The Crime: African Americans

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Courtesy: School of Arts, Nigeria

“In the house of the brave man, there are

 tears, in the coward’s house no one cries”                                                                                                                                             — African Proverb

 From the desk of Bamidele Adeoye, DBA. June 1996, updated March 2021.

 

Power leads to arrogance and arrogance leads to fall, it is very dangerous to be powerful and arrogant. Those in power never give it away and admit defeat. They plot and scheme to regain their lost power and privileges,  as described by an African proverb.

 

If humans can accept that the earth is round, although our eyes tell us otherwise, why do some people continue to think of themselves and act as if they are “superior” to people of African descent and others or appearance despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

 

The race concept was an idea that early European scientists coined to categorize differences in appearance in peoples living in other parts of the world distant from their own. The word race began, therefore, as a geographically derived concept.  Later, some scientists began to speculate about a hierarchy of capacity or worth associated with various races.

 

Whether due to error, bias, arrogance, fear of the unknown and or deliberate act of misrepresentation of history, European scientists concluded that their racial group was superior to all others. The notion of European racial superiority furnished a ready excuse or justification for conquest, colonialism, imperialism, and abuse.

 

In 1831, French historian Alexis de Tocqueville summed up the prevailing European’s opinion of Native American Indians (The First Citizens): “Heaven has not made them to become civilized; it is necessary that they die.” Albert Sarraut, French Colonial Secretary speech in 1923, stated that at the start, colonization was not an act of civilization, nor was it a desire to civilize. It was an act of force motivated by interests.

 

Like cancer, the fallacy that skin color is a substitute for talent, character, intelligence, and humanity. Even worse, the misconception that skin color matters, a legitimate distinction among people, signifies a lesser degree of humanity, was created and maintained. Over the years, that fiction became embedded in the social and political structures of the west. It established and nourished sharp limits on the opportunity, and therefore on achievement.

 

Maponga Joshua III challenged the Europeans to reference God for diversity issues based on the biblical creation stories or myths. Hating skin color is contempt for God’s divine creative imagination. Honoring it is the appreciation for conscious, beautiful-love-inspired diversity ― T.F. Hodge. While Stephanie Lahart emphatically pronounced that her skin tone is exquisite.

 

On August 20, 1619, “20 and odd” Angolans, kidnapped by the Portuguese, arrive in the British colony of Virginia and are then bought by English colonists. The arrival of the enslaved Africans in the New World marks the beginning of two and a half centuries of slavery in North America.

 

Jamestown was founded in 1607; the Virginia Colonist was home to about 700 people by 1619. The first enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, in what is today known as Hampton Roads. Most of their names, as well as the exact number who remained at Point Comfort, have been lost to history, but their journey remained engraved in memory. Slavery, the original sin of America.

 

The 1807 Act prohibiting the importation of slaves into America did not impede the importation. However, according to smithsonianmag.com, the last known slave ship arrived in America and anchored on July 9, 1860, off Point of Pines in Grand Bay, Mississippi, near the Alabama border.

 

On July 9, 1860, one hundred and sixty-one years ago, slave traders stole Oluale Kossola (Yoruba name) or Cudjo  Lewis (American name)  and brutally ripped him from his homeland, of the Yoruba people in West Africa, along with 109 other Africans, and brought them to Alabama on a ship called Clotilda.

 

The Clotilda’s survivors after the Civil War founded Africatown, a small community just north of Mobile, Alabama. Africatown was a reflection and a reminder of where they were kidnapped and stolen in the new world. They were very adamant about returning home someday — Africa. We call our village Affican Town. We say dat ‘cause we want to go back in de Affica soil and we see we cain go. Derefo’ we makee de Affica where dey fetch us  — Oluale Kossola aka Cudjo Lewis Africatown; Mobile, Alabama.

The last known slave ship was found under a muddy stretch of the Mobile River, a wooden vessel of horrors that brought slaves more than a half-century after the 1807 Act, which banned the importation of slaves. The find revives a story of unspeakable cruelty, but also the story of a people who somehow survived this indignity and many others like it — Richard Fausset (The New York Times).

 

The historical record shows how white Europeans conquered North America, destroyed the native population, and then built their new nation’s economy on the kidnapped Africans turned into chattel, facts that can hardly be refuted. America was founded as a white society with Christian roots. Between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population attended churches — Library of Congress.

 

Forgiveness is God’s purpose, initiative, action and gift to humanity, the bedrock of the Christian doctrine of truth, the triune God loves, offers the act of forgiveness, and seeks reconciliation.  According to the Christian doctrine, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more …” “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

 

There are 44 biblical verses about forgiveness — KVJ, the act, and power of forgiveness assuming there is an infraction or sin committed, however, twenty are listed for testimonial.

 

(1) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:32. (2) “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” — Matthew 6:14-15. (3)Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13. (4) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” — Luke 6:37. (5) “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ” — Matthew 18:21-22. (6) You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” — Psalm 86:5. (7) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” — Mark 11:25. (8) Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” — Psalm 32:1. (9) “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” — Matthew 6:15. (10) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:9. (11) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” — Hebrew 8:12. (12) “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” — Proverbs 17:9. (13) “Hatred stirs old quarrels, but love overlooks insults.” — Proverbs 10:12. (14) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” — Psalm 103:12. (15) “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” — Daniel 9:9. (16) “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more …” — Isaiah 43:25. (17) “Then he adds: Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” — Hebrew 10:17. (18) “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” — Psalm 130:3-4. (19) “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” — Ephesians 1:7-8 and (20) “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” — Colossians 1:13-14.

 

This freedom, the power and ability to forgive others, yet proves to be elusive for many, even the state. They preached the forgiveness of God, yet, they refuse to forgive others. Thus, they remain enslaved to the past, trapped in the sin of unforgiveness, and doomed to reap its whirlwind for ages to come.

 

Lamentably, unforgiveness always stems from a guilty heart, a darkness in the soul that either does not know the Gospel they preach or does not care. The Bible’s teachings on forgiveness are very clear that salvation, depends on the forgiveness extended to others, while failing to see any connection between the citizens as a nation of one people. Even the Christian Bible commanded the act of forgiveness (Colossians 3:13), stating that forgiveness is not optional, and if you have been forgiven, you will forgive others.

 

“Pray then like this: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” — Christians’ Lord’s Prayers.

 

We do what we believe. And wonder what we do. The test of true religion in is not how we treat the man who holds a high position in the society but how we treat a man who has no position to hold; not how we respond to the call of the man who wields power, but how we respond to the call of the man who has no power to command us. Religion is not how we treat the rich, but rather what attitude we take towards the poor and the weak amongst us. No wonder there is a dichotomy between what we believe and what we do.

 

This bags the main theme and question of this paper on the crime along with the Christian doctrine.

 

What is the crime of omission or sin committed by African Americans’ that plagued them since 1619?

 

Is slavery African Americans’ crime yet to be forgiven? If there is no crime or sin of omission,  why the acts of injustice in every conceivable way? What are the Christian teachings on and about forgiveness?

 

Are there some people or groups of people that you do not want to forgive? Why do we resist forgiving certain people or groups?

 

That is why the sin of unforgiveness is a sin that needs forgiveness. Interestingly, Archbishop Desmond Tutu titled his book “No Future Without Forgiveness.” Is American slavery one of the unforgivable crimes against humanity? A national crime that contributed, over time, to other crimes and forms of injustice — racism, race prejudice, lynching, exclusion, segregation, discrimination, and too many forms of inequality to name. Many of those crimes and forms of injustice, inequality, and race relations remain.

Nikki White, an African American woman in Memphis Tennessee, hypothesized that white men want to acquire some of the physical attributes of black men. While black men merely want the privileges open to white men. What a profound deduction from her observations.

 

I have lingered with this challenging question for over forty years without any substantive answers or resolutions for African America’s crime.

 

What makes one culture or God superior to the other? There is no right or wrong culture, nor God. Furthermore, there is no one true religion, or whether the worship is the right One, done the right way. God is as the wind, that touches everything. The universal truth governing all cultures, Gods, and religions is the simple philosophy intrinsic in humans’; do unto others as you wish done unto you. This essential principle (The Golden Rule) has either eroded, lost, selective or wishfully forgotten.

 

Africans in America should let their positive attitude shine in a way that invites people to come closer. The goal is to let others know that they are confident without acting superior. Hence, there is a thin line between arrogance and confidence. While confidence attracts, arrogance repels.

 

Sadly, Africans in America are unsympathetic to the position taken by African Americans after over 401 years of barraged devastating injustices. How can any group of people in the history of humankind survive the unrelenting and insidious forces without any toxic psychological consequences on their well-being?  Therefore, Africans in America must strike a balance between arrogance and confidence to attract African Americans closer to bridge the gaps of silence. And Africans must change the precedence of their relationship with African Americans in America.

 

A child is a child of everyone — Sudanese proverb.

 

Unfortunately, Africa Union has not officially addressed and apologized, or challenged the adverse effects of slavery on her many children in the diaspora. Nevertheless, Africa is always appealing to her children in the diaspora to come back home — Africa and help develop the continent. What a contradiction. Despite African Americans’ enormous daily challenges, they are the most patriotic Americans and also the most advanced Africans in the world.

 

In conclusion, as African Americans demand reparation from the government for slavery, it is equally the responsibility of the African Union to take the initiative to formally apologize to Africa and her children in the diaspora for the sin of omission for our ancestor’s contribution towards the accident of history. An overdue apology from the African Union. This action by the African Union will undoubtedly help bridge the gap of ignorance between Africa and Africans in the diaspora created by design.

 

And, we must continue the humanist African philosophy and in the spirit of Ubuntu, “I am, because you are.”

 

God Bless Africa! And, God Bless America!!

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