News

Freedom fighter – Part 1

The descendants of colonial and United States slavery have a longer and greater legacy in North America than most Europeans and other world populations. None but the indigenous hemispheric populations have experienced so perpetual an assault against their humanity. The descendants of colonial and United States slavery have a longer and greater legacy in North America than most Europeans and other world populations. None but the indigenous hemispheric populations have experienced so perpetual an assault against their humanity. Within the experience of withstanding incessant assault, New World African culture has reinvented itself; even in the face of threatened and attempted cultural and sometimes physical extermination.

The story of our resistance and incremental victories fuels Black America’s relentless embrace of its own quintessential humanity and the intuitive knowledge that within us, within this experience, may reside a key to humanity’s redemption and salvation.

But what will activate that explosive, redemptive quality in today’s political and economic environment? What will transform the potential to usable power? The answer may be, in part, the infusion of energy, resourcefulness, vitality and intent new immigrants can bring to the rooted African American experience.

And that is precisely what Jamaican-born Don Samuels says is the calling of Jamaican, Caribbean, East and West African immigrants, who are joining an American African community which is defined by and which defines a historic and holy calling: freedom.

Samuels won the special election to represent Minneapolis’ Third Ward when the incumbent, Joe Biernat, resigned after criminal charges that eventually landed him in prison.

But immigrant Blacks and American Africans must be wise to the language of division and separation, that, when unchecked puts both at competitive cross-purposes, to their mutual disadvantage.

White people tell Jamaicans that they are special and not like African Americans, Samuels told the annual Jamaica Independence Celebration of Jamaica Minnesota Organization (JMO) August 2. "We are told we are more like White people. White people like us. We work hard. We are industrious.

"But it is not accurate or fair to compare Jamaicans in United States to average Black Americans, or even to average Americans," Samuels said. Most Jamaicans here are the products of superior British education that English colonials bequeathed the island nation, which gained independence in 1962.

Most immigrants are among the few who survive rigorous competition to gain access to limited space in their high schools. Immigrants represent the best, the brightest, and the most fortunate, he said.

When White Americans ask why can’t Black Americans be more like Jamaicans, they don’t know that often the fortunate immigrants must wait weeks in lines outside government offices to get a chance to get papers to come to this country.

"And they don’t know that in our country, White people don’t call us "nigger" and live to tell about it," he said.

In Jamaica, the men and women who led the fight against European slavery, colonization, and domination are held as national and cultural heroes. "Their faces adorn our currency. Their statues guard our plazas and public buildings.

"They don’t know we are the most ambitious. That we are often the most educated of Jamaicans. It is not fair for me to take that unfair comparison, no matter how flattering it is. The truth is that there are many desperate people left behind who might not be as exemplary as we are. Our society is classist. The worst aspects of it might offend even them," said Samuels.

"But nobody rode through at night with hooded sheets raping our women and children. White people don’t think about the fact that our schoolteachers would never tell us that we wouldn’t succeed because we are Black. They don’t know that our men were never hung in trees by angry White mobs, because they defended their dignity. .

"I don’t want those praises,&

August 11, 2003
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