Never before in modern history have we had a president-elect so ill-informed, ill-tempered, irrational and ill-equipped to deal with the major issues that face this country. The counterintuitive election of Donald Trump has left a lot of political pundits from both parties throwing up their hands, saying, “All we can do is hope for the best.” But as Mark Wahlberg’s character in Deepwater Horizon warns the British Petroleum executives ignoring the oil platform’s numerous problems right before it bursts into flames: “Hope is not a strategy.” And based on the political appointments and nominations Trump has recently made, people of color have little reason to be hopeful. That’s why it’s especially important over the next four years that black celebrities step up and take stances to give voice to those in the black community who will not be heard by the incoming administration. Given that the country is in the throes of a civil rights backlash that threatens to undo the progress we’ve fought so hard to attain, we have to be fearless and relentless in speaking up at every opportunity.
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After Generations of Assimilation in Turkey, Afro-Turks are Fighting to Reclaim Their Heritage and IdentityBy Elliot Booker — 4 years agoBy David A Love September 17, 2016
Although this is unknown to many, there are up to 100,000 people of African descent in the nation of Turkey. A legacy of the Ottoman Empire and of the African slave trade, Afro-Turks, as they are called, have lost their language and have a renewed interest in discovering who they are and from whence they came.
As The Global Dispatches reported in 2010, while slavery existed in the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until the 19th century, enslaved people came from the Balkans and the Caucasus until the late 1800s, with the abolition of “white” slavery in these regions after pressure from the European nations.
Before that time, the trading in Black people had been limited, but then, the trading of enslaved Africans to the Ottoman Empire grew, particularly from Kenya and Sudan. Between 1860 and 1890, around 10,000 enslaved Africans were sent into the Ottoman Empire each year, a total of about 250,000 people, with many freed at some point. Many enslaved people were sent to the cotton fields near Smyrna (now known as Izmir) on the coast of the Aegean Sea. But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the end of slavery came, as enslaved people were replaced by paid servants. And in 1924, the Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established laws of equal citizenship in the country’s new constitution. Further, as the BBC reported, Afro-Turks are called “Arab,” a term denoting someone who is dark enough to be Arab or African — in a country where Blackness is often negatively associated with inferiority. These days, in light of the refugee crisis, their identity has come to light in large cities, where Afro-Turks are often mistaken for Somali or Eritrean refugees, although these Black people have lived in Turkey for generations.
“It’s a shame we have lost our African language, the language our great-grandparents spoke. Every minority in Turkey has its language – the Kurds, the Zaza, even the Laz. But we have only Turkish, and we don’t know anything about our ancestors” an Afro-Turk man named Orhan told the BBC. “After years of suffering, you hide what makes you different,” he said. “That is why our parents and parents’ parents did not teach us their language. They did not want to make us different, they wanted us to only be Turkish.”
Meanwhile, due to years of intermarriage, there are likely many Turkish people who are descended from Black people and do not realize it, as The National reported. The national push for assimilation and a homogeneous society since the founding of the republic and the end of the Ottoman Empire has meant that Black identity was discouraged. However, Black people in Turkey are beginning to reclaim their heritage and their African past. For example, Mustafa Olpak, a grandson of enslaved Kenyans, published Slave Coast, a 2005 memoir chronicling his family’s saga from the Horn of Africa to Crete to Turkey.
“The first generation experiences, the second denies and the third researches,“ Olpak’s book begins. “We have been living in this region for at least 150 years and we don’t have any other homeland,” says Olpak, who also founded the Afro-Turk Association as a means to preserve their heritage and increase awareness of their condition. And Turkish authorities had banned the Feast of the Calf — known as Dana Bayrami in Turkish — a holiday that enslaved Black people celebrated in the Ottoman era, and which Afro-Turks resurrected only in 2007.
Like elsewhere, Black people in Turkey face discrimination. For example, African soccer players have faced racist chants from fans, including some who were called monkey and one who had a banana pointed in his face. In addition, Turkey has not been welcoming to African migrants. According to the International Business Times, there are at least 50,000 African migrants in Turkey, one-third from sub-Saharan Africa and who tend to be Christian, and the remaining from North Africa who tend to be Arab. Black Africans face racism, social exclusion and police violence.
President Obama’s 2009 visit to Turkey and subsequent meetings with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan have provided an opportunity for the Afro-Turk community to reclaim their narrative and bring their issues to the table. In a country that is once again beginning to acknowledge its diversity and the contributions of so-called minority communities such as the Afro-Turks, Black people in Turkey are experiencing a cultural reawakening.Post Views: 762
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
Nationwide, the typical black household earns just 61 cents for every dollar the typical white household earns. Despite the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement more than five decades ago, there exist substantial inequalities along racial lines in America.
Lower incomes, educational attainment, and homeownership among black Americans, as well as higher poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and mortality all contribute to racial inequality in the United States. In some of America’s largest metro areas, discriminatory policy, racial bias, and a history of oppression have deepened such inequalities and widened the gap between black and white residents in a variety of socioeconomic measures.
To determine the worst cities for black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on disparities in each city between black and white residents in various socioeconomic measures. Many of the cities with the worst racial inequalities are in the Midwest and Northeast.
Here are the worst 5 cities on the list:
5. Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich.
> Black population: 15.2%
> Black median income: 46.1% of white income
> White unemployment: 3.6%
> Black unemployment: 17.3%
4. Racine, Wisc.
> Black population: 11.1%
> Black median income: 34.6% of white income
> White unemployment: 4.8%
> Black unemployment: 10.7%
3. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisc.
> Black population: 16.6%
> Black median income: 42.2% of white income
> White unemployment: 3.3%
> Black unemployment: 12.4%
2. Peoria, Ill.
Black population: 9.3%
> Black median income: 42.7% of white income
> White unemployment: 5.4%
> Black unemployment: 19.3
1. Erie, Penn.
Black population: 7.2%
> Black median income: 43.2% of white income
> White unemployment: 4.0%
> Black unemployment: 24.6%Post Views: 602
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
April 24, 2016 | Written by David Love
In this election season, as the age of Obama comes to end, Black America finds itself at a crossroads. And with the first Black president soon leaving office, the issue of a Black political agenda — or lack thereof — is placed in the spotlight. The questions that arise are whether the two-party system serves the African-American electorate, if Black voters are forced to select between the lesser of two evils, and whether a Black independent political party — or a coalition with other people of color and white progressives – is necessary as a counterweight to donkeys and elephants to ensure that their interests are protected.
At present, Black voters are presented with a Democratic Party that most African-Americans support — even amid decades-long charges that their vote has been taken for granted — and a Republican Party that has emerged as a focal point of white nationalism and is viewed as hostile to Black interests. Meanwhile, within the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders vie for the Black vote and support of the Black Lives Matter movement, with many Black pragmatists attracted to the former, and idealists attracted to the latter. But are African-American interests being served?
The notion of a Black party is by no means a new concept.
As noted by William A. Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, an independent Black political party was Malcolm X’s objective at the end of his life.
“I think this is the kind of work that we should have been engaged in a long time ago, well prior to Obama’s election as a Democratic Party candidate. We should not have had high expectations of what his candidacy would be because it was squarely within the two-party system,” Darity told Atlanta Black Star. We should have developed a party for a long time.”
Such efforts were attempted. For example, the preamble of the National Black Political Agenda, also known as the Gary Declaration — an outgrowth of the National Black Political Convention of 1972 — states that “all truly black politics, must begin from this truth: The American system does not work for the masses of our people, and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change (indeed, this system does not really work in favor of the humanity of anyone in America).”
In 1980, Black nationalists convened to form the National Black Independent Political Party, out of frustration over the Democratic and Republican Parties.
“The National Black Independent Political Party aims to attain power to radically transform the present socio-economic order. That is, to achieve self-determination and social and political freedom for the masses of Black people. Therefore, our party will actively oppose racism, imperialism, sexual oppression, and capitalist exploitation,” its charter stated.
Darity notes that the successes of past third parties have been tied to the personalities of individual candidates such as Ross Perot or John Anderson.
“Their parties were so associated with them that there was no way to sustain them when their candidacy was done,” he said, adding that a viable third party needs its own base and cannot be dependent on an individual candidate. The professor, who focuses on inequality, believes a third party is necessary in addressing the problems faced by African-Americans. He finds the concept of a party focused on social inequality in America “an exciting prospect.”
“It is essential because the national imagination is deeply constrained by the two-party system. There is no effort to solve the degree of racial inequality, joblessness and poverty, and the existing two-party system will not dramatically change those positions,” Darity said.
“One of the obvious issues is, Blacks are an outvoted minority in this country, unlike South Africa, so there would have to be coalition politics. And those coalitions would have to be carefully crafted so they would be in line with our interests,” he noted.
Darity warned, however, that Black people must be careful about what their interests truly are.
“There is a slippery slope of Black people blaming Black people for our condition. It’s what I call the Bill Cosby point of view — the idea that our problems are a consequence of our actions…which is a complete misanalysis,” he argues. “It’s not sufficient that this is anchored around Black folk. The ideological component of that party is crucial also.”
To advance his argument, Darity pointed to his research on the causes of Black disparity, including the finding that Black people who have college degrees have two-thirds of the net worth of whites who never finished high school. Further, studies have shown that Blacks who have finished some college or have an associate’s degree have a higher unemployment rate than whites who dropped out of high school. These studies are a “powerful indicator” of the problems faced by African-Americans not of their making, Darity insists.
Dr. Randall Miller, a historian and professor at St. Joseph’s University, believes the idea of a Black political party — not necessarily an exclusive party but one that “would push the interests of Black people to the forefront, and would drive policy and practice” geared towards African-American concerns — is a good one.
“One could also make the case that in terms of effectiveness, and in terms of unity of interests coming from the Black community — Black Lives Matter a case in point — doing it within the present party structure, at least in the short run, might be the most effective,” Miller told Atlanta Black Star. “There’s a lot of urgency in these issues. What happens historically with third-parties is they are short-lived, and don’t succeed. If organized well enough, they drive certain issues that force people to address them,” he added. “The extent you can mobilize public interests and support could mean one of the two parties would have to take up the issues.”
To make his point, Miller noted how through external pressure from the Civil Rights Movement, and internal pressure from Fannie Lou Hamer and others, the Democratic Party adopted policies of concern to African-Americans.
“The danger in doing so is it co-opts it and mutes it,” Miller said of movements that align with a particular party. Ultimately, he believes that for third-party politics to succeed, a “radical transformation of white views is needed.”
He thinks, however, that there is also much potential for third-party successes on the local level.
According to Vincent Hutchings, Professor, Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, the challenge for any third-party effort is that the laws as written by the two parties discourage a third party from emerging.
“Unlike other advanced democracies, the U.S. makes it difficult to form a third party,” Hutchings told Atlanta Black Star, noting the winner-take-all system in which a party wins with a majority of the votes and not a plurality.
“The people who are there want to keep it that way,” he said.
Ultimately, because the rules do not favor a third party, “the third party would ultimately have to replace one of the two parties in order for that to happen,” Hutchings added.
Although the prospects are difficult, however, he believes such efforts as a Black independent party should be encouraged.
“A case is to be made for a party outside the Democratic or Republican Party. Just as the system is rigged to prevent the rise of a third party, the system is set up as to not be responsive to the interests of African-Americans,” he noted. “It’s set up in part because of the nature of the electorate. Most of the voters are white, and given the peculiar history of this country, they are not inclined to embrace the sorts of policies that would be necessary to address longstanding racial inequities,” Hutchings said.
Given that the system will make no substantial efforts to address these intractable forms of inequality, Hutchings said, it makes perfect sense to consider political structures outside the traditional two-party system.
“The issues that African-Americans and others face in this country can be described succinctly: For multiple generations, the United States has afforded privileges to people classified as whites. We are not only living with the residue of that, but the process is going on in 2016. The issue is not one about Black disadvantage and inequality, but white advantage and inequality that is sanctioned by the state,” he noted, emphasizing the need to address white supremacy and the privileges afforded to white folks.
“That portion of the population, on balance, will be reluctant to give up that power as a rule. Whites are reluctant to recognize they possess disproportionate advantage and give up anything that would diminish that advantage, and that is whether whites belong to the Republican or Democratic parties,” Hutchings said.
Further, he believes that addressing the concerns of Black people “means taking something away from whites,” which none of the presidential candidates are inclined to do, because “it is not in their political fortunes to do so.”
In addition, the political science scholar views a Black coalition with other groups “as being desirable, though not realistic in the short term.” However, he also noted that “at one time it was unrealistic to consider abolishing slavery or giving women the right to vote. History is peppered with things that were once unrealistic.”
Moreover, there are inherent difficulties to establishing an independent Black party, which would require a great deal of grassroots organizing, funding and internal unity. As Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
For example, as Hurumia Ahati wrote in “An Independent Black Political Party: Posing an Alternative to Asses, Elephants and Rainbows” in the National Black Law Journal in 1988, the party may be labeled as separatist and not desirable for some Black people over being involved in a white-dominated power structure.
Hutchings anticipates some internal barriers to the success of such an organization. “
Other Black people will be resistant,” he contends. “Given the depressed disadvantage of many African-Americans, you understand why they cling their allegiance to the Democratic Party, because the other party wants to make things even worse. So a solution outside the two-party system has some risks. The risk is that the current allegiance to the current Democratic Party might facilitate the success of the Republican Party,” he noted.
“We also risk sticking to the current strategy. Things are bad, the Democrats are not going to make them better, and the Republicans will make them worse. So, pick your poison.”
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