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Well its all stolen land... Re: the better question. It is certainly asked by some Native Americans. But their numbers have been decimated, their "voice" silenced. That said, Obama did campaign on a least one reservation. He made the standard promises the politicians make (and rarely keep). Its on YouTube somewhere. I think I may have blogged something about it... Re: Mexicans. Mexican nationals are immigrating from a nation-state, Mexico. I imagine that they would rather stay home, but they are "pushed" here, often losing their lives, because of our deplorable foreign policy. The Mexican deal (especially undocumented Mexicans) is not much of an improvement on the Native American deal. etc... One could make the case that Native Americans voluntarily remaining on reservations is kinda like black South Africans voluntarily remaining on Bantustans. But an important distinction is that black South Africans are a majority in that nation. They have political power (but undermined by pan-whiteness). Native Americans, on the other hand, are a tiny minority in this nation--nations within a nation--who want to avoid extinction and maintain the rights of a sovereign. kzs
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2010 on A Rude Question About Native Americans at Cobb
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Can't speak for Native Americans, but I will hazard a guess: I imagine that Native Americans are still on reservations because they offer some semblance of sovereignty despite the brutal ironies of dependency that you highlight (but these are no less ironical than, say, the US trumpeting "democracy" whilst overthrowing democratically elected leaders that they don't approve of). But I think your "rude" question points in the wrong direction. The better question is why doesn't the federal government improve its awful track record on Native American relations. kzs
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2010 on A Rude Question About Native Americans at Cobb
1 reply
I took a class with Kwame Anthony Appiah. I know his work pretty well. His take on race has shifted a bit since the publication of In my Father's House. Basically, he now acknowledges the strategic utility of race. His father, Joe Appiah, actually wound up being a bitter critic of Nkrumah for a complex mix of reasons... "Tribes" in fact do scale. There is plenty of documentation of it. I could also give some common sense examples but I am too lazy to type it out. It is sometimes referred to as "relativity of political scale," a phrase first coined by the British anthropologist, E. Evans Pritchard (I think). Is "scaling" consistent? Of course not. As with any other sort of collective effort, organizing around African-ness/Blackness is imperfect and demands hard work. kzs
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2009 on Faces At The Bottom of the Atlantic at Cobb
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Brotha Cobb, You have pressed your finger on the wrong pole. The problem is not black anti-Americanism. Rather America has been for most of its existence anti-black... If "predominate" is what you mean to say you have already conceded the existence of at least two histories. Du Bois, as you know, famously talks about the "two-ness" in "Souls." I don't think you are necessarily wrong about predominance, but it is also the case that African-ness and American-ness can co-exist. One or the other being invoked strategically. Historians have shown that we look to Africa when our prospects in America are bleak. In short it vacillates. You give the short shrift on historical invocations of Africa. You cite Biafra but ignore, for example, Ghana. MLK Jr., Maya Angelo, Richard Wright, Shirley Graham and WEB Du Bois, Malcolm X and several others have sojourned there. The Civil Rights movement was, in part, inspired by the African independence movement (and vice versa). Black Americans instigated a near riot on the floor of the United Nations over the assassination of Lumumba by the CIA. There was vocal Black protest against Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. In fact a black pilot, defied "our" govt. and flew with the Ethiopian airforce. Anecdotally, I vividly remember being called "Kunte Kinte" as a child. Presumbly because I was "too black" and I looked "too African." These examples don't necessarily contradict your claim that our only viable option is to make the best of our American-ness. But it certainly complicates it. Africa has cast a long and enduring shadow over black American identity that defies any simple either/or proposition... Yes, the black "race" was an invention of white supremacy. But it was equally an invention of black folks so named--its dialectical and its an ongoing project. Ultimately, of course, we are all human. But even this simple proposition is loaded with ambiguity. What it means to be "human" is equally cultural and has varied across time and space... Are black folks in America more human in the sense that we enjoy comparatively superior benchmarks? I concede this point. But the point is mooted when we consider that America has routinely imposed brutal un-freedoms on non-Americans. Manifest Destiny, the overthrow of Allende, Lumumba, Nkrumah, Qasim (Sadam Hussein was "our" boy then) are examples of our brutal pursuit of un-freedom" against whoever deviates from "our" dictates. My humanness necessitates that I reject this sort of freedom and expose its hypocrisy. kzs
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2009 on Faces At The Bottom of the Atlantic at Cobb
1 reply