Arbitrarily speaking, we would say that there are at least three important things you should understand about the African American population of the United States of America, which is the acknowledged superpower of planet earth. The first is that African Americans are the financial and technological elite of the Black world. The second is that African Americans are, by and large, loyal to the stars and stripes. They have proven that loyalty. They cherish their American citizenship, and see the U.S. as a country for which they have worked and sacrificed a great deal for an extended period of time. The third important aspect of Black America is that African Americans are a decided minority of the American population, estimated at about ten percent, and the reality of that minority status has had, and presently has, specific effects where the psychology and sociology of African Americans are concerned.
Until the Civil War in the United States, between 1861 and 1865, during the process of which African Americans were granted freedom from slavery, the vast majority of Black Americans were concentrated in the slave-owning states of the Confederacy, the southern and southeastern areas of the U.S., where agriculture, especially the growing of cotton and related activities, ruled. African Americans, as slaves, provided free labor to the South for several centuries.
In the United States, the laws of slavery did not allow for differentiation based on how much European blood you possessed along with your African ancestry. In the U.S., a single drop of African blood made you Black – legally, functionally, and every which way. In the British and French Caribbean, on the other hand, a brown, buffer class of citizens, based on European paternity, was allowed to develop and enjoy a status which was inferior to that of the whites, but decidedly superior to that of their Black brethren and sistren.
The British Caribbean territories did not seek to prevent the book education of their Black populations. This may have been an aspect of the white supremacist thrust, using the Bible, to Christianize African people during and after slavery. In the United States, on the other hand, book education for slaves was actually and specifically prohibited in the Confederate South.
Because West Indian Black people, such as Belizeans, were relatively educated when compared to Black Americans, West Indians benefited from the civil rights gains African Americans achieved in the early and middle 1960s more than the African Americans themselves. The civil rights legislation advances of African Americans opened up many jobs in the American economy, the largest in the world, for which Belizeans, for instance, were more qualified than Black Americans, the reason being that Belizeans had been better trained in the literate skills. For example, Belize lost almost all our nurses to higher pay in America. Civil rights created the job openings in the mighty America, and Black Belizeans were qualified.
But regardless to how superior individual Belizeans may have felt, and still feel, to Black Americans because of Belizeans’ superior education, Black America is a powerful reality. If Black Americans were considered as constituting a nation-state with regard to production and financial statistics (what the economists call GDP – Gross Domestic Product), Black America would rate amongst the top 15 or 20 nations in the world.
This is not say that there is not significant poverty and suffering amongst Black Americans. Meanwhile, there are for sure many Black billionaires in America. The American system of neoliberal capitalism encourages inequality.The contradictions in Black America were exposed for all the world to see when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. One of the reasons Washington refuses to ease the cruel embargo pressure on communist Cuba is because the improvements in the living conditions of Cuban Blacks since the 1959 Cuban Revolution show up the lifestyle pressures on Blacks in the American South, the former Confederate states which are only a stone’s throw north of Cuba.
The late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, as Simon Bolivar two centuries before him, saw the possibilities for downtrodden Black people in Latin America and the Caribbean to better their lives if they became conscious of each other and became interested in cooperation across national borders. The white supremacist power structure in the United States cannot allow African Americans to look southwards to Latin America and the Caribbean. It is critical for the continued dominance of the United States for their Black population to remain absolutely loyal to Uncle Sam.
At the same time, it is critical for the future of Belize that our people appreciate just how powerful Black America’s reality and potential are, as we Belizeans fight for the survival of our nation-state, threatened as we are by the expansionist, imperialist pretensions of the Guatemalan oligarchy/military.
There has always been a racist aspect to the Guatemalan claim. No one can deny that. From the time the Guatemalan claim began, Belize’s population was a majority Black population. Today, we are a majority African/Mayan population. Still you Belizeans insist on rejecting the relevance of African and Mayan history for our Belizean children.
Some of you don’t know how to fight for The Jewel. You are more interested in maintaining the ethnic bigotry and class divisions which have historically weakened us. You are more interested in preserving your elitist, predator status in The Jewel. You have betrayed our people.
The American foreign policy gurus considered it vital for the United States to crush Chavez and Venezuela, because white supremacy must be maintained regionally at all costs. White supremacy was supported in Honduras, Guatemala, and Salvador. That is why citizens of these countries are now marching towards the United States border. Those governments which have crushed the masses of the Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran people were all supported and propped up by the United States through the decades and through the centuries.
When the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, the Messenger of the Nation of Islam, began calling for a separate Black state in America decades ago, most African Americans considered the idea extreme or unrealistic. It is in the nature of an oppressed people’s condition that they are easily divided. This is the essence of oppression: it makes militant unity impossible. Relative to the American military/industrial complex, African Americans themselves are an oppressed and divided people.
This essay has been written for a Belizean audience. Our intent has been to provide insights into Black America of which most Belizeans are unaware. To be Black in the Western Hemisphere is to be, all things being equal, weak and oppressed. It is also to be ignorant, ignorant of the larger picture, ignorant of some subtleties which are vital to correct analysis. Our thesis is that amongst the ballyhooed “Friends of Belize” should have been included the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus of the United States. Belize is fighting to stay alive. Look north, Belize, look north.
Power to the people.