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Non-blacks expelled from anti-racism conference.
October 7, 2002 11:49 PM   Subscribe

Non-blacks expelled from anti-racism conference. Delegates at an anti-racism conference voted last Wednesday to expel non-blacks from the meeting, saying it was too traumatic to discuss slavery in front of them. Ironic? Hypocritical? Justified?
posted by swank6 (39 comments total)

 
The news article is almost a week old, but still...
posted by swank6 at 11:50 PM on October 7, 2002


Ironic? Hypocritical? Justified?
Sort of.
Yes.
No.

Fuck em. They want to advocate racial division, let them.
posted by Ayn Marx at 12:04 AM on October 8, 2002


Imagine what how traumatic it might have been had they actually been FORMER SLAVES!

"There are a number of black people who have been traumatized by white people and they suffered psychologically and emotionally and, as a result of that trauma, some of them did not care to discuss their issues in front of them."

There are a number of white people who have been traumatized by black people and they've suffered psychologically and emotionally and, as a result of that trauma, some of them do not care to discuss their issues in front of them.

I kinda like my new racial label though - NON-BLACK.
posted by Witty at 12:42 AM on October 8, 2002


Racism is defined as conduct towards another person determined by that person's race, rather than any individual characteristic of that person. These delegates discriminated against the non-black persons present on the basis of their experience with other, completely different non-black persons who were not present.

These delegates acted in a racist manner. Unless they had been traumatized by the actual white people they acted against, which seems improbable to say the least
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:53 AM on October 8, 2002


Justified. That's my 2p. These same arguments have been rehashed time and again with reference to Wimmin's Conferences. (See World according to Garp). If a bunch of people can get together, voice fears, empower themselves etc, and they can do it in an environment which doesn't scare them, then I say - Good on 'em. You don't get non-alcoholics shouting on that they can't go to AA meetings. Although different situations, there are parallels. If I was black, then the last thing I'd want at meetings where I discussed my position in the world, would be a load of woolly thinking right-on liberals wanking on about how they felt my pain.
posted by seanyboy at 1:45 AM on October 8, 2002


But Jean Violet Baptiste, spokeswoman for the Guyana-based African Cultural and Development Association, said organizers should have made clear that only blacks were welcome: "You can't have people come all this way and then ask them to leave."

I like Jean Violet Baptiste already, even if that is the only thing I know about her.
posted by Grangousier at 1:49 AM on October 8, 2002


According to this article besides throwing out people who weren't black, they also heaped praise on Robert Mugabe's "land reform" (although land reform is needed, it's coming 20 years too late in Zim) and also demanding that all black people everywhere be granted African citizenship.

However the aims are less noble. From the article:
"We would welcome all black people to Africa," said Sabelo Sibanda of Zimbabwe's School of African Awareness. "We won't want them to just kick back and enjoy life with their dollars there, but to get fully involved because there's a lot to be done in terms of developing those countries."

So no poor blacks, only the ones with dollars it would seem.
posted by PenDevil at 2:04 AM on October 8, 2002


Hrm. Non-black people have been slaves.

Also, black people, especialy black people in africa profited from the slave trade.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 AM on October 8, 2002


Seanyboy:

How many of these people do you think are former slaves?... how many do you think were genuinely traumatised by the slave trade?... How many of them do you think were actually scared of the whites at the conference?

This wasn't a conference for "battered-blacks", it was a conference for anti-racism. Something you seem to suggest only the white man can perpetrate. I can't even be bothered to go into how preposterous that AA meeting analogy-ette was.
posted by ed\26h at 2:19 AM on October 8, 2002


I am non-black, and I too was booted out of a blacks-only tirade in 1993 by none other than Stokely Carmichael himself, who was the dubiously-appointed host of that racist charade. I mean, he didn't say "whites" just "Non-blacks out!" I feel now exactly as I did then:

What idiots!
posted by hama7 at 2:25 AM on October 8, 2002


I mentioned Jean Violet Baptiste because (although I really would like more detail - the web seems to be offering only this tiny story in different forms at the moment, perhaps I'm not looking hard enough) the action seems to have been brought by a U.S. representative, and I thought this commentette by a non-U.S. representative was informative.

After all, the experience of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbean people is fundamentally different from that of Ghanaian or Sierra Leonan people which differs, in turn, from that of black South Africans or Zimbabweans. So it interests me that the conference is being hosted in Guyana, which is another set of experiences altogether, black South America (hands up all of you who persist in imagining Guyana to be in Africa raises own hand gingerly), or at least (according to the CIA) where the "black" (presumably signifying of African descent) community is a large minority (compared to the East Indian population).

What Mugabe or Winnie Mandela (linked with the conference, to Western opprobrium) appear to be is probably different from all these perspectives, and I'm curious to find out what those perspectives are. Whether it will be possible to find out is another matter - this small story suggests to (cynical little) me that the (Afro-)U.S. point of view is striving to maintain a sort of dominance, and given their long experience in activism and issue management, they'll probably get it.

Many African countries are used to working with (White) former Imperial powers and other former (non-Black) colonies in structures such as the Commonwealth, and may find actions such as this confusing, even if they are prepared to go a long with it to some extent to get down to what they see as the proper business.
posted by Grangousier at 2:50 AM on October 8, 2002


How many of these people do you think are former slaves?... how many do you think were genuinely traumatised by the slave trade? Dunno. Answer to question (1) is probably low. Answer to question 2 depends on who you read / etc. My particular bias is that it's probably a lot more than most people give credit for, and a lot less than militant Black campaigners say it is. My AA analogy-ette was there to emphasise the idea of empowerment without criticism. I was going to use the analogy of a rape crisis group, but decided that that would be too strong.
This wasn't a conference for "battered-blacks", it was a conference for anti-racism. You're right. My assumption was that there were segments of the conference which dealt with issues of slavery, etc, and it was these segments that people were excluded from. I should have read the article before commenting.
Hrm. Non-black people have been slaves.. They have, but this was a "African Descendants' World Conference Against Racism"
posted by seanyboy at 2:54 AM on October 8, 2002


*shrug*
Sure it's racist. It's also self-limiting, self-marginalizing.

If people wanna boo-hoo-hoo themselves into a tizzy about how traumatized they are by something that happened to other people, centuries in the past, I say go right ahead.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:58 AM on October 8, 2002


The dozen or so whites and a couple of Asians, mainly interpreters and members of non-governmental groups, left without protest.

I love this
posted by matteo at 4:15 AM on October 8, 2002


Sooner or later Americans are going to have to address the non-white racism in the US. It will have to get much worse before it gets better, and the "privileges" will have to even out, but sooner or later...
posted by ewkpates at 4:23 AM on October 8, 2002


surely it was the people who were left behind in west africa and other parts who suffered the most. they had the strongest in their communities taken away from them. so it follows that the people of west africa should be compensated. as for black people leaving the usa to go and live in zimbabwe, that's a joke - they wouldnt last 6 months.
posted by carfilhiot at 5:01 AM on October 8, 2002


...so it follows that the people of west africa should be compensated.

Huh? Compensated? How? The slaves were paid for the first time around... at least 140 years ago.
posted by Witty at 6:12 AM on October 8, 2002


The meeting, titled African and African Descendants' World Conference Against Racism, was hosted by the government of Barbados.

I'd like to know if they booted out any non-black people who reside in Africa, and by that I mean citizens of an African country. If so, it's blatant hypocrisy. A question: Who would you say is more "African"- a third generation non-black citizen of an African country, or a third generation black citizen of America? (By "third generation", I mean a citizen whose parents and grandparents were also citizens.)
posted by BirdD0g at 7:04 AM on October 8, 2002


it'd have been great if one non-white would have sat in their seat and refused to leave, a la rosa parks. i'd like to see what would happen there.
posted by oog at 7:20 AM on October 8, 2002


It would be traumatic to slander "the man" to his face, and pin crimes on today's white folk when we are now incredibly removed from the slavery era. I can see why they'd want whitey out of there...

Shameful, just shameful. It just feeds the perception that "it's only racism if you haven't got skin colour", which is far-from true.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:33 AM on October 8, 2002


I wish I could find an actual link to his particular essay, but for those of you who feel this was a racist decision, I'd encourage you to find a copy of Stephen Biko's "I Write What I Like". As the organizer of the black consciousness movement, he had a lot of difficult messages penned specifically for white liberals ... one such essay, "On White Liberals," is contained in that anthology, and it was originally written as an editorial for the student newspaper he was a columnist for.

In it, he attempted to address the very real feeling of solidarity many white liberals of the time had for his black consciousness movement -- he message is a bitter pill for those of us who are "non-blacks" and was, perhaps, one of the most influential pieces I read in college that shaped my world view about these issues. He argued that there was no place for white liberals in the black consciousness movement ... that white liberals involvement was essentially a disenpowering experience for blacks looking to have their own voices valued as they struggled to come to their own identities.

His answer to white liberals that wanted to help? Do the one thing that only white liberals can do -- sabatoge the system that you have access to that blacks are excluded from. This was part of the division in South Africa between what could be roughly divided into the "Biko camp" and the "Mandela camp" -- while Mandela was quick to form alliances with leftists whites with similar goals (such as the communist party), Biko was looking for a black consciousness movement, a rediscovery of the history and identity that had been taken from them as a group.

So when I read this story, I found it a rather a course (and less than philosophically explained) example of black consciousness thinking. It might appear racist on the surface, but there are deeper underpinnings that the article's author doesn't bother to explore.

But then, I tend to identify myself (at least in terms of the politics of race) as a Bikoian white liberal. Viva la sabotage.
posted by bclark at 7:53 AM on October 8, 2002


the truly delicious irony.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:04 AM on October 8, 2002


Another point to consider: who exactly is "non-black"? That's where the analogy with gender falls down; yes, there are rare cases of hermaphroditism, but by and large men are men and women are women, whereas skin color comes in all shades, and there are plenty of people with African genetic heritage (more recent than everyone else's, that is) who are indistinguishable from those without it: Adam Clayton Powell could have passed for white, and Anatole Broyard did. So how do you know who to kick out?

As for the basic question: of course it's racist.
posted by languagehat at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2002


ed/26h: How many of these people do you think are former slaves?... how many do you think were genuinely traumatized by the slave trade?... How many of them do you think were actually scared of the whites at the conference?

Not to say that the prevention of "non-blacks" was acceptable as there have been "non-black" slaves, some people might have been former slaves. they might have been traumatized by slavery, not necessarily the slave trade that most people think of when they think of slavery. This is one site that i've found that deals with the issue of slavery that goes on today. Whether or not that slavery is restricted to "blacks", i don't know for sure. One could also make the argument that those who might have been able to escape sweat-shop work could also benefit from a supportive anti-racism-type of conference, but that was not the objective of this one.
I guess what i'm saying is that i think their restrictions to "blacks" only could have been better thought out.
posted by zorrine at 8:23 AM on October 8, 2002


"Too traumatic" for over 200 delegates to discuss slavery in front of a dozen or so non-whites? What a bunch of wussies.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:53 AM on October 8, 2002


Dodgy moral quandaries aside, it just sounds kind of . . . wussy to me. I mean, come on. Aren't these people supposed to be government officials? The quotes in the article made it sound like the meeting was a support group for traumatized victims of racial violence, not an anti-racism conference. Haven't these guys ever seen a Chris Rock show? He gives whitey what for, and us crackers just laugh and say, "We're so lame," and nobody has to cry over it.

My snap judgment: a bunch of whiny babies.
posted by vraxoin at 9:05 AM on October 8, 2002


Sadly typical...

I'm often called racist by people who don't know me, because I practice a religion that came from Africa and I'm not black.
posted by Foosnark at 9:37 AM on October 8, 2002


I like this part: "A major issue at the meeting is a plan by black activists from the Caribbean and North America to sue France for making Haiti pay millions of dollars for recognition of its independence nearly two centuries ago". Like that thing in Chicago last week, it's all about redistribution of wealth.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:16 AM on October 8, 2002


And after they got whitey out, they put on the black sheets and burned a Star of David. Stomp out racism - kill all the white people!
posted by Perigee at 11:30 AM on October 8, 2002


Has anyone seen the family guy where peter griffin gets money from his father in law, because his ancestor was a slave. I think that pretty much sums this whole thing up, a white man getting black compensation, and then blowing it frivolously. The best part though, his ancestor from the past appears to tell him about spitting in his owners food, and pissing in their cereal. I'm sure a lot went on both sides that was wrong in slavery, but talking about it doesn't do anything other than let it continue to exist. If you want to talk about real problems, perhaps the conference should have been something along the lines of teaching financial planning to poor segments of the community, white and black alike. Credit is a new form of slavery for everyone in this nation, and much nastier than racism.
posted by sourbrew at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2002


I'm saddened, though not surprised that at this African and African Descendants' World Conference Against Racism, black participants found it traumatic to talk about slavery in front of whites and Asians, even as the majority of slavery taking place in Africa right now is both of and by blacks.

Racism is definitely a problem worth holding conferences about, but it's troublesome, not to mention dangerous, to treat slavery as a byproduct of racism (which was done in Durban as well). Was the point of the conference to help a race of victims, or to point fingers at a race of oppressor
posted by isomorphisms at 4:00 PM on October 8, 2002


The best part though, his ancestor from the past appears to tell him about spitting in his owners food, and pissing in their cereal. I'm sure a lot went on both sides that was wrong in slavery.

Eh? WTF?
posted by Wood at 4:35 PM on October 8, 2002


The best part though, his ancestor from the past appears to tell him about spitting in his owners food, and pissing in their cereal. I'm sure a lot went on both sides that was wrong in slavery.

Whereupon Wood so eloquently wrote:

Eh? WTF?

Which was just about my reaction as well. Wrong on both sides of slavery? Not being a historian of the slave era I can't speak with great authority on the subject, but could you give us an example of wrong done by slaves that pertains to the institution of slavery? I'm having a hard time thinking of one myself.
posted by Plunge at 4:45 PM on October 8, 2002


Plunge...not necessarily by slaves, but as aluded to, those of African heritage, as a group, do not have clean hands when it came to slavery. They practiced it within Africa before Europeans arrived and continue to today (such as the enslavement of Arabs in Mauritania).

However, this is only a small portion of Africans, much as the percentage of white Americans today whose family has any history of slave trade is very small. Most of my family was starving on potatoes when slavery was abolished, for bejeezus' sake.
posted by Kevs at 6:10 PM on October 8, 2002


en/26h [to Seanyboy]: This wasn't a conference for "battered-blacks", it was a conference for anti-racism. Something you seem to suggest only the white man can perpetrate.

Okay...I've looked twice, and I may just be dumb (and I'm sure you'll point it out if I am), but when, prior to the post I've quoted above, did Seanyboy say anything that suggested that "only the white man can perpetrate [racism?]?"
posted by ruggles at 9:30 PM on October 8, 2002


Ruggles:

No, he never did say it directly, it was more to do with the fact that kicking all the white people out of an anti-racism conference being justified (as sean said was the case) would seem to suggest that was his point of view. To me it appeared that way, at least.

Funnily enough, i just witnessed the following conversation in my office:

Colleague: "I saw the doctor the other day and he said that they we to busy to transfer me today... that bastard... he was as black as your hat"

Other colleague: "Did your husband lay him out?... I would of."

It's not very often i call the people I work with "fucking idiots". It's a little improfessional, but this seemed the time for it.
posted by ed\26h at 1:43 AM on October 9, 2002


ed\26h

... so, what did YOU DO? ....
posted by jkaczor at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2002


jkaczor: In regard to what?
posted by ed\26h at 1:16 AM on October 10, 2002


Well said sourbrew!

Slavery = old news
posted by Witty at 3:51 AM on October 10, 2002


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