Turning the Pages of History: The Nationalist Community in the USA
June 28, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry
With President Donald Trump’s administration, there have been attempts at reversing the humane, sagacious, and liberal policies of President Barack Obama’s programs and policies. Among these are health, education, and the international area – climate change, Cuba, etc. The change in the Cuban policy came to my attention recently as I was reading the Daily Challenge articles on June 22-23, 2017. The headlines read, “Trump’s Hawkish Cuba Order Will Damage US influence In Latin America” and “St. Vincent PM Calls for Condemnation of US Reversal of Cuba Policy.”
In the June 22, 2017’s article, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, had called on the Caribbean governments and regional credit unions to loudly condemn US President’s Donald Trump’s reversal of recent positive advances in US-Cuba relations, started by his predecessor, President Obama.
The interaction with Cuba conjures up memories of my relationship as Chair of the National Black United Front with Cuba and the criticism to which we were subjected. In particular, it came to mind a presentation I had made in Cuba on November 19, 1982 entitled, “The Nationalist Community in the USA.”
I asked my old friend, Dr. Cornel West, to assist me in my preparation for the speech. I’d like to share our labor with you. Hopefully, you will find our remarks accurate, relevant, and educational.
“In the African American community as with any other community in the world, there exists a concept of national identity which is based on the historical experience and pervading conditions which denote the existence. While the United State is commonly seen by the rest of the world as a single sovereign nation, the objective conditions existing in the African American community have forced many of us in that community to foster a concept of national identity which is inconsistent with the perceptions of much of the outside world. The conditions facing the African American community being substantively different from that faced by the dominant United States society have precipitated a concept of national identity significantly different from that of the rest of the country. It is a concept of a nation within a nation struggling for its national liberation.
“The quest for national liberation by a group within a nation is, of course, not peculiar to African Americans in the United States. On the contrary, history is replete with examples of such occurrences; and, indeed, in today’s world several examples still abound. One only has to focus on the struggles of the French Canadians in Quebec, the Native Americans in the United States, the Kurds in Iran, or the Jews in the Soviet Union to reconcile the fact that wherever domination is exercised in a society by a majority ethnic group over a minority group, the natural response of the minority is to foster a nation identity separate and distinct from that of their oppressor(s).
“This phenomenon is, in fact, not limited to the indicated situation where domination is being experienced by a minority group, but as seen in South Africa where a small white minority exercises power over a large black majority as a result of superior economic, political, and military forces. The dominated, realizing their national interest to be different from that of their oppressor, must of necessity subscribe to a concept of national identity which is different from that of the dominant force. It is this difference in national interest which has created for the African American community, a nation within a nation, an Afro-centric nation of African-Americans within a Eurocentric America.
“Within the African American community, there is clearly the consensus that the reality in Black America is drastically different from the reality in White America. However, there are clear divisions on the question of national identity; and, ultimately, the question of national liberation and how it ought to be achieved. These divisions may be seen in an examination of the Black struggles of the 20th century where two major trends have developed, one towards separation and one towards integration. This dichotomy is the result of differing perceptions of what constitutes a nation. Where a nation is defined as an ‘aggregation of people organized under a single government,’ the struggle has been focused on integration, seeking acceptance from and equality with the dominant society while separation has been the focus of those who perceive a nation as an aggregation of people who share common customs, origins, and history.
“Given this dichotomy, the discussion of the concept of national identity within the African American community will be focused primarily on those who have struggled and are struggling for national liberation of the Afro-centric nation.”
… to be continued.