Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Arab Slave Trade Predates European Slave Trade: 650AD to 2008

Here's a brief summation of the history of Arab enslavement of African Peoples. It is important to know this history in order to understand both the evolution of Western capitalism's slave trade and the current atrocities against Africans (by Africans) unfolding in the name of Islam and/or "Arab Civilization."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Does Not Mean the End of Racism

s. e. anderson- 1/16/08

A Statement made at a Harlem Obama Forum January 16, 2008 that was sponsored by the Harlem Tenants Association

This presentation would not be possible without the contributions of my Miami Brother Dinizulu Tinnie and Brother Maulana Karenga. They have brought some very good insights into this historic political moment in US national politics. I am a conduit, this evening, for their analytical wisdom and wit.

I don’t support anyone who is anti-union, against Reparations, against acknowledging and releasing the political prisoners held inside of the US, against a national free healthcare program, who supports Israeli Zionism, supports the continual blockade of Cuba, supports the continual use of imperial military force in the Middle East and Africa, who supports the continuation of the economic and human pillaging of Africa by way of the IMF, World Bank and blind uncritical support of megacorporations plundering Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, who continues to support a tax structure that taxes the poor and workingclass US citizen more that it does the rich and superrich, a candidate who will NOT dismantle Homeland Security, but find ways to beef it up, who is currently supporting counter-ecological policies thanx to his coal and megacorn farmers of Illinois and the Midwest....

We- as Blackfolk- have to go beyond the brother’s physical Blackness and look at his POLITICS. I know most of you would NOT vote for Candoleeza Rice for the US presidency, right...? We’ve gotten to see her beyond her physical Blackness and judge her by her POLITICS.

This does not mean that we throw our Black voting power behind a Hilary Clinton- whose record and attitude is far more fascistic than Obama’s. This means that we have to seriously rebuild our Black Social Justice movement from our neighborhoods up to a national level such that we can have a true Congressional Black Caucus instead of the current Carcass that is capitulating to white supremacy everyday.

Our political organizing energies must begin at the grassroots level and build to a national Black Political Summit similar- but more successful- to what happened in Gary, Indiana in 1972. That is to say, we must the very foundation for Black Liberation and Socialism for the long haul. And one part of the protracted building is to be analytical about the electoral politics of the US as well as the need to understand the very basics of US political economy. A politically educated Black Warrior is necessary for our Freedom.

This current one party system with its two wings is a flying dragon hellbent on burning and devouring us all. And the presidential campaign is its multibillion dollar charade to give us “citizens” a feeling of democratic participation.


The Bushites (I & II) and the Clintonites have placed the US in its most precarious position since the Civil War. Since the Bush I Era, the young educated white voters have only known some form of national security lockdown and the impossibility of having a career that was a possibility for their parents (rather, just a series of jobs). Since the Bush I Era, they have seen this nation rapidly morph into a soon-to-be-colored nation that their children will be living in. While at the same time, they have seen this country morph into a dependent service-consumer nation inextricably connected to Africa, Asia and Latin America for everything essential for their aspiring and real bourgeois lifestyle. These young whites cultural upbringing has been and is based on forms of Black culture- old and new made palatable by the Cosby Show, BET/MTV, Rush Hour type movies, vicarious Gangsta HipHop Minstrelsy and “acceptable” 21st Century Mulattos like Tiger, Beyoncee, Alicia Keys, Haille Berry... and a softshouldered bigblackmammy figure like Oprah (refashioned for 21st century taste and PC like the new corporatized Aunt Jemima).

...And the under 40 Black voter has witness this from both the inside and out... with a constant barrage of misinformation about how this country is truly Free and Democratic in spite of racial profiling 24/7, in spite of Black male joblessness, in spite of the criminalization and the minstrelization of our Black youth, in spite of a deepened imperial policy towards the Caribbean and Africa... and thanx to the Clintons: having 30 additional ways to “legally” kill a Black man.

Everybody has been fed for the past 20-25 years larger doses of anti-intellectualism and anti-history to such a point that there is no connection between what people see in today’s politics to what happened in the 60s, 70s of any century before 2000. And they don’t care to know: it’s about the hedonistic consumer NOW. “I shop, therefore I am.”

So... Obama’s rhetoric and image brings the semblance of change to millions of US citizens desperate to get out this fear-debt-guilt laden treadmill of an existence. But what they don’t know is that he is the deliverer of a softer/kinder form of capitalist oppression than the Bushites and Clintonites.

We can embrace the romance of the Obama candidacy, with all of its accoutrements of media coverage of Michelle and his daughters, and we can embrace him as the least of the evils to choose from (even though Kucinich’s positions and John Edwards’s rhetoric shows more insight into America’s real problems), and we can always appreciate just the brother’s bottom-line innate gift of intelligence, sharpness and wit, and we can also take the awakening slaps from Black political pundits like Glen Ford who reminds us of Mr. Obama’s voting record.

We might question just why he is getting so much support from the America’s looter class, but amidst all of the pros and cons and hype and hoopla, Bro. Karenga here offers the most relevant reminder of all: There just is no easy path to the Promised Land we seek, even under the best of circumstances and with the best of intentions (which might include the “miracle” of Obama’s actual election to he White House). The quest for a Sweet Land of Liberty and Justice for all is not going to be achieved, as Maulana Karenga (An Ambivalent Embrace of Obama: The Maturity or Masking of America) points out so well, by electing a nonwhite president, if that miracle were to happen, whose electability arises from trading on his acceptability to “mainstream” America.

Karenga’s other main point: the possibility/probability of a majority of Americans voting with secret ballots for a Black man, a direct product of dreaded “miscegenation” between a Black Man and a White Woman, and having, for the first time in history, a distinctly non-Anglo-Saxon or Germanic surname (which even rhymes with Osama), to be America’s (brown) face to the world, and “the leader of the free world” with his (brown) finger on the Commander-in Chief button that controls the largest nuclear and conventional arsenal of weapons ever assembled in human history, is another point for serious consideration.

It is patently defeatist to declare Obama “unelectable” because of his “race,” just as it is naively misguided to think that Obama, if elected, would be asserting or representing any kind of distinctly “Black” agenda (even the Black agenda that has always served the country well by including ALL people in the demand for equality and justice). But Karenga’s timely reminder here is that those of us who claim to be serious, daring-to-hope and non-defeatist supporters of Obama for president must be prepared to fight a monumental struggle against widespread and entrenched racism between now and November. It’s one thing to get to the Super Bowl, which, true enough, is a great victory in itself, worthy of accolades, but it is another to win it. Going there to lose serves no purpose at all, and can even be a step backwards.

In the most objective terms, Obama captures the younger, more educated and most progressive segment of the population. Some would say that is a distinct minority. Curiously, at least in the primaries, his claim to the African American vote is no slam-dunk at all, as it may have been for other candidates in the past. Calling this election is like betting on a football game. Yeah, we sure do want to see the home team win, but with our money (and lives) on the line, we need to be real scientific in our thinking-- if we intend to win rather than just contribute to a noble cause (and our adversaries’ wealth). The ironic thing about Obama’s candidacy is that it is exactly what it is: a gamble, perhaps, that America can actually hold a non-racialized election, in which the winner will win primarily because of acceptability and a willingness to carry on business-as-usual.

What we are voting for in him is not, by any means, systemic or structural change, only the same ole stuff with a prettier face, a bit more dash and charm and wit, a bit less of the rabid cowboy fear-mongering, and just a slightly easier atmosphere to live in. Slightly.

With him, an invasion of Iran is not off the table. Oil companies and pharmaceutical giants will lose no winks of sleep whatsoever, education’s hurtle down the tubes might be slowed, but not stopped, ditto for the exacerbation of disparities in material wealth, a balanced budget will remain a pipe dream on the horizon, and disengagement from the murderous misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan will only happen as fast as American military forces can be replaced by privatized Blackwater surrogates, whose cost will surely be written of at taxpayers’ (much greater) expense.

Knowing that, we can vote with our eyes open for a slightly better life.
But as I said at the beginning, I see…this current one party system with its two wings as a flying dragon hellbent on burning and devouring us all. And the presidential campaign is its multibillion dollar charade to give us “citizens” a feeling of democratic participation.

For those of us seeking revolutionary change, this stylistic change only offers us a little better/larger breathing space to do our seditious work in every nook and cranny of this nation- and especially within Black America.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Word from Brotha Dinizulu On Education...

NOTE: from time to time, I will be publishing some comments/analysis from my Miami Brotha- Dinizulu Tinnie. He is a powerful Black artists and community activist as well as a great thinker who often provides soem very good insight into our Black Liberation efforts-- SEA

Re: Effect of Culture-Based Teaching Challenged
Of course, Sam, we know the implicit irony of this whole discussion. This article might be called a study of studies done on the effectiveness of culture-based teaching. It evaluates past studies and questions their conclusions, based, logically enough, on the presence or absence of "empirical data" or, even more incisively, on the designs of the studies themselves. (One of the great scientific insights, or philosophy-of-science insights, it might be more proper to say, is the awareness that the data produced by experiments [studies] is very much conditioned by the design of the experiment; as in journalism or any other investigative field, the quality of the answers one gets depends on the quality of the questions one asks.)

Is it not quite ironic, then, that this whole evaluation of culture-based teaching seem not to address two fundamental assumptions (which might be one and the same). One is the lack of recognition that ALL teaching is culture-based; the only reason that this is even a question or a category of thought is that there has been a healthy and growing awareness that there are different cultures within the national polity, and that each deserves to be respected equally. Or, more specifically, the cultures of "minorities" needs to be given the same value, as a foundation for the education of the children who share those cultures as the culture of the [putatively WASP] majority or "mainstream." The second assumption is that this evaluation in itself is somehow objective, neutral, scientific and not, in itself, culture-based.

Ever since I have been involved with these issues (going back to the matter of Black English Dialect being used, or at least recognized in schools as a valid basis upon which further learning can be built), the same devious discussion has been with us. Yeah, yeah, you can prove that more respect for a child's home culture will engage the child more effectively in the school experience, but can you prove that these children are really learning more of what they should be learning, which, ultimately, is the S.O.S.: the same ol' stuff of arrogant, white supremacist and self-congratulatory discourse, with the implicit assumption that the purpose of education is to produce "productive citizens" who are capable and willing to contribute to that agenda, i.e. corporate profits and the bourgeois/capitalist values that are required to generate the viability of this unquestioned and unexamined social order.

True enough, that is all a gross oversimplification, but it is none the less factual for all that. My Guyanese journalist friend once stated the matter in a forthright way. As he said, "In the rest of the world the purpose of education is assumed to be to learn how to live and t live with. In the United States, the purpose of education is to get a job." The very hysteria which our government and our society in general exhibits when their unquestioned superiority gets questioned (one is "unpatriotic," perhaps even a "communist" or a "terrorist" at worst, and at best "ungrateful" for all of the blessings that American citizenship has showered upon one) has marked us as a pariah state in the world community. Where else in the so-called "civilized" world (another assumption: that there are places that are NOT civilized, by our standards) is access to such vital and universal necessities as education, health care and justice contingent upon one's possession, or not, of money (with few questions asked about how one got it, unless, of course, if one is Black or otherwise identifiably of color)?

If "education" is considered, by the powers-that-be, to be the process by which another generation is turned into effective supporters and sustainers of this status quo, then it is very plain why culture-based teaching will be questioned. Back to my allusion to the days of the Black English craze of the 1970s (which saw a misguided and confused resurgence under the rubric of "Ebonics" in more recent times), the discourse then had the same devious character as we see now. We might note that the terminology here refers to "culture-based" rather than, say, "culturally-oriented." The assumption is that respect for and evocation of the home culture in the classroom can serve as a "base" for launching the child into the mainstream. Hence the critique of studies which measure and evaluate student engagement in reading without measuring the success of "outcomes." I suspect that Hawai'ian children learning to read and being exposed to books about King Kamehameha or the greatness of their ancestors will show quite different "outcomes" than if their enthusiastically acquired reading skills, once firmly in lace, got shunted over to the drudgery of the S.O.S.

What is at the heart of this debate is the unquestioned (at least as far as I could see in my perhaps-too-casual reading of this article) is the definition of education itself. That is obvious enough, but the point here is that the definition is not being made or settled by a process of scholarly and rational discussion, but rather by a political agenda. Schools are, after all, regulated by an accreditation process, which wields life-and-death power over their very existence. If "standards" (I won't even go to the standardized test fiasco) require a "knowledge" of George Washington, Shakespeare, and Mozart, but not of Kamehameha, Dunbar or Tupac, then are we educating, who are we educating, and for what are we educating the few (certainly NOT the majority) who pass the tests and meet the standards? THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH LEARNING ABOUT WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND THOSE OF EUROPEAN DESCENT WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE THAT WE NOW EXPERIENCE. Why shouldn't all children know about that? But then, why not also know about all those, of ANY descent, who have detracted from our quality of life, and certainly why not know about one's own Ancestors? As it is, much schooling around the world follows this very model. The glaring exceptions are in the White-Supremacist world, of colonies, former colonies and in dealing with subjugated and formerly subjugated populations of different ancestry, and nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S. today.

With all the polite and fashionable rhetoric about "cultural diversity" and "multiculturalism," with wonderful analogies to salad bowls and mosaics and tapestries and the like, the underlying concern is with the maintenance of power and a social order that was corrupted and unnatural from its outset, and has only ever been maintained by an unrelenting regime of physical and psychic violence. Indian Removal and slavery were but the most glaring and visible examples. No less horrific, and maybe even more so by some reckonings, has been the brutish manipulation of the working and the "middle" class, playing on fears and myths ("race" being paramount) to maintain divisions and isolations that have ironically turned some of the most "successful" into the most enslaved. (One might need only consider the typical scenario of the upwardly mobile exec shopping his or her resume, who is judged more on the depth of need -- married? car/ house/ obligations?-- than on stated qualifications and experience because what is really wanted by those doing the hiring is control, not competition for their positions.) That violence continues today in the obvious form of a de-facto empire, with the largest arsenal of mass-destructive (or any other kind, for that matter) weaponry ever amassed in human history and an uninvited armed presence all around the world, and, more importantly, the actuality of using those weapons. But the violence is no less in its non-obvious forms, like the lockdown control of "education," despite its guise of "academic freedom" and the illusion of informed discourse. This article has the appearance of being a part of the established tradition of scientific peer-review and objective evaluation, but that tradition is in fact only one tribe's culture-based ritual, and that culture itself has been compromised to serve a psychopathic political agenda that, the ritual now dictates, must not be questioned or examined.

We got work to do..