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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Abeng Essay: The Beginnings and Development of Racism in The U.S.: Some Implications for Black Americans (Part 2) by Dr. Cicely A. Rodway

The Beginnings and Development of Racism in The U.S.: Some Implications for Black Americans (Part 2) by Dr. Cicely A. Rodway copyright 1987 C. A. Rodway

"To fully appreciate the long history of white racist views which have had such negative effects on all aspects of Black Americans' existence, it is necessary to begin at the very beginning when the first [Africans] were brought to America from the Motherland, Africa." ~ Dr. C. A. Rodway; from part 1 of this essay 

The first Africans were brought to America in 1619 by a Dutch captain and left in Jamestown, Virginia. At this point in history, Blacks were viewed as simply another aspect of the many-sided economic problems which the white colonists were called on to face. (Jordan, 1968) The colonists gave very little attention to the status of the slaves who were treated similarly to white indentured servants and enjoyed the same status. Therefore, up to 1651, at the end of their service, black indentured servants were "assigned lands in much the same way as was being done for white servants." (Jordan, 1968)

This situation soon changed as the colonists, faced with an unlimited supply of land, needed labor to utilize it. The colonists grew tired of replacing indentured servants whose period of service had expired. They were also faced with the failure of their attempts to use Indian slave labor. The colonists quickly saw a way by which they could solve all their problems at "one fell swoop."

The problem could be solved by placing the negro in "perpetual servitude," which would solve the problem of finding replacements, as there would be an "inexhaustible supply" of Negroes. (Jordan, 1968) This purely economic decision marked the advent of the slave trade in America. It began gradually, but begin it did for by 1640, when Negroes were brought into the country they were no longer given "indentures or contracts and could not look forward to freedom after a specified period of service." (Jordan, 1968) But, it was not until 1661 that there was a statutory recognition of slavery. However, despite the new slave laws, no attempt was made by the colonists to enslave or change the status of the indentured servants who had completed their period of service and were free to live as the chose in Virginia.

This chain of events in Virginia was more or less mirrored in the occurrences in the other Southern colonies, in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. By the end of the 1660's, negro slavery was a "fait accompli" in the settled parts of America. There were degrees of harshness in the treatment of slaves and in the attitudes of the colonists toward slavery, as was evidenced by the actions of William Penn in Pennsylvania and the Quakers in New Jersey. Despite this, the final and incontestable fact was that negro slavery had been institutionalized and legalized and was an accepted status for negroes. This was to continue as an accepted part of the fabric of American life until 1865.

How Did Christians Rationalize and Justify Slavery?

It may seem ironic that this new "Christian" country whose stated
basis for establishment was individual freedom and whose enunciated doctrine was built on the "essential equality of all men," (Franklin, 1847) could be involved in the slave trade. The Bible had spoken unequivocally against the evils of slavery and had condemned slave owners. In Exodus 21:16 it was stated, "And he that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, shall surely be put to death." So, the colonists in an attempt to appease their consciences set about finding rationalizations for enslaving negroes.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Murals

artist Oscar Thomas, Sr.
Martin Luther King Mural in Liberty City, Miami, Florida

King Mural in Portugal

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Five Things About Kenya That Terrorism Will Not Shadow

Let's Talk Nairobi, Kenya
by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng 

With these latest terrorist attacks in Nairobi, Kenya this past Tuesday (January 15, 2019), there have been many negative images (however realistic and necessary they may be) released for the world to see. In this information age where "shock and awe" is more mantra than mere phrase, sensationalism is the holy grail. 

For me though, there are far too many negative narratives of Africa and the African Diaspora. I understand that there is war and crime and violence all over the world and I reason about these realities here on The Abeng and My Conscious Pen regularly. But if all we discuss are negatives, then the narrative of the Black World, our diaspora, will be taken in as all grim and gloom. 

But Africa and the African Diaspora are on the move, forward and upward, ever. And in this spirit, I am listing some of the most positive happenings in Nairobi, Kenya.

Five Things To Love About Kenya

1. Growing Economy. Kenya boasts the second largest economy in East Africa. (In 2015, Ethiopia, with a much larger population, overtook Kenya as the largest economy in the region). With a GDP growth rate for the past 5 years at around 5%, Kenya's economic growth is solid and above the United States'. And the projection for 2019: 5.8%.

2.  Large, Vibrant Cities. Nairobi is a thriving, dynamic, metropolitan city, where over four million citizens hustle and bustle, repping more than 40 ethnicities. Hundred of  multinational companies and NGOs have their East African/Central African regional headquarters located in Nairobi; on top of all that, it's also a tech and creative hotspot.

3. Creative Kenya. One of the most intriguing qualities about Kenya for me as a writer is the fertile environment for creative storytelling. Young storytellers, whether authors or filmmakers, are encouraged to tell compelling stories, though sometimes faced with a government fight against unsavory content.

In April 2018, The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) promoted "My Kenya, My Story", a mobile competition in which they called on young, independent filmmakers to submit their smartphone, film projects. And the annual Slum Film Festival calls on filmmakers from slums and ghettos in Nairobi to submit their films showcasing stories. 

Some of Nairobi's stories and storytellers:

4. People of African Descent are Repatriating to Kenya Blacks in the African diaspora are moving to Kenya, Nairobi and Mombasa in particular, where we are finding business opportunities in an economic environment that's fertile for entrepreneurs with innovative and sometimes even simple hustles and ideas. For those of us thinking of African repatriation and business, keep in mind that value in any market can be found when a need in that market is identified, qualified and quantified. 
When thinking of making Kenya (or any African country) home, or a business location, due diligence is paramount of course.

From Compton, California, Preshley Knight moved from the United States to Kenya after she became extremely ill. She began hustling cakes on the streets in Nyeri, parlayed that into working for a bakery and now has since started up her own company, Wakanda Express Tours and Africa Immigration Consultants.

5. Kenya's Music Scene

While the attack on Nairobi was indeed horrific, that level of violence is not the norm for this thriving, young city. It's a shame that much of the media mainly report news in a way that commands clicks. While some of Africa is indeed at war within itself, most of Africa is on the rise or booming. As black writers, let's be responsible, balanced, logical, compassionate; let's place news about the Motherland in perspective.  



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

kontan jou endepandans: Happy Independence Day, Haiti!

 Happy Independence Day, Haiti!

Today, January 1, is Haitian Independence Day. On this day in 1804, Haiti declared independence from its colonial master, France, when General Jean Jacques Dessalines sounded the declaration of independence, after the thirteen years of The Haitian Revolution. Haiti became the first independent nation (and republic) in Latin America, and was the second nation to gain independence in the Americas (28 years after the United States of America). It is the only country in the Americas where former slaves fought and freed an entire nation from slavery and its colonial masters. Haitian leaders also abolished slavery in neighboring Santo Domingo (the present-day Dominican Republic).

Haiti not only inspired revolutionaries other colonies and slaves to revolt, one of its revolutionary leaders, Alexander Pétion, was a friend to Simon "the Great Liberator" Bolivar, giving him refuge in Haiti and aid in the form of arms, munitions and infantry. 

The following is a translation of the document by Laurent Dubois and John Garrigus as published in "Slave Revolution in the Caribbean 1789 - 1804: A Brief History with Documents."

The Haitian Declaration of Independence

The Commander in Chief to the People of Haiti


It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die.

Independence or death... let these sacred words unite us and be the signal of battle and of our reunion.

Citizens, my countrymen, on this solemn day I have brought together those courageous soldiers who, as liberty lay dying, spilled their blood to save it; these generals who have guided your efforts against tyranny have not yet done enough for your happiness; the French name still haunts our land.

Everything revives the memories of the cruelties of this barbarous people: our laws, our habits, our towns, everything still carries the stamp of the French. Indeed! There are still French in our island, and you believe yourself free and independent of that Republic which, it is true, has fought all the nations, but which has never defeated those who wanted to be free.

What! Victims of our [own] credulity and indulgence for 14 years; defeated not by French armies, but by the pathetic eloquence of their agents' proclamations; when will we tire of breathing the air that they breathe? What do we have in common with this nation of executioners? The difference between its cruelty and our patient moderation, its color and ours the great seas that separate us, our avenging climate, all tell us plainly that they are not our brothers, that they never will be, and that if they find refuge among us, they will plot again to trouble and divide us.

Native citizens, men, women, girls, and children, let your gaze extend on all parts of this island: look there for your spouses, your husbands, your brothers, your sisters. Indeed! Look there for your children, your suckling infants, what have they become?... I shudder to say it ... the prey of these vultures.

Instead of these dear victims, your alarmed gaze will see only their assassins, these tigers still dripping with their blood, whose terrible presence indicts your lack of feeling and your guilty slowness in avenging them. What are you waiting for before appeasing their spirits? Remember that you had wanted your remains to rest next to those of your fathers, after you defeated tyranny; will you descend into their tombs without having avenged them? No! Their bones would reject yours.

And you, precious men, intrepid generals, who, without concern for your own pain, have revived liberty by shedding all your blood, know that you have done nothing if you do not give the nations a terrible, but just example of the vengeance that must be wrought by a people proud to have recovered its liberty and jealous to maintain it let us frighten all those who would dare try to take it from us again; let us begin with the French. Let them tremble when they approach our coast, if not from the memory of those cruelties they perpetrated here, then from the terrible resolution that we will have made to put to death anyone born French whose profane foot soils the land of liberty.

We have dared to be free, let us be thus by ourselves and for ourselves. Let us imitate the grown child: his own weight breaks the boundary that has become an obstacle to him. What people fought for us? What people wanted to gather the fruits of our labor? And what dishonorable absurdity to conquer in order to be enslaved. Enslaved?... Let us leave this description for the French; they have conquered but are no longer free.

Let us walk down another path; let us imitate those people who, extending their concern into the future, and dreading to leave an example of cowardice for posterity, preferred to be exterminated rather than lose their place as one of the world's free peoples.

Let us ensure, however, that a missionary spirit does not destroy our work; let us allow our neighbors to breathe in peace; may they live quietly under the laws that they have made for themselves, and let us not, as revolutionary firebrands, declare ourselves the lawgivers of the Caribbean, nor let our glory consist in troubling the peace of the neighboring islands. Unlike that which we inhabit, theirs has not been drenched in the innocent blood of its inhabitants; they have no vengeance to claim from the authority that protects them.

Fortunate to have never known the ideals that have destroyed us, they can only have good wishes for our prosperity.

Peace to our neighbors; but let this be our cry: "Anathama to the French name! Eternal hatred of France!"

Natives of Haiti! My happy fate was to be one day the sentinel who would watch over the idol to which you sacrifice; I have watched, sometimes fighting alone, and if I have been so fortunate as to return to your hands the sacred trust you confided to me, know that it is now your task to preserve it. In fighting for your liberty, I was working for my own happiness. Before consolidating it with laws that will guarantee your free individuality, your leaders, who I have assembled here, and I, owe you the final proof of our devotion.

Generals and you, leaders, collected here close to me for the good of our land, the day has come, the day which must make our glory, our independence, eternal.

If there could exist among us a lukewarm heart, let him distance himself and tremble to take the oath which must unite us. Let us vow to ourselves, to posterity, to the entire universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than live under its domination; to fight until our last breath for the independence of our country.

And you, a people so long without good fortune, witness to the oath we take, remember that I counted on your constancy and courage when I threw myself into the career of liberty to fight the despotism and tyranny you had struggled against for 14 years. Remember that I sacrificed everything to rally to your defense; family, children, fortune, and now I am rich only with your liberty; my name has become a horror to all those who want slavery. Despots and tyrants curse the day that I was born. If ever you refused or grumbled while receiving those laws that the spirit guarding your fate dictates to me for your own good, you would deserve the fate of an ungrateful people. But I reject that awful idea; you will sustain the liberty that you cherish and support the leader who commands you. Therefore vow before me to live free and independent, and to prefer death to anything that will try to place you back in chains. Swear, finally, to pursue forever the traitors and enemies of your independence.

Done at the headquarters of Gonaives, the first day of January 1804, the first year of independence.

The Deed of independence

Native Army

Today, January 1st 1804, the general in chief of the native army, accompanied by the generals of the army, assembled in order to take measures that will insure the good of the country;

After having told the assembled generals his true intentions, to assure forever a stable government for the natives of Haiti, the object of his greatest concern, which he has accomplished in a speech which declares to foreign powers the decision to make the country independent, and to enjoy a liberty consecrated by the blood of the people of this island; and after having gathered their responses has asked that each of the assembled generals take a vow to forever renounce France, to die rather than live under its domination, and to fight for independence until their last breath.

The generals, deeply moved by these sacred principles, after voting their unanimous attachment to the declared project of independence, have all sworn to posterity, to the universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than to live under its domination.


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