If Pan-Africanism is Dead Why Do ADOS Invoke Pan-Africanists?
The ADOS movement is one that is filled with contradictions and misinformation. One in particular that baffles me is why a movement which has largely rejected Pan-Africanism insists on claiming the legacy of individuals who promoted Pan-Africanism. My assumption is that ADOS supporters do this to create a sense of legitimacy for their movement, which has come under attack from various segments of the Black community. Take for example this video with Tariq Nasheed discussing ADOS.
In the video Tariq claims that having a problem ADOS means one has a problem with the likes of Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, Harriet Tubman, John Henrik Clarke, and other prominent African American leaders and scholars of the past. What Tariq fails to understand is that those of us who criticize ADOS aren’t doing so because we have an issue with African Americans, but because we have an issue with particular positions which the ADOS movement has adopted. Many of these positions are at odds with the very ancestors that Tariq invokes. For example, Elijah Muhammad was the man who authored The Fall of America. Phrases like “American Descendant of Slavery” or “Foundational Black American” would have meant very little to Elijah Muhammad since he did not consider himself to be an American and preached separation from America. Moreover, the Nation of Islam is an inclusive organization where African people are concerned. Notice how in the video above, Tariq Nasheed mentions Malcolm X, but then retracts Malcolm’s name. This is because Malcolm’s mother was from Grenada, and therefore Malcolm would not qualify as being an ADOS. Elijah Muhammad never tried to create division between Caribbean people and African Americans as Tariq has been doing.
Tariq’s mention of John Henrik Clarke is also interesting to me because I have invoked Dr. Clarke in some of my articles on ADOS. Doing so has incited responses like this from ADOS supporters.
Dr. Clarke was the same man who chastised his own students for attempting to create division among themselves, so I am not sure why ADOS supporters would be upset with me for presenting what Dr. Clarke himself preached and practiced. Dr. Clarke was very close with Malcolm X. He also worked for Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. Dr. Clarke was committed to Pan-Africanism and had little patience with any type of disunity among African people. So I can say with confidence that I am more “in the line” of Dr. Clarke’s Pan-African vision than many ADOS supporters are.
What especially caught my attention (and inspired me to write this piece) was seeing Yvette Carnell, the ADOS co-founder, invoke Dr. Amos Wilson. It is curious to see Carnell, who has argued that Pan-Africanism is a dead ideology, referencing a Pan-Africanist to make her point. It is especially curious to me because I have also invoked Amos Wilson in my critique of the ADOS movement’s position on Pan-Africanism.
Yvette Carnell is not the only ADOS supporter to invoke Amos Wilson. The idea that ADOS always “win with data and research” has become almost laughable to me because I have written several articles now picking apart how poorly researched the claims being made by the ADOS movement are. The lack of research is one of the reasons why the ADOS movement has to invoke past Pan-African leaders because ADOS as a movement seems to be struggling standing on its own. I have pointed out before that ADOS supporters have tried to invoke CARICOM in defense of their movement, but doing so only lends support to the view that ADOS is a divisive movement because Pan-Africanists have been criticizing CARICOM for decades for the very same thing that we are criticizing ADOS for now.
The video below is especially interesting to me because it implies that Amos Wilson agrees with the ADOS ideology because of a little snippet of Wilson speaking.
It is very difficult reconcile that Amos Wilson was very vocal about how African Americans needed to reconnect with their African identities and Antonio Moore’s position that African Americans are more than just Africans in America.
Moore complains that “recent immigrants from the continent of Africa are striving to create what amounts to a solidarity of sameness with American DOS. One built largely around a narrative which encourages all blacks to view the continent of Africa as a sort of unified country, and the United States of America as merely a transient one.” Wilson, on the other hand, believed in the sameness of the African struggle and criticized African Americans who refused to see this connection.
Wilson’s Pan-African views shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has studied him, since Wilson was significantly influenced by Marcus Garvey, who was from Jamaica. In the lecture below Wilson again speaks about the importance of African identity and Pan-Africanism.
The ADOS movement is still a new movement and is still in the stages of trying to formulate an ideological position, so I am not suggesting that there should be complete ideological clarity among the co-founders and the followers of ADOS, but if ADOS as a movement collectively believes that Pan-Africanism is dead and that African Americans should seek to distinguish themselves from Africans and Caribbean people then perhaps the ADOS movement should find new historical leaders and scholars to support this position. I suggest this because in invoking Pan-African scholars like John Henrik Clarke and Amos Wilson, ADOS is actually helping us to keep Pan-Africanism alive.
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.