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Social Redemption, Part 3 of 10

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stephen small in library

Are Black people created in the image and likeness of God? If the answer is yes, then let us consider the implications of “double consciousness”. “Double consciousness,” as defined by W. E. B. Du Bois, “is looking at one’s self through the eyes of other.” The other is America, i.e., white America and its contempt and pity for Black people.

White American culture is the source of modern day oppression. Oppression of Black people is justified in white culture because it is the history of the other, it the history of white supremacy.

White American culture upholds that American is a place of true justice and freedom for all, although, inherent in this declaration is the silent oppression of Black people.

Oppression takes the form of racism, and racism takes the from of oppression; and it is present in all America’s institutions.

Racism is faith based; it affirms that the white race is glorious and pure, and that the black race is defective and depraved. The goal of racism is to deny justice, equality and freedom to Black people.

 

White America strives for the loyalty of whites and Europeans, indoctrinating them into white America’s justification of white supremacy, and black inferiority.

Black people who understand racism in America have had to wrestle with their love for the country, considering who and what it stands for.

Even though Blacks fully oppose white Americans on issues of racism, in many other ways Blacks support and are a part of American institutions that historically oppressed them, and fostered doctrines of racism.

Double consciousness is present in the loyalties that Black people have to themselves, and the country they live in, i.e., America.

Black people, like all people view themselves from their own unique perspective, however, they also see themselves through the lenses of White America.

Du Bois says, “One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, who’s dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Du Bois, concluded that, “From this double life every American Negro must live, as a Negro and as an American.”

In 1963, Du Bois became a citizen of Ghana. And on August 27, of the same year he died. He died on the night before the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King led a eulogy to Du Bois.

Putting aside the complexity of double consciousness for a moment, I believe that within the revelation of self-consciousness lies a treasure chest of power and resources. For self-consciousness affirms that Black people are created in the image and likeness of God.

And the dominion granted to Black people over the earth places them in control of their bodies, minds and souls; as well as the world in which they live. 

Black people can choose to be Black where ever they are, and to choose to be Black is to choose to be created in God’s image.  And being created in God’s image, Black people can create a new world, the framing of which lies within their hearts, minds, and souls.

Black Cultural Empowerment

Cultural awareness jumped out at me when I was a small child visiting the little town of Teague, Texas.  I recall traveling from Los Angeles, California with my family to that little country town, population of less than six thousand people. 

Their in Teague, Texas, while visiting my mothers, mother and Grandmothers, i.e., three generations of Black women, Black culture came to life. 

We were only their for a few days, and every morning, about 5:30, my grandmother woke me up and asked me to sit on the front porch with her while she sipped on coffee and shared stories of her past, which were testimonies that reflected on the presence of God’s Spirit interacting in their lives.

 

Even today, our conversations are alive in my heat, mind and soul. Listening to her gave meaning to my life; it opened me up to love for God, love for family, neighbors, friends, home, town and country; it gave meaning to who and what I am.

Her words resonated with survival techniques, and empowerment. Her words did more to enhance my life, then the lessons I was taught at school.

She did not have much, but what she gave me was more valuable that money and material prosperity. How be behave, loyalty, pride and respect were handed to me to embed in my heart, mind and soul.

My grandmother was able to transfer a part of herself into me, which taught me that human beings are more than flesh and bones. Her spirit reached into my spirit and we became one. In this way, it is my belief that we connect with past, present, and future generations, which is the essence of Black cultural empowerment.

When I go on the internet and look for articles and images of life in Africa, I find images of life that mirror life sitting on the front porch with my Grandmother.

Cultural Battle

Sitting their on the porch, my Grandmother told me a story about her Grandfather, my great, great Grandfather.  My Grandmother was born in 1903, and it was 1967 that we were sitting on the front porch talking.

Her Grandfather, who was born before slavery ended in the United States, was a free man. He was able to earn some money and purchase some land their in Teague, Texas.

He and his neighbors, got together and built a church. No sooner than it was built, White people got together and planed to burn it down.  She told the story of my Grandfather and their neighbors on top of the roof of the church, with guns fighting off White people who had  guns and torches trying to burn the church down.

In the aftermath, my Grandfather had to sleep with his gun and carry it everywhere he went.  Not only did he value his life, but he was know to value and protect the lives of his family, neighbors and community.

Black culture is embodied in this story.

Black culture psychologically, emotionally, and physically elevates Black people; it is the foundation of their confidence; it makes them a proud people.

Black culture is the language and substance of Black life; it proclaims that Black people are very special. It validates that Black people are the original people of the earth.

Black culture is embodied in the natural capacity of Black people to make music, and create ways to dance and move to the music. Black culture communicates with Black people enabling them to experience the joy, happiness, suffering, sadness and the struggle of other Black people who have lived, live and will live on earth.

Be On Guard

White people passed laws saying that Black people were not full human beings. Black people were exploited, and excluded from all things human because of their race.

White people created an American ethos that denied the existence of Black culture in America. Their intention in removing culture and value from the lives of Black people was to pit Blacks against themselves.

Whites supremacy advocates that Black people are biologically inferior, culturally inferior and socially deprived. As such, the American way of life cannot help Black people who are on a path of social annihilation and self genocide.

 

For Black people to believe that White people will abandon the oppressive structures they have built is pure madness.

Here in America and in the African Diaspora, White people intend to keep Black people powerless. 

Social institutions are designed to covertly manufacture shackles that marginalize and oppress Black people.

Horatio Alger was a novelist. He was born in 1832, during the days of slavery; he was White and wrote several novels for youth, i.e., young white males.

A myth evolved from his novels: The myth asserts that individuals who are hard-working and who live exemplary, pious lives can always achieve and move up the economic and social ladder.

At the root of this myth and its place in society is the notion that Black people are responsible for their failure in American.

The irony of this myth is that it was written at a time when Black people worked sixteen hour days with not possibility of moving up the socioeconomic ladder.

To support their delusion, White people point to Hispanics, Asias and other immigrants to foster the narrative that hard work will allow you to move up the socioeconomic ladder.

However, the creation of minority grouping fails to account for centuries of slavery and oppression Black people endured here in America. Today, we hear more about LGBT rights than we do about the rights of Black people.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, minority grouping is a tool in the hand of White people that fosters the marginalization and oppression of Black people.

Likewise, minority grouping covers up the debt that America owes exclusively to Black People.

Cultural Ambush

Integration has had the effect of changing the cover on the book, with no changes made to the book’s content. Black people can live in some neighborhoods with White people, go to some schools and socialize in some parts of American with White People.

Even so, American social, economic and cultural power is controlled by White people. Integration has painted over Black culture and history. Integration and its proffer of a color blind society is a deception.

Integration dismantled the Black baseball league, facilitated the gradual disappearance of Black owned businesses, removed roll models and mentorship from Black communities and more.

Integration as I have experience it in American, is recorded in my mind as a cultural ambush; it is a party to the repression of the Black people in America.

A noted military strategist once said, when he was preparing to do battle, “If you take risks, you may still fail. But, if you do not take risks, you will surely fail.”

The history of America teaches that Black people are invisible; and that they are submissive, good servants who contributed nothing of value to America.

American history teaches that, America owes a debt to white men. White men built America, therefore, they are entitled to all of its fruits, i.e., financial resources, institutions and levers of power.

Herein lies the reality of racism, a reality that White people ware as a badge of honor. It is a form of idolatry; it makes a mockery of the biblical story of creation; it makes a mockery of the greatest commandment, “To love your brother as I have loved you,” and paints a White man as God.

When racism is transformed into modern day idolatry, and racism is what controls economic and political power, as is the case in America, it results in the repression of Black people and suppression of their culture and identity as God’s chosen people.

Cultural Action

Black people, in the words of Booker T. Washington: “we can be one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”

As a nation of Black people their is a need for solidarity.  As a people we must study the lessons of our predecessors, understanding that if we repeat their mistakes, we can expect to get the same results.

We ought to protest against negative media stereotypes. We need to combat racist legislation at all government levels. And, we must engage the political process to help and empower Black people, their institutions, culture and communities.

Freedom has no meaning if Black people passively wait on White people to give them a hand up.  Black people are facing an existential challenge; the challenge to take control of their own future.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Deportation of African and Other Black Immigrants Is Quietly Increasing

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ICE arresting black man

Although often not covered in the media, the African immigrant community is facing mass deportations in the era of Donald Trump. While the immigration debate in the U.S. is often framed in terms of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America on the one hand and the infamous Muslim travel ban on the other, the issue is more complicated. As the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency conducts its sweeps on immigrant communities, African people are among those who are being detained and deported. While deportations were in no short supply under the Obama administration, these deportations are expected to soar under Trump, whose immigration ban on six Muslim nations includes three African nations — Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Trump also is clamping down on refugees and asylum seekers.

There are 2.5 million African immigrants in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.  When including the Caribbean, Latin America and other regions, there are as many as five million Black immigrants in America. People from Africa experienced the fastest growth rate of the immigrant groups coming to the U.S., 41 percent between 2000 and 2013.

In its “State of Black Immigrants 2016” report, co-authored with the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) found that Black immigrants are much more likely to be deported due to a criminal conviction than nationals from other regions of the world. More than one out of five noncitizens facing deportation on criminal grounds is Black. Tia Oso, national organizer for BAJI whose organization works on advocacy, education and direct action on issues impacting Black immigrants and African-Americans, said there is not nearly enough coverage of what is happening regarding the deportations.

The biggest issue with the executive order as far as Black immigrants are concerned, Oso noted, is that fully one-third of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are African. “So, to have a ban on refugee resettlement here — a ban on Somalia, Libya and Sudan — is 100 percent to reduce the number of immigrants from these countries, who are Black Africans, from coming to the U.S.” she said. “We have families who are being split up, family members being stuck in limbo in the refugee camps. These people have already been approved, already vetted and assigned to be resettled in the U.S.” Oso said these policies are designed to reduce to the number of Black and brown people.

Not all immigrants are treated equally or being targeted by immigration agents. For example, there are approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S., as CNN reported, yet they are not facing the threat of police raids and deportations. “If this was about immigration, then the undocumented Irish and European folks would be a part of the roundups,” Oso said. “The people being deported are from Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. So, this is about keeping America white, not making America great.”

She also said that “the roots of the anti-immigration movement are directly rooted to white nationalism and the white citizens councils, and are related to maintaining the white power structure in narrowly defining who is American and is free to live in the country.”

The BAJI report emphasized that “Black people are far more likely than any other population to be arrested, convicted and imprisoned in the U.S. criminal enforcement system — the system upon which immigration enforcement increasingly relies.” Immigrants, in particular, are exposed to more risks when they are stopped by law enforcement for minor offenses, and when they are arrested the local police share fingerprint data with immigration authorities.

“When the police decide to take on the duties of federal immigration enforcement, they often use these stops to question people about their immigration status and to turn immigrants over to ICE,” the report added. Immigrants also are susceptible to guilty pleas that could result in removal proceedings, with a criminal conviction resulting in possible detention and deportation.

Another issue that the public is not paying attention to, Oso noted, is the increase in the number of ICE and border patrol agents in the Trump budget. These law enforcement agents cooperate and are used in jurisdictional task forces. In April 2015, an unarmed Black man named Terrence Kellum, 20, was shot to death in his Detroit home by a Black ICE agent who was a member of a multi-agency fugitive task force operation called the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team (DFAT). As ThinkProgress reported, officers were attempting to serve an armed robbery warrant at the Kellum household when the shooting took place.

“African-American folks would say this has nothing to do with us, we are not immigrants,” Oso said. “[But] Increased surveillance can be weaponized and used against Black people.”

Namibia vows to change ‘status-quo’ of white-farm ownership

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farmland

White Namibians, who are descended from former colonisers Germany and South Africa and make up six percent of the population, own 70 percent of the land.

“It doesn’t seem right to me,” said Hamasab, who acquired his land as compensation five years after the farm downsized into a guesthouse in 2000 and laid off its staff.

It's an 'emotive topic' for Namibians (AFP Photo/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

“The government should do something about it,” he added, while his family picked and rinsed collared greens to be sold in the capital Windhoek, 150 kilometres (90 miles) away.

Namibia adopted a “willing-buyer, willing-seller” approach to land reform after independence from South Africa in 1990.

Farmers wishing to sell their business must first offer it to the state, which parcels it into smaller plots and redistributes to “previously disadvantaged Namibians”.

That strategy has done little to redress the imbalance, however, prompting President Hage Geingob to call for a more muscular approach.

“The willing-buyer, willing-seller principle has not delivered results,” Geingob told a land conference last year, adding that the “status-quo should not be allowed to continue”.

Geingob has since demanded constitutional amendments to allow for the forceful expropriation of white-owned commercial farms with “fair compensation”.

His proposal echoed controversial plans in neighbouring South Africa to expropriate land without compensation.

It also brought back memories of land seizures in Zimbabwe in 2003, when thousands of white farmers were chased off their properties.

Not like Zimbabwe 

Helmut Halenke’s grandfather Otto left the German state of Bavaria in 1908 and sailed thousands of miles to Namibia, where he bought farmland.

  • 'The problem is the government has no money' (AFP Photo/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Otto’s investment grew into a successful family-run beef farm and game hunting spot for tourists, and is now owned by his 41-year-old great grandson.

Squinting across a parched stretch of bushland seared by an ongoing drought, Halenke, 67, said he doubted Namibia’s cash-strapped government would come after the property anytime soon.

“There are a lot of farms on the market at this stage,” he said.

“The problem is the government has no money and they can’t buy these farms.”

Namibia’s commercial farmers union estimates that about eight million hectares of land have been offered to the government since independence. Only three million were purchased.

“The white community is selling their land,” said Bernardus Swartbooi, a former deputy land minister who registered his own party after a spat with government last year.

“It’s not as if they are keeping their land as was the case in Zimbabwe.”

 ‘Emotive topic’ 

Swartbooi ran for president in a general election last month under his Landless People’s Movement (LPM), which has vowed to redress historic land ownership imbalances.

The LPM came third with 4.9 percent of the vote.

He accused the government of using land reform to empower a “small elite”.

“Most of those that they want to resettle are their friends,” Swartbooi told AFP.

“The poorest of the poor… have not been able to enjoy the full benefit of land reform.”

Namibian government representatives declined several requests for an interview.

Analysts say land issues resurfaced in the run-up to the election as a way of diverting attention from economic hardship.

“It has always been a very emotive topic for Namibians,” said Dietrich Remmert from Namibia’s Institute for Public Policy Research.

“With the current economic conditions being very bad, that comes to the fore.”

Geingob, who has been re-elected for another five year term, has pledged to redistribute 43 percent of arable land by 2020 to previously disadvantaged Namibians.

Halenke, like many, fears this could cripple agricultural production if not “done in the right way”.

“You cannot take a man from under a tree… and put him on a farm,” said Halenke. “You must enable people first.”

He recalled the case of Ongombo West, a thriving commercial flower farm that went idle after it was redistributed to low-income families in 2005.

“Even the ministers have ..farm(s) but there is no proper production,” noted Halenke. “They think it’s easy (but) farming is not for sissies.”

Hamasab is all too familiar with the back-breaking labour it takes to profit from Namibia’s meagre soils.

He was also supported by his former employer and received advice from German agricultural experts.

But most resettled Namibians have not been so lucky.

“The resettlement programme is not accompanied by a wholesale agrarian reform,” said Swartbooi, adding that poor farmers needed funding to mechanise production.

A few miles away from Hamasab’s garden, Absalom Mbautaenge shares a corrugated iron shack with four brothers and a young girl from a remote village.

They scrape by on firewood, which they collect in the area and sell to a broker.

“There is no rain in this area,” said Mbautaenge, 37, his clothes blackened by charcoal.

“But you just give me opportunity, training and livestock and I will do something different.”

'Just give me opportunity, training and livestock' (AFP Photo/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Sumary History Of Black Panthers (Must See Video)

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black panthers

The Black Panthers were formed in California in 1966 and they played a short but important part in the civil rights movement. The Black Panthers believed that the non-violent campaign of Martin Luther King had failed and any promised changes to their lifestyle via the ‘traditional’ civil rights movement, would take too long to be implemented or simply not introduced.

The language of the Black Panthers was violent as was their public stance. The two founders of the Black Panther Party were Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale. They preached for a “revolutionary war” but though they considered themselves an African-American party, they were willing to speak out for all those who were oppressed from whatever minority group. They were willing to use violence to get what they wanted.

 

 

The Black Panther Party (BPP) had four desires : equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights. It had a 10 Point Plan to get its desired goals.

The ten points of the party platform were:

1) “Freedom; the power to determine the destiny of the Black and oppressed communities.

2) Full Employment; give every person employment or guaranteed income.

3) End to robbery of Black communities; the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules as promised to ex-slaves during the reconstruction period following the emancipation of slavery.

5) Education for the people; that teaches the true history of Blacks and their role in present day society.

6) Free health care; health facilities which will develop preventive medical programs.

7) End to police brutality and murder of Black people and other people of color and  oppressed people.

8) End to all wars of aggression; the various conflicts which exist stem directly from the United States ruling circle.

9) Freedom for all political prisoners; trials by juries that represent our peers.

10) Land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and community control of modern industry.”

The call for a revolutionary war against authority at the time of the Vietnam War, alerted the FBI to the Black Panther’s activities. Whatever happened, the FBI was successful in destroying the Black Panther’s movement.

We Are God’s House

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god's people

Hebrews 3:6 says, “But Christ is faithful as a Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”

Theological Reflection

Chapter 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and the hight priest whom we confess.” The writer is speaking to the holy brothers.

Holy brothers; it means sanctify, and refers to those who have been set apart by God and for God, that is, Christians (the church). This text contains a message for those of who have confessed Jesus as their Lord.

Christians will always be subject to temptation. Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to show the world that their trust in God, as well as their expectation for Christ return, cannot be shaken.  They must withstand every attack, and every fiery dart Satan shoots at them, as members of God’s house.

As Christians, Jesus is the head of the house/church!  Hebrews 3:2 says, “He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.”

Moses was a servant in God’s house; a house which Jesus Christ founded, over which he  presides, and to which Christians belong. As such, we are his house, we are his household, we are God’s family.

Faith and hope have common attributes, in that, their object is invisible and unprovable (we hope for what we do not see). So that, like faith; hope embodies unconditional certainty within itself.

As people who have faith in Jesus Christ, we rejoice because of our hope, we take price in our hope. We are sure, we are certain; certain that God’s promise of salvation will be fulfilled.

We abide in Jesus Christ, who has already triumphed over the powers and principalities. Thus, we strive toward the future unafraid of judgment, and full of confidence in the hope of entering the fullness of God’s glory.

Colossians 1:27 says, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Belief in Christ will endure the test of time; we will be know by our confidence and loyalty to Christ who is our hope.

Prayer

Lord, allow us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. Lord, it is our prayer that in finding your grace, we find hope in our time of need.  We need you Lord! All around us is sinking sand, and it’s upon the rock that we wish to stand.  Lord, you are the rock of our salvation; you are the anchor of our faith and hope. 

Lord, help is too encourage one another daily. For the race in not given to the swift, but to them that endure to the end. Lord, protect us from the assault of unbelief, anoint our faith, and make us strong in the hope of your return. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

Grace Does Not Change

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image of grace

Romans 11:29 says, “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Theological Reflection

Israelites are the chosen people of God.  They are chosen by grace.  Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

God’s love for Israel is unchanging; it stands in the face of their disobedience, unfaithfulness, and rejection of the gospel.

From the dungeon of their rejection, God’s plan of salvation was passed to the Gentiles; thus, the Gentiles, like Israel, were chosen and pardoned by the work of God’s grace.

And, just like the Gentiles passed from rebellion to pardon, Israel’s future pardon is assured.  God imparts special favor (grace) on people irrespective of their worthlessness. 

God is faithful to God; His faithfulness is unchangeable. In the face of human disobedience, and the hardening of human hearts, God is faithful to His plan of salvation.

Romans 11:32 says, “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” God’s mercy nullifies human unfaithfulness and disobedience.

Our text says, God’s gifts (grace) and divine call are irrevocable; the worthiness of a nation, people, person does not matter.

1 Corinthians 1:9 says, God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

God’s call is the equivalent of entering the Kingdom of God; and, entering the Kingdom of God is the equivalent of entering the body of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Prayer

Lord God, we are humbled by your faithfulness.  We are humbled, grateful and thankful for your grace, and mercy. Lord God, we have not the words to express our gratitude for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to pardon our sins. Thank you Father! Thank you Lord, Thank you Jesus!

Lord, we pray for our homes, and families; we pray for our neighbors, friends, and communities. Our prayer is that people would hear you calling us out of a world sick with sin, and into a life of faith, governed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. All the glory, honor and praise belongs to you. In Jesus name. Amen

Shipwrecks These Divers Search For Slave Shipwrecks and Discover Their African Ancestors

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No one ever asked the free Africans if they wanted to leave their homeland. They were stolen, shackled, crammed head-to-toe in European slave ships, traded for goods or sold outright. Such was the intended fate for Africans aboard Portugal’s São José Paquete de Africa when it sailed from Mozambique in 1794 destined for Brazil. When the ship became wedged between two coral reefs off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa it broke in half, and turbulent waves killed 212 of the 512 African captives on board.

“Before I even got to it, I began to sort of get goosebumps getting a sense of the tragedy.” says Kamau Sadiki, a lead instructor for Diving With a Purpose, the maritime archaeology program whose divers search for slave wrecks and helped with the discovery and verification of the São José. “I could feel the vibration, the energy, and the pain, and the suffering and the horror,” says Sadiki, who was part of the São José research dive team.

Scuba diving to find slave shipwrecks and then piecing together historical truths about the people on board ships like the São José that transported enslaved Africans to the Americas is the lifeblood of Diving With a Purpose (DWP). The group works to unearth, reconstruct and resurrect the maritime history of Africa and the African Diaspora. The organization is in the spotlight as the 400th anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the U.S. is commemorated. The first enslaved Africans arrived in Point Comfort, Virginia, now Hampton, in August 1619.

“There were over 12,000 ships making over 40,000 voyages over 250 years of slave trade,” Sadiki says. “To date, there are only five [slave] ships in maritime history in the data base. Why is that?”

The expertise of DWP is essential to the work of the Slave Wrecks Project, a group of organizations exploring the history and telling the stories of 12.5 million enslaved Africans. Launched in 2008 and hosted by the NMAAHC, the international partners of the Slave Wrecks Project include George Washington University, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the U.S. National Park Service and others. The organizations share research in archaeology, anthropology and history to save wreck sites, reconstruct disrupted cultural heritage and connect communities to their past. Members of the Slave Wrecks Project “search for wrecks across the globe to bring this history back into memory one voyage at a time”, says Paul Gardullo, co-director of the Slave Wrecks Project and Director of the Center for the Study of Global Slavery at the NMAAHC.

A known, yet unverified wreck, the pirated slave ship Guerrero, inspired Ken Stewart, a member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, to co-found Diving With a Purpose along with the National Park Service at Biscayne National Park. Stewart learned the Guerrero, a pirated slave ship bound for Cuba in 1827, wrecked killing 41 of its 541 enslaved Africans, is among the countless number of undocumented shipwrecks—many believed to be slave ships—still embedded along the coast of the Florida Keys. Biscayne National Park had only one maritime archaeologist who could not dive for and document ships alone. When she asked Stewart for help, he realized diving could have a real purpose.

DWP scuba divers are volunteers certified as underwater archaeology advocates. Since 2005, 350 adults and 100 children have been trained in conservation and preservation of submerged marine archeology. Be it slave vessels, underwater crash sites of WWII Tuskegee Airmen test planes or expeditions with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the goal is use physical remains to tell the story history books cannot.

In field school, all DWP divers learn to measure the wreck surface, sketch underwater, retrieve artifacts, and draw them to scale. Then they transfer all information to a master site map which stands as the legal document for site monitoring

“With DWP we verified a vessel NOAA could not identify,’ says Matthew Lawrence, a NOAA maritime archaeologist who oversees marine sanctuaries in Key Largo, Florida. DWP members helped confirm the Hannah M. Bell, a British steam ship which wrecked and sank in 1911. “About 30 DWP volunteers come to the dives. Volunteers make it possible to do this work, especially with the relatively small staff at NOAA in Florida.”

DWP divers readily volunteer their own time and money to don mask and fins, and snap together the puzzle pieces of the slave trade.

“This is not recreational diving,” says Jay Haigler, a DWP lead instructor and dive safety officer. “The advocacy which DWP offers gives you the basis for a certification as an archaeology survey diver. That means, they could be on a dive as an assistant.”

DWP leaders are unapologetic about the need for more Africans and African Americans in the field of maritime archaeology. Public education is DWP’s “boots on the ground” tactic for community engagement. In Africatown, Alabama for descendants of the recently-confirmed Clotilda—the last known slave ship to arrive in the U.S., 52-years after the importation of enslaved Africans was abolished—DWP is conducting Discover Scuba Diving training to introduce high school and college students to fundamentals of diving and maritime careers. (See how archaeologists pieced together clues to identify the long-lost slave ship.)

In anticipation of future collaborations on St. Croix, DWP also is training some members of the Society of Black Archaeologists. Ayana Flewellen co-founded SBA and has dived with DWP for three years. “SBA wants to create a pipeline to train graduate students to do terrestrial work alongside DWP to tie the [land and sea] stories together.”

The tragedy is that colonial history makes scant mention of what scholars believe are thousands of slave shipwrecks embedded along international coastlines. Even though the Transatlantic Slave Trade resulted in the largest forced migration of a people in history between the 15th and 18th centuries, only recently is a more comprehensive story being unearthed about slave ships, their captives and the global, cultural and social-economic impact the enormous maritime process of importing slaves has had on society.

 

African Americans Face Unique Mental Health Risks

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map of brain
Dec. 4, 2019 — When Demetrius Minor left the Army after 12 years in 2013, he went through a standard medical review. Physically fit and seemingly healthy, he breezed through. Nobody caught that he was depressed.

 

Minor says he “passed through [the mental health system] because I looked healthy. They are looking for broken bones and ask you the easy questions, like, ‘Do you feel like hurting yourself or others?’ No. So the help was technically there, but there was no real deep dive.”

Minor isn’t sure African American communities and society at large are ready to deal with the challenges of mental health.

“I don’t think we are ‘woke’ enough yet to understand that mental health doesn’t mean we’re crazy. You can have a functioning life outside that door of your house. Just how there are functioning alcoholics, I was a functioning depressant.”

The issues and challenges are ingrained in families, neighborhoods, and society, he says.

“Growing up, we never used the words ‘mental health.’ If we had a problem, we just had to accept it and roll on. Looking back at my childhood, I see a lot of issues where people were suffering from [poor] mental health, but there’s no diagnosis, there’s no help and no treatment, so families were broken up.”

Sobering Statistics

While African Americans are just as likely to report serious psychological distress, they are less likely to get behavioral treatment. But adult African Americans are more likely to report feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites. Still, in 2018, 18.6% of white Americans received mental health services, compared to less than 9% of African Americans.

Having a mental illness significantly increases suicide risk among black teens and adults. One of the most common mental health issues that leads to suicide is anxiety. African Americans who have a connection to organizations, like church, have a lower suicide risk, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

African Americans, who are more likely to be impoverished, incarcerated, homeless, and fighting substance abuse, are all at higher risk for poor mental health. While poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, etc., are often signs of mental illness across all ethnicities, racism is an added part of poor mental health in African Americans. While negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection might be ldess openly displayed today, examples of racism are many, and it has consequences, although research on the connection between racism and mental health is limited.

The recent tension between police and some African Americans has not helped how the community is perceived in society. African Americans are more likely to be victims of serious violent crimes, making them more likely to qualify as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Stigma

A 2008 study showed a stigma within the African American community against receiving treatment for mental illness. Some people felt that sitting down and talking to a “stranger,” a therapist, was the same as airing their “dirty laundry.” Talking about your mental health problems was just not done. African Americans skirt away from conversations dealing with therapy as a solution to struggles with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, parenting issues, and marriage problems.

Another reason African Americans may resist seeking treatment is a fear that it might reflect poorly on their families and could be an admission that something within the family or home is broken.

In 2018, music mogul Jay-Z sat down with CNN’s Van Jones to discuss mental health representation in African American communities. Jones, at the beginning, said, “As scared as black folks are of cops, we’re even more scared of therapy.” Jay-Z responded, “It should be in our schools. Children have the most going on, their minds are not fully developed, and teenagers and drinking and these things are happening to you, and you don’t know how social anxiety […] and you don’t how to navigate it.”

There is a need for trained counselors in schools for children of color, he said. Introducing them to the idea and benefits of therapy from a young age might combat the stigma in the African American community.

Sitting Down With the Experts

Gail Mattox, MD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, has been working for more than 30 years as a psychiatrist.

She has gotten grant funding to take a deeper look into behavioral health in a university setting, particularly at historical black universities like Morehouse.

Kisha Holden, PhD, is a psychologist who worked with Mattox to address health disparities and health issues that may be problems in various communities.

“We both believe that the mental health of the African American community is important,” Holden says. “We try to look at our students from a holistic and comprehensive perspective.”

Because primary care doctors may not recognize or know how to diagnose mental health issues, Holden says it’s important to get beyond the initial clinical setting.

They look to find out what is happening to the whole self, “and not exclusively at what their presenting problem may be at a medical facility.”

“We want to look deeper into the issues that contribute to or prompt some of the health problems they see. We’re pulling the Band-Aid back and looking at what may be some of the underlying problems,” she says.

Getting out of the clinical setting is key, Holden says. It’s difficult enough to get people to voluntarily come in for an appointment.

“Try and meet the patient or potential patient where they are,” she says. “Go into the community and have trust. Have stakeholders important in that community, and respecting them is certainly a part of how we build the trust and subsequently connect them to care.”

“We would go out to the community church and school and be part of the community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of psychological illness and the importance of overall health.”

Grady Hospital in downtown Atlanta is one of the Southeast’s largest behavioral health centers. Morehouse works with Grady to embed psychiatrists in the neighborhoods that Grady serves. Morehouse is also working with local school systems and colleges to beef up counseling and access to mental health care.

“We’re approaching it both from community education and cultural competency,” Mattox says.

Part of what Morehouse is trying to teach communities and health care providers is to consider a patient’s mental health as part of their overall health.

“There is a relationship with chronic diseases, like diabetes and cardiovascular disorders and depression,” Holden says. “Disentangling those risk factors allows us to treat the overall patient.

“There’s really no health without mental health.”

Chains of mental illness is West Africa.

African-American Tahira Muhammad relishes getting Ghanaian citizenship

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Ghanaian citizenship ceremony

Ghana’s seat of government Jubilee House played host to one of the biggest ceremonies as part of activities commemorating the 2019 Year of Return. the Jubilee House event saw 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans receive Ghanaian citizenship. This happens a little over a year after the official August 2018 launch of the Year of Return by Ghana.

 Tahira Muhammad was among the 126. She tells TheAfricanDream.net that she first went to Ghana in 2000. The journalist and a teacher have an MA in Teaching English, she currently teaches secondary in Ghana and also teaches a class called Global Perspectives. “I use the Global Perspectives class to help young African students critically think about the issues facing Ghana and the continent as a whole,” Tahira told TheAfricanDream.net in an interview.

Tahira is one of the many descendants of African ancestry in the Americas and across the globe that have yielded to the call of Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo to return to Africa for the Year of Return, an event celebrating the resilience of African people and to also mark the 400th anniversary of the first Africans forcibly transported to what is now the United States of America.

“I will never forget that Wednesday, November 27, 2019 date as I stood amidst 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans to recite the oath of allegiance which was administered by a judge in this moving ceremony. We all became new citizens of Ghana. My citizenship certificate and euphoria sis beyond description right now,” — Tahira Muhammad.

She went on to tell TheAfricanDream.net that she fell in love with Ghana from the hospitality of the people when she first visited and did not want to leave. So, when she returned to the US after that first trip she worked for a year during which she saved $3,500 US dollars working two jobs to enable her return to settle in Ghana for a year. “It was on my return that I met my now ex-husband and with whom I had my now beautiful 16-year-old son,” and with that, TheAfricanDream.net wanted to learn more of Tahira’s story.

When asked what the main thing she found peculiar about Ghana was, she said to her “the hardest thing was accepting the fact that many Ghanaians and Africans on the continent have a neo-colonial mindset. I feel that the mentality of the people is 60 years behind. There’s no self-pride in being a Ghanaian. Ghanaians overall have little trust and support for themselves and their people and their abilities.”

The newly minted Ghanaian citizen elaborated: “There are many Ghanaians who have invented innovative things for the country but don’t get the recognition they deserve. Instead, credit goes to foreigners like Chinese and Lebanese. As a result, corruption and dishonest business practises penetrate the hearts and minds of the people and this has caused a vicious cycle of dishonesty and distrust.”

“This was the hardest thing that almost made me want to give up. I think it hit me harder when I came back here from living in the Middle East for 9 years. Gulf Arab governments make sure that their people come first. Dubai was able to become a rich country from its tourism in 50 plus years. Ghana has far more resources but the people are still living in poverty.”

According to Tahira, on the day she obtained her Ghana citizenship, she finally felt a sense of belonging, this happening 20yrs after serving Ghana both locally and internationally. She explained that back in 2001 she helped 14 orphans go back to school by advocating for friends in the US to pay their school fees. One of them is now going to nursing school and some have positively moved on with their lives in different ways.

“While in Kuwait I also was a member of the Association of Ghanaians there. I participated in helping organize Ghana Independence Day Celebrations as well as sat in meetings to help arrest Ghanaians in Ghana who participated in the illegal trafficking of Ghanaian women to Kuwait.”

Besides these actions, Tahira feels she has paid her dues on the road to attaining Ghanaian citizenship, she says in addition to a smile that, “Ghana was responsible for the trading of my ancestors to the US Virgin Islands. So I feel that citizenship is due me.”

TheAfricanDream.net asked Tahira Muhammad what people from America and elsewhere visiting Ghana can expect as part of The Year of Return 2019 when they are in Ghana. She said “visitors coming to Ghana should appreciate the efforts that the diaspora in Ghana made to make sure that this was successful.”

“Unfortunately, there was an educational gap in the purpose of the Year of Return and as a result, some Ghanaians have turned it into a money-making event, instead of using it to establishing the lost connection between our people — so this is a work in progress, but there is hope.”

Overall it has been an emotional journey going back to Ghana again for Tahira after being away for almost a decade. Yet, what she hopes to happen is that people become more vigilant and help the country fight corruption and hold officials more accountable.

“Ghana is not up to its full potential and will not be able to until corruption is curbed I believe. Rwanda is a prime example of what an African country can become if corruption is minimized. I hope that Ghana can live up to the standards that its first President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah wanted for her and Africa.”

And with that TheAfricanDream.net ended our first interview of a returnee. Do you have a story to share, contact us, we would love to hear from you, no matter where you are, oh and a happy YearOfReturn to all, including the other 125 new Ghanaian citizens. We wish you all the best…

British Colonizers Occupying African Nation’s Islands Refuse To Give Up Power

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Chagos Protester

Africa’s last remaining British colony is still under control of the United Kingdom despite orders from the United Nations (UN) for the European country to recognize its sovereignty.

The deadline came and went for the U.K. to end its colonization of the Chagos Islands — which is recognized as a country in East Africa — and surrender its control to Mauritius, but the British government and all of its privilege have decided to ignore the UN.

The Chagos Islands are a small archipelago located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa that Mauritius says it was forced to trade to Britain in exchange for its independence in 1965. The U.N. General Assembly voted in May for the U.K. to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius by Friday. But in classic European colonization style, Britain, one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, has refused to give up its power over the islands and it’s Black and brown citizens.

“The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814,” Britain said in a statement. “Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognise its claim.”

Reuters reported that Chagos Islands leaders were mulling taking the issue to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We have to look at different avenues given that the UK is not complying with the decision of the United Nations,” Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagossian Refugee Group, said.

But if Britain was ignoring the UN, chances are it would use its white privilege to do the same to the ICC.

The African Union has also renewed its calls “for a complete decolonisation.”

The Chagos Islands is home to Chagossians, a Creole ethnic group and descendants of slaves who used to work on plantations when the archipelago was established by the French in 1793. According to History.com, “The UK paid the colony of Mauritius a £3 million grant in recognition of the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago and amongst other legally binding undertakings, gave a commitment, repeated by successive governments, to cede the islands to Mauritius when no longer required for defence purposes.

”That time is now, according to the U.N.’s vote.

According to the BBC, “The UN resolution came only three months after the UN’s high court advised the UK should leave the islands ‘as rapidly as possible’.” And even though U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wants “to right one of the wrongs of history” by respecting the Chagos Islands’ independence, Britain has resisted those calls.