No Outsiders to be Allowed to Investigate Burma’s Rohingya Genocide*

No Outsiders to be Allowed to Investigate Burma’s Rohingya Genocide*

Burma has refused entry to any members of the U.N. coming into their country to investigate the ongoing killing, abuse, and oppression that the Rohingya Muslims are facing, as an official has stated.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has stated that they will refuse to cooperate with a U.N. mission. Speaking to The Telegraph, permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs Kyaw Zeya said:

“If they are going to send someone with regards to the fact-finding mission, then there’s no reason for us to let them come.” He also added that visas would not be issued to anyone coming into the country to work on the mission.

Based in the Rakhine State, there have been many claims and allegations that the Rohingya Muslims are victims of violence and genocide, however these have all been denied by the Burmese government who labelled the accusations as propaganda and fake news.

A report published by the U.N. in February found that babies and children were reportedly being slaughtered with knives during “area clearance operations”

Additionally, the report concluded that counter military operations carried out by security forces left Rohingya people subject to mass gang rape, ruthless beatings, and disappearances.

People in Burma view the Rohingya people as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and the Burmese leader, Ms. Suu Kyi, has been criticised many a time for not standing up and facing the Rohingyas, the population of whom exceeds one million.

After security operations carried out by the Burmese army last year, approximately 75,000 Rohingyas have fled the state of Rakhine and gone to Bangladesh. Allegations of abuse in the North of the country were looked into by the E.U., who called for a mission in March and appointed Indira Jaising, an advocate from the supreme court of India, in May, to lead said mission.

However, Burma insists that a domestic investigation led by the first vice president of Myanmar, Myint Swe, is sufficient and there is no need for any outsiders to get involved.

Last month, speaking in Brussels, Ms. Suu Kyi had a disagreement with the E.U. over the need and necessity to send an international fact-finding mission to Burma. She made clear her belief that this mission would not address the needs of the ground and that the country needs time more than anything else to recuperate from the distrust between these two communities.

She also believes that rather than making Rakhine a safe place for the Rohingyas, the U.N. resolution of having a mission like this would further increase the hostility between the two communities.


Related Topics:

Thai Kingpin Jailed for Rohingya Trafficking*

U.S, U.K., Israel, China, Saudia behind Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide*

Indonesia Welcomes Rohingya Refugees*

Buddhist Massacre of Rohingya Muslims Continue*

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Silent on the Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims*

Modern Day Colonnialism: The Uyghurs versus China*

African Pro-life Activist Schools BBC Anchor for Using ‘colonial talk’ to Push Contraception on Africa*

African Pro-life Activist Schools BBC Anchor for Using ‘colonial talk’ to Push Contraception on Africa*

By Claire Chretien

This morning, an African woman and pro-life activist destroyed a BBC anchor’s claims that African women “need” abortion and contraception in order to get out of poverty.

As the BBC World News host claimed there’s a “basic human right” to contraception, pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha retorted that African women are not asking for contraception.

In fact, contraception is a “Western solution” to African poverty, she said, adding that Westerners “better be careful” with such “colonial talk.”

Ekeocha was speaking in a segment dedicated to “World Population Day,” which is marked today.

She was representing the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. She is also the Founder and President of Culture of Life Africa.

“If we’re talking about abortion, well, I don’t think that any Western country has a right to pay for abortions in an African country, especially when the majority of people don’t want abortion…that then becomes a form of ideological colonization,” said Ekeocha.

BBC’s Babita Sharma responded by saying, “the fact remains that hundreds of millions of women don’t have access [to contraception] and should.”

“Well, you’re saying ‘should,’ but who are you to decide, if you don’t mind me saying?” asked Ekeocha. “There isn’t a popular demand.”

“I was born in Africa, I was raised in Africa, I continue to go to Africa many times a year,” she explained. “You just speak to any ordinary [African] woman. I think contraception might be like the tenth thing she says [that she wants], if that.”

Sharma claimed contraception is a “basic human right” and necessary for overcoming the cycle of poverty.

That’s kind of a Western solution, isn’t it?” asked Ekeocha.

“If you speak to the ordinary woman on the streets of Africa, what is she asking for?”

Ekeocha blasted the “Western solution” of thinking contraception is the solution rather than food, water, and basic healthcare.

“Why don’t you listen to the people first?” she asked. “In all this talk about contraception, the one thing that I have never heard of in all my time trying to track all these things is something like the side effects of contraception. No one ever tells the African women, when they come to promote contraception across the different African countries.”

Ekeocha said she recently consoled African women who had IUDs inserted into them without being warned about the side effects.

“These women were crying,” she said.

“No one ever told them” about the terrible side effects of contraceptives.

“But someone from a Western organization…came and put IUDs into them and told them, ‘this is what you need to come out of poverty.'”

Education rather than contraception is what African women need, Ekeocha said.

The BBC journalist then said education can help African women understand their “basic human rights,” like contraception.

“According to you,” Ekeocha responded.

She said Sharma had “better be careful” expressing herself with such “colonial talk.”

“My lifeline out of poverty was education,” Ekeocha continued.

“It was not contraception. And there are so many other women who have walked the same path as I have without ever having to take recourse to some contraception provided by the British government or the United States government.”


Related Topics:

African Woman Schools U.N. Delegate on Why Pushing Abortion is ‘neo-colonialism’*

Bill Gates: We Must Depopulate Africa to Save Europe*

Vatican tells U.N. to Remove Horrific Abortion Vacuum from Emergency Health Kits*

Bishop Badejo: U.S. won’t fight Boko Haram because of their Eugenics Agenda in Africa*

‘Our future is slavery, West gets everything’ in Mineral-rich, Money-poor Congo*

Bill Gates: We Must Depopulate Africa to Save Europe*

Bill Gates: We Must Depopulate Africa to Save Europe*
You realize here, they are talking about Africa’s wealth…

By Jay Greenberg


Billionaire Bill Gates has spoken out about the immigration crisis in Europe saying that the continent will be “devastated by African refugees” unless severe and immediate action is taken.

In an interview with German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Gates suggested that European nations must work together to reduce the population growth in Africa by committing more in overseas aid. In a total backtrack of his usual New World Order style open border policies, Gates is now suggesting that the mass influx of migrants into Europe from Africa is threatening to overwhelm countries like Germany who have welcomed globalism. Bill Gates recently caused a huge controversy in Africa when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was accused of secretly sterilizing millions of women in Africa by doctors in Kenya after abortion drugs were discovered in Tetanus vaccines. Could this have been a test for his proposed depopulation program?

In a total backtrack of his usual New World Order style open border policies, Gates is now suggesting that the mass influx of migrants into Europe from Africa is threatening to overwhelm countries like Germany who have welcomed globalism.

Bill Gates recently caused a huge controversy in Africa when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was accused of secretly sterilizing millions of women in Africa by doctors in Kenya after abortion drugs were discovered in Tetanus vaccines. Could this have been a test for his proposed depopulation program? Zero Hedge reports: According to Gates, the combination of explosive population growth in Africa combined with Europe’s notoriously generous open-border migrant welfare programs – as illustrated by the ‘German attitude to refugees’ have incentivised migrants to flood into Europe.

Comment: Not the secret war on Africa by the West

“On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this – which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.”

While Germany has been one of the pioneers of the open door policy, it cannot

“take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”

Thus Gates advised European nations to take action in order to make it “more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.” –Bill Gates

How to stop them?

Gates, whose third world vaccination programs have contributed to Africa’s population explosion, suggested that heaping tons of money onto Africa while taking steps to prevent transit into Europe is the best solution. After calling Germany’s commitment to allocate 0.7% of GDP towards foreign aid “phenomenal,” Gates encouraged “other European nations to follow its example.” (Because Africa is of course known for efficiently managing billions in foreign aid without corruption to ensure that their people are taken care of. Surely Europe’s donations will create an Africa that rivals downtown Hamburg.) Italy Gates’ comments come as European leaders discuss the surge of Africans washing up on Italy’s shores every week, with Rome calling on other E.U. nations to accept more refugees.

On Sunday, Italy’s interior minister Marco Minniti begged for help – telling an E.U. summit in Tallinn “We are under enormous pressure”S “If the only ports where refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question” –Marco Minniti Italy has taken in over 82,000 migrants in the first six months of 2017, 19% more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the rescue organization SOS Mediterranee which runs an aid vessel along with Doctors Without Borders said that it would be logistically difficult to redirect migrants to other European ports. If the order came “we would have no choice, we would obey. But it would be completely impossible with more than 1,000 people on board,” Mathilde Auvillain told AFP.

So there you have it

After years of liberal open-border policies predictably resulted in a flood of North African (economic) migrants into Europe, the E.U. is panicking. And the solution to preventing millions of migrants from upgrading their lifestyle by picking up sticks and moving is to throw more money at Africa… However, as SHTFplan’s Mac Slavo asks, does this represent a major shift in the way globalists view immigration? And if so, why would this shift occur? If I were to guess, it has nothing to do with the fact that mass migration is ruining Europe and Western civilization. The globalists have always advocated for the disintegration of Western values and borders. It has to do with the indirect results of mass immigration. The refugee crisis is what has spurred the most resistance to globalism in recent years. It has ignited countless nationalistic political parties in Europe. It has contributed to Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the slow motion fracturing of the E.U. What Bill Gates is saying, is a sign that the globalist may have realized that they’ve made a fatal mistake. By promoting open borders, they’ve sown the seeds for their own destruction. Their decision to allow millions of refugees into Europe has solidified populist conservative movements across the West that threatens to dethrone them. Now they’re trying to close this can of worms. Unfortunately for them and us, it may be too late.


Related Topics:

G20 Leaders Forced to Stay Indoors by Protests*

Recolonalization: G20 Compact with Africa in Berlin: Implications for EU-Africa Relations*

India’s Centre Shuts Health Mission Gate on Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation*

Thousands of Africans Rise Up Against Bill Gates*

Putin Bans Bill Gates and Microsoft from Russia*

Bill Gates’ Population Control Microchip*

Doctors Say Bill Gates Polio Vaccine Has Created Deadly ‘Super Polio’*

Melinda Gates to Inject Indian Girls with Sterilization and has Injected African Girls*

Gates Foundation Gives Tulane U Millions to Curb African Population*

Monsanto, U.S. and Gates Pressure Kenya to Reverse GMO Ban*

Gates and World Bank Peddling Private, For-Profit Schools in Africa, Disguised As Aid*

Further Proof Bill Gates is Linked to Ebola*

50 African Children Paralyzed by Gates-Funded Meningitis ‘Vaccine’*

Bill Gates’ Polio Vaccine Program Eradicates Children, Not Polio*

Poor Asian, African, and Latin American Children Targeted by Gates and Others with Questionable Vaccines*

India: Bill Gates Financing Untested Vaccines that Spread the Disease It Claims to Cure!

Bill Gates and Population Control

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Palestinians enjoy their time at the beach of the Mediterranean sea on the coast of Gaza City, during an electricity crisis that has shut down the territory’s sewage treatment plant, on June 30, 2017. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)


By Almog Ben Zikri

The Israeli Health Ministry believes that the shutdown of a Gaza sewage plant due to power shortages led to pollution at Zikim beach and Ashkelon National Park, which have been closed to swimmers

Beaches in southern Israel were closed to swimmers on Wednesday due to pollution, after power shortages in nearby Gaza led a sewage treatment plant there to shut down.

The electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip appear to have caused untreated sewage to flow just over the border into Israel’s Mediterranean waters. The Health Ministry banned swimming on the beaches at Zikim and Ashkelon National Park after sewage was detected in the water.

Officials suspect that the pollution is sewage that was left untreated after the plant was shuttered due to severe electricity shortages in Gaza, and that it drifted north onto Israeli beaches.

There is no forecast as to when the beaches will reopen.

Gaza’s sewage treatment plant has not been in operation for some time due to the electricity crisis in the Hamas-ruled enclave, which was exacerbated further last month when the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority cut its payments for electricity supplied to the Strip by Israel.

The PA asked Israel to reduce its power to the enclave as part of a years-long effort by the PA, led by the rival Fatah party, to force Hamas into relinquishing political power in Gaza and joining a unified government.

Fatah was ousted from power in Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

Since the sewage plant halted its operations, an estimated 110,000 cubic meters a day of sewage have been flowing into the Mediterranean off the Gaza coast. On Wednesday, the Israeli Health Ministry detected excessive bacterial and fecal levels just to the north of Gaza.

EcoPeace Middle East, an organization that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian ecologists, reported that sewage levels have increased by a third since the reduction in power to the Gaza Strip.

After the Health Ministry’s swimming ban was announced, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to find an immediate solution to the electricity crisis in Gaza, or at least to find a solution to the problem of untreated sewage.

In a public statement, the mayor noted that this is the height of the swimming season, and “the last thing we want to happen is to close beaches.”


Related Topics:

72 Percent of Aid to Palestine Ends Up ‘In Israeli Hands*

Pathological Israeli Security Forces Spray Raw Sewage on Palestinian Homes

‘Israeli Planes Spray Crop-Killing Chemicals On Gaza Farms’*

Evict 120 Bedouins from their own Land and Build a Trash Dump Instead*

World’s Leading Medical Journal Sends an Open Letter to Gaza*

First Account: Opening Two Dams on Gazans midst a Flood*

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

By Esteban Guevara

Last month the New Jersey Assembly passed bill A1114 76 to 0. This legislation, which was proposed by Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, makes it mandatory for public schools to teach children in their social studies classes, from kindergarten through grade 12, “how to interact with law enforcement officers.”

This bill will have detrimental effects on our communities which are already under siege by the police and are confronting poverty and gentrification. The bill scapegoats children and youth for deeply-seeded systemic issues. All progressive people should reject bill A1114 and continue to fight against it alongside the communities who the police harass, humiliate and murder on a daily basis across the country.

The police murder people

Let’s cut to the chase. Wanton police terror is a reality in poor urban communities of colour. Recently, we have seen too many cases where the police have shot and killed unarmed Black and Brown people.

The proposers of this legislature claims that this bill will improve community and police interaction. However, since the shooting and death of Michael Brown, 14 teenagers have been killed by the police. Invoking the names of Tamir Rice 12, Cameron Tillman 12, Vonderrit Myers Jr. 18, Laquan McDonald 17, Carey Smith-Viramontes 18 , Jeffrey Holden 18, Qusean Whitten 18, Miguel Benton 19, Dillon McGee 18, Levi Weaver 18, Karen Cifuentes 19, Sergio Ramos 18, Roshad McIntosh 19 and Diana Showman 19 is heartbreaking. Their murders unequivocally prove that our children are not the ones who should be taught how to interact with the “authorities;” the police are the ones who should be taught how to peacefully interact with us.

The police as an institution cannot be reformed. Racism and corruption permeate all levels of the U.S.’s largest gang.

In spite of all this, the Democratic controlled New Jersey Assembly sponsored this legislation that will only shift onus on how the police interact with our communities from the police department onto our children.

Bill A1114 will bolster victim-blaming which is already utilized by the media when they report cases of civilians dying at the hand of the police. This bill can be implemented as soon as 2018 if it passes the state Senate.

We need to fight for laws that protect and empower vulnerable communities. The Amistad bill— which requires New Jersey schools to incorporate African-American history into their social studies curriculum—would be one important step forward.


The people are standing up to Bill A1114. A campaign called Good Kids, Bad Cities initiated by community organizers and the National Independent Black Parent Association has created a petition against the bill which will be presented to the New Jersey Assembly.

On Friday June 30th, a large group of community members and activists from Black Lives Matter NJ, Students of Color NJ, Anakbayan NJ, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation gathered against the racist bill in Trenton and marched from the train station to the New Jersey State House.

At the State House, we held a rally where the community announced six demands that need to be addressed immediately. Throughout the protest, the police sought to intimidate and threaten organizers. They did not allow us to enter the State House even though it is a public building. There was media coverage as the crowd swelled and many community members and bystanders joined the call for action proving that there’s power in unity.

The Democrats: not our friends

Bill A1114 demonstrates that it does not matter if it’s on the federal, state, or local level, the Democratic Party and its representatives do not represent workers. They only seek policies and laws that maintain the status quo, benefit the most powerful and protect repressive state institutions. The true resistance remains in grassroots organizations that fight fearlessly and remain independent of the Democratic Party.

In memory of the youth and all the victims slain by the police, we vow to stand strong against Bil A1114 and every measure that harms our people. We remain in solidarity with all the families mourning their fallen children. To paraphrase Caribbean revolutionary Maurice Bishop: “The greatest way to honor our fallen warriors is by picking up the weapons they left behind.”


Related Topics:

New Jersey Town Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Islamic Group for $3.25mn*

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

Gentrification and Police Terror Continues in North Sacramento*

Black NYPD Officers Sue the Department, Were Pressured to Meet Quotas of Black Arrests*

From Public Schools to Indoctrination Centres*

Recolonalization: G20 Compact with Africa in Berlin: Implications for EU-Africa Relations*

Recolonalization: G20 Compact with Africa in Berlin: Implications for EU-Africa Relations*

By Marco Zoppi

The proposed formula contains appealing guidelines for initiating economic development in Africa, but it does not address long-term stability and protection from risks and global volatility. Risks are only understood as risks for the investors. Thus, this development strategy embraces the prevailing neoliberalism that re-enacts colonialism.

On June 12-13, Berlin hosted the latest initiative of the G20 Compact with Africa, an international conference that brought political leaders together under the promising title “Investing in a Common Future”. The Berlin meeting is part of a well-framed roadmap of high-profile international gatherings: finance ministers and country representatives have already sat around the same table in Washington and Durban earlier this year, and many of them will meet again for the European Union-African Union summit in November.

The Compact with Africa (CWA) aims at providing a framework to “significantly increase private and infrastructure investment in Africa”, relying for this purpose on the expertise and assistance of G20 member countries as well as international organizations, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). The latter trio has recently issued a concept paper that contains the instruments envisaged for boosting private investments.

Now that a number of African countries seem to have already committed to the set of measures promoted by the CWA (Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia), and more could do the same in the near future, a debate about the very nature of this partnership is gaining momentum. The leading question is, of course, whether the CWA should be read under the renowned rubric of “neocolonial” interventions in Africa, or as a brand new, concrete opportunity for economic growth. This short article attempts to address precisely that fine line between continuity and rupture with the past, integrating thus a historical perspective in the analysis of the matter. In doing so, I focus especially on the role of the European Union (E.U.), which beyond being a G20 member, is undoubtedly also the actor most interested in co-determining Africa’s future.

The context

Let us begin the analysis with two fundamental considerations: the E.U. needs both effective governments and solid markets in Africa, now more than ever. In fact, in the European order of things, the current pace of emigration from Africa has become unsustainable. The disastrous joint management of migration flows and quotas displayed by European governments fans the flames further, fuelling anti-Europe and anti-migrants sentiments throughout the continent, eventually corroding solidarity between member states. Against this backdrop, measures like the externalization of controls and asylum applications, or ad hoc deals with African governments do not have prospects of yielding lasting results. This has also implications in terms of security and the fight against terrorism, violent extremism and transnational organized crimes: the European Commission and E.U. foreign policy chief Mogherini stated that “never before have E.U. security interests been so intertwined with Africa”, as proved also by the numerous E.U. military training missions carried on in Africa.

The necessity to find viable solutions for the long-term introduces the second consideration, which regards Africa’s socio-economic outlook: we have learned that migration flows do not concern only asylum seekers, but have acquired the character of a complex and structural economic phenomenon that involves individuals relocating from the periphery to the perceived center of global wealth. This mass relocation could expand further, as the continent’s population is predicted to rise considerably in the next decades ahead. It has been estimated that Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need 18 million new jobs each year up to 2035 in order to absorb the new labour market entrants: in view of this, African states need to be able to develop internal and regional markets that can generate enough jobs. Currently only 3 million jobs are being created yearly. Not an easy task, considering that African economies remain vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices, which can significantly affect economic performances (as occurred in 2015-16).

For European governments, that discrepancy between demographic growth on the one hand, and job opportunities in African markets on the other, is clearly a source of preoccupation. At the same time, though, Europe sees in Africa also future opportunities for revitalizing its stagnant economy. Italy’s former president Giorgio Napolitano, who has often addressed Euro-African relations during his political career, commented after Berlin that the “general interest of Europe lies” also “in the prospect to satisfy future labour force needs within its own economies in a selective and regulated fashion, and to open new opportunities of joint development with the African continent”. African workforce stands out again at the horizon of possibilities, when it comes to filling specific gaps, finding solutions to counterbalance Europe’s ageing population, and developing new trades.

A continued partnership

The context in which the CWA talks took place appears to confirm that the concerned political actors perceive Europe and Africa to be close partners. The idea of joint African and European development, and the ultimate relevance of this partnership for European integration itself, is not new. As a matter of fact, it represents a file rouge that has connected the history of the two continents for decades, ever since the 1950 foundational Schuman Declaration, which mentioned “the development of the African continent” as one of Europe’s “essential tasks”.

“In this way”, the documents continued, “there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system”.

Sixty years after that historic document, there is evidently still “a lot to do” in order to “ensure that trade flows between Europe and African countries really benefit everyone”, as German Chancellor Merkel commented in the opening speech of the Berlin conference. The element of novelty is that Europe now is far more exposed to the socio-economic consequences of unequal trade, and to the shortcomings of the reforms promoted by international organizations.

Resorting to old ideas and instruments?

Continuity and rupture with the past emerge also in the pronounced preference for private and market solutions enshrined in the CWA. As highlighted in one analysis of the initiative:

“the G20’s Compact does not have the right balance between public and private financing but is heavily prone towards the private side, with all the implications for predatory-financing abuse that are well understood”.

In effect, the trio’s report accords priority to the private sector and the market for what concerns “commercial” infrastructures (such as transport, energy or water sector projects), whose gap deters investment. African governments are mainly in charge of reducing risks and creating a favorable business environment, concurring to form an “integrated approach to create the conditions for a surge in private investment, including by removing constraints that currently hamper capital flows from some industrialized countries”. This, in turn, will favour also the improvement of “non-commercial” infrastructures (urban road networks, basic education and health infrastructure). The over-emphasis placed on sending “a strong signal to private investors” comes with limitations: for example, the discouraging omission of recommendations for sustainable and ecologically-friendly development in the CWA. Jann Lay (Acting Director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs in Hamburg) speaks about four omitted items: investment in education; G20’s responsibility in creating an uncertain trade and investment policy environment; the social and environmental risks associated with private investment; and the commitment to a sustainable development agenda, as implied by the 2030 Agenda.

The most delicate issue with CWA approach is arguably that of privatization itself, as it is closely connected with the legacy of the neoliberal agenda and of the loan-schemes known as Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) initiated by IMF and WB, that is, the same international organizations now spurring the CWA. SAPs are deemed by many as culpable for Africa’s “lost decades” in the 1980s and 1990s (for recent critical approaches to neoliberalism in Africa, see Soludo and Mkandawire 1999; Mensah 2008; Muiu and Martin 2009). According to many scholars and analysts, problems of unemployment, poor governance performances and deteriorating terms of trade in Africa were all derived from, or made worse, by SAP packages, which prescribed indeed liberalization, privatization, currency devaluation, cuts in public expenditure and salaries among other things. Quite interestingly, the austerity programs so criticized in Europe in the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis contained very similar measures to those seen with SAPs. And the fact that recently the IMF has (partly) apologized for the effects of the policies it had promoted under the flag of the free market ideology has surely not helped selling the CWA arguments to the skeptics out there.

Privatization has certainly matured a negative connotation in Africa. For Prempeh, it has opened the way for “accumulation by dispossession”, namely “the defining hallmark of the continent’s incorporation into the capitalist system”. Yet, the state does not fare well either in terms of reputation as agent for development. It has been argued that incompetent, corrupted governments, and too much “statism” in general, have prevented or delayed in Africa the formation of domestic entrepreneurship and capital groups that could outdo foreign enterprises. On the other hand, even comparatively more efficient nation-state machineries are not saving Europe either, from reckless financial manoeuvres and tax avoidance by multinational companies.

CWA: Development for whom, and by whom?

We could discuss state and market forever. I believe, though, that the interpretative key for CWA consists, first of all, in seeing the “global market”, in all its components (doctrines and financial dynamics), as the outcome of a competition that has grown unequal over time and not as a sort of neutral ground of exchange. This inequality is visible in the legacy of colonialism, which at the time of independence left several African economies relying on exportation of (few) primary commodities, with scarce levels of diversification, industrialization, and with an almost absent domestic capitalist class. Inequality has grown further through the ill-functioning of Western-like states, which have been too often ruled by shortsighted leaderships, revealing themselves to be exceedingly vulnerable to neo-patrimonialism. Inequality continues with illegal deprivation of resources.

Once we have refreshed our minds on the historical roots of inequality, we can argue that the crucial criteria to assess the CWA at the policy level are thus linked to its concrete capacity to interrupt the aforementioned trends. The CWA should promote an alternative development model that is not based on primary production, but looks instead at boosting secondary or tertiary products. An effective and path-breaking cooperation should interrupt the cycle that makes of Africa a continent for cheap and unskilled labor that is primarily oriented at producing raw products for Western industries and markets. Understood in this sense, the kernel of the matter is not about the balance between states or the free market: one has to ponder who the private investors in Africa will be, considering that the continent presents, also for the reasons above, lower numbers of entrepreneurs and corporate groups, as well as of educated, skilled, people to cover key positions.

In this discourse, it is quite surprising to see not a single mention of African diaspora in the CWA. Surely, diaspora can be subsumed in the category of private investors, as it indeed is, yet I believe that it is quite outmoded imagining development without referring explicitly to diaspora and their local knowledge, as privileged development partners.

In these circumstances, one may wonder about the real risks involved in exposing service provision in African states to further vulnerability on the global markets, and about what are the instruments put in place to protect African consumers. Here, the CWA should have been more accurate in indicating how it intends to secure that services will not be provided only by foreign enterprises; that there will be opportunities for high-skill acquisition by Africans; that Africa’s wealth will not massively flow outside the continent; finally, that African states will have the instruments to deal with the social costs of global capitalism (tax evasion; environmental risks; social security). In other words, in order to translate CWA in a long-standing development, liberalization should come with a modicum of strategies (e.g. special agreements; protection; subsidies to local firms) to reduce dependence on foreign companies. These points should be central in a growth strategy that aims at marking a break with the past.

Besides the intricate workings of neoliberalism, we should not overlook the influence of ideology and knowledge for policymaking. Mensah has rightly maintained:

“Arguably, more than the production and consumption of material goods, it is in the creation of knowledge that the West seeks to sustain its hegemonic grip on the ‘Third World’ under a purportedly value-neutral development discourse”.

Eventually, we are back to an issue that is old as time, which concerns the understanding of what “development” means per se. Prominent Guyanese intellectual Walter Rodney underlined this problematic aspect already in the early 1970s, when he remarked that the notion of development is “tied in with the state of the society as a whole”. Development is never only an economic phenomenon, but involves far deeper socio-political matters, not least the way people control and give sense to their lives, as well as the kind of values and aspirations cherished by each and every society. Nevertheless, as Mkandawire and Soludo have recently noted, “[n]o other region of the world has been so dominated by external ideas and models” as Africa. Think of the influential Chinese economic development model in Africa. Think also about the essentialization of development in terms of variations in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which one retrieves also in the key CWA documents. GDP is not just a number, free from ideology: giving prominence to GPD means embracing the idea of perpetual growth, and more broadly, believing in the expansion of production as solution to socio-economic problems (see Lepenies 2016). Development, intended as modernization and super-consumerism, may not be a generalized ambition— therefore, the poorest countries do not represent “simply the rich North before its take-off” (Kalb, Pansters, and Siebers 2004).

Even worse, while reliable GDP indexes and other indicators require thorough data collecting, researchers show that economic as well as statistical estimates in Africa have to be taken with a grain of salt, because we are often in front of “poor numbers” (Jerven 2013) and “guestimates” (Bevan 2008, 208) in reason of their low accuracy.

However, this theme exposes another essential aspect of the issue: Africans are not great fans of their indigenous economic models, and often we are not even aware of the loci of African knowledge production and diffusion. While this state of things is set to change, as initiatives of indigenous knowledge valorization and deconstruction of Eurocentrism in school curricula are on the rise, a more intense circulation of ideas and intra-continental exchange of experiences is definitely needed, especially among political elites, and will be beneficial for future policymaking. Ruptures with current understandings of development will pass also through these processes.


The general impression is that while CWA’s economic formula contains appealing guidelines for initiating economic development (infrastructures; investments; service delivering), it does not address with the same adequacy long-term stability and protection from risks (from the environment to debt management) and global volatility. Risks are only understood as risks for the investors. The development strategy discussed in Berlin, thus, embraces for most part the still prevailing economic credo— the self-regulating market, and subsequently re-proposes similar measures seen already in the recent past, at least in the general framework of action presented so far.

Hence, the analysis provided in this article has helped putting in the right perspective Shizha’ and Abdi’s assertion that “neo-liberal globalization and development paradigms”, de facto, “re-enact colonialism”, in tragic continuity with the past. Yet, even if we put aside the ghosts of (neo-)colonialism, elements of criticism persist in policy formulation. Since privatization tends to divert development in the direction of profit maximization, we should think in advance about who will manage the balance “lucrative vs. socially-needed” services, for example.

Also, since the market is volatile by definition, a thorough discussion should clarify how do we ensure that skills and capital will remain in place, when corporations and international funds will move towards greener pastures. Otherwise, development will be short-lived. The E.U., which perceives itself as a stakeholder in the future of Africa, could play a more significant role in relation to these issues, becoming the main promoter of a model that insures also African citizens from rapacious private interests. For the moment, however, the E.U. has not matured yet the position of “a truly responsible and capable global actor” (Mayer 2012, 457). This position is no longer sustainable, especially since Europe and Africa are integrated within an increasingly connected system in which socio-economic effects of development and global trade are felt on both sides.


Related Topics:

At the World Economic Forum-Africa Germany Pitched a Dubious New G20 Corporate Strategy*

Terrorists, Thugs Must Be Eradicated in West Africa: Macron*

World Loots Africa Over $41bn Each Year*

Africa’s Auschwitz: The Concentration Camp the West Erased from History*

The U.S. is Waging a Massive Shadow War in Africa, Exclusive Documents Reveal*

Stop E.U. from Hijacking Africa’s Clean Energy Future*

Gulf Oasis Was Home to Earliest Humans that Existed Africa – But What Forced them Out?*

Declaration of the South African Federation of Trade Unions*

World Bank Funds some of Africa’s most Notorious Land Grabs*

Leaked Trump Presidential Memo Would Free U.S. Companies to Buy Conflict Minerals from Central African Warlords*

Apartheid 2017 Still Kicking in S. Africa *

Should a Country Like France Be Indicting African Leaders?

Netanyahu Boasts of Israel’s War on Africans*

The U.S. Elite Troops Partner with African Forces but Pursue U.S. Aims*

Thousands of Africans Rise Up Against Bill Gates*

BP, Trafigura and Vitol Export Dirty Oil to Africa to Kill People*

French Draft Resolution on Syria Reflects its Longing for its Colonial History in Africa*

E.U. Bullies its Way through an Reciprocal Trade Access in Africa*

What Does Ebola, Gas and Oil Have in Common?*

Independence Day for Whom*

Independence Day for Whom*

By: Julian Cola, Elliott Gabriel

Left to right: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Ron Gochez, Konrad Aderer and Ameena Qazi. | Photo: Contributed, AF3IRM, Revo Grafia, ACLU SoCal


teleSUR spoke to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Konrad Aderer, Ron Gochez and Ameena Qazi to gather their thoughts on the U.S. holiday.

On July 4, the United States – a nation in the midst of doing all it can to preserve its hegemony and waning global dominance – gears up to celebrate its independence from former empire Britain.

Ambitions on such a day, even for a country whose political class routinely touts self-indulgent precepts of “exceptionalism,” run high. Additional masts are hoisted to fly the U.S. flag. Families and friends barbecue, cook, and drink beers from cans decked-out with stars and stripes. And, of course, a barrage of fireworks – in direct allusion to the belligerent national anthem verse, “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” – fill the night sky as the mainstays of patriotic pop music blare.

With its mainstream media stronghold echoing every ounce of “national pride,” the voice of oppressed nations within the “land of the free” is filtered from public discourse and conscious.

Do they exist or is it all a myth?

The United States didn’t emerge from an abyss. Indeed, the circumstances that produced much of the nation’s economic and material wealth were birthed through the genocide perpetrated against Indigenous people and subsequent robbery of their land, as well as the enslavement of African people for centuries.

While Indigenous people were corralled onto reservations and African descendants released into a racist society without compensation for their labors, the United States went about the business of building its brand and expanding its influence.

However, what do people of oppressed groups and nationalities living within the United States have to say about Independence Day?

Joining us in conversation:

Konrad Aderer, 48, Brooklyn-based Japanese American director of soon-to-be-released documentary Resistance at Tule Lake, as well as previous films, Enemy Alien and Rising Up: The Alams.

Thandisizwe Chimurenga is a Los Angeles-based award-winning, freelance journalist and author who identifies as an “Afrikan in America.”

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 78, lifelong movement organizer with Scots-Irish and Native roots in rural Oklahoma and four decades of work in international Indigenous movements. Dunbar-Ortiz is a retired university professor, historian and award-winning author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

Ron Gochez, 36, Mexican-Salvadoran organizer, educator and Political Secretary of Union del Barrio Los Angeles, a revolutionary socialist organization founded in 1981 to advance the fight for the liberation and self-determination of Mexican and Latino communities in the United States and the socialist integration of the Americas.

AmeenaAmeena Mirza Qazi, 35, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles, , former staff attorney and deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Los Angeles.

Demonstrating in Barrio Logan in San Diego after the election with a message of “Trump Out!” | Photo: Reuters


What does “independence” mean to you?

Aderer: Freedom from tyranny, oppression, exclusion, detention, internment.

Chimurenga: Independence means freedom from foreign control. It means self-determination, the right and the ability (power) to determine what we do, what happens to us, in the places/communities in which we live. In the U.S., that means freedom from the domination of a white supremacist state.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Personally, and as a historian, independence of the United States is one of the most tragic events in the history of humanity. For “my people,” meaning Scots-Irish early settlers, they were and are on the whole the most gung-ho U.S. patriots and believe U.S. independence was intended by God.

Gochez: As Indigenous/Mexican people, American Independence day is something that we cannot celebrate because the United States was literally built by African and indigenous slaves, right on top of our ancestral homeland. We don’t trace our roots back to the 13 colonies or to the so-called founding fathers. We trace our roots to these lands for thousands of years before July 4, 1776. We will truly be able to celebrate our independence when we regain our self-determination as a people. Today, we lack social, political and economic power in this country as a direct result of the settler colonial invasion so it would be nonsensical for us to celebrate “independence day.” We cannot celebrate the independence of our oppressors who continue to colonize us and treat us as foreigners on our own land.

Qazi: Independence means the ability to live freely and autonomously, to practice our faith without repercussions, to choose who represents us and to challenge those who don’t.

What are your thoughts about July 4, U.S. Independence day?

Aderer: It’s a day to commit to the true freedom which has not yet arrived.

Chimurenga: Afrikan people were not free on July 4, 1776. If you read Dr. Gerald Horne’s works, he argues U.S. independence from Britain was predicated on keeping my people enslaved. You know what Frederick Douglass said about the 4th of July, so you know what I think about the 4th of July.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Independence Day celebrates the July 4, 1776, issuance of “The Declaration of Independence” by the elite leaders of the 13 British colonies, declaring their intention to separate from the British Empire to form their own Anglo empire. I see it as a celebration of imperialism and colonialism. During the 8 years of counter-insurgent warfare that followed, mostly directed at the Native nations on the periphery of the colonies, the separatists created several land ordinances before the U.S. was actually founded outlining their plans to seize Indigenous territories all the way to the Mississippi River with aspirations beyond to the Pacific. The other principal motive was the determination of the majority of the founders, who were wealthy slavers to maintain and expand an economy based on African bodies as capital and free (slave) African labour.

Genocide and slavery is what is celebrated on Independence Day.

Gochez: The 4th of July represents independence for the descendants of the colonists who broke away from their European brothers and sisters during the war. For Africans, Indigenous people and other people of colour, we have never experienced that independence in this country but that’s why we remain in struggle and continue to fight to defend our rights here, inside of the U.S.

Qazi: July 4th to me represents an aspiration rather than a truth. Practically, it’s a time to spend with family and friends during this hot summer month.

The ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee nation by the U.S. Army, 1838. This painting, The Trail of Tears, was painted by Robert Lindneux in 1942. | Photo: Public Domain


At what moment did you realize that the 4th of July didn’t pertain to you and your people?

Aderer: I realized that the 4th of July didn’t apply to Asian Americans when I learned that my grandparents were incarcerated along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans solely because of their ethnicity.

Chimurenga: Once I became a teenager and began to study my history. As a child I loved July 4th. Adults off from work, kids out of school, barbecue and fireworks at night. As I grew older I began to recognize the contradictions between the propaganda I was fed in school and popular culture, and my peoples’ lived experiences.

Dunbar-Ortiz: I always hated the 4th of July, but did not know why until I began studying history in my late teens in Oklahoma.

Gochez: I was never very patriotic growing up so I never celebrated the 4th of July but I did learn a lot a lot about my history and culture in my first year of college. I was able to clearly understand that the 4th of July didn’t have any positive effects on my family, my people or on any people of colour.

What’s your opinion about the state of oppressed nationalities in the United States?

Aderer: Oppressed nationalities are continuing to grow in numbers in the U.S., but even as whites themselves become a minority, people of colour will need to work and organize as never before to dismantle racism that has been systematized in our democracy (e.g. gerrymandering) and overcome the anti-democratic policy-making and state violence unleashed by white racists galvanized by demographic change.

Chimurenga: I think all oppressed nationalities are fighting a cultural/psychological war – a war that keeps us from understanding that we are oppressed nationalities with a right to fight for our self-determination; to fight for the freedom of our nation’s peoples.

Dunbar-Ortiz: The white nationalism upon which the United States was founded and all its political and cultural institutions fashioned expanded from Black and Indian-hating to Mexicans (taking half their territory between 1828 and 1848), then to (excluding) Chinese, to other darker people, with anti-Black racism maintaining a central place.

Gochez: All oppressed peoples in the United States share something in common – we all lack independence. We are systematically oppressed and the two-party system in this country is set up to maintain the status quo. For this and many other reasons, people of color who have been able to learn about the true history of this nation understand that we truly have very little to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Qazi: I don’t think anyone is truly free in this country, because even people who benefit from oppressive structures are chained to those structures, and can’t live a better reality.

Los Angeles protesters march against then-President-elect Donald Trump, November 16, 2016. | Photo: EFE


What should be done?

Aderer: Continue building resistance to today’s resurgence of racist, oppressive policymaking, with the understanding that it is not a sudden phenomenon and requires long-term strategy beyond any particular elected official’s term.

Chimurenga: I think that with the election of Donald Trump we are living in a very good time where we can easily draw out the contradictions of this government, but we have to organize better in our own communities to show our people what the alternative looks like.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Massive education, which will have to be done through popular education, first for social justice movements and organizations to understand the history, then build it into organizing projects that lead to dismantling the U.S. as it exists.

Gochez: As oppressed peoples, we need to continue to organize so that we can one day actually take back our freedom. We need to coordinate our work across various sectors in this country so that we can include the struggles of as many people as possible. Once we are united, we have to push to dismantle the current oppressive system that is in place in the United States and replace it with a government that will serve the needs of the masses of the people. In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh used the U.S. Declaration of Independence as a framework to declare independence for his own people when they were facing U.S. imperialism. We can and will do the same one day when we declare ourselves free and independent from U.S. capitalism and imperialism.

People protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 22, 2016. | Photo: Reuters


What’s your impression of white Americans celebrating Independence Day and their collective denial to acknowledge the aspirations for freedom and independence of oppressed groups in the United States?

Aderer: It is a natural human reaction to the threat of embedded hegemony slipping away. As someone who carries various privileges and advantages from my own background, I need to view this denial with understanding, yet aid the forces of change that are developing a paradigm of national commemoration that can respect people of all backgrounds.

Chimurenga: I don’t think it’s surprising. It’s how all conquering civilizations and empires act.

Dunbar-Ortiz: White nationalism remains bedrock in the United States

Gochez: The masses of white Americans in the United States are themselves not fully aware of the real history and the devastation that was caused by the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of African peoples. For that reasons, they do not fully understand that their so-called independence comes at the direct expense of people of colour. Without the genocide of the indigenous people and the blatant theft of their lands, how could there even be a United States today? Without slave labour, the U.S. would not have developed into the economic power that it is today because the foundation for the U.S. economy was slavery. Today, those experiences are the reason why people of colour are still at the bottom of the social strata in the United States. Any attempts from those groups to gain their own independence from the U.S. have been met with brutal violence that has included assassinations, beatings, disappearances, false incarceration, et cetera. So today, white Americans have to understand that the concept of independence is abstract to many people of colour in the U.S. because since the birth of this nation we have not enjoyed that same independence.

Qazi: I don’t think people really use this holiday to raise their fists and declare “Yay! We’re free from British tyranny!” It’s a time for many people to wear their patriotism, whether true or farcical, on their sleeves. Otherwise, families just get together to barbecue and watch fireworks, and like so much in this country, the day is devoid of meaning.

Residents of Tule Lake War Relocation Authority Camp Block 42 who refused to sign the “Loyalty Questionnaire” and were collectively arrested and threatened at gunpoint by U.S. Army personnel. | Photo: Konrad Aderer


How does the U.S. media and education system inform the national and international community about “U.S. independence”?

Aderer: As the U.S. media and education system adapt and evolve to respect and incorporate previously suppressed histories into the retelling of U.S. independence, a more accurate understanding of the contradictions and uneven nature of revolutionary progress will inform a living history that can help our democracy move forward and not backward.

Chimurenga: The same way they inform the rest of the world about the United States way of life: that the United States is a superpower that it is superior and that this is who you want to be like. This is the land that you want to come to because the streets are paved with gold, the land of milk and honey and it is the standard-bearer for civilization and it is the standard-bearer for civilization, not just Western Civilization but World Civilization. The U.S. propaganda machine tells the world you want to be just like us. It is up to the rest of the world to reject and resist that narrative.

Dunbar-Ortiz: The U.S. media and educational system follow the official line of the heroism (“warts and all”) of the founding fathers and the nearly perfect system of government they devised.

Gochez: The U.S. corporate media continues to provide grossly false information about the true nature of U.S. independence. The media and the text books in the United States boast of freedom, equality, democracy, but in reality, those are concepts that have never truly existed for people of colour in the United States. Even today, the majority of the people who are incarcerated in the U.S. are people of colour and the U.S. continues to benefit financially from the economic exploitation of their labour. In terms of democracy, the world knows that the U.S. has the least democratic electoral system of any of the so-called developed nations and that voter suppression of people of colour is still a reality. The U.S. is in no moral position to teach the world anything about independence and/or democracy.

A pro-Trump demonstrator yells during a demonstration in Portland, Oregon, June 4, 2017 | Photo: Reuters


How does your work help to resist the prevailing ideology underlying U.S. Independence Day?

Aderer: My work is making documentaries about the resistance of immigrant communities to policies of detention, profiling and criminalization and using them to inform and inspire current resistance movements. My current documentary, Resistance at Tule Lake, tells the long-suppressed story of 12,000 Japanese Americans who dared to resist the U.S. government’s program of mass incarceration during World War II. Branded as “disloyals” and re-imprisoned at Tule Lake Segregation Center, they continued to protest in the face of militarized violence, and thousands renounced their U.S. citizenship. Giving voice to experiences that have been marginalized for over 70 years, this documentary challenges the nationalist, one-sided ideal of wartime “loyalty.”

Chimurenga: Right now my work and activism primarily takes the form of writing – writing, as Toni Cade Bambara says, to “make revolution irresistible” – to not only show the contradictions of this white supremacist state but to show that it is absolutely illegitimate, that it must be resisted, that we have the right to resist, and that we can win.

Dunbar-Ortiz: I research, write books, contribute to Indigenous projects of sovereignty and decolonization, against police obsession/violence against descendants of enslaved African, carrying on the tradition for which they were founded in controlling enslaved Africans (slave patrols, 2nd Amendment to the Constitution).

What’s your message to the U.S. government this 4th of July?

Aderer: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Chimurenga: Your time is up. It may not happen tomorrow it may not happen this year it may not happen for another 5 years but your hegemony, your domination, your time, is coming to an end.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Capitalism must die for us to be free; meanwhile stop celebrating white nationalism with a federal holiday.

Gochez: We will continue to resist against the neo-fascist regime of Donald Trump and we will continue to organize in our communities so that one day we can truly celebrate our genuine independence. We will continue to raise consciousness so that the masses of working class people in the United States understand that the patriotism, the fireworks, the sales at the mall are all there to distract and confuse them about the true nature of this country.

We cannot celebrate independence while millions of poor people are locked up in prisons on poverty related crimes. We cannot celebrate independence while people of colour are viciously killed on the streets of this country on a daily basis without any repercussions for the police officers who murder them. We cannot celebrate independence while millions of oppressed people – immigrants, LGBTQ, women – face systematic discrimination in this country.

We can’t celebrate independence until we are all truly free and independent.


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Why Are White Americans Dying Off?

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The Vanishing Indigenous Nations of the U.S. – Five Facts*

From 15 Million Acres to 1 Million: How Black People Lost Their Land*

From 15 Million Acres to 1 Million: How Black People Lost Their Land*

By David Love

Slave Quarters at the Hermitage plantation,Chatham County, Georgia


At its height, Black land ownership was impressive. At the turn of the 20th century, formerly enslaved Black people and their heirs owned 15 million acres of land, primarily in the South, mostly used for farming. In 1920, the 925,000 African-American farms represented 14% of the farms in America.

Sadly, things turned for the worse, as 600,000 Black farmers were forced off their land, with only 45,000 Black farms remaining in 1975. Now, Black folks are only 1% of rural landowners in the U.S., and under 2% of farmers. Of the 1 billion acres of arable land in America, Black people today own a little more than 1 million acres, according to AP.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture settled with Black farmers for $2.3 billion for their longstanding claims of discrimination in farm loans and other government programs.

Over the years, Black people have lost their land through a number of circumstances, including government action, deception and a reign of domestic terror in the South that forced Black people from their homes through threats of violence and lynching. That terror and economic exploitation precipitated the Great Migration, which resulted in the uprooting of over 6 million Black people from the South and their relocation to the North, Midwest and West between 1916 and 1970.

How we lost the land is an untold story.

An investigation by AP documented the process by which people were tricked or intimated out of their property. In this study of 107 land takings in 13 Southern and border states, 406 landowners lost over 24,000 acres of farm and timber land and 85 properties such as city lots and stores. The property, which today is owned by white people and corporations, is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. In recent years, groups such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Atlanta and the Land Loss Prevention Project in Durham, N.C., receive new reports of land takings on a regular basis, while the Penn Center in St. Helena Island, S.C., has gathered 2,000 such cases. One story from the AP provides the context by which families lost their land to thievery and violence:

After midnight on Oct. 4, 1908, 50 hooded white men surrounded the home of a black farmer in Hickman, Ky., and ordered him to come out for a whipping. When David Walker refused and shot at them instead, the mob poured coal oil on his house and set it afire, according to contemporary newspaper accounts. Pleading for mercy, Walker ran out the front door, followed by four screaming children and his wife, carrying a baby in her arms. The mob shot them all, wounding three children and killing the others. Walker’s oldest son never escaped the burning house. No one was ever charged with the killings, and the surviving children were deprived of the farm their father died defending. Land records show that Walker’s 2 1/2-acre farm was simply folded into the property of a white neighbour. The neighbour soon sold it to another man, whose daughter owns the undeveloped land today.

Land is among the most important assets people can own. Certainly, for the rural society in which many African Americans traditionally have lived, land represented prosperity, intergenerational wealth, family and community. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), land can be “a vital part of cultural and social identities, a valuable asset to stimulate economic growth and a central component to preserving natural resources and building societies that are inclusive, resilient and sustainable.”

“It’s more about land as a home, it’s about economics and culture, all rolled up into one,” Jennie L. Stephens, executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation said. Based in Charleston, S.C., the organization serves 15 counties in the Palmetto State, including the Lowcountry, where Gullah-Geechee have struggled to hold onto their ancestral homelands on the Sea Islands in the face of development, gentrification and corporate intrusion. For generations, families have had the land, procured through the blood, sweat and tears of their ancestors, until many are forced to sell it.

The Center promotes sustainable land use to help historically underserved families realize the wealth-building asset of their land, and prevents heirs’ property owners from losing their land. Under the concept of heirs’ property, a form of communal land ownership found among rural communities of the South, both Black and white, numerous heirs of the original landowner are co-owners of the land, each owning a percentage share. They may be 20, 30, 40 or more people scattered around the country, and in some cases, have never visited the land and may not even know they are co-owners. The problem arises when corporations and developers entice family members to sell their share, becoming family members themselves and forcing a partition sale, a court-mandated auction sale of the land, all without notice to the other family members.

“It is a real issue,” said Tish Lynn, director of communications at the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation.  Lynn said that across the Southeast and throughout the country, land has been in the hands of African-American families through heirs’ titles, passed from generation to generation without a clear title to the land. Rather, land was passed through oral tradition, without access to the judicial system or the ability to hire a lawyer. Although heirs’ property is a rural characteristic rather than a racial one, for Black people who have had more than their share of exploitation, the suffering is compounded.

“I talk about it as an injustice. We call it legalized theft. We’re trying to level the playing field by clearing the title,” Lynn said.

Jennie Stephens noted that while the issue of land loss is not new, it is receiving more attention these days. Indigenous Black landowners now find themselves grappling with the same land loss issues facing Native Americans. Once thought to be the most unproductive land, now everyone wants to live in the Sea Islands area. Lynn calls the Charleston coastal area a magnet, with “40 new people coming every day, and the attraction of industry, Boeing, Volvo and the desirability of living here has logarithmically increased the pressure of development.” Hurricane Hugo helped shine a light on issues facing the coast as forests amid these heirs’ properties were destroyed. With few laws on the books to protect landowners, it is easily lost and families torn apart.

“We started to look at the tax-assessed value of the land of all the individuals we provide legal advice and counsel,”

Stephens said of the clients whose land her organization seeks to protect, which is roughly 300 people each year.

“Over the last year, the tax-assessed value is $38.4 million,” she noted.

Hilton Head Island is a most salient example of once-predominantly Black-owned land that is now in majority white hands, due in no small measure to partition sales. Beaufort County, S.C., which includes Hilton Head, was 57% Black in 1950 but is now 77% white, as The Nation reported, with Black farmers falling from half of all farmers throughout the state to only 7% today.

For heirs’ property owners, clearing the title to the land is a key to helping them use it as an economic engine.

“When natural disasters occur, they cannot access FEMA funds because they don’t have clear title. You can’t apply for any other housing rehab programs that require clear title. Where does that leave you? You need a bucket or you have to move,” Stephens said.

“Oftentimes, landowners don’t come and ask for help until there is an emergency or there has been an increase in the [tax] assessment of the property. … If people don’t receive help in title issues, the land will be lost. The land will become a gated community. Boeing is expanding, Volvo is expanding. Some of our folk are already being asked, ‘Do you want to sell your land?’”

The land loss these Black populations are experiencing is a gentrification issue transposed onto rural communities, as Lynn noted. While it is an economic issue, it is also an environmental one, as Stephens emphasized:

“Once the land is lost, it is not left green anymore. Now, you see these condos with asphalt. It does not only impact the landowner but entire communities,” she noted, adding that people who moved there because they loved the way the land looks are themselves changing the way the land originally looked.

There is some relief in sight for heirs’ property owners in South Carolina, in what could signal a trend for the rest of the South. In 2016, then-Gov. Nikki Haley signed the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act, named in honor of the state lawmaker among the eight murdered in an act of racial terror at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015. The law allows co-tenants to buy out the shares of land speculators — making it difficult for land to be sold through the courts — and allows judges to consider factors such as the sentimental, ancestral and fair market value of the property.

While the Pinckney Act is one example in the right direction, throughout the nation, Black wealth is continuously undercut. For example, the Great Recession, and the attendant subprime mortgage crisis that preyed upon Black and Latino homeowners through institutional racism and discriminatory lending, was a period of historic losses of wealth. According to the Urban Institute, Black families lost 31% of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, Hispanics 44%. As a result, the racial wealth gap continues and Black folks find themselves hamstrung, unable to build for the future and pass down their legacy to successive generations.

“If you can get people to maximize their potential through land, they don’t need a handout,” Jennie Stephens said, underscoring the importance of owning the land and building family wealth.

“It is time for your child to go off to college. Maybe you have had trees growing for awhile. One person who has clear title, they had the trees cut off their land and were able to send their children to college without student loans. That money was not a loss to their family, literally that wealth was passed to their family,” she added.

“That’s a very simple example of wealth building, the fact these children can come out of college without a student loan. You’re starting out and not in the negative. And if your parents managed that land, you get to go back and cut the trees again. If you have clear title, you can get a mortgage and a home equity line of credit.”


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Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

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Puerto Rico: Push the Poor out so the Rich can Move in*

Detroit in the New Fight for Water Rights*

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Chevron and Exxon: The Criminals Behind Katrina*