The current controversy surrounding the decision of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to sit during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games has finally led to what appears to be a rather frank discussion (in some circles) about patriotism, truth and the country’s long hypocrisy in terms of race relations, human rights and justice. Here, we try to summarize the substantive issues in three articles: Thanks to Colin Kaepernick and Those Who Can’t Stand Racial Injustice by Professor James Smalls; Slavery and the National Anthem: The Surprising History Behind Colin Kaepernick’s Protest by CNN’s A.J. Willinhgam; and Colin Kaepernick, Patriotism and the Price of Truth, which summarizes several other perspectives on Kaepernick’s protest and the history of the national anthem, and begins to speculate on the prospects for an awakening among some of the nation’s citizens.
With police shootings of civilians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, and Baltimore County, Maryland, as well as a brutality case in Houston, Texas against a female motorist, tensions remain high, particularly between a significant portion of the Afrikan-American community and police. With the dropping of all charges against the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, and the Department of Justice Report on the Baltimore City Police, it is clear that things have not improved in the area of community-police relations. We look at some of the recent developments here.
The US Department of Justice has released its 163-page report on the Baltimore Police Department, and the findings were “damning” according to many observers. We include the Executive Summary here, and you can access the full report from the Department of Justice’s web site here.
So much has happened over the last several weeks. Murders of more Black men by police. Ambush attacks against police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. And a political atmosphere that seems bent on spiraling out of control in an effort to exploit people’s fears to score political points. We review what has happened and try to make at least some sense of it here.
At this time every year, proud Americans gather together to celebrate the Declaration of the Independence of the United States. Grills are lit, hot dogs are consumed, beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages are imbibed. The crowning moment, of course, is the grand pyrotechnic spectacle, the fireworks display that lights up the evening sky, whether on the Mall in Washington, DC before thousands of awestruck, cheering onlookers or in a back yard among the revelry of family and friends, a celebration of the “rockets’ red glare” and the “bombs bursting in air” which, whether the joyous throngs admit it to themselves or not, is really a celebration of war and carnage.
We choose to mark this day by sharing the speech of an Honored Afrikan Ancestor, Frederick Douglass, who, in his speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, pointed a critical finger at the many sins of America in his day. By the 21st Century, the United States had long since abolished slavery and made considerable progress in the areas of social and human rights, but as the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tyrone West, Freddie Gray and hundreds of the US’s Political Prisoners can attest, many of the nation’s sins remain, and some have intensified, especially in the areas of the assault on the earth’s climate and the advent of remote-controlled, global perpetual war. Douglass’ speech, while fiercely critical of the deeds of the United States, still held out hope for what was then a much younger “experiment” in democracy, but it remains one of the most famous rebukes of the hubris that US policy, at home and abroad, has largely become. For the full speech, click here.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Statement on Orlando Shooting
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | June 12, 2016 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) sends its condolences to the families of the victims who were lost in the tragic mass shooting that took place in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them during these trying times. Violence of this magnitude belongs to no religious, racial or ethnic group. ADC has always stood, and will continue to stand, against discrimination and hate crimes against all communities, including the LGBTQ community. We have worked regularly with the LGBTQ community, as they have been on the forefront of helping combat Islamophobia and Anti-Arab sentiment.
Tolerance and acceptance must be shown to all individuals, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. We will continue working with all communities, including the LGBTQ community, to combat the hate and discrimination that impacts us all.
On Friday, June 10, many Americans were awestruck by the outpouring of affection that was displayed at the funeral of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, in Louisville, Kentucky. The inspiring story of a relentless champion of justice, who had sacrificed a career in the name of peace, and who nevertheless returned to triumph, strengthened and guided by his faith in Islam. The legacy of a child of Louisville who had risen from humble beginnings to global supremacy and international stardom, and who in his later life would demonstrate that the diminishment of physical skills and abilities was no barrier to the will to become an international icon of human rights, global peace and devotion to the Creator. The example of a nation which had once reviled him, but ultimately had learned to honor the dignity that had made him so much better than the nation that had once tried to destroy him. The message that, through connection with the Almighty, by whatever name you use, you can overcome all obstacles and become a symbol of justice and love.
By the middle of the weekend, these same Americans were witness to what has gone on record as the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history. At this writing, 50 dead and 53 seriously wounded. A community, mostly LGBT, that has found itself under fire throughout history, now having been subjected to personal violence on a scale not seen before. A single shooter, not previously known for his religious beliefs (for all we know at this time, he had none), but who has now become a handy reference for those who wish to once again stoke fears of “Islamic terrorism”. And, once again, a spirituality that has been victimized by the blind hatred of a group of cruel zealots and the “terrorist propaganda” of the Right being painted as a spirituality of hate, despite the fact that “Islam” translates into “peace” in English.
This commentary was written by sports and social-issues columnist Dave Zirin of The Nation, who had just attended the funeral of Muhammad Ali, and whose words of admonishment to an often overly-judgmental nation were shared with the Atlanta-based organization Justice Initiative. We thank Ms. Heather Gray and Justice Initiative for this commentary.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
— Muhammad Ali, Jan. 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016
Muhammad Ali – RE EXAMINING GREATNESS
by Dr. William Small, courtesy of the Justice Initiative
Ms. Heather Gray and Justice Initiative have shared with us a commentary by Dr. William Small of South Carolina, which emphasizes that the true greatness of Muhammad Ali was not what he did in the ring as much as what he did outside the ring. For the entire commentary, click here.
The Association of Kenya Diaspora Organizations, Inc. (AKDOi, http://akdoi.org) is sponsoring the 2016 Kenya Diaspora Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on June 24 and 25. Fort more information on this Conference, check out our Community Calendar or click here.
I was scandalously late in posting this piece, but I could not let another year pass without including an acknowledgement of the horrific deaths of eleven members (six adults and five children) of the MOVE Organization on May 13, 1985, just over 31 years ago. Here, we have included several perspectives on what happened that day, from news agencies, activist blogs and the MOVE website. Also, check out other blog entries in this site and some of the archived issues of KUUMBAReport Newsletter for articles concerning the continuing efforts of MOVE to win justice for their family and for the oppressed people of the world. Finally, I’ve unearthed an interview I had done 16 years ago with several residents of Osage Avenue who, despite their opposition to the methods of MOVE, nonetheless raised questions that indicate that even people with some antipathy toward MOVE recognize the day of infamy that was May 13, 1985.
A year after the death of Freddie Gray, the West Baltimore Sandtown neighborhood and the City as a whole have struggled to heal against the backdrop of continues issues with crime, economic depression and police brutality. Meanwhile, several community organizations continue to hold discussions about the changes, or lack thereof, in the aftermath of the Baltimore Uprising one year ago. Nine Black-led organizations have issued a Solidarity Statement to mark this grim anniversary.
We offer here a brief tribute to longtime Political Prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, who joined the Honored Ancestors on March 11, 2016 after suffering respiratory arrest at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, where he had been imprisoned for 45 years since a highly questionable conviction for the murder of an Omaha police officer. He and Ed Poindexter, both leaders in the Black Panther Party-affiliated National Committee to Combat Fascism, were by many accounts framed for the murder to destroy the Panthers in Nebraska and became known as The Omaha Two. Some reflections on Mondo’s life and analysis of his case are available here.
On Friday, January 29, 2016, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) hosted a discussion designed to encourage a more cooperative atmosphere among the Pan-Afrikan organizations in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was named “Spokes of the Wheel” to describe a pictorial representation of how a variety of organizations with different missions, specialties and personalities might bring those qualities together into a Cooperative Coalition and this help make their work more effective for the community. A number of local organizations participated in this event, which will be followed up with further discussions about how a Cooperative Coalition can be established and some practical steps that can be taken in the immediate future. And there is plenty of room for more interested organizations to take part in this effort, which can be accomplished by contacting us at email@example.com. For the full report including statements from the participating organizations, click here.
Eddie Africa Denied Parole; Sundiata Acoli Denied Parole; Mumia Abu-Jamal calls for Freedom and Medical Care for Leonard Peltier; Democracy Now! Interviews Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3; Pennsylvania Acts to Remove Pro Bono Lawyer for Corey Walker; New Jersey Officials Oppose Travel to Cuba Unless Assata Shakur is Returned.
For these stories, click here.
It seems that hooliganism has taken over the presidential elections in the United States, and many of us who are “on the outside looking in” are adopting ever more desperate measures to try to stop the total disintegration of the so-called body politic. White racist organizations now openly call for the election of candidates like Donald Trump (whether the candidates welcome such endorsements or not) to re-establish White Power and “take our country back”, and those who seek to prevent the next race war are increasingly suggesting electoral strategies that seem to border on desperation. The days of Black Lives Matter activists loudly interrupting the campaign rallies of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (something they thankfully still do) now seem downright genteel by comparison. For several perspectives on this issue, click here.
This is a continuation of our report from the November 3 session at the United Nations ECOSOC Chamber in New York City that was convened to examine issues of structural racism in the African Diaspora as part of the UN’s ongoing effort to observe their recently-announced International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). For the full story, including statements from Black Lives Matter and from the parents of Tamir Rice and John Crawford III, click here.
As part of the International Decade for People of African Descent, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sponsored a program in cooperation with Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Nations Department of Public Education, UNESCO, the Organisation de la Francophonie, Black Lives Matter Initiative and Amnesty International USA.
As explained on the United Nations website, “The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent (resolution 68/237) with the theme ‘People of African descent: recognition, justice and development’. At the centre of this initiative is the promotion and protection of all human rights of people of African descent, the improvement of their well-being and the recognition of their culture, history and contribution to societies. The General Assembly also endorsed a programme of activities (resolution 69/16) which is to be implemented by all the relevant actors, including the United Nations, Member States, regional and subregional organizations, civil society actors, including organizations of people of African descent. The Decade and its programme of activities are an integral part of the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (http://www.un.org/WCAR/durban.pdf). As such all the relevant actors are expected through the effective observance and implementation of the Decade to further advance the anti-racism agenda as defined inter alia in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, its Outcome document and political deliberation, and the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”
An audience of several hundred filled the hall of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including Pan-Afrikan activists from the United States, the Caribbean and Europe.
The event featured remarks from Ms. Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter, as well as statements from Mrs. Samaria Rice, mother of 12-year-old Cleveland, Ohio police brutality victim Tamir Rice, and Mr. John Crawford, Jr., father of John Crawford III, a 22-year-old man who was shot to death in a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart while holding a toy BB gun. Their statements, as well as those from human rights observers from different areas of the African Diaspora, will be discussed in the next article. This article will concentrate on the introductory remarks, the Keynote speeches from Ms. Mireille Fanon-Mendes France and Mr. Harry Belafonte, and the report on racial profiling in the Diaspora from Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which effectively spelled out the issue of racism and racial profiling by law enforcement personnel against people of African descent around the world.
For Part One of this article, click here.
We have received a Press Release from the Community Alliance for Global Justice in Seattle, Washington. It was forwarded to us by the Justice Initiative out of Atlanta, Georgia. This Press Release details a meeting that was reportedly held in London, England on Monday, March 23 between representatives of the Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). If the reports are correct, they indicate that plans are being made to engineer the privatization and corporate takeover of Afrika’s food supply through the privatization of its seeds. We hope to find out more information about the March 23 protests in Seattle and London. For more background on this issue, see our article Seeds of Suspicion on this Website, and the related articles on Black Land Loss (including the BFAA Land Loss Summit) here and also on the Website of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, http://www.bfaa-us.org. And as we learn more, we will make this information available.
To read the Press release, click here.
On September 26, 2014, the Africa Braintrust event was held at the John Wilson Convention Center in Washington, DC. The annual event, organized by United States Congress member Karen Bass (D-California), brings together a variety of speakers and panels to discuss issues of interest to Afrika and the Afrikan Diaspora.
In an earlier post, we reported on the keynote address by Dr. Rajiv “Raj” Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr. Shah began his address by commenting about the continuing Ebola crisis, then discussed two signature USAID programs: Feed the Future and Power Africa.
Here, we will spend some time on USAID’s Feed the Future initiative. The stated aims are laudable: increasing the crop yields of rural farmers so the populace can eat instead of starving, so that children can play and go to school instead of wasting away through malnutrition, and so that countries can effectively feed their people instead of waging oppression and war over scarce resources. But the picture is far more complicated than that. The journey we will undertake here will delve into USAID’s checkered past in Latin America, examine the agency’s ties with major multinational biotech and agribusiness corporations, take a look at the concerns surrounding genetically modified (GM) food, scrutinize the issue of patents and food sovereignty (which is different from “food security”), and ask the question: Is this the Future we want for Afrika?
On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, the Africa Braintrust Event was held at the John Wilson Convention Center in Washington, DC. The annual event, organized by US Congressmember Karen Bass (D-California), is designed to discuss issues of concern to the Afrikan Continent, the Afrikan Community and the Afrikan Diaspora in an open forum, complete with keynote speakers, panel discussions and questions from attendees. The 2014 Africa Braintrust concentrated on a review of the recent USA-Africa Summit, in which President Barack Obama invited 50 Afrikan heads of state to Washington, DC top discuss US-Afrika relations.
Our previous article featured the keynote address by former Ambassador Johnnie Carson and the follow-up panel discussion. This article will deal specifically with the keynote speech of Dr. Rajiv “Raj” Shah, head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2010. Here, Dr. Shah begins with a brief discussion about the Ebola crisis in West Afrika and his concern for the people there. By this time, the first two Americans had already contracted the disease and had recovered after undergoing extensive medical treatment, while Afrikans in the Continent were falling ill and facing death by the thousands. He then discusses his vision for what USAID plans to accomplish in Afrika, specifically with regard to two key initiatives: Feed the Future and Power Africa. A previous post on this Web Site from November 2013 featured a Congressional Breakfast sponsored by Rep. Bass’ office pertaining to Power Africa and the open discussion that followed. A following piece (coming soon) will examine USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative in the context of USAID’s previous efforts in India and issues that have been raised about USAID’s activities in Latin America, and as such urges caution in moving headlong into a “food security” initiative that may leave Afrika’s food supply in the hands of major corporate agribusiness and thus anything but secure. For the full article, click here.
At one time in the City of Baltimore, Maryland, there was an effort to build coalitions between Pan-Afrikan organizations. The most recent one I can remember was the Tubman City Alliance, which was promoted (and possibly conceived) by activists in Reality Speaks, Solvivaz Nation and other groups.
Over the years, however, a combination of personal tragedies, conflicts and organizational inertia have plunged much of the Baltimore, Maryland area, including parts of the activist community, into apathy, dysfunction and ineffectiveness. The Tubman City Alliance, and other efforts at building a Pan-Afrikan United Front before that, would have kept the community together, active, relevant and growing.
There is a serious need to rekindle such a coalition. If you are interested in taking a hand in the resurgence of true Pan-Afrikan Unity in the Baltimore area and the forging of a more unified, coordinated effort among our many and varied organizations, then either leave a comment here or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to visit the Community Calendar to see what events are happening in Pan-Afrikan and Truth-and-Justice Communities in the Diaspora. Contact us at email@example.com of you want to see your Community Event in our Calendar. Visit the Calendar Page for details.
We are in danger of doing to the Internet what we have often done to our many meetings and conferences: “talking loud and saying nothing”, as Ancestor James Brown used to say. We are quickly turning the Internet into a vast Pan-Afrikan Cyber Talk Shop, with many speeches, many accusations and many insults, but few deeds and little concrete progress to show for all our bluster. For a bit more (but not too much more) commentary on this issue, click here.
We seem to listen to the advice and advertisements of our historical oppressors more than the warnings of our Elders, activists, teachers and leaders. Why is this? It isn’t so much because of some intellectual or moral deficit, as some political right-wing conservatives would have us believe. It isn’t really even because of our lack of technology or education. The most important reason for the continued dysfunction of our communities is the failure of our organization to model the very unity we consistently urge our people tom practice. It I the most important reason because it is the one variable that we have the power to change ourselves. Our organizations must learn the value of true cooperation if we are to survive and thrive. For more of this commentary, click here.
There have been many efforts made to organize the Afrikan Diaspora, and many efforts to bring Pan-Afrikan organizations together in cooperative coalitions and United Fronts. Too often, our efforts have ended in failure. Why is this? What has caused us to founder as we work toward Pan-Afrikan Unity? Here, we offer two basic concepts: one that seeks to establish the voice of the Pan-Afrikan grassroots Diaspora on the world stage, and another for bringing our many and varied organizations together in a cooperative, Pan-Afrikan coalition, based on a change in the way we see them working toward the goal we all share: a free, prosperous, just and people-centered Pan-Afriikan World. For the full analysis, click here.
By Nb Ka Ra Christopher—A Concise Version Of An Extended Position Paper
This commentary, originally written in October 2008, remains relevant today. Despite having entered a self-proclaimed “Post-Racial Society”, we still see all the ills that impacted upon people of Afrikan descent – poverty, crime, education, institutional racism, police brutality, disproportionate prosecution and punishment, political imprisonment, dispossession of Black Farmers and the increasing colonization of our Mother Continent by US-based multinational corporations. Add to this the fact that the racial climate has suffered in the United States because of a social and political backlash against the Obama Administration (despite its own acquiescence to the right-wing political agenda), and we see evidence that, in many ways, life for Afrikan descendants is worse than before, and the need for both external and internal reparation is greater than ever. Here, Baba Neb Ka Ra of Per Ankh Em Smai Tawi gives historical and spiritual perspective to the call for restitution and reparation from the world’s dominant superpower, one which became so largely by the unpaid labor of our Afrikan Ancestors. To read Baba Neb Ka Ra’s commentary, click here.
This commentary comes from the web site www.africafocus.org. We have found AfricaFocus to be a valuable source of analysis of many of the issues that impact upon Afrika and Afrikan people today, from Cairo to Cape Town, from Senegal to Somalia, and across the Afrikan Diaspora. The analyses, edited by William Minter, are sometimes controversial, but they are always thoroughly sourced and footnoted, and they examine today’s events in the context of Afrika’s historical and sociopolitical realities. This commentary features William Minter’s reflection on the immortal words of Ancestor Amilcar Cabral (pictured), which have been paraphrased so often that they have practically become a mantra of Pan-Afrikan organizing: “Tell no lies … claim no easy victories.”
For the entire commentary, with excerpts from Cabral’s treatise General Watchwords, click here.
The effort by Black “conservatives” to woo Afrikan people away from the “liberal” Democratic Party into the right-wing Republican Party not only leads us directly into the arms of our greatest political enemies, but it also commits the same sin the Democrats do: it assumes that Black people cannot choose our own leaders and determine our own political agenda. For the full analysis, click here.
We often perceive the many issues that plague us as we are told to see them: as isolated incidents, having nothing to do with each other and, in fact, the result of the actions of totally unrelated processes and plans. In reality, these crises and challenges can usually be traced to a single source. The fact is, we are not dealing with a “pit of vipers”, acting independently and as likely to attack each other as us. What we are really dealing with, from the United States to South America to the Caribbean to our ancestral home of Afrika, are the many tentacles of a single beast, a great octopus that envelops the globe. Find the full post here.
We often ask the question, “Why can’t Black people come together?” We were once called “the most divided people on earth” by Dr. Khallid Muhammad. Whatever one may think of Dr. Muhammad, the fact remains that he was right, and years after his death, he still is. Despite a plethora of organizations that insist they are committed to Pan-Afrikanism or Black Unity (even including those terms in their organizational names), and despite the prominent mention of the goal of Black Unity in their mission statements and other promotional materials, our organizations seem unable to all sit down at the table together and forge anything akin to a United Front. Why is this happening, and how might we overcome this challenge?