By Dr, Eugene Stovall
Oakland, California October 23, 2013
When it comes to a discussion of the African Slave Trade, black scholars seem to have difficulty with reality. Many find it difficult to maintain an intellectual detachment, utilize some critical thinking or refrain from personal attacks. The article written by Boyce Watkins, Does Henry Louis Gates Believe Blacks and Whites Deserve Equal Blame for Slavery? I Hope Not. [Added by admin on October 22, 2013.Saved under Commentary, Men, News, Opinions, Politics is an example of a black intellectual who has lost touch with reality. Worse yet it inspires rancor and bitterness among those who should be scholarly and collegial.
Why should a discussion of slavery cause African-American scholars to exhibit such a curious tangle of pathologies? Is it the fact that while slavery has become a convenient answer for all of Black America’s shortcomings, it has also become embarrassing for those intellectuals now proclaiming the post racial society and are required by academia to behave as people of color? Dr. Watkin’s article is a good example of the mental breakdown intellectuals experience over the topic of slavery and the sharp edges and unkindness it inspires among them. But this article is full of personal invective, name-calling and a mean spiritness that inspires even more personal attacks from commenters.
Notwithstanding its nastiness, Watkin’s article poses very real questions about who was responsible for the African Slave Trade as well as the legitimacy claims for reparations being made by the descendants of slaves. As such, the article forces all scholars to examine the current state of black scholarship at a time when the black community is in desperate need of legitimate leadership ____ being preyed upon by corrupt politicians and preachers, alike.
Watkin’s article raises a very important that must be answered before any other discussion takes place. And to answer this question, black scholars cannot allow their own personal and political agendas to obscure the reality or to distort contemporary and historical facts. So we must ask: How can any black scholar in the 21st century deny the role that the Africans played in the African slave trade? Haven’t they visited the slave forts on the African Gold Coast; haven,t they seen the paintings on the walls of Timbuktu; haven’t they read the thousand year old scrolls describing how Africans sold each other? The facts that Africans sold each other into slavery are undeniable. The African Slave Trade predated the discovery of the New World by several centuries! These are well known facts. But let’s look at other facts about African slavery that are not so well known. The facts that black scholars have conveniently ignored, in the same way that they have ignored the complicity of black leaders in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments and the murder of those poor black souls in Jonestown.
In the 1920s, by sending UNIA surveyors and settlers to Liberia to advance his “back to Africa movement”, Marcus Garvey thoroughly alarmed the French and English governments. The British and French sent their ambassadors to call upon the White House demanding that the president, Warren Harding put a stop to any planned Negro resettlement to Africa’s wealthy Gold Coast region. Agreeing to intervene, President Harding sent a diplomatic mission to the Liberian president, C.B.D. King to make an offer that the Liberian government could not refuse. In return for a five million dollar loan from the United States government, King must agree to lease the million acres of rubber forests promised to Marcus Garvey and the UNIA to Harvey Firestone, Harding’s personal friend. President King must agree to lease Firestone the valuable rubber forests for a term of ninty-nine years at a total price of 5 cents per acre. With the acceptance of the treaty, President King agreed to enslave the indigenous Susu and Gbebo tribesmen and force them to labor on Harvey Firestone’s rubber plantations. The Liberian government then passed a Forced Labor Law forcing the indigenous African tribes of Liberia into perpetual slavery. The law easily passed the Liberian legislature when several members of its members as well as the Chief Justice of the Liberian Supreme Court were assassinated by the “hit squad” that accompanied Warren Harding’s delegation to C.B.D. King. The negotiations and assassinations were directed by the person to whom Harding entrusted this top secret diplomatic mission, W.E.B. DuBois. And to further confirm the complicity of blacks in the African Slave Trade, President Warren Harding, himself, was a Negro. Thus any academic discussion of African slavery must take into consideration this reality: Africans as well as American Negroes are as responsible for this abominable practice as are white Europeans. And black scholars must base their academic analyses upon the facts.
The slavery endured by the Susu and Gbedo tribesmen was horrific by any standard. They were starved and none were allowed to wear shoes. If one attempted to escape, the guards cut off a foot. Meanwhile in the United States, Warren Harding inspired the massacre of the entire black community in Tulsa Oklahoma to cover-up his transfer of the Teapot Dome and Elk Hills government oil reserves to a cartel headed by Standard Oil, free of charge. After burning down their homes and murdering hundreds, the whites drove the surviving blacks out of town. And to further humiliate them, the whites forced the Negro men, women and children to remove their shoes. “Coons don’t wear shoes, why should Nigrahs?”
Next month Elihu Harris, former mayor of Oakland and Barbara Lee, current member of Congress from Oakland, both persons of color, are inviting the daughter of George Wallace to discuss her father’s contributions to the civil rights movement. In honor of George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Bull Connor and Robert Shelton and their contributions to the development of present black leadership in the United States, the people of color attending the event will be requested to remove their shoes.
READINGS ON AFRICAN SLAVERY:
Adventures Of An African Slaver: Being a True Account of the Life of CAPTAIN THEODORE CANOT, Trader in Gold, Ivory & Slaves on the Coast of Guinea: His Own Story as told in the Year 1854 to Brantz Mayer
The Dahomean, Frank Yerby, Dial Press
Fairoaks, Frank Yerby, Dial Press