As we celebrate another Black History Month, it’s unfortunate that the group American Descendants of Slavery, or #ADOS as it’s being referred to on social media, has seen it fit to push a campaign that is nothing but a divide-and-rule tactic that many in Trump land are quietly cheering on.
The group, started by Yvette Carnell, host of a show called “Breaking Brown,” and UCLA alumnus and attorney Antonio Moore of the radio show “Tonetalks,” say they are seeking “to reclaim/restore the critical national character of the African American identity and experience.”
So, what does that mean exactly? In a nutshell, the two are seeking to claim that African Americans are only those who are descendants of U.S. slavery and as such need to be differentiated from their Black and immigrant counterparts who they claim are benefiting from the challenges they faced in the past.
The group argues that reparations and the lingering racial wealth gap in the Black community need to be separated between “African Americans” and Black immigrants.
They cite figures like the disparities that exist between the two populations––U.S.-born Blacks and Black immigrants––where Census data claims U.S.-born Blacks are less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than Black immigrants by 19% versus 26%. And that foreign-born Blacks have a $10,000 higher median income than U.S.-born Blacks at $33,500.
At first, I thought this was another Russian troll propaganda until I investigated further and realized that this really is a legitimate group of Black so-called intellectuals who believe this hateful, xenophobic nonsense.
Perhaps these so-called intellectuals need a history lesson of their own or maybe they have studied history as presented by the other side for too long. The reality is that the history of Black Caribbean immigrants in these United States stretches right back to slavery, so we belong as much as any other.
History tells us that in 1565, St. Augustine, FL already had slaves who were Native Americans whose ancestors had migrated from Cuba in the Caribbean. And by 1670, one of the first major centers of African slavery in the English North American colonies––Charles Town and the Province of Carolina, USA in 1670––was being stocked with slaves from the Caribbean island of Barbados, who were brought in relatively large numbers to establish new plantations.
Further, slaves brought to the United States directly from Africa represented just about 3.6 percent of the total number of Africans transported to the New World, considerably less than the number transported to colonies in the Caribbean and Brazil.
“Death rates among slaves in the Caribbean were one third higher than in the Southern USA, and suicide appears to have been much more common,” according to the online article “American Slavery in Comparative Perspective.” And “unlike slaves in the South, West Indian slaves were expected to produce their own food in their ‘free time,’ and care for the elderly and the infirm.”
Now let’s fast track to the fight for civil rights and the fallacy that Black immigrants are coming in to benefit from the rights African Americans earned. Another seemingly forgotten reality was that Caribbean immigrants were also at the forefront of this fight.
Barbadian born Prince Hall was a noted abolitionist in Boston and is the founder of Prince Hall Freemasonry; John Brown Russwurm, a Jamaican, was a founder with Samuel Cornish of the abolitionist newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, the first paper owned and operated by Blacks; Edward Wilmot Blyden, considered the father of Pan-Africanism, had roots in what is today considered the U.S. Virgin Islands; Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, was at the center of pushing for Black empowerment with the Universal Negro Improvement Association, as was Trinidadian author C. L. R. James; there was Hubert Harrison, the father of Harlem radicalism; and Trinidad-born journalist and Black Nationalist and political activist Claudia Jones.
The list goes on. Let’s not forget that Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan both share Caribbean roots as Dr. Don Shirley, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson and on and on.
The facts are clear––the history of Caribbean immigrants in the United States runs straight back to slavery and we continue to make a significant contribution to this country and to Black America today. #ADOS and its founders will do well to recognize this fact instead of pushing its divide-and-rule agenda and blame the real culprit as Malcom did: “Americanism.”
The writer is publisher of https://www.newsamericasnow.com/NewsAmericasNow.