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Analysis of The Black Diaspora

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    Analysis of The Black Diaspora

    The relationship between blacks and The United States has a long history, and the American influence on the black Diaspora is a well documented and highly controversial topic.  The racial conflicts in the United States are the result of Western colonization, which is also the cause of the global black Diaspora.

    Diaspora, which is commonly defined as the movement of a people has also been used in multiple analytical articles on ideology and the history of the black race.  One of the main discussions that occurs when analyzing this concept of a black Diaspora is the idea of national culture.  First addressed by renowned black theorist Stuart Hall, he believed that blacks were all universally connected through this ideal of a Black Diaspora, but within that concept also existed separate national cultures.  National culture is the term used to categorize the black experience as it applies to the particular nation in which it’s experienced.  (Baumann, 313) The colonized Christians of Liberia, though black, may not be able to fully relate to the experiences of blacks from French Jamaica, or New Orleans. This is especially true when considering the modern day relationship between black Americans and Black Africans.

                In 1776 The United States declared independence from Britain.  As American white males disputed with the British over their right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they were also forced to acknowledge the hypocrisy of their politics concerning blacks.  Benjamin Franklin supported the abolition of slavery and the movement of blacks out of the United States.  He was not the only white American of high standing who sympathized with blacks.  Around this time, there was a large number of white American abolitionists forming who felt slavery was inhumane. Though, the majority of these men did not believe in white and black integration.  They felt that whites could never view blacks as equals. President Thomas Jefferson was in office during the time these issues initially started to boil to a head.  He found the Back to Africa movement to be a very comfortable political position, because he could oppose slavery but oppose black integration as well.

    Blacks wouldn’t be free in the United States until 1869.  But up until that point, there were still many ex slaves who were granted their freedom, and even some free blacks who were born free.  One freeman in Massachusetts named Paul Cuffe refused to pay his taxes for three years; he protested he didn’t feel it was justifiable for him to have to pay without the right to vote.  He was jailed in 1780 for tax evasion, but the protests incited by his case resulted in Massachusetts providing suffrage for free blacks.  Paul Cuffe was considered one of the wealthiest men in America.  Throughout the American Revolution, he and his brother built a ship and carried out a trading business.  The company proved lucrative, as most war profiteering corporations tend to do.  In 1811 he set his interests on the Back to Africa Movement.  After sailing to Sierra Leon, he decided to devote his finances to help colonize the British run area with newly freed slaves.

    Marcus Garvey, though he had the advantage of living a little more than a hundred years later, acknowledged that colonizing any part of Africa under British rule would never work.  He was also a proponent of the Back to Africa movement, but he wanted the West to relinquish all colonial control over Africa.  He was a black nationalist, publisher, journalist and an entrepreneur.  His influence can be seen in such groups as the Nation of Islam and the Rastafari movement.  He orchestrated ships which took multiple trips back to Africa.  He spent millions on this dream near the end of his life, and in result has been immortalized as a prophet within the Rastafari religion.  Marcus Garvey served as one of the most dynamic influences to the black Diaspora from the states.

    There are many conflicts within the modern take on the black Diaspora.  In her article, The African Redefined: The Problems Of Collective Black Identity, Ladun Anise cites the conflict between modernity and tradition in the West as the key source of this endless battle.

    The notion has grown that whatever is not Western in origin belongs in the realm of traditional Africa.  Tradition in this sense is conceived of as an identity to be despised, fought, and uprooted, because tradition and modernity are thought to be locked in mortal combat denying any possibility of integration, accommodation, or even coexistence.

    (Anise, 26)

    Anise goes on to further elaborate on her concept claiming that the Western ideals alienate the blacks from any form of authentic tradition and identity.  She says blacks who venture out to find tradition and a sense of self, in opposition to Western ideals, are viewed as losers.  Those who manage to be successful within the ideals of the Western culture, they are viewed as defenders of a system that will never truly accept them.  The majority of black theorists who contemplate colonization’s effect on the Black Diaspora tend to categorize the black archetype in this same lose-lose situation within Western culture.

    The Back to Africa movement is presented as a route to a safe haven for blacks from Western society.  The truth is the real culprit and cause of all the conflict is colonization.  The movement itself is just another form of colonization, and thus a method of fighting fire with fire.  It was doomed to fail the second it began.  Colonization has imbedded Western culture so deep within Africa and blacks all over the world, it’s unrealistic to think they could ever be assimilated back into their own traditions.  As Anise argued, Western culture made it so there is no place for blacks within it or outside of it.

    The lack of tradition or history backing the validity of black existence is being combated in a large majority of today’s universities.  In his article, African Diaspora Studies: Some International Dimensions, author Joseph E. Harris documents the growth of Black Diaspora studies.  Tracing it all the way back to 1965 when her served on the First International Congress of Black Historians on a panel entitled The African Diaspora or the African Abroad.  Research developed on this panel would later be used for history books and documentaries all over the world.  Its key importance is the use of this international resource to retrace the history of an entire people, and what it can do for blacks all over the world to create a better awareness of authentic origin.  In his article, Harris points out the uncanny level of ignorance revolving around the understanding of black origin.  He points how an Arab delegate in Congress during the late 60’s insisted that no people of African decent existed in the Arabian and Persian Gulf.  This caused Harris to do research and uncover enough evidence to write his first book, The African Presence in Asia: Consequences of the East African Slave Trade.

    Theorists like, Joseph Harris and Stuart Hall have a difficult task.  Not only must they rediscover the black identity, but then they must serve as both the care takers and the educators of what they’ve found, in a society which has no place for what they have to say.

    In his article, “Unfinished Migrations”: Commentary and Response, Brent Hayes Edwards analyses the use of language and its effect on the Black Diaspora.  He even addresses the term diaspora and its lack of use when referring to black pride.

    Diaspora has not become a dominant term of political organization: when black activists have assembled transnational movements, they have turned to a wide range of terms (including Ethiopianism, pan-Africanism, antifascism, communism, Civil Rights, Black Power, Afrocentrism, antiracism antiapartheid), but seldom to “diaspora” as a rallying cry or group appellation. (Edwards, 48)

    By contrasting diaspora to these other terms, Edwards shows the true value of the term.  Though all of these other terms either incite rebellion or pride in black awareness, they still do so within the realm of Western Civilization.  The Black Diaspora is the only phrase when referring to black culture that is completely free.  It solely refers to the entire global black population and provides a grand scale of belonging and history.  This is something that existed before the slavery of a people, and will exist long after.

    In closing, if there is anything I learned from analyzing some of the ideas behind the Black Diaspora, it would have to be a better appreciation for the timelessness of people in general.  When one is confronted with a broader view of history on a much grander scale, there is no denying that most day to day perceptions are pretty minor.  At the same time, it becomes more obvious that many unconscious opinions people hold are due to ideology’s influence on the society nurturing them as they grow up within it.  Now, in the American Market, more blacks are developing wealth.  I recently read an article in Black Enterprise Magazine about a meeting held in South Africa where the Apartheid was lifted.  After Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa he immediately held a meeting with some of the wealthiest black American businessmen.  This meeting was designed to establish all black trade between South Africa and the United States.  Malcom X once said there can be no black and white integration without separation.  In saying this he was referring to the acquisition of black power in America.  He believed there was no rational way blacks could gain equal economic standing within the boundaries of a white Western culture.  But if blacks separated, and developed as a separate super power, they could integrate with equal standing.  Near the end of his life his views became more tolerant of integration.  This doesn’t negate the possibility that President Mandela’s meeting could potentially be a step in this direction.

    Works Cited

    Anise, Ladun. “The African Redefined: the Problems of Collective Black Identity.” A Quarterly Journal of Africanist Opinion os 4.4 (1974):  26-32. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Back to Africa.

    Baumann, Martin. “Diaspora: Genealogies of Semantics and Transultural Comparison.” Numen os 47.3 (2000):  313-337. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006.

    Butler, Kim D. “From Black History to Diasporan History: Brazilian Abolition in Afro-Atlantic Context.” African Studies Review os 43.1 (2000):  125-139. Jstor. Strozier Library. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Black Diaspora.

    Butler, Kim D. “From Black History to Diasporan History: Brazilian Abolition in Afro-Atlantic Context.” African Studies Review os 43.1 (2000):  125-139. Jstor. Strozier Library. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Black Diaspora.

    Edwards, Brent H., Cheryl Johnson-Odim;, Agustin Lao-Montes, Michael O. West, Tiffany R. Patterson,  and Robin D. Kelley. “”Unfinished Migrations”: Commentary and Response.” African Studies Review os 43.1 (2000):  47-68. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Back to Africa movement.

    Gordon, Edmund T., and Mark Anderson. “The African Diaspora: Toward an Ethnography of Diasporic Identification.” The Journal of African American Folklore os 112.445 (1999):  282-296. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: African Diaspora.

    Harris, Joseph E. “African Diaspora Studies: Some International Dimensions.” A Journal of Opinion os 24.2 (1996):  6-8. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Back to Africa movement.

    Palmer, Colin A. “Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora.” The Journal of Negro History ns 85.1/2 (2000):  27-32. Jstor. Strozier Library, Tallahassee. 5 Dec. 2006. Keyword: Back to Africa movement.

    Analysis of The Black Diaspora. (2016, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/analysis-of-the-black-diaspora/

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