Monday, April 26, 2010

Henry Louis Gates Jr. wants us to start blaming Africans for slavery, instead of Europeans & their North American descendants. Yep, damn you Kunta Kinte!

One of the things you gotta love about post-racial America, is the new found interest in just about everything black. If you're an avid reader such as myself, and all around social network junkie, you can't help but to run into the latest "we're talking about black people," news articles and stories. One such article has popped up on the scene and has created somewhat of a buzz. Featured in the New York Times last week, was an op-ed piece by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates  Jr. titled Ending the Slavery Blame-Game. I guess something like this is to be expected as we're into year two of our post-racialness. With a black president surely the talk of "forgiveness" was bound to come up, right?

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

How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred."
When I was a kid my grandmother used to always utter the phrase, "Yuh too smart fuh yuh own good," in her strongest Charlottesville, Tobago countryside accent. After I read Gates' piece, I was reminded of this well known Caribbean idiom. It is one of those colloquialisms often used to chastise people who though intelligent, would say and do the most idiotic things, for which they should have known better. Skip Gates is a pretty intelligent and highly educated man; a man that is well respected, in the often overlooked Black intelligentsia.  However, for him to write a piece which posits that Africans are as equally culpable as Europeans for slavery, and its subsequent effects around the world, shows the dramatic irony of he himself being a slave-catcher in my book.

The opening paragraph of the piece was a hint of what was to come:
"THANKS to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage."
Now this is the same Negro who had people like me across the country fired up and screaming about racial profiling after he was arrested in his own home. An event which proved to be quite the shit-storm which drew opinions from all walks of life, especially when, president Obama caught heat for stepping in the turds of the elephant in the room that is racism Yep, after Gates himself in his assumed arrogance declared to the arresting officer "Jim Crow", that "this is what happens to black men in America," he himself did a complete turnaround, only to squander a discussion on racial profiling all for a drink of beer at the White House.

Well you know what? I sincerely hope he gets locked out of his home again and forced to break in just like last year. Yes, and should this happen, the arresting officer should string him up, and beat his ass into submission and acceptance of his name being "Toby" from here on out. The very idea of shifting blame on the atrocity and perpetual human tragedy that was slavery, from European colonialists to Africans, is as absurd as what was suggested by yet another American scholar some years ago: 
"When Europeans arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, the inhabitants had no machinery and no written language. When the Europeans departed, most of them by 1960, they left behind power stations, telephones, telegraphs, railroads, mines, plantations, schools, a civil service, a police force and a treasury." - Pat Buchanan
But Gates is a highly recognized public intellectual unlike Pat Buchanan.  Yet and still,  "certain people" are going to take his words without questioning his motives, and as final validation for their guilt free lives. They won't even question the validity of his argument. Or acknowledge the absence of the context by which European influence sparked the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Sure, it's common knowledge that Africans transferred their prisoners of tribal warfare to Europeans. Europeans who basically put one group against another by providing then sophisticated weaponry in the age old tactic of divide and conquer. But what followed upon arrival into the New World could never have been imagined by those left behind. Let's face it, technology and the idea of text messaging wasn't even anyone's dream back then, but don't tell that to Gates.

My guess is that it was Gates' white side that wrote that piece. Of course you know it was because of the Africans that black folks are all mixed with the blood of Europeans. Yep, and of course you know Gates has traced his genealogical roots back to Ireland, right? Yeah, he's about 99% Irish; or at least he acts that way. OK, so that's an exaggeration. He is not 99% Irish, but at least 50% Leprechaun and damn proud of it.

Of his African cousins? Umm, maybe not so much. Which is really sad because if he's correct, if it wasn't for those no good low down dirty Africans. Some white man would have never had the chance to rape have sex with one of his great, great, great, great grandmother's as they were known to do on the down low back in those days. But as critical as Gates has been of the Eurocentric literary canon throughout his career. It's a wonder as to why he would give such credence to the notion of shifting the slavery blame-game to Africans. Or himself engaging on what he calls "intellectual racism" or a "tone deafness to a black cultural voice."


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