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Posts tagged "united states"


Alain Le Garsmeur, Georgia (1983)

Faith and race in Muslim America: Being Black and Muslim in the United States.

"Being black and Muslim in America often means that one has to figure out a way to simultaneously navigate two particularly stigmatised social identities: that of being black and that of being Muslim. And when the dominant narrative of Islam in America is that it is primarily a Middle Eastern phenomenon or a South Asian phenomenon, then it does not leave a lot of space for people like me…where do their stories fit in?" - Donna Austin.

Watch this interesting and eye-opening conversation that deals with anti-black sentiment within the American Muslim community that is constructed through a view of Arab superiority, further aided by the systemic racism - both presently and historically - in the United States.

Seeing as the conversation is centered around being both black and Muslim, it’s unfortunate that much was not said about the experiences of black African Muslims in America.

Some of the anti-black bias among non-black Latinos is driven by the misconception that black people do not support the immigrants’ rights movement. But this erases the fact that there are black immigrants from the Americas and elsewhere, and it assumes that there are not already entire black organizations that focus on immigrant justice. But the argument also expects black people to be working on behalf of non-black Latinos as if that work is automatically owed to us. The unchecked entitlement packed into the argument that black people need to support non-black Latinos demonstrates not that non-black Latinos are aspiring toward whiteness — but that we already actively employ some of its trappings.

In the immigrant rights community in particular, non-black Latinos use the term Juan Crow to reference the systematic terror that undocumented immigrants face in the South. This is a powerful articulation of the injustice experienced by undocumented immigrants, but it is often employed without recognizing how the most recent struggle of Latino immigrant communities is distinct from the nearly century-long struggle of black people under Jim Crow. When babies born to undocumented immigrants are hatefully described as “anchor babies,” we cite birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Yet we rarely acknowledge that doing so takes advantage of a piece of legislation created to confer citizenship to formerly enslaved black people following the Civil War.

The citizenship we envision for ourselves, however, is not the limited form of citizenship that black people still experience today. Black citizens — whose very right to vote remains contested — may not be slated for deportation, but they are disproportionately targeted for stop-and-frisk, for jail and prison, for violence, and for death. Whenever non-black Latinos claim or even aspire to citizenship without also advocating for the recognition of the full humanity (and full citizenship) of black people, then we are allowing white supremacy to operate unchallenged. We may, indeed, creatively acquire a fuller citizenship through a piece of legislation that was historically intended for black people, but it is immoral to do so at the cost of preserving a racial hierarchy that maintains that those same black people are a little less than human.

Did you know that 12 U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery?

As the United States marks Presidents’ Day, Democracy Now turns to an aspect of U.S. history that is often missed: the complicity of American presidents with slavery.

“More than one-in-four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House,” writes historian Clarence Lusane in his most recent article, “Missing From Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved.”

In Al Jazeera’s newly launched 3-part documentary series ‘Black France’, the relationship between one of the most dominant European colonial forces in Africa and the Caribbean, and the political and social dynamics of its former colonies and their citizens is explored to tell the story of black people in France and the country’s history of ‘segregation, racism, protest, violence, culture and community building - from the turn of the 20th century until the present day’.

Beginning in the mid-1500s, and following in the footsteps of the larger and more dominant British Empire, France began to colonize foreign territories starting with North America’s Gaspe Bay in what is today Canada. For centuries France would continue to expand its colonial reach building an empire that spanned across various regions in North America, the Carribbean, South America, Africa and Asia. It would not be until 1980 with the independence of Vanuatu that the French Empire would officially be disbanded worldwide.

Today, France is home to one of Europe’s black communities, mostly of African and/or Caribbean descent - a direct result of the country’s relationship with its colonial territories in these regions.

'Conflicting Identities', the first episode in the trilogy, explores the duality and complexes of what it means to be 'both black and French in the decades before France’s African colonies achieved independence' during the latter part of the 18th century, beginning with the fight for equality for France's black community to the experiences of black people in early 20th century France including both World Wars and the Great Depression.

Interestingly, the particularities of France’s differing and hierarchical relationship between it’s ‘colonial subjects’, with Africans being treated as the most inferior, are also brought to light. Where African-American individuals and culture were celebrated and marveled at with great interest - a perverse fascination of sorts, and where individuals of Caribbean territories were given French citizenship - but not full equality, Africans were mostly denied such privileges and were dehumanized and stigmatized as backward black savages.

Regardless of the differing treatment of black people from various parts of the world, racism was always the underlying factor in France’s social and political approach to black people, seeing them as inferior and ‘the other’ - a view that in some ways still has not changed.

[English & French w/ French subtitles]

The First Barbary War (1801–1805), also known as the Tripolitan War or the Barbary Coast War, was the first of two wars fought between the United States and the Northwest African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States. These were Tripoli and Algiers, which were quasi-independent entities nominally belonging to the Ottoman Empire, and the independent Sultanate of Morocco.

(cont. reading)

Further reading.


TW: Rape


 Photo of the statement of Celia to the Justice of the Peace, June 25, 1855

Celia, A Slave.

There is no known history for Celia before she was purchased at a slave auction by Robert Newsom in 1850. Newsom’s wife had died the previous year, and he had seemingly purchased 14 year old Celia as domestic help for his two daughters. 

On the way home from the slave auction, Newsom (who was 70) raped her. And, he raped her repeatedly after that. 

He made her convenient for his pleasure and put her in a small cabin about sixty feet behind the “big house.” He made countless, probably hundreds of trips to her cabin to use her for his sexual gratification.

As the years passed, Celia became pregnant twice and had two children by Robert Newsom. They also became his property and he never acknowledged them as his children. Arrangements like this were quite common in those days. They were never spoken of and any offspring were not considered children but chattel to add to the master’s wealth.

Celia became pregnant for a 3rd time in 1855. This pregnancy was particularly difficult for Celia and she was sick for at least four months. 

According to court testimony, Celia had told Newsom that she would hurt him if he raped her while she was still sick.

Despite her warning, he came into her cabin on the evening of June 23, 1855 to rape her. 

Celia had prepared to protect herself and had set a stick in a corner…When Celia heard Newsom approaching, she put more wood on the fire to create more light in the dark cabin.

Robert Newsom entered the cabin and drew close to Celia. He was speaking to her and leaned over her. Celia struck him with the stick. She later said that he never lifted a hand to protect himself but sank down on a stool then threw up his hands. Celia thought Newsom was trying to hit her so she swung the stick again. Both blows hit him in the face. Robert Newsom was dead.

Newsom lay dead on Celia’s floor an hour before she figured out what to do. She decided to burn the body.

After Newsom’s family realized he was to be missing, the trail of investigation eventually led to Celia, who eventually confessed and said that she only meant to harm, not kill Newsom. She was charged with first degree murder.

On the morning of June 25, 1855, the case of State of Missouri v Celia, a Slave began.

At some point during the trial, Celia gave birth to a stillborn baby.

In Missouri, at this time, the law stated that it was unlawful for a man to force sex upon “any woman.” The law also provided that if a woman killed a man who was trying to rape her, that would be considered a legitimate act of self-defense, not a crime. Celia’s lawyer used the law as it was written on the books. He argued that because the law protected “any woman” in this situation, the legislators must have meant to protect slave women too. The judge disagreed. Because Celia was a slave, that statute could not apply to her: she was not included in the phrase “any woman.” A slave woman had no rights over her body and could not legally resist her master’s sexual assaults.

On October 10, 1855, Celia was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang on November 16th.

(via Black Women in America Encyclopedia and Celia-Murderer or Martyr? A Slave Fights Back)

(via darkgirlswirl)


Contractors run U.S. spying missions in Africa


Four small, white passenger planes sit outside a hangar here under a blazing sun, with no exterior markings save for U.S. registration numbers painted on the tails. A few burly men wearing aviator sunglasses and short haircuts poke silently around the wing flaps and landing gear.

The aircraft are Pilatus PC-12s, turboprops favored by the U.S. Special Operations forces for stealth missions precisely because of their nondescript appearance. There is no hint that they are carrying high-tech sensors and cameras that can film man-size targets from 10 miles away.

To further disguise the mission, the U.S. military has taken another unusual step: It has largely outsourced the spying operation to private contractors. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In October, President Obama sent about 100 elite U.S. troops to central Africa to scour the terrain for Joseph Kony, the messianic and brutal leader of a Ugandan rebel group. But American contractors have been secretly searching for Kony from the skies long before that, at least since 2009, under a project code-named Tusker Sand, according to documents and people familiar with the operation.

The previously unreported practice of hiring private companies to spy on huge expanses of African territory — in this region and in North Africa, where a similar surveillance program is aimed at an al-Qaeda affiliate — has been a cornerstone of the U.S. military’s secret activities on the continent. Unlike uniformed troops, plainclothes contractors are less likely to draw attention.

But because the arms-length arrangement exists outside traditional channels, there is virtually no public scrutiny or oversight. And if something goes wrong, the U.S. government and its partners acknowledge that the contractors are largely on their own.

U.S. Africa Command, which oversees military operations on the continent, declined to discuss specific missions or its reasons for outsourcing the gathering of intelligence.

In response to written questions from The Washington Post, the command stated that contractors would not get special treatment in case of a mishap. Instead, they “would be provided the same assistance that any U.S. citizen would be provided by the U.S. Government should they be in danger.”

Perils of the job

There is precedent for the use of contractors in spying operations. The military hired private firms to conduct airborne surveillance in Latin America in the 1990s and early 2000s, with sometimes-disastrous results.

In 2003, for instance, one American was killed and three others were taken hostage by Colombian insurgents after their plane crashed in the jungle. The contractors, who were working for Northrop Grumman on a Defense Department counter-narcotics program, endured five years of captivity before they were freed in a raid by Colombian police.


(via oludxra)

Al Jazeera looks into Obama’s new foreign policies and strategies towards African countries

The election of a US president with a Kenyan father was greeted by jubilant scenes in Kenya in 2008.

And Barack Obama talked about a new moment of promise for Africa when he visited Ghana in 2009.

Building on this theme, the White House has just launched a new strategy for Africa, promising to strengthen democracy and encourage economic growth through trade and investment.

Though the strategy did mention the importance of countering al-Qaeda across the continent, there was no reference to the role of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), which was established in 2007 under George W Bush.

Under the Obama administration, the US has expanded its military footprint and its secret intelligence operation across Africa, establishing a series of small bases from which to launch spy missions and drone strikes on groups like al-Shabab in Somalia.

US troops have also been deployed, particularly in Uganda where they are searching for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

This is in addition to increasing numbers of private military contractors operating in Africa.

Meanwhile, China has been steadily building up its strategic and commercial ties with the resource-rich continent.

China has overtaken the US in recent years to become Africa’s biggest trade partner as the continent’s bilateral trade with Beijing grew from $10.6bn in 2000 to $160bn last year.

In comparison, US trade with Africa was worth $38.6bn in 2000 but had only grown to $125.9bn by 2011.

So what is motivating US policy towards Africa?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, discusses with guests: David Shinn, a former US ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso; Paul Mutter, a fellow at Truthout.org; and Nii Akuetteh, an African policy analyst who was formerly the executive director of Africa Action.