How the ADOS Movement is Hindering the Pan-African Struggle
I know the response to this article will be that I am a non-ADOS and I have no right to speak on ADOS issues. It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with something like that. When I criticized the government of Antigua and Barbuda over the land issue that was taking place there after Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Irma, some Antiguans were complaining that I am a Guyanese and have no business speaking on their issues, but I still continued anyway because I am driven by a deep love for African people and by a deep hatred for injustice. Those two emotions are why I have been so critical of the American of Descendants Slavery (ADOS) movement — I refer to it as a movement because people who support this ideology have told me that they think of it as a political movement. In my view, this is a movement made up of people who do not share my love for African people nor my hatred of injustice. In my view, the ADOS movement is one that is working to misinform our people about the significance of building global unity among African people.
Dynast Amir, a well-known Pan-Africanist on YouTube, has not rejected Pan-Africanism outright. Instead, his position is a bit more deceptive. I will not respond to the entire video by Dynast, but there was one particular claim which stood out that I want to address. That claim is that Dynast alleges that Africans in Mauritania are not fighting against the Arab slavers there. This is completely false.
Dynast says in Mauritania “you guys aren’t trying or attempting to run the Arabian Mauritanian off the continent.” Well, what does Dynast think Biram Dah Abeid has been doing? Instead of complaining about what Africans aren’t doing, why not highlight those who are on the continent who are fighting for change and who need our support? Why mislead the people who watch your video and make them think that no one is fighting the Arab slave traders in Mauritania when there are people who are putting their own safety at risk to fight this issue?
I am grateful for the fact that a year ago Dynast allowed Farida Nabourema and myself on his show to provide us a platform to speak about what has been happening in Togo, but the thing about Togo’s struggle is that most of us Pan-Africanists in the diaspora have been ignoring the political struggles in Africa. Prior to the articles that I wrote on Togo, most American based “Pan-Africanists” weren’t even aware of the struggle against neo-colonialism being waged there.
This was also the issue that I raised in my last article regarding Morpheus Unplugged’s video about why he decided to chose ADOS over Pan-Africanism. A lot of the people who call themselves Pan-Africanists were never serious about the Pan-African struggle in the first place, so their criticisms of Pan-Africanism are misguided. That’s how I feel about Dynast’s video. Dynast says that the Pan-Africanists who are shooting down the ADOS movement are engaging in “Pan-African babble.” His reason for saying this is because African governments have not given anything tangible for Black Americans. These are governments that don’t even give anything tangible to their own citizens, hence why the people of Togo, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and other countries are rising up to put an end to these dictatorships. A tangible benefit in Africa’s present political climate are struggles that successfully overturn repressive regimes, like we have seen in the Gambia, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso. If you aren’t serious about supporting the fight against neo-colonialism in Africa then please don’t diminish those of us who are by saying that we are engaging in “babble.”
I also ask why is the ADOS movement premised on spreading misinformation about Pan-Africanism and the Pan-African struggle? Why is the ADOS movement giving the impression that Pan-Africanism is dead (according to Yvette Carnell) when the Pan-African movement is still here and we Pan-Africanists are still fighting for the liberation of all African people? I wouldn’t have the issue that I have with the ADOS movement if not for the fact that many of the public spokespersons for this movement are people who don’t engage in the Pan-African struggle, but want to express a opinion on a struggle that they aren’t engaged in.
As I said, I am also driven by a hatred of injustice. This element is also lacking in this ADOS movement. Take for example this video by Tariq Nasheed in which he dismisses the Puerto Rican claim to reparations.
Now, I get it. Puerto Ricans were enslaved by Spain, not the United States, so their claim for slavery reparations is not the same claim that Black Americans have. What I don’t like is the fact that Tariq dismisses how brutal America’s occupation of Puerto Rico has been. Puerto Ricans deserve reparations for everything that was inflicted on them by the United States. For those who don’t know the history of American imperialism in Puerto Rico, please watch this video by Nelson Denis.
I have add that I attended this presentation in person. When I entered the building the people there spoke to me in Spanish. They assumed I was Puerto Rican because I look like one. I’ve also been mistaken for being Black American, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Ghanaian, Nigerian, and Togolese. That’s one of the reasons why this ADOS movement is silly to me. This is a movement designed to separate who is ADOS and who is not, but most Black Americans can’t even spot the difference because we all look the same.
To return to my point, Puerto Rico has suffered horribly under American rule and Tariq has nothing to say about this. Now I know that there are many Puerto Ricans who come to the United States and try to separate themselves from Black Americans. I have written about this very issue in one of my books. But there have also been many Puerto Ricans that contributed to the ADOS struggle, such as Arthur Schomburg and the Young Lords. Tariq won’t speak about the Puerto Ricans who do support the African American struggle because the ADOS movement is all about division. Caribbean people such as myself and others that have been fighting for ADOS rights don’t seem to exist in the minds of the ADOS supporters. So people like Tariq will bad talk the Puerto Ricans who don’t support the ADOS struggle, but he ignores the ones that do. Just like Dynast was doing by ignoring the people in Mauritania who are fighting against slavery there.
A few years ago I met an Afro-Puerto-Rican activist named Miguel Adams. He introduced me to the campaign to end the New Jim Crow. After meeting Miguel I got involved in that struggle. For years I went around the community lecturing to people about America’s racist drug policies. I held grassroots meetings to discuss this issue. I spoke about this issue in college classrooms, over the radio, and at political rallies. Because of the efforts of myself and so many others, people who were convicted of drug offenses in Florida can now vote. Many of the Black American brothers and sisters that I spoke with who could not vote because of their past felonies now have that right to vote.
As I said, it was a Puerto Rican who introduced me to this struggle. The ADOS people will no doubt criticize me as an immigrant who has no right to speak on ADOS matters. My response is that I’ve probably done more to advance the cause of Black Americans than the vast majority of people who support this ADOS movement. A “tangibles2020” hashtag can never be a substitute for real grassroots activism.
The responses that I have received from many on social media have typically looked like this:
A lot of ADOS supporters resort to highlighting the fact that I am Guyanese, but they don’t address the arguments which I am raising. In none of my articles have I ever said that Black Americans should forget their nationalities. What I am saying is that Pan-Africanism is about transcending national identities. I was born in Guyana, but I wrote One Caribbean and Other Essays because I believe in the unity of the African diaspora which was displaced in the Caribbean. Those who have bothered to read the book — I know many in the ADOS movement don’t read Pan-African literature, but pretend to be experts anyway — will understand that at one point Pan-Africanists in the USA and in Guyana were building strong bonds, which concerned the government of Guyana so much that the Guyanese government undermined those efforts. So my views have never been about leaving others out. As someone who was born in the Caribbean I give full acknowledgement to the fact that Black Americans have helped to inspire our struggles. The civil rights and Black Power movements in the States had a profound impact in the Caribbean. Black Lives Matter is having the same impact in the Caribbean as well. Likewise, I hope that people in the ADOS movement will recall the fact that Caribbean people have played a significant role in your struggles as well. Our struggles have always been interconnected.
The ADOS movement is hostile to Pan-Africanism, without a good reason to be. Likewise, the ADOS movement is silent about America’s long history of exploiting other people around the world. America wasn’t only built on slavery. America was also built on stealing the resources of places like Puerto Rico. We have all been exploited and abused by white supremacy, so why do we continue to pretend that we do not have a common struggle? I address this question to all African descendants, not just the people in the ADOS movement. As the Haitian musician Ti Manno sang (and I am translating these lyrics from the original Kreyol): “Africa, there is no unity among your children/We let people play with our minds.”
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.