Friday, September 17, 2004

Out of Barbados: The birth of the Global Afrikan Congress

N° 20 Novembre 2002

Out of Barbados: The birth of the Global Afrikan Congress

par S.E. Anderson

Over the past few weeks much has been discussed and debated about the African/African Descendents Caucus post-Durban gathering in Barbados from Oct. 1 to 6. This is, in part, an indication of the historic importance of the gathering.

Let’s be clear from the outset: despite a frustratingly negative start and a blow to PanAfrican-Cuban solidarity that needs to be immediately rectified, the African/African Descendents Caucus-sponsored conference achieved one of its primary goals.

We – more than 600 Sistas and Brothas from all regions of the Black World – established the Global Afrikan Congress (GAC). It is a necessary work-in-progress of a developing united front of African/African descendent organizations. About two years from now, GAC will hold another international conference to democratically ratify its constitution, sum up its work and plan for future struggles towards the liberation of African peoples everywhere. By the end of the conference, the vast majority of us recognized that this is a monumental task that requires us to be principled, open, united and in it for the long haul.

Now, about that frustratingly negative start

As many people have written and spoken of recently, there were mixed messages sent out by the key conference organizers about whether or not non-Africans should attend. To a veteran radical activist white American documentarian and his Asian activist wife - who have been, with their own monies, documenting the global rise of the Reparations Movement - were told by the conference organizers up to the Sunday before the conference that it was OK to attend. These two documentarians were only interested in filming the open plenaries and doing individual interviews of Sistas and Brothas active in Reparations struggles outside of the U.S. They were not interested in filming any of the 15 working groups because they understood the sensitive nature of the content of these sessions.

When the need for interpreters was raised during the planning months, the organizers opted for a Barbados-based professional translation service that had the technical apparatus - wireless headphones - and personnel to do simultaneous translation in at least four languages. Their staff included three or four white Barbadians.

In addition, there was a young Asian male student within the Canadian delegation and a young Lebanese activist woman who had planned to deliver a solidarity message from forces within the Palestinian Intifada. There might have been about four to six other whites and other non-Africans present during the hours of debates about whether or not non-Africans should attend.

These were the non-Africans that the British delegation initially objected to. After heated debates - unfortunately, I was still en route to Barbados - and a vote carrying 70 percent in favor of expulsion, subjectivity took over. This meant that you had “security” checking you out to see if you were “African” enough to enter the plenary meetings. If Bob Marley had showed with his pops along with Adam Clayton Powell during these moments, they would have been kicked out!

Fortunately, the working group leaders encouraged the delegates to stay the course and make real the reason they came to Barbados.

Political and economic fallout for Barbados

Another aspect one needs to take into consideration: the use of the conference center was underwritten by the Barbados government, which had openly invited the African/African Descendents caucus to hold its founding meeting in Barbados. The government has a nondiscriminatory policy that we as guests of the government should have respected. In addition, because the major corporate media focused only on this issue of expelling non-Africans, it can have a direct impact upon Barbados’ tourist-dependent economy as well as its relationship with a U.S. government hell bent on smashing all support for Reparations.

Anticipating some of this wrath, the delegates passed a unanimous resolution stating that there should be no reprimands placed upon Brotha David Commissiong and the semi-governmental Pan African Commission he heads up because of the terrible mis- and dis-information being spewed out by the international corporate press.

CIA presence

Speaking of the U.S. government’s rabid anti-Reparations policy, you can rest assured that they want to kill this growing movement before it matures into a powerful global force challenging white supremacy and imperialism’s crushing globalization. Of course, there were at least three CIA agents present in Blackface.

The Cuban delegation

The Cuban delegation – and, therefore, government – was not and is not in opposition to the formation of a global PanAfrican organization or of Reparations. They were and are opposed to the expelling of non-Africans when there was publicity saying this was an open meeting for those interested in being in solidarity with and helping to form the united front of Africans and African descendents.

We need not go into Cuba’s solid credentials of supporting with their own lives and medical and technical expertise African Liberation causes on the Continent and throughout the Diaspora. We don’t need to point out that Cuba has stood behind our Sistas Assata Shakur, Nihanda and other Black U.S. Freedomfighters for over 20 years - providing political asylum for them in spite of U.S. economic and military threats and bribes. We also need not point out that it was Fidel at the Durban UN World Conference Against Racism last year who laid out to the UN delegates the logic and moral necessity of Reparations. No other head of state took such a bold and clear positive stance for Reparations.

It is absurd for some of us to think 1) that Fidel and the Cuban government have been opportunistic in their steadfast support of African Liberation as it struggles to endure a 42-year U.S. induced economic blockade and psychological, chemical and germ warfare. Remember, tens of thousands of Cubans volunteered to go and Fight and Die alongside Angolan, Namibian and South African Freedomfighters during the 1970s because they understood their African roots and the evils of imperialism grinding Africa and Africans into horrendous poverty and illness.

2) that Cuba is a “white” or “Latino” nation like Argentina or Paraguay. Cuba’s 11 million people are overwhelmingly of African descent and a very mixed group of folk. The majority of the “white” Cubans now reside in Miami and northern New Jersey. The spiritual base of the Cuban people is Santeria, a Yoruba-based religion. Cuba’s overall culture has an explicit African base that they no longer deny, but openly embrace.

Brothas and Sistas, we, as the Global Afrikan Congress, will get absolutely no respect from many of those African/African Descendents we are going to try to join us in the monumental task of building the Congress if we do not immediately rectify our mishandlings with Cuba. It will haunt the Global Afrikan Congress and render us globally isolated as a bunch of narrow-minded super-Black nationalists seeking to unite only with the mythical “pure” African.

The birth of the Global Afrikan Congress

Through the various working groups deliberating over three days, the Global Afrikan Congress began to take shape. Keep in mind, the work was being done by hundreds of African people coming out of a very wide range of ideological and levels of activist experiences. The working groups were very open, lively and democratic in their deliberations, which rolled over to the final hours of plenary debates and discussions on structure and name.

Reparations for the crimes of slavery, slave trade, colonialism and the lingering vestiges of these through white supremacy has become our centerpiece, which all our work informs and is informed by. There was no debate on this.

The task now is to 1) immediately plan out the regional meetings so that they all occur within the next three to six months working towards a Global Afrikan Congress constitutional convention sometime in 2004 or 2005.

2) find ways to heal the wound between those Sistas and Brothas who chose to leave the conference after the vote supported the exclusion of non-Africans and bring them into the work ahead.

3) disseminate the working groups’ tasks and all the plenary resolutions to as many African/African Descent organizations as possible.

You and I, Sistas and Brothas, along with countless millions of our brethren and sistren imbued with a lot of hard work and principledness are the only ones who can make the Global Afrikan Congress the real thing: powerfully Black and victorious for us, our ancestors and our future.

Mumia Abu Jamal reviews "The Black Holocaust For Beginners"

Mumia Abu Jamal is a Black Political Prisoner on Pennsylvania's DeathRow since 1982. Inspite of being under the harsh deathrow conditions, Brotha Mumia is able to get out four books and weekly commentaries both in writing and audio for radio (go to: for info on when his commentaries get aired).

The Black Holocaust for Beginners
, by Sam E. Anderson: Unlike Addicted to War, Anderson's The Black Holocaust is not a comic book. It is heavily, and expertly illustrated, yet what drives the book is the text, as raw as new wounds on the skin of the psyche. It is a brilliant telling of, not just the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but the equally monstrous Arab slave trade along the eastern shores of Africa, which lasted some 600 years longer, and lasts up until our age. It is written in matter-of-fact style, straight forward; a chilling portrayal of foreign rapes and exploitation of Africa. It shows that the trade in human bondage was a global process, which involved and impacted millions of people. It uses both classical texts (like Cheikh Anta Diop's Civilization or Barbarism ) and numerous records from the period to give the speech, and flavor of the times to illustrate how economic, political, and social forces converged to justify slavery, and exploit the labor of millions. It's not 'fun' (it's not supposed to be), but it is informative. It really is the roots of America and much of the West.

The Fight Against Black Educational Genocide Grows In NYC

By S. E. Anderson

Fifty years after the powerful impact of a combined legal strategy and activism across Black America that brought forth the Brown victory, we are worse off. The US political and economic system found ways to absorb our militancy and reformist demands because we– for the most part –wanted in to this rotten–by–nature system.

In the South, our Black- run schools were allowed to be dismantled… and most of our wonderful Black teachers wound up not teaching our children. In the North, white flight from the cities were the order of the day and we– for the most part– were uncritical of what and how our children were being taught by racist white teachers until… the rise of the Civil Rights/Black Power era of the 1960’s. It is in this era of the 60’s and 70’s that we dreamed of and struggled for POWER. Today, we need to rekindle that righteous fire to dream of and struggle for POWER. Especially the POWER to develop our children’s minds to be proudfully Black; to be inquisitive and critical thinkers; to embrace science and math….

…But today, if we randomly chose 100 eager wide-eyed Black kindergarten children from throughout the five boroughs entering Mayor Bloomberg’s “public” educational system, they have less of a chance of graduating from high school and going to college and graduating than their grand parents and great–grands did back in 1954 when the US Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional.

In fact, given the present quality of education provided for our children, this is what is happening and will most likely happen to them:

• Out of the 100 kindergarteners, only 40 will make it through to the 9th grade to high school––

• Out of the 40 who made it to high school only about 15 or 16 will graduate from high school––

• Out of the 15 or 16 who will be high school graduates, at most 6 will go on to college––-

• Out of the 6 who will go on to college at best 3 will graduate from a four–year college… and only 1 of them will be a Black man–– What happens to the 97 young Black men and women who never graduate from college?

We know only too well. Just walk down our neighborhood streets any workday afternoon and look at who’s hanging out. Just visit Riker’s Island… or any of NY’s prisons anytime. Just look at who’s behind the Burger King, KFC and McDonald’s counters for slave wages. Just look at who is getting killed in Iraq and other US imperial war zones of the world. It would be a horrendous criminal situation if we are only talking about 100 young Black men and women. But we are talking about witnessing tens of thousands of kindergarten-aged beautiful, inquisitive Black children being sent into these anti–education centers to be transformed into intellectual zombies destined to be bling–bling consumers, prisoners and warriors protecting white supremacists’ wealth in the name of “Democracy.

"We are also talking about us Black adults complying with these terrible institutional acts to render our children 21st century slaves. At the start of the 2004–05 school year we, African-American adult citizens of New York City, are allowing nearly 36,000 5 to 7–year-old Black children to enter the first stages of educational genocide, the systematic institutional miseducation of African- American, Latino and Asian youth based on the racist assumptions and policies of white supremacy that are embedded within the very structures of the US educational system. Let’s never forget that some 520,000 elementary and secondary Black children are also being subjected to this educational genocide policy.

This institutional mis–education process renders our children and our future “superfluous” (useless) to the needs of capitalism and white supremacy. At the start of the school year, we eagerly look forward to seeing our children go into these buildings of Education Hell. Sometimes we smile. Sometimes they smile or cry. We cry with pride & joy and with an undying assumption that our sons and daughters will learn and grow into prosperous men and women. We hope beyond hope that their experiences will be better than what happened to us.

Many of us either deny the horrors we see right in front of us or have fallen under the white supremacist spell that this is the best we can do because of our limited intellectual capacities. But since 1954, the reality is monstrously opposite of our dreams. For out of the 36,000 beautiful, bright Black tots happily skipping or tearfully being torn from moms or pops on that first day of school, 31,000 will end up with miserable lives of dropouts: jail, death, drug addiction, hustling, prostitution, teenage moms with no support, AIDS, dead–end jobs…. If we allow school year 2004–05 to go on as business as usual.

Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence (BNYEE) is here to say that we don’t have to have “business as usual” with Bloomberg and Klein cranking up their educational genocide machine preparing to transform our children’s brilliance into madness and criminal self–centeredness. BNYEE – Black men and women who are educators, parents and students – is here to take a stand and organize to regain community control of public schools so as to implement a curriculum that stimulates intellectual growth, critical thinking, scientific & technological knowledge, Black pride and respect for community.

BNYEE is prepared to go into every corner of the Black community to help build a mass movement to not only combat educational genocide currently operating within the public school systems, but we are also prepared to implement a totally different, more egalitarian, educational system where parents and students have a direct and equal say (as do the teachers and administrators) in the day–to–day operations of schools and the entire system.

BNYEE is a fighting organization. We know that this $12–14 billion/year educational system is run by ruthless men and women primarily concerned with making a profit and maintaining the criminalization and dumbing–down process of Black and Latino children. They are not going to give up their control through moral suasion and nice negotiations.

They have a “white supremacist” mandate to carry out… and have the backing from the governor, the US president and Congress through all kinds of racist and criminal policies including the No Child Left Behind Act that’s leaving our children behind at faster and faster rates than back in 1954.

A half–century after Brown v. Board’s promise of Black freedom and equality, we now have the possibility to unite and confront the educational genocide currently ravaging Black America in general and New York City in particular. BNYEE is just a local representation that is growing across Black America: organized resistance and struggle for education and liberation. It is ONLY You and I reading this that can fight to make this Black Freedom Promise a Reality.

BNYEE invites you to join us in this righteous work to bring educational excellence to our children. For information about our next meeting and actions please call: 718–270–6287.

(S. E. Anderson is Education Director, Medgar Ecers College Center for Law and Social Justice, and author of The Black Holocaust for Beginners)

S. E. Anderson Posted by Hello
S. E. Anderson Posted by Hello