Below is a statement by fifty-five black activists and scholars insisting that the time has arrived for an African American voice on US policy towards the regions of North Africa and the Middle East.
For far too long African Americans have been compelled, by mainstream USA,
to remain either silent on international affairs or only speak out on
matters relative to Sub-Saharan Africa. With this statement by "African
Americans for Justice in the Middle East & North Africa" a process
unfolds of breaking the silence. In breaking the silence the
signatories are stepping forward as advocates for peace, justice and
sovereignty in these regions, and as such we are speaking out very
directly, whether in opposition to the Moroccan occupation of the
Western Sahara; in support of the democratic uprisings that began in
Tunisia and spread to much of the Arab World; in solidarity with the
Palestinian people's struggle for national self-determination; or
against the various forms in which the US militarily - covertly and
openly - intervenes in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.This statement also represents a recognition that the unique experience of African Americans in the USA can
play a significant role by lending a hand to support the dynamic change
sweeping the region and meaningfully contribute to bridging the
cultural divides between the USA and the Middle Eastand North African regions at large.
statement is an opening salvo. The signatories of this statement are
committed to being outspoken and active in the cause of peace, justice
and sovereignty in North Africa and the Middle East. African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa,
then is a process rather than an organization. We invite further
signatories. We also invite questions and principled, constructive
dialogue. And we look forward to building bonds of solidarity. Click here to contact African Americans for Justice in the Middle East & North Africa.
Felicia Eaves, Co-chair of US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Bill Fletcher, Jr., writer/activist
Mark Harrison, Director, Peace with Justice Program, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Reverend D.A. Lams
African Americans for Justice in the
Middle East & North Africa - Unity Statement
"African Americans for Justice in the Middle East & North Africa” is
an initiative that has been created in order to build solidarity, in a
true Pan-African and Black Internationalist tradition, with the peoples
and progressive social movements in North Africa and the Middle East that
have been engaged in struggles for democracy, justice and national
liberation. We come together from different organizations, institutions
and movements, and some as simply individuals of conscience, who have
concluded that silence in the face of injustice and oppression is
unacceptable. We believe that African Americans in the United States of
America have a special role in speaking out against enemies of peace,
justice and democracy, both foreign and domestic.
The entire expanse of the African American experience in the USA has been one that has involved our fight for freedom and justice on the nationaland international
planes. In addition to opposing slavery and the slave trade, African
Americans in the 19th century expressed solidarity with the Irish
struggle for freedom from Britain and Haiti’s
continuous struggles for sovereignty. In the 20th century African
Americans were not only central to the creation of a global
Pan-Africanist movement, but also situated ourselves in struggles
around Irish liberation, opposition to the US occupation of Haiti,
opposition to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, supporting (and serving
in) the anti-fascist struggle in the Spanish civil war, supporting the
independence struggle of the Indian subcontinent and those of African
former colonies in the aftermath of World War II, solidarity with the
Cuban people, opposition to US involvement in Indochina, the struggle
against South African apartheid and the list could go on to delineate
numerous other struggles and efforts.
white supremacist attempts - liberal and explicitly right-wing - to
restrict the African American voice to matters of domestic race and
African American issues, African Americans have regularly broken free
of the mold. Though this has often come at some cost, such as when Dr.
Martin Luther King spoke out against US aggression in Vietnam in 1967, it has largely been inconceivable for African Americans to remain silent in the face of global injustice.
With this as background, African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa has emerged as another voice for global peace and freedom that is united by the following:
support all genuine, progressive struggles for national liberation,
national sovereignty, justice and democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.
Arab democratic uprising - often referenced as the “Arab Spring” - has
been a global altering process that has unleashed forces in struggle
against neo-liberalism, neo-colonialism, and despotism, It has served
as an inspiration for resistance movements in Sub-Saharan Africa, as
well as in Europe (against neo-liberal/austerity economics), and here
in the USA with the Madison, Wisconsin demonstrations in early 2011 and
more recently the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together movement.
3. Central to the struggles in the Middle East and North Africa has
been the struggle of the Palestinian people, a struggle for national
liberation, the right of return, equality and justice. AAJMENA is
deeply committed to this struggle and wish to more fully integrate this
into the lives and struggles of the African American people.
4. We recognize that the USA has historically played an unhelpful and, indeed, backward role in the Middle East and North Africa.
This has included supporting despots, the crushing of nationalist,
progressive and left-wing movements and governments, providing near
unconditional support forIsrael’s
oppression of the Palestinian people, covert operations that infringe
on national sovereignty, and direct military provocations and
invasions. The USA must be called upon to repair the damage that it has done in this region by first doing no harm, and must instead recognize and respect the aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa for sovereignty, justice and democracy.
5. We see the struggles in the Middle East and North Africa as
struggles that have much in common with those conducted in Sub-Saharan
Africa and in the African Diaspora. As such we are duty bound to
address them and integrate them into the larger fight for global
justice and peace.
We are, therefore, committing ourselves to:
education and discussion within Black America regarding the issues and
struggles facing the people of the Middle East and North Africa.
B. Building solidarity with genuine, popular democratic struggles in the Middle East and North Africa for justice, democracy and national liberation and national sovereignty.
C. Organizing a vocal constituency of African Americans to take up this banner.
D. Promoting a clear demand for justice for the Palestinian people as central to peace and stability in the Middle East.
In doing so we join together with non-African Americans, people of
different faiths, including but not limited to Christian, Jewish,
Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animists and others, who are committed to
justice for the Palestinian people. We believe that there is a special
significance to working with progressive Jews in the USA and Israel who share our abhorrence to the system of oppression experienced by the Palestinian people.
E. Advancing the demand for a democratic foreign policy on the part of the USA that
is based on mutual respect, non-intervention in the affairs of other
nation-states, recognition of national self-determination and repairing
the damage that it has created through its imperial foreign actions
F. Building links with progressive social movements in the Middle East and North Africa.
Dr. Makungu Akinyela
Dr. Jared Ball
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Boyd
Dr. Gloria W. Brown
Rev. Heber Brown
Bill Fletcher, Jr.*
Patricia Ann Ford
Dr. Angela Gilliam
Rev. Graylan Hagler
Dr. Jennifer Hamer
Dr. Jesse Hargrove
Dr. James H. Harris
Dr. James Jennings*
Theon Johnson III
Dr. Joseph Jones
Dr. Joseph Jordan
Dr. Robin Kelley
Rev. D.A. Lams
Dr. Clarence Lang
Rev. Philip Lawson
Dr. Clarence Lusane
Rev. Brandon McAfee
Rev. John McCullough
Dr. Anthony Monteiro
Rev. Bernard Mwepu
Dr. Premilla Nadasen
Rev. J. Herbert Nelson
Rev. Mulenga Nkole
Rev. Mark Norman
Dr. Suleiman Nyang
Rev. Jonathan Pemberton
Rev. Christopher Pierson
Dr. Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes
Dr. Barbara Ransby*
Rev. Dr. Boykin Sanders
Rev. Quincy Shannon
Dr. Robyn Spencer
William (Bill) Strickland*
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Johnny Williams
Rev. Ronnie Yow
*BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Members