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Est. April 5, 2002
December 03, 2015 - Issue 632

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Always a Foreigner
The continuing struggle
for first class citizenship


"Those of us who are so-called U.S. citizens
have double duty. We must fight for equity
and equality for all the people in this country
as well as keeping this government from invading,
controlling or destroying the land, resources
and people in other lands. Those who live in
European countries have the same obligation."

Sometimes I'm challenged to help my readers make connections between local, national and international issues. The U.S. Government is usually at the center of global controversy which makes exposing foreign policies and aggression easier--they mirror the domestic policies.

The attacks that recently happened in France underscore the fragility of life: Think about going to a concert to have fun only to become a victim of senseless killings. Such bewildering attacks also point to the need for citizens to fully understand their country's foreign policies and its global impact. Their neo-liberal, military responses often keep the vicious cycle of violence spinning and reverberating—with innocent people caught in the crossfire.
I believe the West has created and continues to foment the conditions for terrorism. Instead of looking at the havoc, they replicate and move to make people and their native lands whole, white settler mentality kicks in with more repression and more aggressive destruction of lives and land. In this scenario, they are not enough bombs and bullets to put dissent in check. For every death by a foreign power, at least ten freedom fighters spring to the fore. This is a battle that cannot be won by might alone.
When you read about these young men (and an increasing number of women) who become extremists in their views, from all accounts they started out like regular youth—playing video games and sports, engaging in social media, hanging out with friends. They’re a lot like the young people in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, etc. whose families have been in the U.S. for generations but who still get treated like second-class citizens by a racist society with a hammer who sees them all as nails.
Those of us in the U.S. must see the connections between the domestic racist policies that are carried out across the country and those exported to countries around the world. Just as we must hold our local government accountable for human rights abuses, we must also hold our federal government accountable for policies and actions done in our name with our tax dollars.

If we take note that the alleged terrorists have Moroccan roots, we can gain valuable historical insights instantly. When the European imperialists decided how to carve up the vast and resource-rich continent of Africa, Morocco’s fate was also decided.  The highest population of Moroccans outside of the country are in France—almost two million. This is an important fact to keep in mind when you're trying to understand the attitudes of Moroccans towards their colonial captors.
At the turn of the 20th Century, Britain, France and Italy got together to take over important coastal countries with key ports for trading and military operations. It was decided that France would get Morocco, Italy would get Libya and Britain would get Egypt. Spain would maintain a small territory in northern Morocco that it had claimed some centuries before.
The French invasion of Morocco resulted in the theft of land and other natural resources, the suppression of Moroccan culture (which goes back centuries) and the imposition of French culture and traditions, along with the hi-jacking of government entities, including educational institutions which were re-created to be separate and unequal. Hordes of French settled into their new playground, turning up their noses at the brown and black indigenous citizens, especially those who claimed Islam as their religion. Before Moroccans could bat an eye, they were second-class citizens in their own land.
Fast forward a bit and we see native Moroccans making the trek to France to seek a better life. Perhaps, since the French had messed up their lives in Morocco, life would be better in the Fatherland. This was not the case—even for Moroccans who were/are born in France and are natural citizens—they experience the same discrimination and contemptuous treatment as in their homeland.
Not surprising, Moroccan resentment towards their French colonizers is a strong undercurrent in both countries. The pointed question many Moroccans ask is “When do we get to enjoy full citizenship privileges in France or in our native land?” The answer continues to be elusive.
Moroccans who have been in Belgium for several generations ask the same question. Many were brought in as guest workers to supplement a shrinking workforce in Belgium, especially in the capital city of Brussels. Their situation is very similar to Moroccans in France and their resentment is just as volatile. The young, disgruntled Moroccans from Belgium and France are hooking up.
Native and Mexican Americans (the indigenous peoples of North America), as well as those of of us of African or Latina descent, face the question daily of what does it take to be treated fairly and humanly--like a citizen. We can't seem to access the room with the "Citizens" sign on the door.  Being born here apparently doesn't guarantee access. Neither does your family living here for generations. Neither does the Constitution or law. Neither does having education. Neither, neither, neither. This is what's being sorted out in the streets of Ferguson, on the campus of Mizzou campus, in the workplace.

Those of us who are so-called U.S. citizens have double duty. We must fight for equity and equality for all the people in this country as well as keeping this government from invading, controlling or destroying the land, resources and people in other lands. Those who live in European countries have the same obligation.

To our respective governments, we must made demands for our own security.  Stop tilling the soil for avoidable discontent and extremism. Stop denying citizens their human rights. Stop the collateral damage.

Maybe one day when December 10 rolls around, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will have true meaning for all citizens across the world. Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle.  Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.comContact Ms. Rogers and BC.
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is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers