Henry Louis Gates pens Article Absolving White People For Slavery-Wants us to Blame Africans

Wow this is a two page story that the New York Times is running…You’d think Henry Louis Gates would’ve learned a few things after his confrontation with Cambridge police last year when they accused him of breaking into his house and jammed him up… Apparently not.. All I can do is shake my head and note that this article appears the night after ABC Nightline ran that story about Black Women not finding suitable men.. As author Bakari Kitwana pointed out, Yes today we all need to highlight and celebrate Black pathologies…

So this article basically says Africans helped white slavers capture us.. Duh.. We’ve been known that. Hell it was Black slaves that usually ran to master and told about slave insurrections. It was Black slave that were sometimes made to be overseers. None of that absolves the horrific institution of slavery which here in the US was rooted in the strong belief that our ancestors who were forced to work those fields were less than human and forced to endure unspeakable horrors. The hatred for us because of skin color remained long after slavery into Jim Crow and as we can see in recent days continues..We wont even get into a discussion of colonialism and the racialized politics around that especially as African nations fought to be free. Meanwhile while this Gates article appears, the state of Texas is erasing and downplaying the harshness of slavery in its history books.

This article is akin to pointing out that there were Jews who helped the German during the height of Nazi Germany.. Not for one minute would one ever think of absolving germany for her role in the holocaust and nor should we be absolving those Europeans who gleefully played roles in Transatlantic slavery, no matter what Africans helped out.. What took place in this 2000 x 3000 land mass we call America rest on the shoulders of ‘Mr Charlie’. He gets no pass on what was done..He was caught holding the bag.. and to be honest if there was some nutcase on the continent who “Helped” sell us into bondage they can be dealt with as well.. But in the meantime it was Mr Charlie a European decent who was all up in here raping our mothers, sisters and grandmothers, snatching up kids and separating our families, beating our people to pulps and basically using and abusing human being stolen from their land.  I dont care how many Henry Gates articles are published by the NY Times..He (Mr Charlie ) gets no pass..nuff said

-Davey D-

Ending the Slavery Blame-Game

by Henry Louis Gates

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23gates.html?pagewanted=1

Henry Louis Gates

THANKS to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.

There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain.

While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before.

How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.

The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,” he warned. “We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.”

To be sure, the African role in the slave trade was greatly reduced after 1807, when abolitionists, first in Britain and then, a year later, in the United States, succeeded in banning the importation of slaves. Meanwhile, slaves continued to be bought and sold within the United States, and slavery as an institution would not be abolished until 1865. But the culpability of American plantation owners neither erases nor supplants that of the African slavers. In recent years, some African leaders have become more comfortable discussing this complicated past than African-Americans tend to be.

In 1999, for instance, President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin astonished an all-black congregation in Baltimore by falling to his knees and begging African-Americans’ forgiveness for the “shameful” and “abominable” role Africans played in the trade. Other African leaders, including Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, followed Mr. Kerekou’s bold example.

Our new understanding of the scope of African involvement in the slave trade is not historical guesswork. Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, directed by the historian David Eltis of Emory University, we now know the ports from which more than 450,000 of our African ancestors were shipped out to what is now the United States (the database has records of 12.5 million people shipped to all parts of the New World from 1514 to 1866). About 16 percent of United States slaves came from eastern Nigeria, while 24 percent came from the Congo and Angola.

Through the work of Professors Thornton and Heywood, we also know that the victims of the slave trade were predominantly members of as few as 50 ethnic groups. This data, along with the tracing of blacks’ ancestry through DNA tests, is giving us a fuller understanding of the identities of both the victims and the facilitators of the African slave trade.

For many African-Americans, these facts can be difficult to accept. Excuses run the gamut, from “Africans didn’t know how harsh slavery in America was” and “Slavery in Africa was, by comparison, humane” or, in a bizarre version of “The devil made me do it,” “Africans were driven to this only by the unprecedented profits offered by greedy European countries.”

But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

Did these Africans know how harsh slavery was in the New World? Actually, many elite Africans visited Europe in that era, and they did so on slave ships following the prevailing winds through the New World. For example, when Antonio Manuel, Kongo’s ambassador to the Vatican, went to Europe in 1604, he first stopped in Bahia, Brazil, where he arranged to free a countryman who had been wrongfully enslaved.

African monarchs also sent their children along these same slave routes to be educated in Europe. And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent.

Given this remarkably messy history, the problem with reparations may not be so much whether they are a good idea or deciding who would get them; the larger question just might be from whom they would be extracted.

So how could President Obama untangle the knot? In David Remnick’s new book “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,” one of the president’s former students at the University of Chicago comments on Mr. Obama’s mixed feelings about the reparations movement: “He told us what he thought about reparations. He agreed entirely with thetheory of reparations. But in practice he didn’t think it was really workable.”

About the practicalities, Professor Obama may have been more right than he knew. Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization. And reaching that understanding is a vital precursor to any just and lasting agreement on the divisive issue of slavery reparations.

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Portable Hospital Turned Aways as France & America bicker as Haiti-US Accused of Occupying not Helping

I find this story about America and France to be bickering interesting on a number of levels. Both countries have long and sordid histories with the island nation.First, we have this situation of France being responsible for enslaved Africans being brought over to Haiti and that population turning around and defeating the French and winning their physical liberation. The problem was the newly freed Haiti were forced to pay their former slave owners reparations or risk future aggressions. America under Thomas Jefferson saw Haiti as a threat and feared that her succesful revolution would lead to enslaved Blacks in the US also revolting. His solution was to isolate the country and prevent freed Blacks from the US going to the island. All this led to massive poverty which has continued to this day. We’re including a link to an interview with long time Haitian activist Pierre LaBossier of the Haitian Action Commitee where he explains all this..

Intv w/ Pierre LaBossier about Haiti & Foreign Relations

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France & America bicker as Haiti aid fails to reach city

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6992809.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2

The international effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the victims of last week’s Port-au-Prince earthquake was hit by bickering today as a French government minister accused the Americans of trying to occupy Haiti instead of helping it.

Thousands of American soldiers have poured in to Port-au-Prince airport since President Obama announced that he was ordering a “swift and aggressive” campaign to help millions of Haitians left homeless by last week’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Six days after the quake, however, precious little aid is getting beyond the airport perimeters – largely because of security concerns – and aid agencies with long experience of operating in disaster zones have complained that their flights in are being blocked unnecessarily.

Among the aircraft turned back by American air traffic controllers who have assumed control at Port-au-Prince airport was a French government Airbus carrying a field hospital.

The plane was able to land the following day but the decision to turn it back prompted an official complaint from Alain Joyandet, the French Minister for Co-operation who is overseeing the French aid effort.

Speaking to Europe 1 radio from an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels this morning, Mr Joyandet said that the UN would have to clarify the role of the US in the Haitian aid effort. “It’s a matter of helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti,” he said.

Mr Joyandet’s sniping is likely to anger the White House although the Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, warned both governments and aid groups not to squabble as they try to get their aid into Haiti.

“People always want it to be their plane … that lands,” Mr Kouchner said. “What is important is the fate of the Haitians.”

Before becoming a politician Mr Kouchner made his name as humanitarian pioneer, founding the doctors’ charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in 1971.

MSF is among the aid agencies directly affected by the logjam at Port-au-Prince airport. Its operations manager in Port-au-Prince, Benoit Leduc, complained today that five MSF flights have been turned back so far, three of them carrying cargo and two medical staff.

“We clearly had about 48 hours extra delay because of this access problem,” he told journalists in a conference call.

One of the MSF flights turned back on Saturday was carrying a large inflatable hospital of a type that MSF have used in various disaster zones since the Kashmir earthquake four years ago. The flight was diverted to the neighbouring Santa Domingo and the hospital and ther medical supplies are having to be brought in overland.

Six days after the devastating tremor that flattened much of the city and killed an estimated 200,000 people, 280 emergency centres were finally due to be set up, starting from today, to provide shelter and to distribute the enormous stockpiles of donated water and food that have been building up at Haiti’s airport.

The centres are due to be run and the supplies handed out by the United Nation’s World Food Programme. Each will have the capacity for around 500 people, and will be situated in public building like schools and churches in Port au Prince and six nearby towns.

Haitians complain that their Government has been silent – President Preval is himself camped out at the airport and has yet to address his people – and that aid distribution has been either totally absent or at best haphazard. They say that injured and vulnerable people are dying without shelter in the oppressive heat for lack of water.

Ordinary water supplies are polluted and broken, and bottled water is selling for $6 a bottle on the black market in the streets. On the rare occasion that a water truck appears on the streets, it is mobbed.

Even the most visible camp for homeless people – the sprawl of cardboard and blanket shelters in the Champs de Mars public park next to the ruined presidential palace – has not a single fixed water supply, aid distribution point or clinic to assess the needs of the wounded.

The UN says that yesterday it managed to feed 40,000 people and that it hopes to increase that to 1 million people a day within two weeks, and 2 million in a month.

“By the end of Monday, we will have distributed more than 200,000 food rations in and around Port-au-Prince,” the UN World Food Programme announced in a statement. It said that it was establishing food kitchens to feed the hungry.

But a community organiser at one makeshift camp for 10,000 people in Challe spoke angrily of UN blue berets arriving yesterday without warning and flinging small packets of biscuits from the back of their truck – the first aid workers they had seen and the first food most had eaten in days – but failing to bring the water and medical supplies that are most urgently needed.

“We have been waiting since Tuesday and that is all there is!” agreed Vanel Louis-Paul, a father of three, brandishing an empty biscuit packet.

At the airport, many soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been hanging around since Wednesday night without leaving the complex.

One of them, Private First Class Patrick Jones, told The Times that only a few supplies of food and water had arrived. ”We don’t want to go out and distribute anything until we are sure we have enough for everyone,” he said. “We don’t want to give to some and not to others.”

The delays are causing anger and frustration, and leading to unrest and violence. Witnesses report large-scale, organised looting by groups of youths armed with knives in the tight grid of streets next to the Champs de Mars homeless camp, stripping the last remaining supplies from the empty city.

The gangs welcome the presence of reporters as protection from police. There are unconfirmed reports of police asking journalists to leave, and then firing live rounds to maim or kill the looters. A New York Times reported seeing four alleged looters dumped by police at the national cemetery, three dead and one dying from gunshot wounds.

Mobs of Haitians are also reported to taking the law into their own hands, with at least one confirmed case of a looter lynched to death.

Dorsainvil Robenson, a policeman chasing down looters in the capital, said: “We do not have the capacity to fix this situation. Haiti needs help … the Americans are welcome here, but where are they? We need them here on the street with us.”

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