Organization Seeks to Have US Descendants of Enslavement Formally Recognized as Unique Ethnic Group
Failure to formally acknowledge the unique ethnic identity of Indigenous and African descendants of colonialism and enslavement in the United States has evolved into "an ambiguity of their existence and mythological caricature of their experience," says United Nations NGO, United States Sustainable Development Corp.
New York, NY, February 13, 2017 (Newswire.com) - A US based NGO has submitted a formal request to the United Nations' Commission on Population Development to compose an empirical instrument designed to formally define Indigenous and African descendants of colonialism and enslavement in the United States as a 'people group'.
The statement, submitted by the United States Sustainable Development Corp, says that the history of organic and legislative amalgamation of Indigenous and African people in the pre and post-colonial era and later their forced amalgamation with European people during and after enslavement has resulted in the "formation of a new and distinct ethnic people group in the United States".
The current sociopolitical phraseology of 'black' or African American, though commonly accepted in the national vernacular does not fully express the unique sociopolitical and cultural characteristics of the people. More importantly says the group, although the now quite aged grandchildren of prior slaves are still alive today, their recorded ancestral history spans more than 400 years, preceding the establishment of the United States, the 1619 arrival of Africans to the English colony and even the first English. The rise of extreme nationalist agendas in many western nations deems it imperative to be formal and resolute in the acknowledgment of their existence and unique identity in the world.
The idea is often difficult to fathom that this people group is a wholly American invention and yet, are not fully recognized as American by the institutions that define it. They are pre- and post-colonial; yet have no claim to territory, and no acknowledged connection to the investment of their ancestors neither native or slave.
A 2015 study of the National Center for Biotechnology information estimated that approximately 22% of those who are recognized as 'black' or 'African American' have 'Native American' or 'indigenous' ancestry.
An article written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and published in African American digital media "The Root", cites social scientists and historians from Columbia, Emory and the University of Maryland as stating that the percentages of actual DNA are low, largely in the 1-2% range because because most of the mixing between Indigenous and African people would have occurred in the colonial era. A smaller percentage has as much as 5% Indigenous ancestry as they may have been among the tragic pilgrimage of native populations to western lands in later periods.
Nonetheless, this is an important fact to elevate according to the NGO, because for a segment of the population as high as 20 percent to still have some traceable genetic markers likely dating back to the period preceding the founding of the United States, it suggests that a considerable number of people lost a significant part of their ethnic identity due to the policy and legislation of that era and later. Historians at University of Virginia are some of many who have chronicled the erasure of entire people groups that began with the colony of Virginia.
That colony served as the standard bearer for the subsequent colonies to wipe out with the stroke of a pen, the people's culture as well as the ability to identify with their Indigenous or African origins. Today, those people are simply identified as 'black' or 'African American' an identifier which, while not inaccurate in the common culture, continues to be oblivious to their pre and colonial era ties to American soil.
To not identify the group by the full range of its ethnic heritage in the United States, says the organization, also allows for narratives to be perpetuated that belie the full story of their existence, history and contribution to the American ideal.
"Only the most extreme fringes of American culture will publicly pronounce the "go back to Africa" narrative for example, but even the most commonly accepted historical narratives of the descendants of colonialism and enslavement in the United States do not honor the fact that this people group has ancestry that precedes the United States and predates most first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth generation Europeans in America," said United States Sustainable Development Corp President and CEO, Ava Gabrielle Wise. "They are less capable of returning to Africa than most European Americans are of returning to Europe."
The report also suggests that the shared history and continued interests of Indigenous and African descendants of colonialism and enslavement in the United States do not necessarily find perfect social political symmetry with those of descendants of colonialism and enslavement from the Caribbean and Africa who have immigrated to the United States in the last 100 years. Although there are many similarities in the cultural experience, the lingering effects of historical disparity of descendants of America's formerly enslaved population is often not fully appreciated by more recent European, African and Caribbean immigrants.
"The idea is often difficult to fathom that this people group is a wholly American invention and yet, is often not fully recognized as American by the institutions that define it. They are pre- and post-colonial; yet have no claim to territory, and no acknowledged connection to the investment of their ancestors, neither native or slave," Wise said citing the report. "Consider this, the United States just completed the 8 year presidency of Barack Obama, son of an African father and European mother, not at all a descendant of colonialism and enslavement in the US, but was succeeded by the man who spent much of those years de-legitimizing his office because of his obvious ethnicity as a true African American. Cultural heritage, historical ties to this land and ethnic identity absolutely do matter, no matter how much we like to pretend that it does not."
The organization also takes on the historical methods of racial classification calling the ‘Quantum blood theory’ and ‘one-drop rule’ "pseudo-scientific inventions of the European American colonial construct.
In her book, "That the Blood Stay Pure", Dr. Arica Coleman discusses Virginia's longstanding obsession with racial purity, the policy and legislative effects of which has permeated American society until this very day. Popular political figures like Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter often talk of the intention of the founding fathers to maintain a European colonial power base for their own posterity, not to include Indigenous, Indigenous and African or even industrial era immigrants.
The report states that one of the strategies for maintaining control and ethnic purity was the employment of baseless methodologies that sought to determine whether or not one could claim to be European or Indigenous and in a most sinister way also force them to deny anything but their African heritage.
"There has never been anything shameful about being of African descent, but this government has spent nearly 400 years trying to make everyone believe it is so. Despite the genocidal tendencies of such policies, many families held fast to their traditions of Indigenous ancestry and shared them with subsequent generations only to see them be undermined by those who promote only the most published narratives and disregard the existence of the equally evident social, academic, political and legislative war that was waged against their very existence," said Gabrielle-Wise. "Yet, the actual history of Indigenous and African descendants of colonialism and enslavement has more veracity than the stories of Pochahontas and Christopher Columbus that we were taught in school."
Source: United States Sustainable Development Corp