Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, discovered Brazil in the year 1500 AD. The first African slaves were brought to the nation in 1525. That was the start. For the next 300+ years European nations would transport over 18 million Africans to the “New World.” The legacy is full of violence – the vilest form of slavery known to humankind. Still, we survive! Today, there are more than 200 million persons of African descent living in the Americas. From Canada to Argentina we have not only survived a terrible past; we have thrived. Our blood, sweat and tears built a “Bread Basket” which provided things such as fruits, vegetables, tobacco, and sugar for the rest of the world.
There have been other forms of slavery but no other which transferred from parent to child for generations to come. Elsewhere, slavery was for the current subjects, but their children were usually born free. In the Americas we were forced to learn five principal languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Dutch depending on which nation a colony was assigned.
As the colonies liberated themselves and formed various new nations, slavery would remain intact. Our liberation would come decades later. By the close of the 19th century most of us, Afro descendants, would become free. The final act of this freedom would be economic assimilation. However, that has yet to become fully realized. Two hundred million of us are spread from the tip of Canada to the bottom of Argentina. Sadly, we compose the “bottom rung” of each nation’s economic ladder. No matter how rich or how poor a nation of the Americas is, the bottom component of its economy will house Afro descendants.
The above needs to change. The change will not come from civil war or in – house revolution. Bloodshed is inconvenient and unlikely to amount to pure freedom (economic or spiritually). One of our Black heroes spoke about this over 150 years ago. The co-founder of the American Republican Party made it clear to us. To transfer power to the point of equity and freedom, we must have a struggle. Please note the precious words of the great Frederick Douglas:
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will…Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get.
This great leader who conversed with Abraham Lincoln in a style that the equally great Dr. Martin Luther King would do with various U.S. presidents must not be forgotten. We, the Afro descendants of the Americas, have some unfinished business to complete. Our people must attain economic parity. That can only be accomplished through the fundamentals of capitalism via entrepreneurship and organization. We cannot wait for it to happen. It has been more than 100 years within our nations and we have as far to go now as we did when our journey first started (with Emancipation).
Let us, the Afro Descendants of the Americas, begin to Organize. From there we must start to strategize. Once those two phases are accomplished we must, finally, Implement our economic freedom. Organize, Strategize and Implement must become our mantra. Let us start in unison from Canada through every nation until we complete the nation of Argentina.
Another great Black American Republican stated that we must lift ourselves up by our “boot straps.” If we build our own businesses and do business with each other, not only will we survive but we will thrive. This is Booker T. Washington who also dined and conversed with an American president – Theodore Roosevelt. As we go on this journey we must not get diverted by those who claim to march for our betterment. We must be aware of “false prophets.” Let us never forget Mr. Washington’s admonishment:
“There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
Let us begin this journey: Organize, Strategize, and Implement.
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce® Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.