This date in which 20 plus kidnapped Africans were brought to America is being commemorated in African American circles as the beginning of slavery in America.
However, in an essay for the Washington Post, Eric Herschthal a postdoctoral fellow in African American and African studies at The Ohio State University wrote; The arrival of those Angolans in 1619 has long served as the starting point of African American history, even of racism itself. This year, the 400th anniversary of their arrival, the date shows no signs of losing its prominence. Across the country, symposiums are being held, exhibitions planned and books published. But overemphasizing the date might, in fact, be damaging to today’s fight for racial justice.
Starting at 1619 means foregrounding slavery and white dominance, eclipsing the story of how Africans, both on the continent and in the Americas, successfully resisted Europeans from the start. It also suggests a certain timelessness to anti-black prejudice, when in fact racism developed over time, and was as much a consequence of slavery as it was a cause of it. Finally, placing the origins of slavery in the South not only minimizes racism’s reach — as if the South had a monopoly on slavery and its justification, racism — but also devalues the importance of Africa and the African diaspora to black history.
What Herschthal did not mention in his Washington Post Essay, https://abagond.wordpress.com articulated succinctly what I personally believe is most important for us to start in order to establish context on this subject as well as to establish the framework for the conversation of American citizenship and maybe even reparations.
The Pilgrims were not even the first white people. There were white people already living in:
- Albany, New York
- Sante Fe, New Mexico
- St Augustine, Florida
- Jamestown, Virginia
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
There were already Jews in New Mexico, Filipinos had already arrived in California and there were blacks living in Virginia, Florida and Puerto Rico. People who would become Chicanos were already in the south-west. All here before the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower. https://abagond.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/america-did-not-start-with-the-pilgrims/
In writing about Racism and social injustice in the wider Americas, and it’s pervasive intransigence in the United States, I have consistently argued that in order for the proper context to be established, there needs to be a once and for all debunking of the myth that white Europeans discovered the Americas.
The genesis of any intelligent conversation must be established on a baseline of facts, not on the nonsensical notion that Christopher Columbus discovered lands on which existed many different races of people living, some for thousands of years.
The central tenet on which the continued sense of white entitlement to America, is premised is the false perception it harbors of ownership.
There is an irrefutable case to be made for black ownership of America on the basis of their shed blood, rape, and other crimes committed against them.
There is the ever compelling case to be made for hundreds of years of servitude and enslavement for which African-Americans are yet to be compensated.
But outside of those two fundamentally indisputable claims, there is the little issue that before they got here, our ancestors were long here.
One of the questions I have always asked is why are African-Americans so passive in the land their ancestors slaved and died for?
Who would have more right to this land than black people I have consistently inquired?
Why have African-Americans adopted a posture of fear and second class citizenship when they have as much right, and arguably more right than anyone else to be here? It is there that I believe this conversation needs to begin.
It is fundamentally important that when a bully steps to you that you hold your ground and ensure that your space is never violated.
That inalienable right to exist as a full citizen does not infringe on the right of anyone who wants to exist peaceably.
Nevertheless, it should be a warning to those who would seek to impose bullying tactics as a means of infringing on the rights of others.