Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From Under the Rug : Gary 1972

The Black Political Convention- Gary, Indiana 1972

What happened? Thirty Eight years ago some eight thousand African Americans (three thousand of whom were official delegates) arrived in Gary, Indiana, to attend their first convention, which was more commonly known as the "Gary Convention.” A sea of Black faces chanted, "It’s Nation Time! It’s Nation Time!" No one in the room had ever seen anything like this before. The radical Black nationalists clearly won the day; moderates who supported integration and backed the Democratic Party were in the minority.
"Economic, cultural, and spiritual depression stalk Black America, and the price for survival often appears to be more than we are able to pay." This was the state of the union according to delegates to the first National Black Political Convention, March 10-12, 1972. The disparate group included elected officials and revolutionaries, integrationists and black nationalists, Baptists and Muslims (the widows of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X -- Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz -- both attended). They met in Gary, Indiana, a majority black city where they were welcomed by a black mayor, Richard Hatcher. The one group that was excluded was whites (for that reason, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, an organization that supported integration, criticized the meeting). Participants were buoyed by the spirit of possibility, and themes of unity and self-determination.

This convention was an attempt to bring together representatives of very different orientations and perspectives among Black people in order to forge a National Black Agenda. Despite some serious disagreements about tactics for the movement, 8,000 people united around the need to dialog and develop a collective strategy.
The political atmosphere in the country was marked by the strength of the Republicans. Nixon was running for re-election with a "Southern strategy" of appealing directly to white supremacy and the sentiment among many whites was that the U.S. had done enough for Black folks. Forty-five states sent delegates to help to sum up what the movement had accomplished, to figure out how to consolidate the gains that had been won and make plans for dealing with this growing backlash. African Americans set out to develop a national Black agenda under the theme "Unity Without Uniformity."
Workshops and caucuses covered a wide range of topics. Subjects of debate included whether to develop new institutions to deal with unemployment, reparations, national health care, and how to establish meaningful environmental safeguards. However, a big question on the minds of many was whether the diverse political forces could hold together long enough to ratify a Black political agenda.
Serious debate centered on a number of issues, especially on planks being proposed for a National Black Political Agenda. One controversial resolution condemned Israel for its "expansionist policy" toward the Palestinians. Another condemned "forced racial integration of schools." The latter measure came from Southerners who said integration cost black teachers jobs. The Michigan delegation, dominated by union members and staff, felt that the wording and the tone of the proposed Agenda was too separatist and may hurt its alliances with organized labor. They opposed, for example, a proposal urging blacks to shun "discriminatory" unions and form their own.
The document finally adopted was a very radical one, reflecting the summed-up experience of the preceding years and a determination by many not to let the most conservative forces set the tone. The Gary Declaration (which was published on the birthday of Malcolm X, May 19, 1972) pointed out, "The American system does not work for the masses of our people and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change. Indeed, this system does not really work in favor of the humanity of anyone in America."
One major issue around which different tendencies manifested themselves was electoral politics. The Gary Declaration set the tone, stating, "Both parties have betrayed us whenever their interests have conflicted with ours (which was most of the time), and whenever our forces were unorganized and dependent, quiescent and compliant."
Behind this unity resided a broad range of views, none of which crystallized into broad organized groupings. Nationalist and revolutionary forces who opposed electoral work on principle did not have a consolidated voice. Neither did those who advocated an immediate break with the Democratic Party.
There was another position which basically sought to stay the course with the Democratic Party. Elected officials like Mayor Hatcher and Charles Diggs were not interested in jeopardizing their careers by breaking publicly with the Democrats. Although many within this camp had been advocates of Black Power at some point in the recent past, they tended to believe that reform efforts such as affirmative action laws, school desegregation, and the establishment of independent Black institutions were the correct path on the road to salvation. This grouping did not organize effectively among forces it might have united, either. They also couldn't bring along cultural nationalists who continued to advocate the need to establish all-Black institutions, but were less than clear on the financial base for such proposals.
A smaller and somewhat consolidated tendency took a more centrist position. It was influenced by people like Ron Walters, Ron Dellums and Harold Cruse, and led politically by Ron Daniels. Although these folks supported running Black candidates for office, they simultaneously recognized some limits of electoral politics. Their strategy largely saw gaining political power through winning office as the path to Black self-determination. These forces advocated an eventual break with the Democratic Party, but wanted to do it in a gradual manner.
In the aftermath of the convention, the folks who pushed this line found they had few immediate practical differences with the politicians and others more closely tied to the Democratic Party. As a result they increasingly followed policies substantially less radical than the ones adopted at Gary as they worked together in the post-Convention period. One effect of this was to increase the developing marginalization of the disunited left forces as the '70s went on.
The experience of Gary shows how important such conventions can be. It both reflected the mood of the times and helped shape developments in the following years. Electoral politics did become the main vehicle of the Black Liberation Movement. Over the course of the next decade, the number of African American elected officials in the United States jumped from 2,264 to more than 5,000. Areas of Black majority in some parts of the North and South did get elected Black leadership.
Though some gains won in earlier stages in the Black liberation struggle were consolidated at the time, the limitations of this strategy have become all too painfully clear. And as for that "eventual break" with the Democratic Party, events in the '80s--Harold Washington, the Rainbow--did move a ways in the direction of independent politics, for a while. But the break never came, and 25 years after Gary we can sum up that there is a desperate need for a new and very different strategy.

[Gary was the first major town in the United States to elect a black mayor, Richard Hatcher, in 1967. That said something about the town. What happened immediately after, made a much broader point: it said something about America. White people fled Gary after that election, hitting the gas even harder after the country’s first National Black Political Convention was held there in 1972. They took all their money and all their business and went down to Merrillville, 22 miles south, to entrench themselves in a town that once belonged to the peace-loving Potawatomi Indians. (Merrillville’s approximate demographics: 70% white; 22% black, 0.33% American Indian).]

Friday, March 26, 2010

White Supremacy in Action

How Does This Happen?

In the 1860’s British explorers and abolitionists searching for the source of the Nile River and to “end slavery” entered Uganda. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. By 1888, the British controlled the country- [by royal charter to William Mackinnon's Imperial British East Africa Company, an arrangement strengthened in 1890 by an Anglo-German agreement confirming British dominance over Kenya and Uganda].

March 2010 - Proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda has sparked” international uproar.” Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the new bill would impose much harsher punishments, including life imprisonment and even the death penalty for some homosexual acts. It would also require people to report every LGBT individual they know or face imprisonment. There’s a lot of hostility targeting the grassroots people. There’s a lot of homophobia that has been increased because of ongoing demonstrations around the country. These demonstrations are done by religious groups. ~ Frank Murgishia, of the Sexual Minorities of Uganda Organization.

Sounds like some nutty Africans pushing their “primitive ideas” through legislation? Where would a bill like this originate? Let’s see....

The Rev. Kapya Kaoma, Anglican priest from Zambia: Currently, the forces that are supporting the bill in Uganda have all distanced themselves. For instance, we have Scott Lively saying the bill goes too far. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback in California has also said, no, he denounces the bill. The American conservative churches, which have broken away from the Episcopal Church, are saying they are no longer part of the bill. There is no American conservative who is prepared to say that they are for this bill.

But before this bill was proposed, they were the ones who were, in fact, in the forefront preaching and using homophobia as an organizing tool. Pastor Warren was in Africa doing his so-called purpose-driven project. He has purpose-driven projects in Nigeria. He has a purpose-driven project in Rwanda. He has the same project in Uganda. And ironically, all these countries have been shamed. They have new laws against homosexuality. His friends are Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria. We have Henry Orombi of Uganda. These are the very people who are advocating for anti-gay laws in their countries. So you can see that they distance themselves now because the fire is burning. But their friends in Africa are the same people who are for this bill.

We have a group of Americans, like the Institute on Religion and Democracy, headed by Mark Tooley currently, who is their president. This is a group which has used homophobia as an organizing tool in Africa. It has misrepresented or taken the American politics of gays and lesbians in this country and used it as a reason for them to get Africans on their side. And unfortunately, when the fire now is burning against LGBT persons in Africa, these groups are silent about this bill.

How receptive would European Americans and the Congress be to Ugandan Africans proselytizing their religion in America seeking to influence American society? Why in 2010 do Black Africans think this is acceptable?

H.Q -2:11-12 "And when it is said to them, Do not make mischief in the land, they say: We are but peace-makers. Now surely they themselves are the mischief makers, but they do not perceive."

Thursday, March 25, 2010


An Excerpt: Attitude and Business

Chapter 10-
Only recently are some of our leaders beginning to assert the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.
In his book "Racism or Attitude"?, James L. Robinson, Ph.D. drives the point home:

What is the difference between an overachieving racial group like Asian-Americans and underachievers like members of the black underclass? The difference is attitudes: attitudes about life, attitudes about values and success, and most importantly attitudes about self. Attitudes explain why some blacks are successful and others are not, even though they grew up in the same neighborhoods. Attitude determines behavior, and behavior determines success or failure.[1]

We should also consider changing our attitude towards America. Understandably, because of past experiences, our attitude in terms of positive race relations or our general attitude about our ability to succeed in this country has been more negative than that of others. This is extremely critical. The very purpose of past intimidation, verbal assaults and racial stereotyping was to undermine our confidence. That very element- confidence - is what inspires a group of people to set up business organizations, form partnerships and establish other commercial associations. It is a confidence not only in oneself but also in others. It is a mutual confidence. When this is taken away it becomes impossible to do business. If we allow past discrimination to affect the confidence in ourselves and in those presently around us, we simply surrender our economic future in this country.

Business is built on optimism. The greatest entrepreneurs have, of course, been optimists. The power of their confidence in the future gave them vision; and that vision urged them to take risks the average individual would avoid. The result was success far beyond their expectations. If our people continue to harbor an attitude of distrust and hostility toward each other and the outside world, our fate is already sealed.

Again, this is not to say that there aren’t many positive minded optimistic African Americans doing business or ready to enter the field of business, the point is that we have to acknowledge that these negative attitudes do exist and affect the way all of us do business. Our attitudes about ourselves as a whole and attitudes toward business in general do reflect a character that our people share across the United States. Once this is acknowledged we can begin to shape a more positive, productive business outlook for ourselves.

[1] James L. Robinson, Ph.D., Racism or Attitude?, p. 204, Insight Books New York and London, (1995).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spotlight on: The Builders

The Builders

Abstract Construction Inc.
Charles Scott, President, Abstract Construction Inc., is glad he's involved in the Liberty Green redevelopment project that is revitalizing the east downtown Louisville neighborhood that has been the site of the Clarksdale public housing project for 65 years.
It's a personal issue for Scott.
Because he is an African-American and grew up in a "rough neighborhood" not unlike the Clarksdale area, Scott said, Liberty Green means a little something extra to him. He said it allows him to restore an area where African-Americans have made their homes.
Abstract will pull in more than $610,000 doing masonry, brick and tile work for the first phase of the Liberty Green project alone.

SLR Contracting & Service Company, Inc.

SLR's extensive experience in diverse sectors of the construction industry has made this company one of the contractors of choice in New York State. Federal, State and Local Government organizations, medical facilities, churches and schools are at the top of a growing list of sectors SLR provides service to. SLR is a member of the LPCiminelli Construction team in Buffalo, New York that is helping to oversee the $1 billion, 10-year Buffalo Public Schools renovation project. Headquartered in Buffalo, New York, with regional offices in Watertown, New York and Springville, New York, SLR has shown steady growth each year.

Sundra L. Ryce is the President and CEO of SLR Contracting & Service Company, Inc., a general construction company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. SLR Contracting & Service Company, Inc. (SLR) is a full service general construction company specializing in all facets of commercial construction including renovation projects and new construction as well as construction management and design build work. The company was established by Sundra L. Ryce in 1996 to provide quality work and exemplary customer service in the construction industry. The company's motto is "Experience The Difference." Under Ms. Ryce's leadership, SLR has developed into an innovative and competitive construction company. Since its inception, SLR has expanded to include construction services covering many geographical regions throughout New York State and beyond. Ms. Ryce oversees all functions of the business including construction operations, strategic planning, sales and marketing, human resources, customer service, finance and negotiations.
SLR's extensive experience in diverse sectors of the construction industry has made this company one of the contractors of choice in New York State. Federal, State and Local Government organizations, medical facilities, churches and schools are at the top of a growing list of sectors SLR provides service to. SLR is a member of the LPCiminelli Construction team in Buffalo, New York that is helping to oversee the $1 billion, 10-year Buffalo Public Schools renovation project.
H.J. Russell & Company
Herman J. Russell: master builder: this entrepreneur built a construction empire brick by brick while reshaping the Atlanta skyline.
For over 50 years, H.J. Russell & Company has been a leader in the construction and real estate development industry. Recognized as the single largest MBE real estate firm in the country, H.J. Russell & Company offers a comprehensive range of services including: Real Estate Development, Program Management, Construction, and Property Management. From inception to completion, the firm's guiding philosophy is to build projects that deliver against the highest standards of excellence.

Its projects Include:

City of Atlanta Department of Aviation
Location: Atlanta, GeorgiaCompletion: 2010 (in progress)Budget: $5,400,000,000

Location: Detoit, Michigan Completed: December 1998 Budget: $19,300,000Square Footage: 370,000 SF Architect: Hamilton Anderson Associates, Inc.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Famous Racists in History: Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Still hailed as one of the greatest figures in the history of human thought. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) forever changed the way we look at nature and at ourselves. However, Darwin authored some very disturbing, irresponsible work; or put frankly, Darwin was racist. In fact,  he was literally one of the chief racists of the 19th Century. 

From his own journal in Chapter One we have read where Darwin regarded the Indians of South America as little better than beasts that should be slaughtered to make way for better grazing land for cattle. [From The Nebulous Hypothesis: A Study of the Philosophicaland Historical Implications ofDarwinian Theory © 1996 James M. Foard]

Darwin said that his "general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings . . . let the strongest live and the weakest die" also applied to the various races of man, and he saw "beneficial" results coming from a race war between the different races, or what he called later on in the same chapter the "sub-species" of man, with one race surviving and one race being exterminated.

"At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaafhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his meanest allies will be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla."Charles Darwin ~ "The Descent of Man" 1871

Darwin valued European civilization and saw colonization as spreading its benefits, with the sad but inevitable effect of extermination of savage peoples who did not become civilized.

1 [Barta, Tony (2 June 2005). "Mr Darwin's shooters: on natural selection and the naturalizing of genocide". Patterns of Prejudice, Volume 39, Issue 2. Routledge. pp. 116–137.]

Chapter Seven of the Descent, On the Races of Man: On the Extinction of the Races of Man: "The partial or complete extinction of many races of man is historically known . . . Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race . . .the contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and absorption . . .When civilized nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race." ~Darwin

Compare the above with 10th chapter of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: "Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and that his existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife . . .where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed, one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings . . . let the strongest live and the weakest die."

More problematic is the realization that Darwin, without any credit given, formulated his ideas based on a work published 1000 years earlier by an Ethiopian Islamic scholar in Iraq named Al-Jahiz. Al-Jahiz was an Arabic prose writer and author of works on Arabic literature, biology, zoology, history, early Islamic philosophy, Islamic psychology and Mu'tazili theology. Kitab al-Hyawan (The Book of Animals), written by Al Jahiz in the 9th century, states:

“Animals engage in a struggle for existence [and] for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed…Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to [their] offspring.”

(In a scientific forum it was claimed: “My history teacher in college told us that when she went herself to the British National Library, there was only one copy of al-Jahiz's work in their collection. Eager to read it for herself, she went to the shelf, but it was missing. Upon checking, she discovered that the last person to check out the book was Charles Darwin - who never returned it... It is quite possibly one of the most profound plagiarisms of history.” ) [This should be verified.]

Monday, March 22, 2010

Is Hip Hop Good For Black People?

Rolling Stone Magazine: You are well-known for proclaiming that “rap music is black America’s CNN.” Do you still feel that way?

Chuck D: “When I said it was black America's CNN, that was 1988…”

A critical chapter in the book Inner Civilization is entitled “Best Interests”. It is presented as a guiding principle that would help us better navigate our way in America. It states that we can determine our overall best interests by… “looking for the benefit in any plan or activity we undertake and weigh it against forseeable detriment. Benefit can be defined as our own physical, spiritual, and mental well being, both individually and collectively.”( Inner Civilization. p.133)

Let’s apply this to Hip Hop. Of course everything has its good and bad elements. Nothing is entirely perfect. There are also those who exploit and abuse something that initially begins well. (Look at the history of religion for example.) But the question is, with 30 years worth of hindsight and a well documented record of its effects at our disposal - has Hip Hop been good for black people overall? Can we determine how it has helped our schools or education, our relationships or our understanding of history?

Has it given us a better insight to our surroundings? How many people has it enriched? How many has it impoverished. Is it just about having "fun"? Was it designed to be good and then went bad? Did it have the necessary elements designed to be helpful to us? Is it just music?

Without question Hip hop has been successful and no one is questioning whether or not it is part of black culture as is gospel, blues or the oral tradition. The question here is different. The question is whether Hip Hop good for black people. Is it in our best interests to support it wholeheartedly?

"Often Hip Hop seems like a beautiful crib but inside it’s just nasty. No woman would want to live there." ~ Chuck D

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Black Child's Pledge

A post from the sixties; still relevant? still valuable? What might be changed?
Black Child's Pledge

"I pledge allegiance to my Black People. I pledge to develop my mind and body to the greatest extent possible. I will learn all that I can in order to give my best to my People in their struggle for liberation. I will keep myself physically fit, building a strong body free from drugs and other substances which weaken me and make me less capable of protecting myself, my family and my Black brothers and sisters. I will unselfishly share my knowledge and understanding with them in order to bring about change more quickly. I will discipline myself to direct my energies thoughtfully and constructively rather than wasting them in idle hatred. I will train myself never to hurt or allow others to harm my Black brothers and sisters for I recognize that we need every Black Man, Woman, and Child to be physically, mentally and psychologically strong. These principles I pledge to practice daily and to teach them to others in order to unite my People."

The Black Panther, October 26, 1968
by Shirley Williams

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The God of Our Choosing

"We will be well on our way as a people when an African leader will boldly and unapologetically pray to an African God in public." ~ John Henrik Clarke

Is this true? What did John Henrick Clarke mean by this? Is this more of an affirmation of self determination? Can black people around the world get behind this? Have our sensibilities changed to where we don't see "God" as necessarily of African or any other ethnic origin?
What about Amun - the Egpytian/ Nubian God who was considered hidden and unseen yet manifest throughout all creation?
How many among us still believe Jesus was white? How many of us still believe Jesus was God? If we believe Jesus was God and that he was black wouldn't we be praying to an African God anyway?
Are we even supposed to be praying to a God of our own making?

The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the pine in the forest to be nourished by the rain. It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god."

Isaiah 44:13-17.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"The God of Our Time"

How The South Really Lost the War

The Southern states made an impressive effort in military terms, but in the end it was as much a lack of money that did them in as it was lack of industrial capacity or manpower. In the beginning of the war, since the Confederate Treasury did not have a pre-existing system of taxation, they largely paid for its army by selling bonds to its own citizens in the form of two large loans for $15 million and $100 million.
As you might imagine, these bonds were purchased more out of a sense of duty and loyalty than they were for their credit quality.
A big problem was the limited amount of liquid capital in the South, with its many self-contained farms and relatively small towns. To survive, the Confederacy turned to the Rothschild’s of Europe. The Rothschild’s were clearly the world’s greatest financial dynasty of the time and their financial influence helped Wellington beat Napoleon at Waterloo.

"Money is the god of our time," declared the German poet Heinrich Heine in 1841, "and Rothschild is his prophet."
The South hoped they would help them raise the money to do the same. In the end, the Rothschilds decided not to back the South. Why? Maybe it was they felt a general distaste for the institution of slavery (although Soloman De Rothschild’s [above] views on the conflict between the North and the South were decidedly pro-Confederate and his letters urged his cousin to use all his family's influence to gain the recognition of the Confederacy by the European powers), or, more likely, it was the sense that the Confederacy was not a good credit risk. Afterall, Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy's President had openly advocated the repudiation of State debts when he was a US Senator.

When the Confederacy tried to sell conventional bonds in the European markets, investors showed little interest. But the South had something of great value as collateral that the British textile industry desperately wanted – cotton.
Cotton was the key to the Confederate economy and their largest export. They came up with the idea of using the South’s cotton crop as collateral for a new kind of bond backed by cotton. When a small French firm started issuing cotton-backed bonds on the South’s behalf, the response in London and Amsterdam (then the financial centers of the world) was very positive.
The great thing about the bonds was that they had a 7 percent coupon and 20-year maturity, but could be converted into cotton at the pre-war price of six pence a pound.
Despite the South’s military setbacks, these bonds largely retained their value because of the ability to convert to cotton. In 1860, more than 80 percent of the cotton imported by the British textile industry came from the southern U.S. The Confederate leaders thought they could use this as leverage to bring Britain into the war on their side.

To increase the pressure, they imposed an embargo on all cotton exports to England. The effects were devastating and cotton prices soared over 400 percent, forcing many of the mills out of business. By 1862, half the workforce in the British cotton mills had been laid off. Not only did the embargo cause unemployment, hunger and riots in England, the higher cotton prices drove up the value of the South’s cotton bonds.
The South’s ability to manipulate the bond market depended on one main condition; that investors could take physical possession of the cotton collateral if the South failed to make interest payments. But collateral is only good if you can get your hands on it. And that is why the fall of New Orleans in April 1862 was the real turning point of the war.
With the South’s main port in Union hands, any investor who wanted to take possession of Southern cotton would have to run the Union’s naval blockade going in and then out. Obviously, that was not a very attractive option.
If the South had managed to hold on to New Orleans until the cotton harvest had been shipped to England, they might have managed to sell more than $3 million pounds of cotton bonds in London alone and would have been able to finance the war effort.
As it turned out, most investors dismissed the bonds as wildly speculative. The South had overplayed its hand. They had turned off the cotton tap, but then lost the ability to turn it back on. By 1863, the British cotton mills had found new sources of cotton in China, Egypt and India, and investors were rapidly losing faith in the South’s cotton bonds.
The consequences for the South were disastrous. The Confederate government was forced to print over $1.7 billion worth of unbacked paper dollars to pay for the war. (That was when a billion was still a lot of money.)
Actually, both sides in the Civil War had to print money, but by the end of the war the Union’s dollars were still worth about 50 cents in gold, while the Confederacy’s were worth just one cent.
Those who had invested in Confederate bonds ended up losing everything, since the victorious North pledged not to honor the debts of the South. The Rothschilds had been proven right.

~Niall Ferguson

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


As human beings, we want to be viewed that way. We want people to get us. We would like them to understand our thoughts, feelings, desires, hopes- our humor, our talents and concerns. Naturally, to assert our humanity we represent ourselves to the world as unique individuals. But can we be wholly human without being able to fully identify and assert ourselves collectively as well?
Is part of our complete humanity linked to being a people?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kwame Nkrumah on Imperialism

The first African statesman to achieve world recognition, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), became president of the new Republic of Ghana in 1960. He campaigned ceaselessly for African solidarity and for the liberation of southern Africa from white settler rule. His greatest achievement was to win the right of black peoples in Africa to determine their own destiny.

Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism - Kwame Nkrumah (1965) :

"In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.
Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.

Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy? If General de Gaulle is ‘defecting’ from U.S. monopoly control, what interpretation can be placed on his ‘experiments’ in the Sahara desert, his paratroopers in Gabon, or his trips to Cambodia and Latin America?
Lurking behind such questions are the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus. And its suction cups and muscular strength are provided by a phenomenon dubbed ‘The Invisible Government’, arising from Wall Street’s connection with the Pentagon and various intelligence services. I quote:
‘The Invisible Government ... is a loose amorphous grouping of individuals and agencies drawn from many parts of the visible government. It is not limited to the Central Intelligence Agency, although the CIA is at its heart. Nor is it confined to the nine other agencies which comprise what is known as the intelligence community: the National Security Council, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, Army Intelligence, Navy Intelligence and Research, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
‘The Invisible Government includes also many other units and agencies, as well as individuals, that appear outwardly to be a normal part of the conventional government. It even encompasses business firms and institutions that are seemingly private.
‘To an extent that is only beginning to be perceived, this shadow government is shaping the lives of 190,000,000 Americans. An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite direction.

‘This Invisible Government is a relatively new institution. It came into being as a result of two related factors: the rise of the United States after World War II to a position of pre-eminent world power, and the challenge to that power by Soviet Communism...
‘By 1964 the intelligence network had grown into a massive hidden apparatus, secretly employing about 200,000 persons and spending billions of dollars a year.
[The Invisible Government, David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, Random House, New York, 1964.]

And with what aim have these innumerable incidents occurred? The general objective has been mentioned: to achieve colonialism in fact while preaching independence.

On the economic front, a strong factor favouring Western monopolies and acting against the developing world is inter-national capital’s control of the world market, as well as of the prices of commodities bought and sold there. From 1951 to 1961, without taking oil into consideration, the general level of prices for primary products fell by 33.l per cent, while prices of manufactured goods rose 3.5 per cent (within which, machinery and equipment prices rose 31.3 per cent). In that same decade this caused a loss to the Asian, African and Latin American countries, using 1951 prices as a basis, of some $41,400 million. In the same period, while the volume of exports from these countries rose, their earnings in foreign exchange from such exports decreased.
While capital worth $30,000 million was exported to some fifty-six developing countries between 1956 and 1962, ‘it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than £15,000 million.

Still another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as ‘multilateral aid’ through international organisations: the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-national Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as the World Bank), the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having U.S. capital as their major backing. These agencies have the habit of forcing would-be borrowers to submit to various offensive conditions, such as supplying information about their economies, submitting their policy and plans to review by the World Bank and accepting agency supervision of their use of loans.

Perhaps one of the most insidious methods of the neo-colonialists is evangelism. Following the liberation movement there has been a veritable riptide of religious sects, the overwhelming majority of them American. Typical of these are Jehovah’s Witnesses who recently created trouble in certain developing countries by busily teaching their citizens not to salute the new national flags. ‘Religion’ was too thin to smother the outcry that arose against this activity, and a temporary lull followed. But the number of evangelists continues to grow.

The United States sought, and still seeks, with considerable success, to co-ordinate on the basis of its own strategy the propaganda activities of all Western countries. In October 1961, a conference of NATO countries was held in Rome to discuss problems of psychological warfare. It appealed for the organisation of combined ideological operations in Afro-Asian countries by all participants.
In May and June 1962 a seminar was convened by the U.S. in Vienna on ideological warfare. It adopted a secret decision to engage in a propaganda offensive against the developing countries along lines laid down by the U.S.A. It was agreed that NATO propaganda agencies would, in practice if not in the public eye, keep in close contact with U.S. Embassies in their respective countries.

Among instruments of such Western psychological warfare are numbered the intelligence agencies of Western countries headed by those of the United States ‘Invisible Government’. But most significant among them all are Moral Re-Armament QARA), the Peace Corps and the United States Information Agency (USIA).

Such is the catalogue of neo-colonialism’s activities and methods in our time. Upon reading it, the faint-hearted might come to feel that they must give up in despair before such an array of apparent power and seemingly inexhaustible resources.
Fortunately, however, history furnishes innumerable proofs of one of its own major laws; that the budding future is always stronger than the withering past. This has been amply demonstrated during every major revolution throughout history.

Neo-colonialism is not a sign of imperialism’s strength but rather of its last hideous gasp. It testifies to its inability to rule any longer by old methods. Independence is a luxury it can no longer afford to permit its subject peoples, so that even what it claims to have ‘given’ it now seeks to take away.
This means that neo-colonialism can and will be defeated. How can this be done?
Thus far, all the methods of neo-colonialists have pointed in one direction, the ancient, accepted one of all minority ruling classes throughout history — divide and rule.
Quite obviously, therefore, unity is the first requisite for destroying neo-colonialism. Primary and basic is the need for an all-union government on the much divided continent of Africa. Along with that, a strengthening of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation and the spirit of Bandung is already under way. To it, we must seek the adherence on an increasingly formal basis of our Latin American brothers.

And the preconditions for all this, to which lip service is often paid but activity seldom directed, is to develop ideological clarity among the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, pro-liberation masses of our continents. They, and they alone, make, maintain or break revolutions.
Bolstered with ideological clarity, organisations, closely linked with the ruling parties where liberatory forces are in power, will prove that neo-colonialism is the symptom of imperialism’s weakness and that it is defeatable. For, when all is said and done, it is the so-called little man, the bent-backed, exploited, malnourished, blood-covered fighter for independence who decides. And he invariably decides for freedom."
Just four months after the release of his book on neo-colonialism, Nkrumah was overthrown on Feb. 24, 1966, by a coup d’etat led by lower-level military officers and police in Ghana while he was away on a state visit to Vietnam. Declassified National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency documents exist providing evidence of United States government involvement in the overthrow. (See http://www.seeingblack.com/x060702/nkrumah.shtml).
Following this, Nkrumah would never again return to Ghana, but nevertheless he continued to push for his vision of African unity from elsewhere. In particular he spent much of his exile in Conakry, Guinea, where he was the guest of Ahmed Sékou Touré, who made him honorary co-president of Guinea. He spent his time reading, writing, corresponding, gardening, and entertaining guests.

"Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world...I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African people, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Falasha

Deut. 7:6-8 "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth...because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers..."
The Falasha
also known as Beta Israel or the "House of Israel", are the last of the remnants of the children of Israel (Jacob). They are also known as Falasha (Amharic for "Exiles" or "Strangers") by non-Jewish Ethiopians. Based on the ninth century stories of Eldad ha-Dani (the Danite), the tribe of Dan attempted to avoid the civil war in the Kingdom of Israel between Solomon's son Rehoboam and Jeroboam the son of Nebat, by resettling in Egypt. From there they moved southwards up the Nile into Ethiopia, and the Beta Israel are descended from these Danites. DNA evidence now corrobrates this. (See, 2012 study by geneticist Harry Ostrer, Einstein College of Med. N.Y.)"
The religion of the Falashas is a modified form of Mosaic Judaism unaffected generally by postbiblical developments.The Falashas retain animal sacrifice. They celebrate scriptural and nonscriptural feast days, although the latter are not the same as those celebrated by other Jewish groups. One of the Falasha nonscriptural feast days, for example, is the Commemoration of Abraham.

The holiest work is the Torah — Orit. All the holy writings, including the Torah, are handwritten on parchment pages. The rest of the Prophets and the Hagiographa are of secondary importance. The language of their holy writings is Ge'ez. The Beta Israel possess several other books, including the Arde'et, Acts of Moses, Apocalypse of Gorgorios, Meddrash Abba Elija, and biographies of the nation's forebears.

The center of Falasha religious life is the (Mesgid) masjid
or "mosque." (Literally house of prostration). They were not familiar with the term synagogue, (from Greek: συναγωγή, transliterated synagogē, "assembly". The Beta Israel have a unique holiday, known as Sigd on the 29th of Cheshvan. Sigd or Seged is derived from the Semitic root, meaning "to bow or prostrate oneself." Sigd celebrates the giving of the Torah and the return from exile in Babylonia to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. Beta Israel tradition holds that Sigd commemorates Ezra's proclamation against the Babylonian wives (Ezra 10:10-12). In Ethiopia, the Sigd is celebrated on hilltops outside villages.

(left) Esti Mamo an Israeli model - a member of Israel's Falasha community of Ethiopian ""Jewry".

The Falasha and Rabbinic Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism is the mainstream religious system of post-diaspora Judaism. It evolved after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE (Centuries after the tribes of Dan, Benjamin and Judah migrated out of Israel) by the Roman Empire, when it became impossible to practice the religious customs and ritual animal sacrifices that were at that time central to Jewish observance. It is based on oral law codified in the Mishna and Gemarah, and is interpreted in Rabbinic literature detailing subsequent rabbinic decisions and writings. Rabbinic Jewish literature is predicated on the belief that the Written Law cannot be properly understood without recourse to the Mishnah.

Rabbi David ben Zimra, 1479 – 1573:

"But those Jews who come from the land of Cush are without doubt from the tribe of Dan, and since they did not have in their midst sages who were masters of the tradition, they clung to the simple meaning of the Scriptures. If they had been taught, however, they would not be irreverent towards the words of our sages, so their status is comparable to a Jewish infant taken captive by non-Jews … And even if you say that the matter is in doubt, it is a commandment to redeem them."

Shlomo Auerbach. (left)

Some Ashkenazi** circles, placed a "halakhic safek" (doubt) over the Jewishness of the Beta Israel. Such dissenting voices include Rabbies Elazar Shach, Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and Moshe Feinstein.

(**Ashkenazi Jews, are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland in the west of Germany. The Ashkenazi Jews developed a distinct culture and liturgy influenced, to varying degrees, by interaction with surrounding peoples, predominantly Germans, Austrians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Kashubians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Belarusians, and Russians.These European Jews make up 82% of Jews worldwide. See; https://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html)

In the 1970s and early 80s the Beta Israel were forced to undergo a modified conversion ceremony involving immersion in a ritual bath, a declaration accepting Rabbinic law, and, for men, a "symbolic recircumcision". Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira later waived the "symbolic recircumcision" demand, which is only required when the halakhic doubt is significant.

Isaiah.11[11] "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Nubia, and from Cush..."

The Falashas themselves say that they are direct descendants from the family of Abraham. Terah, Abraham's father, came from the land of Ur of the Chaldees which was located in the southern part of the Euphrates. The Chaldees were one of many Kushite tribes of the region and Kushite means Black according to the Bibical dictionary. Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833),an English expert on antiquities remarked in his book Anacalypsis;"The Chaldees were originally Negroes."