Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Passin' It On and Seeing the Similarities

The more I read blogs from around the world, the more I see the connections and analogies between the way African-Americans are perceived and treated in the United States and the way issues having to do with other people of color play out, even in other geographical locations. For example, as Sokari at Black Looks describes the struggle of landless people in South Africa, I am caused to remember an Associated Press investigation that reported in 2001 a national pattern in the U.S. ever since emancipation and up to the present in which African-Americans were cheated out of their land or simply driven from it through intimidation, violence, and even murder. In some cases, local governmental officials approved the land-takings; in others, they actually took part. Over an eighteen-month period, the AP documented that property valued in the tens of millions of dollars was literally stolen from its original African-American owners without recourse since, naturally, the statute of limitations has run out on these cases by now.

Kyle de Beausset of Immigration Orange wrote a thought-provoking piece on the practice of importing and adopting children of color from poverty-stricken settings as if they were products on Ebay or something, while purporting arrogantly that it's an act of kindness. Similarly, U.S. slaveholders used to tell mothers and fathers of African-descent that the children snatched away from them and sold could be easily replaced by simply making another baby. And more recently, it's clear by the way African-American children are typically allowed to languish helpless and hungry in the poorest neighborhoods, pushed into the worst schools, and early routed into the criminal justice system that they are not as yet seen as fully human beings either.

At least partly because of this, young African-Americans are being increasingly actively recruited to "serve" in the military with offers they virtually cannot refuse, given the nature of their other opportunities. XicanoPwr at Para Justicia y Libertad! outlines how undocumented immigrants are also invited to "serve" (even though they're not citizens) with a green card hanging out in front of them for motivation. Assuming, of course, they don't die.

And despite the way Naomi Shihab Nye (a poet and novelist who is a U.S. citizen, but whose father was Palestinian) reminds us that one-on-one, most of us know how to get along, this YouTube video featuring a Palestinian rap group to which I was first introduced by Sokari at Black Looks challenges our perceptions concerning who, exactly, the terrorists are. If it's not immediately apparent to you how this relates to the situation of African-Americans, I suggest that you look back over the past five hundred years, then ponder the last two or three stories you heard about African-Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement officers or others enforcing the norms that still hold sway in this country, recalling this post and this one and the one on the Jena Six. And then ask yourself what terrorism is.
NOTE: The poster above is by Ricardo Levins Morales and is available from the Northland Poster Collective.


BlackPrideForever said...

What is your IQ?

...just out of curiosity

Changeseeker said...

bpf: Standardized tests to establish "IQ" scores have been so debunked in general, I'm reticent to even answer your question. Apparently, the best that can be said is that "IQ" suggests how much of certain kinds of information a person has been exposed to and how adeptly they process that particular type of information. Having said all that, the last time I took two such tests (different from each other and monitored), I scored 149 on one of them and 151 on the other. Whatever that means.

bubamarenya said...

I am not sure what your IQ has to do with the post but I do have to say that numbers can not do you justice. I have seen many intelligent people speak. You have what I consider to be more important, and that is human connection. When you speak everyone in the room listens, even the ones that don't agree. I am grateful that I had a chance to experience that.

Changeseeker said...

And I am grateful I had the chance to share a classroom with you, bubamarenya. Every time I think back to those days, I remember us reading that poem on poverty together in front of the class...

And yeah, I don't know what IQ had to do with this post either. :^/