Daily Archives: May 15, 2011

Obama, Trump and Kunta Kinte

Obama, Trump and Kunta Kinte

By Jamala Rogers | St. Louis American Columnist – May 4, 2011 

Donald Trump has pandered to the most racist, backward sector of this country for the last few weeks. His eagerness to question the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate underscored that being a birther transcends class and education; some believe that birthers are just white and uneducated.

The Donald was relentless in his challenge of the birth certificate, and last week, President Obama requested that the State of Hawaii Department release the document. For the White House, it was putting an end to a distraction. For many fair-minded whites, it would serve as a muzzle for the embarrassment, outrage or disgust that Trump fanned up in their faces.

But for most people of African descent, it was quite a different experience. It was watching Trump trying to turn President Obama into a Toby.

Anyone who ever watched Roots remembers the scene where a proud and stubborn Kunta Kinte was beaten into the obedient slave named Toby. The public beating was not just for Kunta, it was as much for the other blacks who had similar notions of being free. That kind of humiliation is part of the pathology of white supremacy that black people, regardless of their status in life, have experienced directly or indirectly.

It was easier for non-blacks to view Trump’s antics and shrug them off as attention-seeking silliness. But for black folks, it was a vicarious experience that raised the kind of anger that resides in the deepest recesses of our ancient African souls.

The Kunta Kinte Syndrome is now sewn into the fabric of most modern societies’ racial relationships. Black people periodically must be made to realize that they are second-class citizens and have no rights that white people will accept. That includes being born or having a legitimate birth certificate. It includes having a skill or a degree from a prestigious college.

For those whites who believe black people are innately inferior, white skin will always “Trump” the achievements of a black person. Once a black person internalizes this racial oppression, they are doomed to a treadmill of subhumanity and will never be equal to a white person, no matter how fast they run on that treadmill.

Goldie Taylor, contributing editor for TheGrio.com, shared her personal connection to the racist history of identification papers for blacks in this country. She told a story close to home – in the city of St. Louis.

In 1899, her great-grandfather Major Blackard was accosted by a St. Louis cop who demanded that Blackard show him his identification papers. Blackard had forgotten them that day and was beaten to a bloody pulp, arrested and thrown in jail. Twenty-one days later, Blackard’s white employer had to come to the jail to prove his identity and to bond him out.

Racism in this country is no laughing matter. It should not be trivialized or ignored. Everywhere Donald Trump goes, he should be met with chants of “No More Tobies!” Those people who were happily rubbing elbows with him at the White House Correspondents Dinner should have left him sitting there all alone. He should be treated like a pariah. Since someone of his stature wants to flaunt his arrogant racism, he has to be taught a hard lesson.

Of course this is not just about President Obama; neither is it just about the birthers. It’s about all who are not white and male; it’s about racist legislation and policies that strip us of our full citizenship rights. In this next period, we will have to fight like hell to just retain the gains made over the last century.

Fair-minded white people cannot sit on the sidelines while racist ideologues denigrate and de-legitimize the country’s first president of color. Criticize President Obama when he doesn’t live up to his promises or ideals, but not because he is the son of an African. History will judge his presidency. It will also judge us for accommodating the kind of society that says racial (or gender) equality will never be a reality in this country.

David Hinds discusses “Power Sharing”

“African Guyanese call for Power Sharing is an affirmation of human and birth rights.”

By Dr. David Hinds  –
Special To News Americas  – http://www.newsamericasnow.com

Born in Buxton, David Hinds is a professor of Caribbean and African Diaspora studies at Arizona State University and executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). More of his writings can be found on his website at:  www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com
News Americas, PHOENIX, Arizona, Weds. May 4, 2011:

When I came out in support of Tacuma Ogunseye’s call for African Guyanese to take to the streets in Guyana to demand power sharing, I did so because I sensed that people were playing politics with the issue. Let me preface today’s offering with a few general observations.

First, I make a distinction between the Indian masses whose lives are as miserable as Africans and the Indian government which is as unaccountable to Indians as it is to the Africans. Second, I do not blame the Indian people for the plight of Africans; in the same way I don’t blame the African people for the suffering of Indians under the PNC. In both cases I hold the governments responsible for the excesses. Third, nobody can seriously accuse me of remaining quiet when Indian people are under attack–my record speaks for itself.

Fourth, I am not advocating violence against Indian people or the Indian government. That is the worst solution; all of us will be consumed. I am instead supporting African defiance and militancy against those who are intent on confining their role in Guyana to something called “opposition.” Fifth, I do not absolve African people from fault for our collective condition. But our problem is not simply that we like to party and spend lavishly as some Indians think. Our problem is that we have not cherished enough who we are – self-love. Finally, I am sure the cynics in our midst will say that I do not speak for African Guyanese. That is their business. I speak as an African Guyanese. When I put my life on the line to fight and help bring down an African Guyanese government, I never did so to install an Indian Guyanese government. We in the WPA fought for a Government of National unity. So I am not a “just come” to power sharing.

Despite attempts to frame it in violent and racist terms, Tacuma Ogunseye’s call has served the purpose of putting the question of race and governance back on sensible footing. From Eusi Kwayana’s call in 1961 for joint premiership to the PPP’s call for a National Patriotic Front in 1977 to the WPA’s 1979 proposal for a Government of National Unity and Reconstruction to the PNC’s call for Shared Governance in 2002, the issue of power sharing has been about how to achieve security for all races beginning at the political level. All of the proposals I referenced above started from the position that intra-racial solidarity is a given in our political culture. Kwayana captured the essence of problem in 1961 this way: “We have known all along that the Indians would not trust a Black leader and that the Africans would not trust an Indian leader.” That reading was correct in 1961 and it is even more correct fifty years later….    more

Read full article here: http://www.newsamericasnow.com/african-guyanese-call-for-power-sharing-is-an-affirmation-of-human-and-birth-rights/

U.G. may be forced to close next year



The University of Guyana needs money, lots of money, for it to be viable. Without a financial injection, the University is not going to survive

Guyana has excellent students who are being shortchanged because the University of Guyana does not have sufficient funds to allow it to run a top-class facility. It is way below desired standards. The buildings are in poor shape, the staff underpaid and the academic resources woefully inadequate and outdated.

What it will take to reverse this situation is a deluge of funds. Once money begins to pour into the institution, the University of Guyana will dust off the cobwebs and reinvent itself. Right now it hardly has the strength to stand in front of the mirror and assess its poor shape, much less to begin to reverse the decline which has become endemic. Money is the key to reversing the fortunes of the University.

But this injection of funds does not necessarily have to come from the government. It can be raised by the university itself while freeing itself of some of the administrative burdens that drain its present limited funds.

The fees presently charged to students were set eons ago and since then the dollar has appreciated. If the fees are increased to keep abreast with inflation and the depreciation of the Guyana dollar, no student attending the University of Guyana should be paying less than $200,000 per year.

The government offers student loans. The vast majority of students apply for these loans. There are indications that many students, after graduating, leave the country without paying their loans. These students cannot be prevented from leaving, or arrested or sued, because they have fifteen years to pay back the loans.

The government therefore is forced to absorb the burden of the bad loans, as well as the value of the loans given to existing students, and which are paid to the University. The government should rid itself of this responsibility and ask students to apply to commercial banks for loans. There is no reason why the government should have to grant loans to students when the students can apply to the commercial banks for loans.

There is the trend in Guyana that people feel that they can owe the government and not have to pay. While many do pay, there are quite a few who have absconded from Guyana without paying their loans and who are not ever going to pay because by the time their fifteen-year moratorium period is up, most of them would have obtained their transcripts from the University and would have migrated overseas. So those fees are lost.

If these same students had to take a commercial loan, they would have had to begin repaying the loan immediately upon graduation and they would have had to lodge security. They would have been more inclined to pay.

This is an election year, and therefore there is no way that the government is going to increase tuition fees at the University of Guyana or withdraw the student loan facility.
If the University of Guyana was charging market-based fees, then it would not have to be in the crisis it is in, because it would have been able to raise the funds from its students.
There are also other initiatives that the University of Guyana can pursue which can allow it to raise funds for its upkeep, but throughout its history, the institution has been plagued by administrative problems and has failed to be innovative.

Guyana is a small country, where less than 1% of the population acquires tertiary education. With such a low rate of university graduates, it is simply not feasible for the government to be spending as much on each university student as it presently does.
What is needed, therefore, is not a plan to balance the University’s budget. What is needed is a plan to allow the University to charge market-based rates so that it can pay for itself.

The government has committed to doing certain things, including funding a biodiversity laboratory. What is corporate Guyana doing? How much is it willing to pump into the University? These are all areas which the University should examine, because unless it does, it will find out that come next year it may have to close its doors permanently.

Your comments are welcome!!

A next-generation Digital Book

A next-generation Digital Book

By: Mike Matas

About this talk

Software developer Mike Matas demos the first full-length interactive book for the iPad — with clever, swipeable video and graphics and some very cool data visualizations to play with. The book is “Our Choice,” Al Gore’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.”

About Mike Matas

While at Apple, Mike Matas helped write the user interface for the iPhone and iPad. Now with Push Pop Press, he’s helping to rewrite the electronic book. Full bio and more links

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