FUCK good intentions

This is to all those confused people out there who actually believe that coming to Afrika with good intentions is worth a damn. News flash to all of you: Its NOT enough.

What we need in Afrika is appropriate action that is created, developed, and executed by AFRIKANS and those who LISTEN to the opinions of Afrikans so that we can develop relevant and effective solutions to our problems. What Afrika does NOT need is those who want to reinvent everything and do what they THINK is ‘good for Afrika’ according to their sterile academic models created in capitals in the global North- all in the name of good intention.

I mean just a look at Afrika now, which houses thousands upon thousands of Northern multinational NGOs that are working in Afrika with ‘good intentions’. Is their work really addressing the challenges Afrika faces? Do these guys even bother to work wih communities to find out what communities think of their proposed solutions? Do they even dare to admit failure when it’s clear their supposedly brilliant project ideas for the ‘Afrikan natives’ were irrelevant, poor conceived, didn’t lead to any sustained improvements and-in short- were actually a pile of SHIT? And why are they trying to create poverty reduction strategies in Afrika without implementing wealth reduction strategies in their own nations. The world has a FINITE amount of resources.

I swear the stupidity of some people is rather flabbergasting…truly, why? Because over the past week or so irate readers have told me how I should ‘just be happy’ because ‘at least people are coming to Afrika with good intentions’…to those people I have one thing to say:

FUCK GOOD INTENTIONS.

This is especially so when those intentions are held by people (white, black or brown) who have NO understanding of the issues that afflict Afrika or EVEN BETTER do not want to LISTEN to the opinions of Afrikans on how WE want to develop our continent. Instead they come to us with their white northern imperialist racist mindsets of ‘we know what’s good for Afrikans better than Afrikans themselves’. Sadly, even some Black non-Afrikans feel this way…they feel like that everyone BUT Afrikans know what’s good for Afrika. People who think like that need to be thrown out to sea…seriously.

We, and our brothers and sisters in South America, have been saying this for decades. We have been saying that we don’t need your fucking good intentions or any ‘well meaning help’ unless it’s actually helpful and PRODUCES RESULTS. But sadly, some confused individuals feel that:1) Afrika should be GRATEFUL to those who come to ‘do something’ in Afrika…even if its not effective. Why? Because at least they have the right intentions….riiiiigggght.

2) People should thank them for having good intentions and infact the fact that they have good intentions should give them the license to do WHATEVER they THINK is alright for Afrikans (even though they’re not Afrikans themselves). Why? Because at the least they have the right intention….fuuuuckkking hell. Such stupidity is truly unforgivable and it is precisely this sort of attitude that is wreaking havoc in Afrika.

AFRIKA IS NOT A TESTING GROUND FOR ALL YOUR DAMN IDEAS.

So to all you meddling self-proclaimed do gooders with your supposedly good intentions my message to you is simple

GET OUT OF AFRIKA UNTIL YOU HAVE SOMETHING MORE USEFUL TO OFFER US THAN YOUR PATHETIC GOOD INTENTIONS.

And now I present you Ivan Illich in his own words:

 

To Hell with Good Intentions
by Ivan Illich

An address by Monsignor Ivan Illich to the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 20, 1968. In his usual biting and sometimes sarcastic style, Illich goes to the heart of the deep dangers of paternalism inherent in any voluntary service activity, but especially in any international service “mission.” Parts of the speech are outdated and must be viewed in the historical context of 1968 when it was delivered, but the entire speech is retained for the full impact of his point and at Ivan Illich’s request.

IN THE CONVERSATIONS WHICH I HAVE HAD TODAY, I was impressed by two things, and I want to state them before I launch into my prepared talk.

I was impressed by your insight that the motivation of U.S. volunteers overseas springs mostly from very alienated feelings and concepts. I was equally impressed, by what I interpret as a step forward among would-be volunteers like you: openness to the idea that the only thing you can legitimately volunteer for in Latin America might be voluntary powerlessness, voluntary presence as receivers, as such, as hopefully beloved or adopted ones without any way of returning the gift.

I was equally impressed by the hypocrisy of most of you: by the hypocrisy of the atmosphere prevailing here. I say this as a brother speaking to brothers and sisters. I say it against many resistances within me; but it must be said. Your very insight, your very openness to evaluations of past programs make you hypocrites because you – or at least most of you – have decided to spend this next summer in Mexico, and therefore, you are unwilling to go far enough in your reappraisal of your program. You close your eyes because you want to go ahead and could not do so if you looked at some facts.

It is quite possible that this hypocrisy is unconscious in most of you. Intellectually, you are ready to see that the motivations which could legitimate volunteer action overseas in 1963 cannot be invoked for the same action in 1968. “Mission-vacations” among poor Mexicans were “the thing” to do for well-off U.S. students earlier in this decade: sentimental concern for newly-discovered. poverty south of the border combined with total blindness to much worse poverty at home justified such benevolent excursions. Intellectual insight into the difficulties of fruitful volunteer action had not sobered the spirit of Peace Corps Papal-and-Self-Styled Volunteers.

Today, the existence of organizations like yours is offensive to Mexico. I wanted to make this statement in order to explain why I feel sick about it all and in order to make you aware that good intentions have not much to do with what we are discussing here. To hell with good intentions. This is a theological statement. You will not help anybody by your good intentions. There is an Irish saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions; this sums up the same theological insight.

The very frustration which participation in CIASP programs might mean for you, could lead you to new awareness: the awareness that even North Americans can receive the gift of hospitality without the slightest ability to pay for it; the awareness that for some gifts one cannot even say “thank you.”

Now to my prepared statement.
For the past six years I have become known for my increasing opposition to the presence of any and all North American “dogooders” in Latin America. I am sure you know of my present efforts to obtain the voluntary withdrawal of all North American volunteer armies from Latin America – missionaries, Peace Corps members and groups like yours, a “division” organized for the benevolent invasion of Mexico. You were aware of these things when you invited me- of all people – to be the main speaker at your annual convention. This is amazing! I can only conclude that your invitation means one of at least three things:
Some among you might have reached the conclusion that CIASP should either dissolve altogether, or take the promotion of voluntary aid to the Mexican poor out of its institutional purpose. Therefore you might have invited me here to help others reach this same decision.

You might also have invited me because you want to learn how to deal with people who think the way I do – how to dispute them successfully. It has now become quite common to invite Black Power spokesmen to address Lions Clubs. A “dove” must always be included in a public dispute organized to increase U.S. belligerence.

And finally, you might have invited me here hoping that you would be able to agree with most of what I say, and then go ahead in good faith and work this summer in Mexican villages. This last possibility is only open to those who do not listen, or who cannot understand me.

I did not come here to argue. I am here to tell you, if possible to convince you, and hopefully, to stop you, from pretentiously imposing yourselves on Mexicans.

I do have deep faith in the enormous good will of the U.S. volunteer. However, his good faith can usually be explained only by an abysmal lack of intuitive delicacy. By definition, you cannot help being ultimately vacationing salesmen for the middle-class “American Way of Life,” since that is really the only life you know. A group like this could not have developed unless a mood in the United States had supported it – the belief that any true American must share God’s blessings with his poorer fellow men. The idea that every American has something to give, and at all times may, can and should give it, explains why it occurred to students that they could help Mexican peasants “develop” by spending a few months in their villages.

Of course, this surprising conviction was supported by members of a missionary order, who would have no reason to exist unless they had the same conviction – except a much stronger one. It is now high time to cure yourselves of this. You, like the values you carry, are the products of an American society of achievers and consumers, with its two-party system, its universal schooling, and its family-car affluence. You are ultimately-consciously or unconsciously – “salesmen” for a delusive ballet in the ideas of democracy, equal opportunity and free enterprise among people who haven’t the possibility of profiting from these.

Next to money and guns, the third largest North American export is the U.S. idealist, who turns up in every theater of the world: the teacher, the volunteer, the missionary, the community organizer, the economic developer, and the vacationing do-gooders. Ideally, these people define their role as service. Actually, they frequently wind up alleviating the damage done by money and weapons, or “seducing” the “underdeveloped” to the benefits of the world of affluence and achievement. Perhaps this is the moment to instead bring home to the people of the U.S. the knowledge that the way of life they have chosen simply is not alive enough to be shared.

By now it should be evident to all America that the U.S. is engaged in a tremendous struggle to survive. The U.S. cannot survive if the rest of the world is not convinced that here we have Heaven-on-Earth. The survival of the U.S. depends on the acceptance by all so-called “free” men that the U.S. middle class has “made it.” The U.S. way of life has become a religion which must be accepted by all those who do not want to die by the sword – or napalm. All over the globe the U.S. is fighting to protect and develop at least a minority who consume what the U.S. majority can afford. Such is the purpose of the Alliance for Progress of the middle-classes which the U.S. signed with Latin America some years ago. But increasingly this commercial alliance must be protected by weapons which allow the minority who can “make it” to protect their acquisitions and achievements.

But weapons are not enough to permit minority rule. The marginal masses become rambunctious unless they are given a “Creed,” or belief which explains the status quo. This task is given to the U.S. volunteer – whether he be a member of CLASP or a worker in the so-called “Pacification Programs” in Viet Nam.

The United States is currently engaged in a three-front struggle to affirm its ideals of acquisitive and achievement-oriented “Democracy.” I say “three” fronts, because three great areas of the world are challenging the validity of a political and social system which makes the rich ever richer, and the poor increasingly marginal to that system.

In Asia, the U.S. is threatened by an established power -China. The U.S. opposes China with three weapons: the tiny Asian elites who could not have it any better than in an alliance with the United States; a huge war machine to stop the Chinese from “taking over” as it is usually put in this country, and; forcible re-education of the so-called “Pacified” peoples. All three of these efforts seem to be failing.

In Chicago, poverty funds, the police force and preachers seem to be no more successful in their efforts to check the unwillingness of the black community to wait for graceful integration into the system.

And finally, in Latin America the Alliance for Progress has been quite successful in increasing the number of people who could not be better off – meaning the tiny, middle-class elites – and has created ideal conditions for military dictatorships. The dictators were formerly at the service of the plantation owners, but now they protect the new industrial complexes. And finally, you come to help the underdog accept his destiny within this process!

All you will do in a Mexican village is create disorder. At best, you can try to convince Mexican girls that they should marry a young man who is self-made, rich, a consumer, and as disrespectful of tradition as one of you. At worst, in your “community development” spirit you might create just enough problems to get someone shot after your vacation ends_ and you rush back to your middleclass neighborhoods where your friends make jokes about “spits” and “wetbacks.”

You start on your task without any training. Even the Peace Corps spends around $10,000 on each corps member to help him adapt to his new environment and to guard him against culture shock. How odd that nobody ever thought about spending money to educate poor Mexicans in order to prevent them from the culture shock of meeting you?
In fact, you cannot even meet the majority which you pretend to serve in Latin America – even if you could speak their language, which most of you cannot. You can only dialogue with those like you – Latin American imitations of the North American middle class. There is no way for you to really meet with the underprivileged, since there is no common ground whatsoever for you to meet on.

Let me explain this statement, and also let me explain why most Latin Americans with whom you might be able to communicate would disagree with me.

Suppose you went to a U.S. ghetto this summer and tried to help the poor there “help themselves.” Very soon you would be either spit upon or laughed at. People offended by your pretentiousness would hit or spit. People who understand that your own bad consciences push you to this gesture would laugh condescendingly. Soon you would be made aware of your irrelevance among the poor, of your status as middle-class college students on a summer assignment. You would be roundly rejected, no matter if your skin is white-as most of your faces here are-or brown or black, as a few exceptions who got in here somehow.

Your reports about your work in Mexico, which you so kindly sent me, exude self-complacency. Your reports on past summers prove that you are not even capable of understanding that your dogooding in a Mexican village is even less relevant than it would be in a U.S. ghetto. Not only is there a gulf between what you have and what others have which is much greater than the one existing between you and the poor in your own country, but there is also a gulf between what you feel and what the Mexican people feel that is incomparably greater. This gulf is so great that in a Mexican village you, as White Americans (or cultural white Americans) can imagine yourselves exactly the way a white preacher saw himself when he offered his life preaching to the black slaves on a plantation in Alabama. The fact that you live in huts and eat tortillas for a few weeks renders your well-intentioned group only a bit more picturesque.

The only people with whom you can hope to communicate with are some members of the middle class. And here please remember that I said “some” -by which I mean a tiny elite in Latin America

You come from a country which industrialized early and which succeeded in incorporating the great majority of its citizens into the middle classes. It is no social distinction in the U.S. to have graduated from the second year of college. Indeed, most Americans now do. Anybody in this country who did not finish high school is considered underprivileged.

In Latin America the situation is quite different: 75% of all people drop out of school before they reach the sixth grade. Thus, people who have finished high school are members of a tiny minority. Then, a minority of that minority goes on for university training. It is only among these people that you will find your educational equals.

At the same time, a middle class in the United States is the majority. In Mexico, it is a tiny elite. Seven years ago your country began and financed a so-called “Alliance for Progress.” This was an “Alliance” for the “Progress” of the middle class elites. Now. it is among the members of this middle class that you will find a few people who are willing to send their time with you_ And they are overwhelmingly those “nice kids” who would also like to soothe their troubled consciences by “doing something nice for the promotion of the poor Indians.” Of course, when you and your middleclass Mexican counterparts meet, you will be told that you are doing something valuable, that you are “sacrificing” to help others.
And it will be the foreign priest who will especially confirm your self-image for you. After all, his livelihood and sense of purpose depends on his firm belief in a year-round mission which is of the same type as your summer vacation-mission.

There exists the argument that some returned volunteers have gained insight into the damage they have done to others – and thus become more mature people. Yet it is less frequently stated that most of them are ridiculously proud of their “summer sacrifices.”

Perhaps there is also something to the argument that young men should be promiscuous for awhile in order to find out that sexual love is most beautiful in a monogamous relationship. Or that the best way to leave LSD alone is to try it for awhile -or even that the best way of understanding that your help in the ghetto is neither needed nor wanted is to try, and fail. I do not agree with this argument. The damage which volunteers do willy-nilly is too high a price for the belated insight that they shouldn’t have been volunteers in the first place.

If you have any sense of responsibility at all, stay with your riots here at home. Work for the coming elections: You will know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how to communicate with those to whom you speak. And you will know when you fail. If you insist on working with the poor, if this is your vocation, then at least work among the poor who can tell you to go to hell. It is incredibly unfair for you to impose yourselves on a village where you are so linguistically deaf and dumb that you don’t even understand what you are doing, or what people think of you. And it is profoundly damaging to yourselves when you define something that you want to do as “good,” a “sacrifice” and “help.”

I am here to suggest that you voluntarily renounce exercising the power which being an American gives you. I am here to entreat you to freely, consciously and humbly give up the legal right you have to impose your benevolence on Mexico. I am here to challenge you to recognize your inability, your powerlessness and your incapacity to do the “good” which you intended to do.

I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help.

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~ by Afrikan Eye on June 6, 2007.

18 Responses to “FUCK good intentions”

  1. i totaly agree…

  2. Good intentions. Intending to do good. If one does not intend to do good, then one will DO no good. You have to try to do good in order to do some good, right? Good intentions are extremely important. What angers you, I think, is when people hide behind good intentions or use good intentions as an excuse. And that is perfectly understandable.

    You are angry with those that try to implement economic plans in Africa without consulting Africans. By what you have said it seems most of these plans are failing or have failed.
    Believing that Africans would have nothing to contribute to any economic plan initiated within their own continent, their own culture/cultures, is very arrogant indeed.

    It is also arrogant to believe that no one else but Africans have anything to contribute. It is possible that, for example, an expert sociologist that just happens to be white (or whatever) might have a good idea on the subject. It is possible and likely that many westerners have things to contribute to increasing African quality of life.

    I DO believe that the great majority of the planning and execution must come from Africans. And that it must be Africans that ultimately decide how any economic efforts are to be implemented.
    But to say no one else has any good ideas? NOTHING to contribute?

    Also you continually mention “white people”. Why? “White” is not a personality trait. “White” is not a culture. Being white is a physical state. Just as being black is a physical state. There are genetic factors such as weakness to skin cancer in white people, greater chance of stroke amongst black people.

    The differences are only physical. I would understand if you said “westerners” “europeans” or “americans”. Then you are citing people by their culture, which makes sense because peoples actions (and it is the actions of people that you are speaking of) are greatly influenced by their culture.

    Their race has nothing to do with their actions. Of course-most europeans or americans are white…but that is irrelevant. A person of any race can exibit a wide range of personality traits and behaviors, dependent upon learned behavior..Absorbtion of Culture.
    To cite them by race is an error. And it is also racist. You may not be a racist, but when you distinguish people by race and imply that their race effects their actions. Well that is, by defenition, racist.
    I do not believe that is your intention. I believe its just an error. You may want to modify the way you present your arguments and the way you cite social groups.
    Remember…are you just ranting here in this blog? Just venting anger and frustration? Or are you trying to prove a point…put forth an argument…maybe change peoples perceptions. You argument is less likely to be effective if you offend people unnecissarily.

    (I stress the word unnecissarily. Obviously you should not censor yourself because some people might be offended by what you say, but neither should you offend someone when it is not necessary in order to prove your point)

  3. I’m glad you see that I frankly I shouldn’t censor myself and also I’m not really concerned as to whether or not I offend people who read this. If people get offended, that’s their right as human beings. Whenever anyone writes anything someone, somewhere gets offended. So yeah, my writing style and choice of words are deliberate.
    I’m not saying that noone has anything good to contribute what I AM saying is that they need to understand that their efforts should coincide with directions Afrikans feel is the best for them. When it comes to European development or US development or whichever other country in Global North, its assumed that they know what’s best for them and anyone who come into to help them is doing just that HELPING them in a path that they already have designed. So Its ridiculous that suddenly when it comes to Afrikan development, suddenly Afrikans are expected to be super accommodating of what NON-AFRIKANS think is the ‘best for Afrika.’ To that I say HELL NO. If those who do not come from Afrika disagree with what we Afrikans feel is the best path to development then you’re free to leave and find some other continent to help.
    Also I use the term white intentionally because what I’m dealing with here is the image of the group presented by white people. All races, whether you like it or not, have a group image. The way Black Europeans or Black Australian or Black Americans are perceived is VERY DIFFERENT to the way white people are perceived. Why? Because it is WHITE civilisations that have traumatised Afrika the most in our history. And for you to say that race has nothing to do with actions is really rather ignorant. If that’s the case you’re basically saying that everyone ends up where they are because of their own personal merit and ability, or what? And that’s bull. Race has a great deal to do with actions. Why? Because race is what essentially determines what opportunities are provided to you. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but on an INTERNATIONAL SCALE the darker you are the poorer you are. So you for you to say that race has nothing to do with action is rather myopic and delusions. George Bush is the President of the US because he’s a WHITE MAN, not because of any exceptional track records and excellent ‘actions’ he’d done in his past. Native Americans were killed by white people who decided that Native American land was to be theirs. So race has a heck of a lot to do with actions and what opportunities are given to you. Of course people continue to demonstrate that you can work against those obstacles, however those are the exception not the rule.
    So white is used intentionally because, not matter what anyone says, the world sees colour. That’s why I as an Afrikan woman, get insulted and harassed more in white countries that I do in countries where black are the majority. That’s why racist insults are hurled at Black football players in countries where WHITE people form the majority. Race informs our action because it determines the opportunities that are presented to us and it created the context of entitlement, resources, attitude and judgements from others that affect our everyday life.

  4. “” Because it is WHITE civilisations that have traumatised Afrika the most in our history.””

    Im glad you know and thank you for pointing out that there are multiple “white” civilizations/cultures.

    “”And for you to say that race has nothing to do with actions is really rather ignorant.””

    Actually no thats not what I was saying. But I explain what I did actually mean in a reply to your post “White liberals to save Afrika…”

    “”Native Americans were killed by white people who decided that Native American land was to be theirs.””

    I am a member of the Cherokee nation. My people walked the Trail of Tears, my grandfather told me the story of his fathers father as he wept. I know very well the persecution of Native Americans by “white people”. And yet my father married a Native American, and would never hurt another human being. I do not blame “white people”. I blame the people who lived at that time, people of that culture. Those peoples children stayed white…but the culture changed with time. The culture changed regardless of their race.

  5. ” Because it is WHITE civilisations that have traumatised Afrika the most in our history.””

    I’m glad you know and thank you for pointing out that there are multiple “white” civilizations/cultures.
    Yes there may be many white civilisations but their main CULTURAL thrust as far as we are concerned here in Afrika has been one of domination, brutality, hatred and exploitation. So they may have different civilisations (i.e. pieces of art, buildings whatever) but the main cultural expression has been one of dominance, ruthlessness and exploitation. There will always be INDIVIDUALS who are exceptions to the rule, but we’re talking about the culture here the macrosocietal effect one culture has on another and frankly there, although some white people have done good and been kind to Afrika, the way white culture interacts with Afrikan culture and people is with violence, hatred and a spirit of exploitation.

    “”And for you to say that race has nothing to do with actions is really rather ignorant.””

    Actually no that’s not what I was saying. But I explain what I did actually mean in a reply to your post “White liberals to save Afrika…”
    Ok, good you cleared that up.

    “”Native Americans were killed by white people who decided that Native American land was to be theirs.””

    I am a member of the Cherokee nation. My people walked the Trail of Tears, my grandfather told me the story of his fathers father as he wept. I know very well the persecution of Native Americans by “white people”. And yet my father married a Native American, and would never hurt another human being. I do not blame “white people”. I blame the people who lived at that time, people of that culture. Those peoples children stayed white…but the culture changed with time. The culture changed regardless of their race.

    Fine you’re half European and half Cherokee, and yes relatively speaking things have ‘changed’ in that white culture no longer deems it necessary to go out and slaughter Native Americans to establish an empire. That’s already been done, the genocide has already happened and Native Americans living in the US, have, for the most part been shoved off to the most infertile parts of that country. So, your people are still being violated by white culture. Different Native American tribes have been caricaturised into cartoon looking mascots for sports teams, Native Americans have higher unemployment rates, higher alcoholism rates, higher infant mortality rates, higher deaths, higher levels of sickness, higher poverty so yeah, the culture may have changed in terms of switching from overt violence to covert violence, but Native Americans are still being killed by white culture. That’s why there’s a growing Native American movement in the US (which I support and encourage immensely)that’s geared towards recognising the HUMANITY of Native Americans, correcting these gross injustices, dealing with issues like land and ‘reserves’ and ending the negative stereotyping of their culture and people. The reality is that for most Americans, especially white Americans, Native Americans aren’t a part of their existence and the most they feel about the whole situation is guilt for invading North America, killing millions of Native Americans, destroying their culture, crippling the communities with alcohol etc etc. There’s no impetus to act on the feelings of guilt…its like they think that just feeling guilty suffices. I disagree with that. Now you’re saying you ‘blame the people who lived at the time’…that to me is self deception, why? Because the actions of people who ‘lived at that tie’ continue to harm Native Americans today and those, especially the white majority, who live in these times continue to perpetuate the systems of exploitation, couldn’t care less about Native reserves and all the issues around that and continue to benefit for the continued dehumanisation of your people. Now, your dad may be an INDIVIDUAL exception to the main thrust of how white culture has and still treats Native Americans but the reality is that his actions and attitudes are NOT typical of white culture towards Native Americans. Also there can be black or Native or Asian people working to promote current white culture but that doesn’t suddenly make that culture black or Asian or whatever, why? Because even though they may be of a different face, the culture they are working to promote is WHITE culture because it glorifies the white way of life and white ‘solutions’ to problems and white media etc. Now, for me also, to be serious, the issue is not really about BLAMING, but more about being honest with ourselves when we analyse the situation so that we can take INFORMED actions that see how history continues to affect the present AND how cultures especially white culture (as it is now) perpetuates exploitation. And that’s why i continue to say White people, because I’m dealing with 1) personal experience and 2) the white culture that white people tend to embody UNLESS they CHOOSE otherwise. I am RARELY EVER pleasantly surprised by a white person who is actually INFORMED about Afrika and DOESN’T have either boldly racist attitude towards us or a condescending, patronising, paternalistic ‘you need help because you’re Afrikan and you can’t figure anything out’ type of racist attitude.

  6. The Cherokee Nation,

    Isn’t your tribe the same one that recently tried to expel it’s members of African descent (the so-called Freedmen). When such a group as yours has the power and intentions to perpetuate white supremacy, you really lose all credibility to bring up your Trail of Tears to make it appear as if you are soooooo oppressed.

  7. No thats not correct at all. To say it recently tried is incorrect. The Cherokee Nation actually DID rule at one time that the decendents of those identified as “freedmen” on the Dawes Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes not be included as legal members of the Nation. It was passed as law for a time.

    What I believe you dont understand was this decision was based upon the idea, and upon the wording of the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, that to be a member of the Cherokee Nation you must be able to prove decent from Cherokee people, or to the Shawnee or Delaware Native Americans that were adopted into the Cherokee tribe.

    Basically, you had to prove that you had either Cherokee, Shawnee or Delaware blood; an ancestor from one of those tribes.

    African people that could prove decent from the Cherokee were not excluded, only those decendents of freedmen that could not prove that they had Cherokee/Shawnee/Delaware in their bloodline.

    People of African decent were not persecuted in this ruling. You seem to think that all Africans were singled out and expelled. That is absolutely not the case. The case was not about attacking Africans, it was about whether or not certain members had a right to be a member of the Nation based upon whether or not they were, even a little bit, Cherokee.

    But, regardless of all that. The JAT recently ruled the previous ruling unconstitutional under the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation. Citing that while the wording of the Constitution did not specifically mention the freedmen, nor did it exclude them. The previous ruling was overturned. The freedmen decendents are considered full members of the Cherokee Nation.

    “”When such a group as yours has the power and intentions to perpetuate white supremacy,”””

    White Supremacy? You do realize Cherokee are not white, right? The Cherokee, Shawnee and Delaware are Native Americans. The usual deragatory term when refering to our color is “Redskin” or “Redman”. (though I myself am half Cherokee and have much paler skin)

    “””you really lose all credibility to bring up your Trail of Tears to make it appear as if you are soooooo oppressed.”””

    The Cherokee and other Native American tribes were systematically slaughtered over decades. Many of the tribes that existed in what is now the United States were oppressed and murdered until they died. Until they were ALL dead. The Cherokee specifically had the entirety of their land taken from them. The WHOLE of them were forced to emmigrate and in the course of months 4,000 died of disease and starvation. And this was only one event in a long history of brutal oppression. As a matter of fact the word oppression does not suffice. Extermination is closer to the truth.

    The Trail of Tears is what other people call it. The Cherokee call it “the trail where we cried.”

    Do you really believe the oppression of the Cherokee and of Native Americans is some sort of illusion, some kind of lie? Do you have any idea at all the depth of brutality and pain that had been inflicted upon the Native American peoples for hundreds of years?

    Your words and the mocking tone of your post are extremely offensive to me. However I forgive you and ask that you spend a little time reading about the true history of Native Americans. And that you check your facts before making such statements.

  8. Hi, I’m not sure if you are still writing your blog – I came across it recently and have been working my way steadily back through past posts. It is refreshing to read a reasoned and impassioned critique of the naivities of western understandings of recent African history, and of those from the west who come to save Africa from itself. My name is Phil Harrison, I am from Ireland (with its own colonial history and skewed perceptions also) – I am heading to Africa later this year, not to save anything or anyone but because I love African music and i’m keen to find out more about music in Africa in the last 40 or 50 years. It’s not easy to do in Europe, everything we have access to tends to come through European labels and organisations, and I imagine there has been so much more to discover than we’ve ever had access to. I’m interested especially in the political dimensions of music in Africa, in the likes of Fela’s critique both of colonialism & western posturing, and of the dictatorships springing up around him who consistently failed their people. Your mention of how African dictators were almost universally propped up and supported by western governments during the cold war I feel is so crucial – I’m not sure if you’ve read the Bill Berkeley book (he’s american, but don’t let that put you off) ‘The Graves Are Not Yet Full’ – I have been reading lots of books on Africa in the past year, many of which fall into the simplistic, naive kind of reasoning the LA Times article does, but Berkeley’s is the best I have read at exploding the myths surrounding African ‘backwardness’ and ‘violence’ and showing clearly the heavy hand of governement manipulation, both by western governments in aiding and abetting dictatorships (and not just in Africa, of course) and by african governments in stirring up animosities and tensions and undermining the rule of law, has shaped the current African political and economic landscape. He also brilliantly shows how the colonial powers were deliberate in their carving up of Africa, not only geographically but also politically and economically, leaving in place systems of explotiation which small cabals of leaders have been able to exploit since. It’s worth a read.
    Anyway, glad you’ve been writing, hope you continue. If you have any recommendations for books to read or films to see or music to hear, or people to meet (i’ll be in the south/south east from October til Christmas, then in west africa from Christmas til early March) I’d be really appreciative.
    cheers
    Phil

  9. The saying White people is a term used by many different races, because the “white man” and his culture has slaughterd or in some shape or form or oppressed almost every race on the planet, from Afrikans to Afrikan Americans to Native Americans, Asian, Hispanic and Arabics. You name it, then it’s been done, every race has been affected in some shape or form by White people. Now I myself am not a raciest but why is it that white people always know whats good for someone else’s nation? not to single you out but when will someone answer the question why that “if it’s white it’s all right”?

  10. TRWNBT, I dont think I know whats best for other nations. I have my opinions, everyone does regardless of their race, but I dont pretend to have all the answers.

    “If its white, its alright.” Ive never heard that term. But if people think that way its probably because nations that are heavily populated by white people are very stable and prosperous right now. So probably some people ignorantly believe that white people must have the answer. In truth, the western nations are very prosperous because they have had a long history of stability, or support by other stable countries, and they have successfully exploited people from other nations.

    (China is a for-instance. The western nations are sustained by the cheap labor found there. Chinese workers labor under horrible conditions for very little pay.)

    So these people that think “white is right” are just ignorant.

  11. hey, i liked your ranting about do-gooders living it up in mansion complete with servants, in other words enjoying a lifestyle they could (as social workers for instance) never enjoy at home. it is so true, have seen it time and again with my own eyes.

  12. T.R.W.N.B.T – I second your views and I’ve come to a conclusion that “if it’s white it must have some hidden intentions”, period.

  13. Wow some extreme oppositions on here. Allot of opinions, points, and facts. Just wanted to point that out because I stumbled across this sight wondering the same questions, beliefs, and opinions. I indeed learnt something new. Thank you.

  14. Very, very smart people. =D

  15. I whole-heartedly agree with the article. Don’t get me wrong, it may BE an exaggeration to say nobody that is NON-African is able to constructively contribute to Africa. But many won’t if they don’t understand or respect the circumstances, history, culture, needs and aspirations of those they feel inclined to nobly serve; and, unfortunately most of the people who go to these countries don’t,-regardless of color but particularly when they are white. Also, admittedly Westerners that are nonwhite can exhibit paternalistic attitudes so they are just as destructive, moreso since they are persons of color. But even here, much of the practices they promote will be white since they grew up in Western society and since most Westerners are predominantly white and has been influenced by European culture. Also many of the dogooders will be white since money, priviledge,education and status provides them the opportunities to be dogooders. Whereas people of color are less likely to be dogooders abroad-at least until recently-since they did not have as much money, priviledge, or education to. They also felt more inclined to take care of their issues as opposed to overinterfering in the affairs of their cousins in enough instances. Also, whites feel a need to be dogooders because they feel superior due to their history and circumstances although they also feel guilty for history and the way their priviledges,wealth, and power were acquired. But they also feel entitled to run people’s affairs since they have been in control of the world for so long. ADMITTEDLY, they are not the only people guilty of conquest for the purpose of greed, power, and control, but since they are the top dogs of the current setup- they are responsible and complicit in many of the problems stemming from the effects of their rush for greed, power, and control. There is nothing to say other groups would not have filled the void, but whites corner the role at this point and if others do, they will be condemned when the times comes! Any way, I am not trying to make white folks out to me monsters JUST for the sake of doing it EITHER, but their pushiness in other affairs is not helping other people’s situations since at the least they are not listening to the imput of those they claim to desire to help and at the worst they are hindering others from controlling their affairs to their benefit. To make matters worse, even with the best intentions, their is no guarantee they truly want to leave other people to their own devices since some may actually feel that more control by others in their own affairs threaten white people’s wealth and power, hence control-even as volunteers. Anyway, I wanted to throw out, nobody likes others controlling their affairs, why some folks expect Africans/Asians/Latin Americans or minorities in Western countries to be different, I don’t know. I am positive this does not apply to ALL Western individuals, but to Westerners as a group-the majority, it “seems to”. Anyway, I will be the last person to take the genocide of Native Americans as a joke, but the attempt at extermination toward Africans was just as extensive. Many tribes vanished too, their land was stolen too, and they had a huge decrease in population too. So much that if none of this had happen, the continent would have,by some estimates AT LEAST twice the population and at at the most, as much as the current population of all of ASIA(the whole continent.)I know you said this to say you are a person of color and are aware of oppression, I just felt a need to throw that out.

    Anyway, I disagree about the main or the only impetus of the law being simply about who had Shawnee blood,Cherokee blood, etc when this criteria was not applied-at least to the same degree- to half-native whites(metis),Asians, or Latinos.Anyway nonwhite groups-all of them-have members capable of promoting white supremacy-despite the fact that these same members themselves are nonwhite. I can attest to this in reference to blacks. I am sure others can in their own groups.I see it all the time. You may or may not see it too. Anyway, I can tell you AGAIN I hold NO illusions for the near extermination of Native Americans but all groups of color were slaughtered for decades everywhere.The acute of the Native American situation can not be denied but it happened to other groups and it is happening today just like with Native Americans. I felt the mocking tone of Caged Lion could have been kept, but it is a little strange for Cherokees to talk about the Trail of Tears while kicking Black Indians off the Rolls. That is just like a black person lecturing a Native American about their black history of persecution, while justifying the atrocities the Buffalo Soldiers inflicted towards Native Americans to a Native American-especially one who is a descendant of a Native American that was the victim of the Buffalo Soldiers. Anyway, I confess that it is “at least”-just a little bit- SomeWhat presumptious of a Native American telling Blacks how they should respond to whites for the simple fact that Blacks have a right to decide how they choose to go about it when it is in reference to their affairs. Anyway, most Blacks are far more annoyed by the negative results and bad actions,attitudes,beliefs, of whites far more so than hate!They are just tired of beating around the bush about it!

  16. I meant to say sorry for the typos. Anyway, I meant to say Chris, you are correct in that it would behoove African Americans to know Native American history. I just ask that you get acquainted with African, African American, and other black history.

    Just for information sake, when Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians, etc…were in control of their territories, the subjugated groups had the same grievances we have with whites today! Even when they were of the same color!

  17. “white northern imperialist racist mindsets?” Not bad – you demonstrate your racist polical stupidity in one single phrase. Oh, yeah, only whites can be racists, right? No wonder “Afrika” [sic] is in the problems that it is. Don’t want our help? FUCK YOU? Stay in the Stone Age. That’s where you AFRICANs have put yourselves.

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