This article’s caption is taken from Madi Jobarteh’s Facebook article on the situation in Ferguson USA. His brilliant exposé on the African American problem and how to deal with it provoked my thoughts on the constant dehumanisation of Africans where ever they may live in this world. His analyses, some of which I share, bring to memory the Africa study circles we had back in the old days at the Pan-African Forum – The Gambia bureau.
Let me also manifest my support for the worldwide movement call for justice and rejection of the racist jury’s verdict of the recent incident in Ferguson. Civil disobedience is mob justice. All people of conscience should continue to speak the language of the street not only in demand for justice for the African American community but also the struggle should be directed towards the destruction of America’s racist state structure.
What is happening to the African American community requires a thorough interrogation of history so that we can comprehend its nature and scope and proffer solutions. This is essential because history is not merely a collection of past events. It is a foundation which helps us to understand what happened yesterday to give birth to today, it also enables us to critically study what is happening today to be able to architect the future. Much more if you talk about history, you are telling someone’s story; here we talk about the American story or should I say the European American story.
The African-American challenge
For many, 1777 began the American story with the declaration of independence after a war fought to gain freedom from British imperialism set the stage for liberty, dignity and prosperity. Well, I will not say much on this partial fact of history because every revolution has a right to speak well of itself. After all, one of the most critical test for any revolutionary theory is its ability to clearly identify social pitfalls and define solutions, in addition to consciousness of its existence as an ideology for collective action.
But this story is for another day just that I have to say plainly that this version of the American story is a half-truth. What is hidden from public view and needs to be told is that European Americans have long before 1777 worked in hidden but constant manner to prepare a society that will give them dominance no matter the cost and it was greed for wealth driven by an absolute few hungry for control that authored the so-called war of independence.
I began with this point because it is the basis to critically comprehend and be able to subject to scrutiny the years and generations that make the history of America. It is also the gateway to connect the dots to what is happening to the African American community. Slavery and lynching are good samples of the brutality and injustice of the American state structure and its effect is common knowledge. There is no need to debate them here. But it will be for comparative reasons, good to look at the African American relation to the European American from a historical view point. The object is to look at a social relationship premised on injustice for a solution.
Throughout history, their kidnapping, displacement, and bondage in slavery, African-Americans were historically and completely deprived of such intangible, priceless, and irreplaceable virtues as their names, languages, families, traditions, history, and entire culture, which they would have normally preserved, from their noble African origins and heritage dating from antiquity.
The prevalence of racism has also caused centuries of harm via evil attitudes and behaviour, including psychological abuse, vicious physical attacks and stress related diseases, which has brought about among African-Americans a lamentable and debilitating condition known as Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) or the ‘slave mentality’, a condition resulting from Africans Americans being socialised in an oppressive European system, intentionally designed to divide and conquer them; most noticeable when African-Americans attempt to work collectively to establish means for group progress.
Until today, systematic injustice, suppression, and outright bigotry supposedly reduced or eliminated in fact persist in America, repeatedly and consistently causing massive pain, suffering and death among African Americans, depriving them of their constitutional rights, and also depriving them of any chance of group prosperity.
In short, this is the reality of the African American. America is over three centuries old, yet inter racial relationship is still punctuated with brutality, oppression and exploitation of one by the other. What then is the problem and how can it be addressed?
Let me say at this point that I am not a racist nor am I anti America. It is the European American who is a racist and by so doing anti himself. In fact, I have decided to avoid saying this but cannot help it. Racism is the crux of the problem in America. The truth has to be told in its naked form if we can find a solution to the African American problem. And if we are to end the racism of the European-American against the African-American the structure of America which since its founding was built on the pillars of racial injustice has to be completely destroyed. Yes, the American racial structure has to be destroyed. Some may think this is im possible but it only become so when we think so.
In fact, the fear of the American racial structure and the belief that it cannot be destroyed makes the problem persistent. Obama is failing and those before him have failed not because they did not understand the race relations but because they want to end racism using institutions created to sustain racism. Besides, the people that created the racial structure and who benefit from its barbarity cannot be relied upon to destroy it even though there may exist in that class a few, who, conscious of the injustice will join the struggle, they have to be accommodated and not be discriminated against.
Charity they say begins at home, and so the solution to the African-American problem must therefore begin in the African American communities. The stepping stone is to organise the African Americans and equip them with an ideology for a just and inclusive society. Then they can carry forward in manners both judicial and extra-judicial, a massive campaign for an inclusive society, consisting of lawsuits, legislative advocacy (signed letters, emails and faxes), public protests, and various forms of debates, town hall meetings and due processes of natural law based on international notions of justice. These actions and all other means necessary should always be non-violent in their intent, nature, and execution.
To achieve this end, African Americans should come together in a spiritual and committed sense, for the purpose of pursuing rights they sacrificed and lost lives for, but failed to gain in the Civil Rights Movement (CRM). This unity in purpose is urgent because our people suffered since slavery, because they were lynched, beaten, humiliated and denied equal opportunities. They planned boycotts, freedom rides, marches, protests and sit-ins to demand relief from racism, violence and disrespect. African-Americans participated in the CRM with hopes of reaching equality, by using these confrontational and legal means, to dismantle segregation and acquire the right to vote.
Yet, they are still segregated and continue to count on laws and enforcement to protect their right to vote, and their ballot counts in elections, and they have not reached equality. The problem is worst today than ever affecting them socially, politically and economically, in systematic injustices with housing, employment, health care, education and vital programs for family and public services. African-Americans face discrimination and injustice in society, and all areas of people activity, and should participate in this course of action to address these issues.
These social constraints should motivate African Americans to move with the same urgency and cohesiveness, as they did during the CRM. They never addressed these issues after Dr. King was assassinated and the CRM died, which left problems lingering and growing worse. Now the situation is terrible all across America, which should inspire them to fight for their rights!
In sum, I will say that African-Americans were damaged both collectively and individually in the worst ways you could imagine. They should tell their story from their point of view. It would enable them to clarify damages to repair. They should participate in collective course of action because all prior attempts to solve their problems have failed. It is their responsibility to decide when they will engage in collective action to solve their problems.
However, African-Americans should focus on inclusive society as the solution, to the point of inducing it as a common thought among their people, so that they can start thinking and talking about ways to solve their problems. This should inspire them to examine racism, lingering problems and poor conditions they live in today. It will also enable them and others to discuss facts regarding patterns, policies and people, which have and still do, set up and sustain racial problems.
Gibairu Janneh is the executive secretary at the Gambia Press Union.]]>