation, in the form of lynchings, mob rule, and the continued denial of justice.
As far as his hope for America, he never completely lost faith, but openly admitted that the future for African Americans would be “dark and troubled.”
Do not ask me what will be the final result of the so-called negro problem. I cannot tell you. I have sometimes thought that the American people are too great to be small, to just and magnanimous to oppress the weak, too brave to yield up the right to the strong, and too grateful for public services ever to forget them or fail to reward them. I have fondly hoped that this estimate of American character would soon cease to be contradicted or put in doubt. But the favor with which this cowardly proposition of disfranchisement has been received by public men, white and black, by Republicans as well as Democrats, has shaken my faith in the nobility of the nation. I hope and trust all will come out right in the end, but the immediate future looks dark and troubled. I cannot shut my eyes to the ugly facts before me.
Not only did he accept the fact that the future for African Americans would be troubling, he fully acknowledged that every legislative gain that was hard won through emancipation, and reconstruction, had been stripped away, by the same white masses, Andrew Johnson had once urged him to appeal to:
The downward tendency already manifest has swept away some of the most important safeguards. The Supreme Court has surrendered. State sovereignty is restored. It has destroyed the civil rights Bill, and converted the Republican party into a party of money rather than a party of morals, a party of things rather than a party of humanity and justice. We may well ask what next?
There was a threat made long ago by an American statesman, that the whole body of legislation enacted for the protection of American liberty and to secure the results of the war for the Union, should be blotted from the national statute book. That threat is now being sternly pursued, and may yet be fully realized.
Before concluding, Douglass included several remarks, to etch in stone, his ideological position as it pertains to Africa, and the identity of African Americans. On the first count, he made sure to express his utter contempt for the fact that African Americans were not allowed to attend the 1893 World Fair, held in Chicago, as well as the shame that he felt having “Dahomeyans” stand in their stead:
…as if to shame the educated negro of America, the Dahomeyans were there to exhibit their barbarism, and increase American contempt for the negro intellect. All classes and conditions were there save the educated American negro. He ought to have been there if only to show what American slavery and freedom have done for him.
On the second count, he left no room for interpretation, as it relates to his position on the identity of African Americans (The original ADOS argument). Without hesitation, Douglass stated firmly, that Black Americans are not African, nor do they owe anything to the people of Africa:
They tell us that we owe something to our native land. But when the fact is brought to view, which should never be forgotten, that a man can only have one native land, and that is the land in which he was born, the bottom falls entirely out of this sentimental argument… All this native land talk is nonsense. The native land of the American negro is America. His bones, his muscles, his sinews, are all American. His ancestors for two hundred and seventy years have lived, and labored, and died on American soil, and millions of his posterity have inherited Caucasian blood.
It is competent, therefore, to ask, in view of this admixture, as well as in view of other facts, where the people of this mixed race are to go, for their ancestors are white and black, and it will be difficult to find their native land anywhere outside of the United States.
In his final counsel of surrender, Douglass encouraged the American Negro “to work to better his condition in such ways as are open to him here.” This can largely be interpreted as — continued amalgamation, continued assimilation, and the fight for good whites, to take up the negro cause through continued agitation.
**Note: Both Harriett Tubman, and Frederick Douglass were asked by John Brown to participate with him in the raid. Harriett agreed to do so, but, unfortunately, she fail ill before it was carried out. Douglass, on the other-hand, would not commit, and his long-term friend, John Brown, carried out the mission without him. It’s important to note, that John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was not an attempt to fight a war with the entire United States Army. His aim was to gather enough munitions for a protracted campaign of guerrilla war, which he referred to as “carrying the war into Africa.” John Brown devised a scheme to buy land as a slaveholder in the South, and to hire trusted black men to play the role of his slaves, using this as a ruse to agitate among the millions of Africans who were enslaved in the south. The guns from Harpers Ferry, were meant to arm them in the fight to overthrow slavery. When the raid failed, it is reported that John Brown expressed considerable contempt toward Frederick Douglass, for his refusal to join the campaign.
In the immediate period following the death of Frederick Douglass, there arose a new class of black political thinkers, often referred to as the “New Negro.” This group of Black political activists were much more militant, and rejected the counsel of racial suicide, that was hallmark of the Douglass generation.
Have we in America a distinct mission as a race — a distinct sphere of action and an opportunity for race development, or is self-obliteration the highest end to which Negro blood dare aspire?
~ W.E.B Du Bois (1897)
The primary spokesmen for this group, from the period of 1895 to 1915, was Booker T. Washington. Washington, who is perhaps one of our most misrepresented, and underappreciated historical figures, rose to prominence after calling for a change in political direction, while addressing an audience in Atlanta, on September 18, 1895, in what became known as the “Atlanta Compromise.”
Washington’s speech was largely a repudiation of the previous generations focus on perpetual agitation, and theatrical demonstrations, which only produced a strengthening in the will of the white masses to oppress the black community, and a weakening of our material position.
The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.
~ Booker T. Washington
Washington believed that Black people could build up power, internally, and negotiate from a stronger position, further down the road. Washington’s program for Black Power, largely focused on group economics, and the building of Black institutions to do for Black people, what the government refused to do.
Having been born into slavery, Washington lived to see the promise of emancipation betrayed, reconstruction abandoned, and Blacks re-enslaved by the end of the 19th century. He had no reason to believe that government would act, and reached the conclusion that if Black people were to survive in America, they would have to stop expending energy protesting the government for redress, and use their energy to build up the race.
I was born poor, and it seemed an even greater hardship that I should have been born a Negro. I did not like to admit, even to myself, that I felt this way about the matter, because it seemed to me an indication of weakness and cowardice for any man to complain about the condition he was born to. Later I came to the conclusion that it was not only weak and cowardly, but that it was a mistake to think of the matter in the way in which I had done. I came to see that, along with his disadvantages, the Negro in America had some advantages, and I made up my mind that opportunities that had been denied him from without could be more than made up by the greater concentration and power within.
Perhaps I can illustrate what I mean by a fact I learned while I was in school. I recall my teachers explaining to the class one day how it was that steam or any other form of energy, if allowed to escape and dissipate itself, loses its value as a motive power. Energy must be confined; steam must be locked in a boiler in order to generate power. The same thing seems to have been true in the case of the Negro. Where the Negro has met with discrimination and with difficulties because of his race, he has invariably tended to get up more steam. When this steam has been rightly directed and controlled, it has become a great force in the upbuilding of the race. If, on the contrary, it merely spent itself in fruitless agitation and hot air, no good have come of it.
While this was a conclusion that W.E.B Du Bois initially supported, he eventually broke with Washington, based on his belief that political agitation could be successful, if it was accompanied by mass education. Du Bois, like Douglass before him, believed that appeals could be made to the white masses to act in the favor of the Negro, but where Douglass went wrong by relying on emotional appeals, Du Bois would be successful by basing his arguments on scientific reason (i.e. data).
With this in mind, Du Bois set out to build the case for government action, and diligently worked towards raising the consciousness of the white masses for more than three decades. Even when faced with heinous acts of violence, Du Bois would not relent on his evangelical mission to educate white people, and encourage the government to act.
When Black Soldiers were lynched in the streets, while wearing their uniforms, returning from WWI, and the government refused to act, Du Bois refused to relent:
When Black towns were massacred by white mobs, and the government refused to act, Du Bois refused to relent:
When a pregnant Black woman, Mary Turner, was dragged from her home, strung up to a tree, set on fire, had her 8-month old baby cut from her womb, and killed by the mob — the government refused to act, and Du Bois refused to relent:
It wasn’t until four years into the Great Depression, that Du Bois would abandon his evangelical post, and fully embrace the program of Booker T. Washington, that he betrayed 30 years earlier. This change in attitude was driven by the fact that the Great Depression was the one event that finally inspired the government to act, and when they did, they did so in a manner that ensured that the American Negro would not be the beneficiary of any government actions.
The following excerpt comes from Raymond Wolters, “Negroes and the great depression,” detailing Du Bois’s response to the governments inaction, when Negroes were literally, starving in the streets:
Du Bois believed that, on the whole, segregation and discrimination were more firmly entrenched in the 1930s than they had been when he began his work for racial betterment. Consequently, Du Bois concluded that his earlier belief that “America would yield to clear reason and determined agitation” had been naïve and mistaken. On the contrary, “to some extent the very agitation carried on in these years has solidified the opposition,” and he concluded that it was not feasible to look for salvation from whites. “So far as they were ignorant of the results of race prejudice, we had taught them… There can be no doubt that Americans know the facts; and yet they remain for the most part indifferent and unmoved.”
Later in life, Du Bois would recount this moment in his development; with disbelief at how naive he had been:
My basic theory had been that race prejudice was primarily a matter of ignorance on the part of the mass of men, giving the evil and anti-social a chance to work their way; that when the truth was properly presented, the monstrous wrong of race hate would melt quickly before it.
…in other words, beyond my conception of ignorance and deliberate ill-will as cause of race prejudice, there must be other and stronger and more threatening forces, forming the founding stones of race antagonism, which we had only begun to attack or perhaps in reality had not attacked at all.
I now began to realize that in the fight against race prejudice, we were not facing simply the rational, conscious determination of white folk to oppress us; we were facing age-long complexes sunk now largely to unconscious habit and irrational urge, which demanded on our part not only the patience to wait, but the power to entrench ourselves for a long seige against the strongholds of color caste. It was this long-term program, which called first of all for economic stability on the part of the Negro; for such economic foundations as would enable the colored people of America to earn a living, provide for their own social uplift, so far as this was neglected by the state and the nation…
I began to emphasize and restate certain implicit aspects of my former ideas. I tried to say to the American Negro: During the time of this frontal attack which you are making upon American and European prejudice, and with your unwavering statement and restatement of what is right and just, not only for us, but in the long run, for all men; during this time, there are certain things you must do for your own survival and self-preservation. You must work together and in unison; you must evolve and support your own social institutions; you must transform your attack from the foray of self-assertive individuals to the massed might of an organized body. You must put behind your demands, not simply American Negroes, but West Indians and Africans, and all the colored races of the world.
Unfortunately, his new position, was a program that the Black elite were not willing to support, so they reverted to the old program of Frederick Douglass, and wrote Du Bois off as a “latter-day” Booker T. Washington.
In his 1940 Autobiography, Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois revisits his attempt at developing a program of self-segregation for economic defense:
Of Course I soon realized that in this matter of segregation I was touching an old and bleeding sore in Negro thought. From the eighteenth century down the Negro intelligentsia has regarded segregation as the visible badge of their servitude and as the object of their unceasing attack. The upper class Negro has almost never been nationalistic. He has never planned or thought of a Negro state or a Negro Church or a Negro school. This solution has always been a thought up-surging from the mass, cause the pressure which they could not withstand compelled a racial institution or chaos. Continually such institutions were founded and developed, but this took place against the advice and best thought of the intelligentsia.
American Negroes have always feared with perfect fear their eventual expulsion from America. They have been willing to submit to caste rather than face this. The reasons have varied but today they are clear: Negroes have no Zion. There is no place where they can go today and not be subject to worse caste and greater disabilities from the dominant white imperialistic world than they suffer here today.
His conclusion reached in 1940, was identical to words he spoke in 1933, when he officially resigned from the NAACP:
Any movement toward such a program is today hindered by the absurd Negro philosophy of Scatter, Suppress, Wait, Escape… They think that we have only to wait in silence for the white people to settle the problem for us; and finally and predominantly, they think that the problem of twelve million Negro people, mostly poor, ignorant workers, is going to be settled by having their more educated and wealthy classes gradually and continually escape from their race into the mass of the American people, leaving the rest to sink, suffer and die.
American Negroes today, are picking up from where Du Bois left off in 1903. Through the evangelical work of Antonio Moore, and Yvette Carnell, the American DOS movement is attempting to build a case for government action, based on the flawed logic that “America has never really understood, or figured out, how to make the slave whole,” according to Antonio Moore.
Where Frederick Douglass got it wrong by relying on emotional appeals; and Du Bois got it wrong by relying on scientific reason; the ADOS movement will build their case for government action, based on economic data, namely the racial wealth gap.
It’s highly probable that the ADOS movement has studied the use of the “income-gap” by Civil Rights leaders, as a means to urge the government to make good on it’s debt to the Negro, which is why they’ve focused their strategy on the wealth gap, instead of the income gap.
After 160 years of trying, ADOS just might be our first opportunity to educate white people — the right way — on what needs to be done “to make the slave whole
Omowale Afrika Apr 26
A TRIBUTE TO DR. FRANCES CRESS WELSING
“Black people are afraid, but Black people are going to have to get over their fear… We Black people do not see the war being waged against us because we don’t want to and because we are afraid. We are engaging in behavior designed specifically to block out any awareness of the war — our true reality. Our behavior thus forces us into the insanity of hoping and begging — as opposed to the sanity of analysis, specific behavioral pattern design and specific conduct in all areas of people activity: economics, education; entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war.”
~ Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Those who love justice must overcome their fear of death. Within the context of this essay, death is synonymous with ‘whiteness.’ Whiteness historically has represented a perversion of all things sacred: life; sex; nature; and spirit. At its core, whiteness is a way of thinking, and a way of being, that is anti-life. In other words, whiteness, whether expressed through thought, word, or action, represents a culture shrouded in death, that we all must contend with. As African people, we must face the reality that the purveyors of this culture currently dominate the planet; and if we — as a species — are to survive the period of white minority rule, we must find the courage to confront the system that presently dominates us. As a race, our domination is reflected in the gods we serve (or no longer serve), the languages we speak (or no longer speak), the cultures we value (or no longer value), and the names we answer to (or no longer answer to). While this global system of white racial domination is maintained through the use of physical force, its greatest weapon is deployed in the realm of ideas.
The intellectual architects of global white supremacy (i.e. death culture) have always been clear that ideas are their greatest weapons of war. As is true in modern warfare, there are some ideas/weapons that are so devastating to the planet, that they constitute weapons of mass destruction. Undergirding white philosophical thought is such an idea: materialism.
Materialism as the basis for European cultural expansion has led to the devaluation of spirit, and the desacralization of nature. The belief that nothing exists except what we can feel, see, touch, dominate, and control reduces life to nothing more than physical matter to be acted upon in pursuit of dominance over the material world. This way of thinking is not only killing humanity — it’s destroying the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the eco-systems we depend on for nourishment. Said differently, the Eurocentric way of life has proven so deadly that the biblical injunction of the “pale horse” pales in comparison to the brink of extinction white culture has brought us to.
Any system of thought based on a Eurocentric materialist philosophy — along with the technology (i.e. tools of death) created from said system — is only capable of producing widespread isfet. If we are to restore Ma’at to the planet, we must reassert the foundational African principle that matter separate from spirit equals death. In order to reassert African principles, we must first reassert ourselves as African people. Doing so will require us to acknowledge that existing as Africans in an anti-African world is to exist as a prisoner, for as long as Africa is held captive.
Loss of life has been the means by which our enemies have terrorized us into accepting their world order — but if Africans are to emerge victorious in the contest of the races, our understanding of both life and death must be regrounded in an African worldview. If we believe, like Europeans believe, that life is no more than the physical world that we see around us, the threat of death will paralyze us into inaction. But if we believe, like our ancestors believed, that death is simply another and superior mode of existence, not the end of life, we’ll have all we need to overcome our fear of Europeans.
Our great teachers, from Marcus Garvey to Dr. Welsing, labored in the trenches to teach us that confronting this fear, is the only way to get over it:
FEAR is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men. ~ Marcus Garvey
He who lives not uprightly, dies completely in the crumbling of the physical body, but he who lives well, transforms himself from that which is mortal, to immortal. ~ Marcus Garvey
Our healing as a captive and exploited people lies in our ability to acknowledge our fear of the system that has been constructed to imprison us. Acknowledging that fear is the operating principle. Acknowledgement of the fear will take away its power. She [Dr. Welsing] knew that confronting our fear would enable us to confront the system itself… Through confrontation we become confident and therefore powerful.
~ Marimba Ani; A Praise Song for Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Our Race Champion
If we are to regain our footing on this earth, as African people, we must confront, and ultimately overcome our fear of whiteness. Our only hopes lies in a global African renaissance, which is impossible without ending the system of white minority rule, and restoring the system of justice, that once governed the planet. In the words of Marcus Garvey, if [we] cannot do it, if [we] are not prepared to do it then [we] will DIE, and forever be known as — A RACE OF COWARDS!
By OBI EGBUNA Jr.
Obi Egbuna Jr At every phase of our struggle for liberation and human dignity, Africans at home and abroad who have courageously and selflessly fought on the front line, all arrive at the conclusion that unity is undeniably the most invaluable weapon at our disposal. One of Mother Africa’s brightest sons Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah told us all “ The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart”, in the heat of battle it becomes extremely necessary to remember the most fundamental lessons that benefit our genuine resistance collectively.
On the African continent specifically, one of our best test cases concerning unity in perpetual motion serves us well, is both Zimbabwe’s 2nd and 3rd Chimurenga primarily because on the Patriotic United Front between ZANU and ZAPU, at height of the protracted armed struggle and the Unity Accord seven years after initial independence in 1980.
As history moved forward the last three administrations of US(The Bush and Obama and Trump currently ) let it be known to all who listen that while Zimbabwe is a small country it presents rather a peculiar problem concerning US interests in the region.
Whether the regime change agents in MDC, ZCTU or the 400 civil society groups whose blind loyalty is to US EU Imperialism, ever acknowledge this publicly, it is Zimbabwe’s political culture that has always been driven by unity, that forced them to become part of the inclusive government with Zanu-PF between 2009 and 2013.
While the example of Zimbabwe takes place on our Mother continent, it serves as an example and inspiration, that front line fighters and supporters of these efforts in the diaspora can not only learn from but aggressively incorporate on the strategical and tactical level.
If there is any indifference or backlash , it will come from quarters who are not comfortable looking to the African continent for insight and direction, because in the final analysis an amputated narrative of the African experience serves as their political and intellectual blueprint.
This amputated narrative which draws a striking resemblance to diced onions or dandruff on our scalps, happens to be the engine behind a social media driven network, that goes by the name American Descendants of Slaves(ADOS). We can only imagine how Bishop Richard Allen and Absalom Jones who started the Free African Society in 1794, would feel about the name ADOS.
The most visible and vocal proponents of the ADOS are a so called African American female and male tandem Ms. Yvette Carnell and Mr. Antonio Moore, Mr. Moore is a graduate of both UCLA and Loyola Law School and Ms. Carnell is a graduate of Howard University.
When articulating the ideological position of the ADOS, Mr. Moore takes on the character of a lawyer in the courtroom, where on the other hand Ms. Carnell who has a blog entitled Breaking Brown, has a more provocative and confrontational style of communication that appears to work for her.
At the forefront of the ADOS network’s political agenda is the age old question of reparations, similar to the manner that naked police terrorism defined Black Lives Matter and Imperialist corporate greed drove Occupy Wall Street movement.
Another characteristic that makes ADOS similar to both Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, is what appears to be a deliberate choice to have political space, detached from the organized formations who developed and championed the very issue that steers their political efforts and program.
We challenge any and everyone to go back and review the articles of Mr. Moore and blogs of Ms. Carnell and find them humbly recognizing the tireless and selfless work of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, the New Afrikan Peoples Organization, NCOBRA(National Conference of Blacks For Reparations In America), Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement, December 12th Movement, and The National Black United Front. Even before these organized formations, the Nation of Islam and Africans who were in the Communist Party many moons ago, also pushed the question of reparations.
Because of our political culture takes on a matralineal character, the heart and soul of the reparations movement inside US borders was the larger than life Garveyite Queen Mother Moore, who took the red black and green flag of the UNIA-ACL and insisted it be the symbol of the reparations movement, that same flag is the symbol of what the internationally acclaimed hip hop group Dead Prez call RBG which stands for Revolutionary but Gangsta.
For whatever reason Mr. Moore and Ms. Carnell decided to yankee doodleize the Reparations question by not only dismissing the New Afrikan approach to reparations, but theoretically and figuratively draping themselves in the US flag.
When it comes to reactionary sentiments, we do have choices, you can either come out of the gate with plantation love like ADOS or wait until your twilight years like the NFL legend Jim Brown and scold Colin Kapernick for desecrating the red white and blue or Kareem Abdul Jabber who boycotted the US Olympics in 1968 over the Vietnam war but as a senior citizen became the cultural ambassador for the US State Department . Sadly this includes James Brown going from singing I’m Black and I’m Proud in the 60’s and then singing Living In America in the movie Rocky IV in the 80’s.
Another disturbing posture by Ms. Carnell and the ADOS network was to give the Pan Africanist movement a eulogy, which metaphorically speaking would be the equivalent of burying a human being alive. While genuine Pan Africanists were either angered or humored by this statement, we are delighted to know exactly Imperialism recruited for this opportunist mission.
When their appetite for for clarity and research increases, the ADOS will discover that the organizers who have pushed reparations in the streets beyond the comforts and confines of social media, gained crucial momentum when the reparations movement took on a Pan Africanist character.
Thanks to their contributions, reparations is a banner that has a home in the Caribbean thanks to the lawsuit by CARICOM and without question the efforts of our comrades in Namibia taking Germany to task for atrocities committed during the colonial era.
Cuba’s revolutionary demand for reparations stemming from the blockade is also part of the mix.
What this exposes is the ADOS refuses to acknowledge the boost Pan Africanist forces gave the reparations question at the UN conference on racism, xenophobia and other related intolerances. that took place in Durban, South Africa back in 2001. All patriotic Zimbabweans remind the world that was also the birth of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
Concerning relations between Africans at home and abroad a micro nationalist approach is not consistent with Ms. Carnell’s political origin. As a student at Howard University, Ms. Carnell was the Chief Financial Officer of former HUSA President Neville Welch who was born in Guyana, whose Chief of Staff Elsie Aguele was born in Nigeria. Perhaps today Ms. Carmella would say Mr. Welch should have been the head of the Caribbean Student Association and Mr. Aguele should have remained in the African Student Union, and only students born in the US should lead Student Governments at HBCUS.
What Ms. Carnell and Mr. Moore must also recognize is that even though the New Afrikan movement never deviated from the program of seeking five states
in the south seeking five states in the South, at no pointing their history did they consider themselves politically exempt from fighting US-EU Imperialism’s Africa policy.
Since Mr. Moore is a lawyer interested in Reparations, he should know that the late freedom fighter Chokwe Lumumba through NAPO was at the forefront of breaking former US President Ronald Reagan’s travel ban on Libya in 1987. In 2009 Comrade Lumumba persuaded both NAPO and the National Conference of Black Lawyers to sign an appeal to the Obama administration demanding US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe be lifted immediately.
One of the most consistent organizations that was fought for Reparations based in New York the December 12th Movement, has remained at the forefront of defending the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe.
Every New Afrikan Organization gave platforms to ANC,PAC and AZAPO at their annual conventions.
What ADOS has done is challenged the legitimate forces committed to reparations, to distance themselves from the frauds, who exploited its mileage and don’t understand its roots. This includes Trans Africa Forum founder Randall Robinson and Retired US Congressman John Conyers .Robinson’s book The Debt What America owes to Blacks was a national best seller and Mr. Conyers pushed A reparations bill. Mr. Conyers voted in favor of sanctions on Zimbabwe and Mr. Robinson did nothing when TAF got in bed with the National Endowment for Democracy and worked for US EU regime change in Zimbabwe.
Would ADOS tell Senator and Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and former US President Barack Obama if they change their position on Reparations, maintaining sanctions on Zimbabwe is not an issue.
A rather interesting dynamic is that Mr. Moore’s articles are archived by a website called inequality.org,which is a front for the Institute of Policy Studies, financed the face liberal imperialist philanthropy George Soros, which unfortunately means if ADOS like so many others who are eating at Mr. Soros table, their expression of reparations doesn’t consider self determination a principle to die for.
Other ADOS mouthpieces have gone as far as stating Pan Africanism has achieved nothing concrete, if nothing else, as an act of humility and good will, let the Pan Africanist sector of our movement send the most consistent mouthpieces of ADOS a box of library cards.
ADOS front runners and extended mouthpieces should know the 5th Pan Africanist Congress resulted in thirty five countries in Africa liberating themselves from Settler Colonial Rule from 1957-1960, which remains the most rapid swing towards power ever witnessed in modern history.
One wonders if Ms. Carnell and Mr. Moore would have supported the deportation of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, because the feel a Jamaican born African could not build the largest mass movement in modern times, that was launched on US soil.
If it was up to them Mr. Moore and Ms. Carnell would have told the writer Claude McKay to stay in Jamaica, as opposed to coming to Harlem to help build the Harlem Renaissance.The follow up would have been to tell Arthuro Schomburg to stay in Puerto Rico and not come to Harlem and start the American Negro Academy or build the Schomburg Library of Black Culture, or even better Kwame Ture should have not been allowed to chair SNCC because he was born in Trinidad.
This also suggests Paul Robeson should have stayed away from Claudia Jones and threw a bash in Harlem when she was deported for joining the Communist Party which violated the McCurran Act.
ADOS had better recognize the CTS which is an acronym to contributors to struggle, which focus on commitment not birth. What if Katherine Dunham and Pearle Primus didnt use dance to teach us about the Haitian Revolution or the anti colonial movement in Africa?
Every so called African American drumming and dancing ensemble, owe their very existence to that great Pan African giant Ahmed Seku Ture.and the PDG who championed the African Cultural Revolution.
What if Langston Hughes told the Cuban born African poet Nicholas Guiilen the poet laureate of the revolution I only want to work with poets of my color born in the US?
What if Fela Kuti never read the autobiography of Malcolm X, given to him by ex Panther Ericka Huggins, which made him embrace his mother’s legacy of struggle and the black power movement he avoided in Britain.
Should Cuba deport Assata Shakur and Nehanda Obiodun and tell them to join ADOS????
How much substance would Manning Marable’s book How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America coned if he never studied How Europe Underdeveloped Africa who was inspired after reading George Padmore’s How Britain Ruled Africa?
Were SNCC and the Panthers wrong for distributing The Wretched Of The Earth because Frantz Fanon was born in Martinique and fought in the Algerian Revolution?
Lastly if Nnandi Azikwe and the Osagyefo never came to Lincoln University or Edwardo Mondlane and John Chilembwe didn’t attend Oberlin College or Virginia Theological Seminary, how would Ghana,Nigeria,Malawi and Mozambique look today? Would it matter if Amadou Diallo was shot down by the Contee regime in Guinee or the NYPD?.
Let us salute that Spanish speaking African Jesus Chucho Garcia for leading the Afro Descendant movement in the America’s, which is an alternative to a social media network that implies the slaveship was like an express train from Africa to the US with no stops in between.
While defending Pan Africanism falls on our shoulders going back and forth with ADOS is not a substitute for a concrete program.
Obi Egbuna Jr is the US Correspondent To The Herald and External Relations Officer to ZICUFA(Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
READ MORE AT: https://www.herald.co.zw/fyi-ados-pan-africanists-today/