Sunday, April 12, 2009

Facing Racism on Facebook

Facing Racism on Facebook:

Boycotting the US Boycott of WCAR

Paul Scott

"What we have here is failure to communicate."

Although this is a classic line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke," it could also be used to sum up the feelings of many Americans in regards to the boycott of the upcoming UN World Conference Against Racism by the United States and several other countries.

On April 20, nations will gather in Geneva Switzerland to discuss racism and its many degrees of ugliness. However, the US has announced that it will boycott the event because of the possibility that topics such as Zionism, reparations and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade will be on the table.

Why would a nation that has just elected its first African American president do such a thing?

Perhaps the reason is that since we haven't had the courage to have an open and honest discussion of race within our own borders, we are hesitant about airing our dirty laundry before the world.

Philosophers have long posed the question whether or not man has the capacity for self condemnation. In the case of the Obama Adminstration the answer is, obviously, no.

Even though, Attorney General Eric Holder raised eyebrows a few months back when he chastised America for being a nation of cowards when it comes to facing race, it seems that the scope of his criticism was limited to home grown racism. Even when the issue of race is discussed domestically, the discussion is usually unbalanced. Either one practices racism or is the victim of the practice and the victims of racism have been people of color.

Historically, the US has never taken too kindly to the efforts of those who had the audacity to attempt to expand the struggle of black people beyond the borders of America.

One only has to look at the governmental persecution of such black leaders as Marcus Garvey and WEB Du Bois, who sought to place the plight of African Americans within a Pan Africanist context.

Also it is more than just a conspiracy theory that even though Dr. Martin Luther King's stance against the Vietnam War and Malcolm X's threat to bring the Civil Rights struggle before the United Nations may not have, directly, contributed to their early demises, the actions did result in increased federal surveillance of their activities.

The interconnectedness of America's Civil Rights movement and the global struggle for African Independence cannot be denied. The Civil Rights movement was effective, largely, because of the struggles of African nations against European colonialism. Also, the end of Apartheid was, at least, partially due to the efforts of college students who fought for the divestment of American interests from South Africa.

As African Americans, we have a right to sing our blues before the world about the problems that we still face in America such as disproportionate unemployment and police brutality without our voices being drowned out by government bureaucracy.

To have a country that is the home of millions of the decedents of the worst atrocity known to man (the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade) refuse to participate in a discussion about racism is not only an insult to the present generation but to our ancestors whose bones lie at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

We must boycott the US boycott of the World Conference Against Racism.

And how do we do this?

Our children have shown us the way.

Almost every American teenager is involved in some sort of Internet social networking via Facebook, Twitter, youtube etc, which gives them the ability to connect with other teens around the world, at will. We must use this new media to circumnavigate the blockade to global fellowship imposed by the US government.

While countries are meeting in Geneva April 20th -24, we must engage in a great global conversation using the tools that we have readily available; laptops, iPhones, etc to raise the issue of racism and its global impact on oppressed people. No Warning Shots has already set up a social network group on Facebook called "Time to Face Race."

So, yes Mr. President, Americans will take part in the World Conference Against Racism; if only in cyberspace.

Paul Scott is a minister, activist and blogger who writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or