Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope's visit and People of African descent ?

What does the Pope's visit mean to People of African descent?
By Shaka Barak, Minister of Education of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA & ACL)
What does Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) the 79 year old, who is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City, mean to Africans and people of African descent? He is a European, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, who from the 22-27th  of September 2015, will have his historic visit to the United States. Highlights of his itinerary includes, White House address and meeting with President Barack Obama, address to a joint session of Congress, address to the United Nations General Assembly, a Madison Square Garden's Mass, a Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and finally departing for Rome on Sunday.
It is said that Francis' papacy is expected to be a tremendous boon to Latino Catholics in South America and the Caribbean, who make up 39 percent of the global Catholic population of an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. We of African descent in those regions are the largest minority in many Latin-American countries yet the most vulnerable group, and must ask, what does his visit mean to us?. So while it is clear how Hispanics will benefit, we are concerned with how, using the words of Jesus Garcia, the former Afro Latin journalist, do we during this boom, address the issues we face such as "the great limitations which harass our communities of African origin, and the possibilities of breaking those barriers of poverty, racism and discrimination."
Catholics are the biggest religious group in most parts of Latin America. In Argentina, Francis' homeland, nearly 77 percent (31 million) of the population is Catholic, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The nation has the world's 11th largest Catholic population. However, who will raise the cry that in Argentina Blacks are being erased from existence to the extent that the Afro-Argentinians are an endangered species.
We Garveyites of the UNIA & ACL support groups like the Organization of Africans in the Americas. We applaud and echo their call, of "We are people of African descent from various countries in the Western Hemisphere. Our purpose is to form links among the African peoples of the West: to get to know each other, to share our concerns and experiences, and we hope, to collectively fight the problems of racism and marginalization which afflict us no matter where we reside." Therefore, while most leaders are silent, indifferent or in awe of the Pope, it is for the Garveyites to raise our fight today with people like the Pope, to show our dissatisfaction, and  to let the world know that we do not desire to commit racial suicide and that we will and must assure recognition for our African past, present and future everywhere in the world.
After emancipation of the formerly enslaved Africans, the Spanish began their race mixing movement" that was an idea of the elite, to "wipe out" any trace of Africanism by making the nation lighter. There were similar attempts by miscegenation groups in the United States like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the "Brown Bag" societies. Under the cloak of integration they promoted the idea of "if you are white you are all right, if you are yellow you are mellow, if you are brown, stick around, and if you are black, get back". There were well organized plans to occupy all the land owned by nearly 900,000 Black farmers, until today African Americans have only a few thousand farmers and are almost landless.
In Latin America where Africans were on land that is rich in different species of animals, insects and rich in mineral deposits namely oil, then paramilitary groups wanted to eliminate Blacks through ethnocide. According to Melissa M. Valle, who has worked to develop forums for the analysis of the social reality of African-descended people from Latin America, "This racial order closely maps on to the existing class order resulting in significant social, economic, political, criminal justice, and health disparities based upon race within the Latin@ populations throughout the Americas. While race is neither a fixed nor a biological fact, racism, oppression, discrimination, and the disparities based upon racial identification are very much social facts that exact a high price on people's lives."
We Garveyites likewise,  remember the "Parsley Massacre"; also referred to as El Corte by Dominicans and as Kout kouto a by Haitians; that was government-sponsored genocide in October 1937, at the direct order of Dominican president Rafael Trujillo who ordered the execution of the Haitian population living in the borderlands with Haiti. Estimates of the total number of deaths from a low of 547 to a high of 20,000".  Another tragedy was when the female Senator, Cordoba,  the only Black senator in Colombia was kidnapped by three truckloads of guerillas on 5/25/99. Where was the Church, and where was the then Arch Bishopl at that time?
At the Pope's visit  to the United Nations he mentions conflicts in the Middle East, Europe and the tragedy of the plane bombing that brought down the World Trade Center in New York, but he did not mention the suffering of Afro Latino's living in his back yard. What has the Pope Francis ever done to encourage the bridging of the gap in services to the marginalized Black communities in Latin America, before he became Pope? How does he plan to encourage Latino leadership to give Afro-Latin Americans visibility and help to improve education, poverty alleviation and microenterprises for them? The Pope silence instead means his voice join those who deny race, and that Blacks are part of the "disadvantaged racial minority group where he's from?
From first-hand experience the Pope knows that often Blacks are excluded from international forums in Latin-America. Where is the Pope on the United Nations call for the International Decade for People of African Descent? In Latin America, there are 19 of the 219 cardinals that are from that region, and although Africans are the largest minority there it's far too few Afro Latino Cardinals there. Where is the Popes call for leadership training programs that could build self-esteem, create employment, and increase income for Afro Latinos? Where is the Pope when there are attempts to whiten Africans, shift color categories, and destroy slave records?
The Latin American governments and the Catholic Church are afraid of the news of how severely Blacks are treated will get out to African Americans and the African nations. African-Americans however, are quite interested in developing a relationship with our natural allies in Latin-America in the areas of trade/commerce, policy, diplomacy, and international development to benefit Blacks in both the United States, Latin-America, the Caribbean and Africa, and Asia, and Indonesia. African Americans have listened to the voice of those who have protested against the injustice against Afro Latinos for decades. If the Pope is to have some relevance to Africans we must ask what will the Pope do to help, or is he in opposition similarly to that which comes from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina with  millions of  Blacks, that in the past have been uncomfortable with facilitating pan African relationships let alone with dealing with ethnic issues concerning Blacks?
Where is the Pope when it comes to the CRIMES AGAINST African Humanity? During his visit to South America in July,2015, he apologized for the sins, offenses and crimes committed by the church against indigenous peoples by these conquistadors like Columbus, however he didn't mention the crimes against Africans. Many Native Americans are not happy with the event on Wednesday, when Junipero Serra was canonized. He is known for helping to introduce Christianity to much of California as he marched north with Spanish conquistadors, establishing nine of the state's 21 missions. Research shows also that likewise, "Christopher Columbus under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World". Where is the Pope on Christopher Columbus, since he was a Catholic and who is now being seen as a mass murderer, and as the one who set in motion the enslavement of Africans and what would become genocide of Native American tribes. Hero or murderer, Pope?
Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, said Tuesday. "This has woken up the outrage of indigenous people around the world." In California, at the historic Carmel mission where Serra died, and where his mission was founded in 1771, also was preparing for a silent protest by members of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, who intended to pray for ancestors buried in the mission's cemetery. Will this visit also awaken outrage or at least questions among people of African descent?
The two nations that have the world's biggest Catholic populations, outside of the U.S. are  133 million in Brazil and 96 million in Mexico. In Brazil with a population of 202,656,788 61%-63% are Catholic and 57 million Africans live there. Some well-known Brazilians persons from there include Abadias Do Nascimento, Anderson Silva, Pele, Sergio Penas, and Clarrissa  Dos Santos. In Mexico 124,664,000 and 81% are Catholic and 200,000 African descendants live there. In Mexico most of the roads, bridges, and Cathedrals were built by Blacks. Blacks fought for Mexico's independence and Mexico's second President, Vicente Guerrero was of African descent. Africans although illtreated today, have fought and died in for the liberation and independence of most Latin American countries and later served in the highest offices of those governments.
In Colombia with a population of 47,551,232 and 75% are catholic and 15 million Africans live there under oppression. In Cuba with a population of 11,200,000, and 51.7% are Catholic and 4 million Africans live there under oppression. In Dominican Republic of 10,400,000 and 57% are Catholic and 5.4 million African descendants live there under a denial of their Africanism. In Venezuela 30,400,000 and 73% are Catholic. In Venezuela Blacks work in poorly paid agricultural or domestic jobs. In Ecuador 15,223,680 and 74.0% are Catholic. In Ecuador Blacks and the indigenous people are the poorest of the nation. Ecuador is the most racist country in Latin America. Ecuador tries to hide their blacks and limit their exposure. In Guatemala as elsewhere, enslaved Blacks intermarried with Native Americans. In Costa Rica most of the country is off limits to Blacks like a color bar. Countries with significant African, mulatto, or zambo populations today include Brazil (57 million, if including the pardo Brazilian population with Mulatto phenotype), Haiti (8.7 million), Dominican Republic (8.5 million), Cuba (7 million), Colombia (5 million) and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has a population between 20%–46% of people of African heritage.  In Puerto Rico life for Blacks was a living hell during the colonial period. From day one of arrival in 1560 Afro-Puerto Ricans were seen as inhuman, strange exotic and suspicious. There Blacks were branded on their foreheads for the owner's identification and safe guard from kidnapping. Blackness was acknowledged but rarely in a positive light.
So what does the Pope's visit mean? It means if we look carefully, we can understand that with so many Africans and people of African descent in the African diaspora, we can see why the Jamaican, Caribbean born Honorable Marcus Garvey (b. August 17, 1887, d. June 10, 1940) established divisions and chapter of the UNIA & ACL in Latin America. We can also understand why the 3rd Assistant President General of the UNIA had the responsibility to organize those Africans there. The Pope's visit hopefully reminds us that African leadership must stay ever vigilant to inform our race about the things happening in the world that could impact our interest positively or negatively. His visit means that in the future there must be unity among the members of the African diaspora because All Black Lives Matter World-Wide, and nobody will protect us or speak out for us as well as we can protect ourselves and speak for ourselves.
We seek the meaning of the Pope's visit, not because we are opposed to Catholics, because the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a Catholic, although he confined his time to serving his race, and there are 176 million Africans on the continent of Africa that are Catholics. We raise this question because Catholics take their orders from the Pope and his representatives and many people in Latin America, that are killing people of African descent are Catholics. The Pope is called His Holiness and His Grace, and many members of our race respect him as we expect others to respect the fact that the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey is called His Excellency in keeping with his being the founder and head of the International organization the UNIA & ACL, is the first National Hero of Jamaica, and is loved by millions around the world on every continent. Like Christ the Honorable Marcus Garvey was persecuted, shot , framed, arrested, indicted, tried, convicted, imprisoned, and deported. He wrote, "May we not say to ourselves that the doctrine Jesus taught-that of redeeming mankind-is the doctrine we ourselves must teach in the redemption of our struggling race? Let us therefore cling fast to the great ideal we have before us. This time it is not the ideal of redeeming the world, such as was the ideal of Jesus, but it is the ideal of redeeming and saving 400,000,000 souls who have suffered for centuries from the persecution of alien races." The next time a white Pope, Queen, King, Emperor, Imam or head of state visits our countries where we reside, or an African leader for that matter, rather than becoming teary eyed, or indifferent, let us ask the question, and do an analysis of  what does this visit mean to our people. This may be beneficial for those who may know or who may not have known that that leader even arrived let alone understands how this persons visit like the Pope's may have meaning to our race one way or another.

Posted by: Shaka Barak <>
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