While Blacks demand ‘Reparation’, Racists in USA Say ‘America for Whites and Rich only’
IN THE YEAR 1963, the then Organization for African Unity (OAU) declared May 25 as African Liberation Day (ALD), a day in solidarity with those African countries still under colonial rule and, in Southern Africa, under the odious system of apartheid and White racist rule.
That solidarity was not confined to the African continent, nor to people of African origin. Even in Europe, the birthplace of colonialism and racial oppression, many freedom- loving White people joined in the commemoration, expressing solidarity with the African people.
In the countries of the Western Hemisphere which had experienced the horrors of the slave trade and brutal exploitation, ALD came to have special meaning and served as a mobilizing force in the struggle not only to liberate Africa, but for just and equal treatment for Black people, in the USA and the Caribbean particularly.
We here in SVG first held African Liberation Day activities in 1974, since those planned for 1973 were not possible due to the virtual State of Emergency then enforced following the murder of Attorney General, Cecil Rawle. Since then, with a few exceptions, Vincentians used the occasion to express their solidarity with their African sisters and brothers, and to focus on the struggle to rid the world of racial oppression.
Today the situation in Africa as far as colonial and White racist rule has changed, but the African people still have to grapple with the legacy of centuries of foreign rule and exploitation of their resources to enrich White minorities in Europe and North America.
Poverty, hunger, disease and inequality remain scourges stunting the development of the continent and its peoples.
Thus, while the focus of ALD has undoubtedly shifted, the essence of its message still remains. This column commented to this effect four years ago, outlining that “…if one follows developments worldwide, today as ever before, there is a need for greater consciousness about the plight of people of African descent in the face of the resurgence of blatant racism. Whether it is in the form of the continuing rape of the African continent, the greed, corruption and irresponsibility of many African leaders……. or the brutal gunning down of young Black men in the USA………Black people are literally catching their……” It is an irony that almost 60 years after the OAU sounded the call for liberation and independence for African people, the descendants of African slaves in many Caribbean countries are still under the colonial yoke, subjects of France, Britain, the Netherlands and the USA. Even where we have gained political independence our economies remain under the control of these foreign powers, another legacy of slavery and colonialism.
It is in this context that the demand for reparations has been sounded.
That clarion call has not yet reached many of our people, but it is a just call, demanding that those who have profited from slavery and the exploitation of Black people, should demonstrate contrition and compensate for the irreparable damage to the development of people of African descent.
But it is not a demand that has been well received by the former slave holders, nor are many of our own people yet convinced that it is just and right.
Many of us have not yet made the connection between the development of Europe and North America on the one hand and the underdevelopment of our own countries on the other.
Many of us in the Western Hemisphere see the solution as migrating, to the USA first and foremost, to pursue our own path of economic development and so lift our families out of poverty. But developments in that country are far from encouraging where people of colour are concerned. There is in the USA an ominous resurgence of racism, under the claim that America belongs to White people.
Worse, this rampant racism, given official backing when Donald Trump was President, is now reverting to the days of open, murderous attacks on innocent Black people.
It is not just young Black men who are being murdered.
The mass shooting in Buffalo, in a Black neighbourhood took the lives of 10 elderly Black people.
The racists have made it plain that in their warped ideology, America, the home of the indigenous people of the Americas, belongs to them, White people, and that we are not welcome.
They try to popularize their appeal to other Whites by claiming that the Democratic party is trying to change the racial composition of the American electorate via immigration. All migrants, Caribbean and Latin American alike, are therefore to be regarded as people who have come to take away the “White man’s country” and are therefore to be regarded as legitimate targets for the deranged racial killers.
It is a development which cannot be ignored.
Side by side the racists have been packing the US Supreme Court with people of their ilk who are using the law to uphold the return of racist tyranny. Progressive legislation is being repealed or modifi ed, the latest being the abortion laws, and now those governing elections.
The Supreme Court has just made a ruling which allows rich people to spend as much as they like to influence elections.
So, they are telling the world that America is for the rich and the White. If African Liberation Day has any meaning, it should reinforce our demands for justice, equality and reparations.
● Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.