Friday, December 26, 2014

Case Study: Liberia Part II

Even if they can't locate it on a map, a lot of people have likely now become familiar with the country known as Liberia due to the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Ghastly images of people laying (and dying) in the middle of the street, while others helplessly (though maybe prudently) stand by and watch.

Make shift "hospitals"and "care centers" made of plastic blue tarps sitting on dirt fields.

Literally plastic shacks...for the treatment and containment of a most serious and contagious virus...

Healthcare workers covered from head to toe in space-like rubber suits with giant boots and goggles appearing like they are in the middle of contamination from a nuclear fallout.

Who could have imagined that this is the exact same place/land that, a mere 90-odd years ago, Marcus Garvey had attempted to purchase and develop to give black people a home and haven as they were fleeing the lynchings and other unfettered abuses in the U.S./America?

The Liberian-story contains every element of the most unbelievable story one could imagine...and this is no exaggeration. It is like a tragicomedy with a whole lot of tragedy and very little comedy. With Ebola, as deadly serious as it is, being just the latest "blip" or wrinkle in that story.

Truly, to quote Neely Fuller Jr., "if you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism) - what is it, and how it works - everything else that you understand will only confuse you."

As discussed in Part I, the group of white men (racist suspects/racial parents) operating under the title "The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America" had great plans for the "negro."

Part of the "negro problem" at that time included fear of  "slave revolts/rebellions".

The revolts would be sparked in part due to the increasing number and visibility of "free people of color" and "free Negroes" as the erstwhile primitive "savage" was becoming smarter and increasingly discontented about his enslaved condition.

The solution put forth by the Colonization Society was to get rid of the black people and its "negro problem" by deporting them to Africa. 

Liberia specifically.

Estimates vary, but only a very small percentage of the black people accepted the Society's offer of relocation. Of the millions of slaves and free blacks in America at that time far fewer than 20,000 ever actually went back under the auspices of the Colonization Society. In fact, during the first 12 years of this relocation program fewer than 3,000 had made the journey.

Excitement to "return" to Africa was muted at best. Compounded by mistrust in the motives of the Colonization Society, several generations and  far removed from Africa, few black people then (as now) had any real knowledge or connection to the land.

To force the issue of relocation/deportation to Africa many slave owners would only release their slaves with what amounted to a one-way ticket to Liberia. Remain here as a slave, or be "free" in Liberia - your choice. Some wills stipulated that at the owner's death the plantation be sold and the proceeds used for the single purpose of sending the (now freed) slaves to Liberia.

On the subject of land/property- while Liberia was not under direct colonial rule (see Part I) the land itself wasn't empty/uninhabited. While the Colonization Society had grand plans for sending people from America to Liberia there was the matter of exactly where these people were to settle. Land was needed.

What do you do when the land is already occupied? And you believe in the maintenance of the system of white supremacy?

You take it.

"(Robert) Stockton along with Dr. Eli Ayers of the American Colonization Society negotiated a treaty that led to the founding of the state of Liberia. One source describes that he "leveled a pistol at King Peter's head and thereby convinced the latter to sell some of his territory." (emphasis mine) -wiki
Checkpoint #2
While I am duty bound (by code) to not call Mr. Stockton a racist, this solitary act is most definitely something a racist would do. The use of violence and/or the threat of violence is the "modus operandi" of a racist.

Liberia, as a nation, began with an act of violence, setting the course for what would prove to be only the beginning of a long history of the same.

(to be continued) 

Eric Spann (copyright 2014)

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