Feb 10, 2011 - Issue 413
Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid,
edited by Leith
Mullings introduces the reader, through this marvelous collection of articles, to what one might think of as the pan Africanism of the 21st century, or at least a major slice of it. The articles provide both historical background as well as contemporary analysis of the African Diaspora and particularly the social movements that have emerged within it over the last twenty or so years.
scope of the book is quite broad. One of the most interesting sections,
and something about which I had known nearly nothing until reading this
book, concerns Africans on the islands of the
One of the challenges for the African Diaspora concerns the nature of the struggles in which we engage. In light of the fact that, by definition, we are not native to the lands where we were transported, yet at the same time have been residents of those lands and contributors to their development in many case for centuries, is our struggle for land? For equal rights? For some other formulation of social justice? For all of the preceding?
issue is one confronting Afro-Latinos at this very moment. Take, for instance,
from a white person in the
New Social Movements in the African Diaspora helps to provide the context and
analysis to better understand the challenges facing the Diaspora, such
as those just described in
of the lessons is the importance of understanding racism and racist oppression
as systems of both suppression and social control. In each segment of
the Diaspora, race has been used as a method of both exploiting the labor
power of the African population and dividing up the laboring classes.
This looks different in each setting. In the
A second lesson is that there remains a critical importance to race consciousness. In part as a consequence of the nature of racist oppression and racism as a system, a progressive, if not, radical interpretation of race consciousness is critical. Part of this centers around reestablishing one’s humanity but it also concerns a matter addressed by several authors in New Social Movements in the African Diaspora, i.e., the tendency for the anti-racist struggle to be subordinated by and to other social movements.
third lesson is the question of coalition or bloc-building. This is an
issue that I wished New Social Movements in the African Diaspora
had spent greater time addressing, in part since it relates to the issue
just mentioned. While the book focuses on the movements of African peoples,
the question that confronts each such movement is its relationship to
other social movements in the fight for power. Some years ago, while serving
as president of TransAfrica Forum, I had the opportunity to meet with
various Afro-Colombian activists visiting the
Social Movements in the African Diaspora needs a broad audience. This is
not a book to be restricted to academia. The issues it addresses and the
scope of the book make it an important tool in thinking through the nature
of the struggle for global justice and, specifically, what that should
mean when seen through the eyes of the children of
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president ofTransAfricaForum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice(University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.