As the Obama Administration ends, the last of the Presidential Pardons have been announced. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning and Puerto Rican Independence Activist Oscar Lopez Rivera saw their onerous sentences commuted, and they are scheduled to be released in May. But American Indian Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier’s petition was denied, and no other pardons for Political Prisoners have been announced as of this date. What does this mean for the rest of the United States’ Political Prisoners as Donald J. Trump prepares to take office and implement his “law-and-order” agenda, and what do the supporters of our Political Prisoners do now? We hope to make our small contribution to that discussion here.
The weekend of the annual celebrations of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., coming as they do less than a week prior to the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States who is known for race-baiting and bullying, has inspired a number of public comments, some full of hope in the face of struggle (the farewell address of outgoing president Barack Obama), some motivated by defiance of a threatened authoritarian status quo (the remarks from longtime Congressman and venerable Civil Rights leader John Lewis and the refusals of numerous entertainers to attend or perform at the inauguration), and some that could only be interpreted as the petulant, unhinged rantings of a newly-defensive president-elect facing a near-unprecedented wave of unpopularity before even assuming office (Donald Trump’s tweets and the comments of his spokespeople defending his legitimacy and attacking his critics). Lost in much of the furor is the significance of the January 15-16 weekend (the actual date of Dr. King’s birth and the federal holiday in his honor), except for occasional commentaries that attempt to imply that the Trump protesters are somehow sullying Dr. King’s legacy by misinterpreting his activism as radicalism.
Ms. Heather Gray of the Justice Initiative has re-released a commentary on Dr. King’s methods for achieving social change, pointing out that nonviolence should not be confused with pacifism or cowardice. We would like to add that a commitment to non-violence does not preclude one from adopting a radical political agenda, and that radicalism and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive; indeed, no matter how radical one’s perspective may be, without reconciliation and healing in one form or another, the victory is never truly won.
Ms. Gray’s commentary can be read by clicking here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: While we in the Pan-Afrikan community in the United States often behave as though Political Prisoners exist only in North America, the fact is that all over the world Indigenous and so-called “minority” communities and those without political and economic power are often marginalized and oppressed, and their efforts to have these abuses addressed often result in the persecution, imprisonment and sometimes assassination of their leaders. This report, shared with us by the New York Jericho Movement for Political Prisoners and which originally appeared January 4, 2017 on the website TeleSurTV, discusses the case of Mapuche leader Francisca Linconao, whose hunger strike in protest of her wrongful imprisonment in Chile reportedly has her close to death. She was apparently targeted because of her resistance to the Chilean government’s continued annexation of Indigenous Mapuche lands, many of which are considered sacred by the Mapuche people. For the full story from TeleSurTV, click here.
We share here an article that appeared in The Graphic in a piece initially written by Doreen Andoh on December 29, 2016, and was reposted on December 31 on http://www.theafricandream.net by Oral Ofori.
The New York City Jericho Movement has shared with us this commentary and analysis of the year 2016 from a revolutionary Pan-Afrikanist view by Political Prisoner Russell “Maroon” Shoatz. You can read the full commentary here.
US Interference in International Elections
As the US imposes sanctions against Russia for their interference in the 2016 presidential electoral process up to and possibly including the November 8 elections themselves, Justice Initiative shared with us an article by Nina Agrawal of the New York Times that looks at the United States’ history of interfering in the electoral processes of foreign countries.
As President Barack Obama nears the end of his time in the White House, the end-of-term Presidential Pardons are anticipated. Several petitions for clemency for Political Prisoners have been launched, the highest-profile of which have called for the release of American Indian Movement Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier and Black Panther Party Political Prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Two petitions in particular in support of Dr. Shakur are discussed here.
Presidential Pardons and Political Prisoners (two commentaries)
As the end of the final term of President Barack Obama draws near, the time has come for the traditional end-of-term Presidential Pardons. We share with you two commentaries, “Presidential Pardons and the United States’ Unpardonable Crimes” about the hypocrisy of the entire Presidential Pardons process, and “President Obama: use clemency to free a wrongly convicted Native American“, a direct appeal to President Obama to free Leonard Peltier as he leaves office. These commentaries were shared with us by the New York Jericho Movement, which has fought tirelessly for the exoneration and release of America’s Political Prisoners.
Heather Gray of Justice Initiative, an Atlanta, Georgia-based organization that releases regular commentaries on truth-and-justice issues, marked the 65th anniversary of the “We Charge Genocide!” declaration at the United Nations with a look back at that historic declaration and a follow-up explanation about the definition of genocide according to the United Nations. For the historical piece, click here.
On Tuesday, November 8, some of us got our wish. We were given what many of us consider “our worst fear”, a Donald Trump presidency in the United States. The thinking is that this shock to the system will spur the Pan-Afrikan community to wake up and organize itself to resist the most destructive of a potential Trump presidency’s policies. But does recent history support the analysis that this will actually wake us up? We sound a note of skepticism about the potential catalytic impact of “our worst fear”, and we need go back no further than the turn of the millennium to find our evidence. For the full commentary, click 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For the full report including statements from the participating organizations, 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?