UNITED NATIONS (PRWEB) February 15, 2016
UN NGO United States Sustainable Development Corp convened a briefing entitled “Global Isolation of African and Indigenous Descendants of Colonialism and Enslavement”, an NGO representative who organized the event says that the sense of political invisibility felt by the subject group in situations like the Flint Michigan, Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland may find its roots in mountains of early American legal action. Ava Gabrielle-Wise read an oral statement that was intended for the full 54th Commission on Social Development. “It was by legislation that the early founders of the United States went to great lengths to define non-European citizenship". The effect of that legislative action, she said, was the systematic elimination of entire people groups from the political framework along with their representative voices beyond the legacy of enslavement.
Much of the briefing covered colonial, early American, late 19th and 20th century human rights legislation such as the 1924 Virginia Racial Integrity Act, which revised vital records of people of color to continue the practice of erasing any remnants of their indigenous identity. The organizer circulated a handout entitled, "Selected Virginia Statutes relating to Slavery", which is found on the "Virtual Jamestown" website, a digital collaborative of Virginia Tech and several other universities. The document lists more than 50 legislative acts dating as far back as 1629 beginning with "an act distinguishing the work of English and African women" that drew the first distinction between those of African descent and those of European descent before they were identified as white or black.
Antony Tompkins of the United Kingdom, said that the experiences of African descendants in the UK is not unlike the experiences of those in the US. Nonetheless, “it's hard to tell whether it's more or less legislation that is needed today," Gabrielle-Wise acknowledged the heavy focus on legislation. "It was important to focus on the legislation, said Gabrielle-Wise, because so much was done by legislation in the founding years of the colonies. It's documented, it can be proven, it's not about conjecture, but law", said Gabrielle-Wise. "The effort invested to delineate each people group, by name and ethnic origin was no mistake. They were closer to the actual (pre-colonial) history, so they knew precisely about whom they were referring and understood fully it was important to identify them with such distinction, to be careful to not leave anyone out that they were trying to draw into this homogenous group to enslave.”
One such legislation that was cited is dated, November 1682 and was entitled, "an act repealing a former law making Indians and others ffree". According to a by-line in the document, the academics of Virtual Jamestown state its purpose as joining "Native Americans and Africans into one racial category-"negroes and other slaves."
"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all servants except Turkes and Moores, whilest in amity with his majesty which from and after publication of this act shall be brought or imported into this country, either by sea or land, whether Negroes, Moors, Mollattoes or Indians, who and whose parentage and native country are not christian at the time of their first purchase of such servant by some christian, although afterwards, and before such their importation and bringing into this country, they shall be converted to the christian faith; and all Indians which shall hereafter be sold by our neighbouring Indians, or any other trafiqueing with us as for slaves are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes, any law, usage or custome to the countrary notwithstanding." "The Statutes at Large", William Waller Hening
Attendees from Cameroon, Nigeria, and other countries stated that they too could identify with the lingering effects of colonialism and imperialist oppression in their own nations. "This is important work, but it is not unique to the United States. Africans all around the diaspora experience similar trials", said Oluwarotimi Henry Adenigba from Nigeria. He wondered aloud what remedy might today be available to those descendants.
Queen Mother Dr. Delois N. Blakely, founder of the New Future Foundation, an NGO, responded with, "the answer can be given in one word, reparations, reparations, reparations. She also mentioned a recent report of the "U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent", which said that they were "extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African-Americans,” according to Associated Press. The full report will be released in September, but is already making the argument for reparations and a US Human Rights Commission.
The briefing was a prologue to another panel session that is scheduled for March 23rd, a parallel event of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women. The panel will delve into the history and current condition of Indigenous and African descendants of colonialism and enslavement. Scholars and activists alike have been invited to speak on the panel including Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, Jeffrey Ogbar, Historian and Author on the shared history of African and Indigenous descendants of North America, William Loren Katz, Activist and Author, Monifa Bandele and African and American historian, Arthur T. Carter, MD.