I have noticed that various supporters of the ADOS movement have attempted to draw comparisons between themselves and the reparations demand being made by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Yvette Carnell, for example, wrote this:
Michael R.Hicks, who has written several articles in defense of ADOS on Medium, explained that ADOS is doing what CARICOM is doing.
The impression I get is that the ADOS movement seems to see itself as the American version of what CARICOM is for Caribbean people. The similarities between ADOS and CARICOM is actually one of the many issues that I have with the ideas being presented by the ADOS movement. Not only are both groups seeking reparations, but they are doing so in a manner which is divisive. In One Caribbean and Other Essays I wrote about the fact that Caribbean nations are still very divided because Caribbean politicians themselves promote policies which keep the region divided. Whenever the topic of the divisive nature of ADOS is mentioned ADOS supporters typical counter by asking whether or not CARICOM is also considered to be divisive. The fact is that CARICOM is very divisive, but it would appear that most ADOS supporters know very little about Caribbean politics beyond the reparations claim being made by CARICOM.
For decades now CARICOM has been criticized by Caribbean citizens for its failure to unify the region. Among the problems with CARICOM is that Caribbean nations still have restrictive immigration policies which make traveling throughout the region very difficult for Caribbean citizens. This is one of the criticisms that Carl De Panman raised about CARICOM in his song from 2017.
The reparations demand by CARICOM cannot mask the neo-colonial reality of the Caribbean region. I have written several articles on Huffington Post and Medium about the land grab in Barbuda, and the fact that this land grab is part of a legacy of colonial polices in the Caribbean which bar Caribbean citizens from their own beaches. Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, criticized the leaders of other Caribbean nations for the meeting that they held with Donald Trump, but I pointed out that Prime Minister Browne’s policies are not radically different the policies of someone like Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia who attended that meeting. What benefit would reparations serve to the people of Barbuda if they are no longer able to retain control over the land of their island. This is why I have cautioned against thinking that reparations alone is a solution to all of the problems that African people face.
Caribbean nations still struggle with xenophobic feelings towards those from other Caribbean nations, which is one of the main themes that I discussed in One Caribbean and Other Essays. The divisions among Caribbean people is why the Mighty Chalkdust felt it necessary to compose this song to dispel the notion of Caribbean people being “alien” to one another.
The anti-immigration feelings among various Caribbean nations is the same thing that the ADOS movement has been criticized for. I myself have written several articles to expose some of the anti-immigrant feelings on the part of the ADOS movement. This has included trying to accuse Louis Farrakhan of siding with Caribbean people over Black Americans because Farrakhan himself has Caribbean ancestry; trying to exclude Umar Johnson from the ADOS lineage because of his Cuban ancestor; trying to suggest that people from the U.S. Virgin Islands are immigrants, not American citizens; and downplaying the fact that Caribbean people have supported the Black American struggle. All of this is done in an attempt to create more division between Black Americans and Caribbean people, despite the fact that the two groups have a history that is closely intertwined. Take for example this post below.
Caribbean people have always been involved in the Black American fight, so this idea that Caribbean people do not understand the Black American struggle is precisely the type of gross generalization which has prompted the accusations of ADOS being divisive. Michael Hicks is one of the few within the ADOS movement who is honest enough to admit that there were xenophobic views within the ADOS movement, but the problem is that this is not something that is just incidental to the ADOS movement. The xenophobia being expressed by the ADOS movement is a product of the ideological views of the founders of this movement.
This a movement founded by the type of people who believe that someone who is Nigerian, by virtue of not being ADOS, should not be presented as a model to Black children, even if that Nigerian comes from the same neighborhood as a Black American does. The only objection that Moore raises to this is the fact that this woman is Nigerian and nothing else. This is the co-founder of the ADOS movement who is speaking like this. When critics of the ADOS movement accuse the movement of being anti-immigrant they are referring to statements such as this, but ADOS supporters do this very often, such as when Tariq Nasheed criticized Roland Martin’s Haitian ancestry. This is a part of the philosophy on which the ADOS movement has been built.
Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore have a very narrow tribal mentality, and I use the word tribal because Carnell herself has referred to ADOS as a tribe. As I pointed out in a previous article, tribalism in Africa was the product of colonialism. Carnell and others who claim that ADOS is a tribe do not understand the complexity of ethnic identities in Africa prior to colonization. Tribalism is not a part of African’s own independent social development prior to colonial rule and tribalism certainly cannot be applied to those of us in the diaspora who are descendants of the slave trade. The history of Black Americans and Caribbean people are so interconnected that it is impossible to apply narrow tribal identities among us.
When the very founders of the ADOS movement have such a narrow view of Black identity and are deliberately trying to introduce the idea of “tribalism” among Black Americans, it should not be surprising that xenophobic sentiments have emerged among ADOS followers, even if many ADOS supporters do not hold these views themselves.
CARICOM as an institution is one that has failed its stated goal of unifying the region because most Caribbean leaders themselves continue to follow colonial policies. The reparations demand is one which is supported by Pan-African scholars and activists throughout the region, but the fact that CARICOM is demanding reparations should not be used to overlook the fact that CARICOM still operates as a colonial institution and that Caribbean politicians continue to support policies which keep the region divided. For me it is very troubling that this is the institution which so many ADOS supporters invoke to justify their own positions.
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.