“Go Back to Africa” –– A Joyous Return to Pan-Africanism

How much thought have you given to the idea of going back to Africa or leaving the United States for points anywhere?  Would the borders be open in your desired destination?  Would you be welcomed…cared for…loved?

Of course we see in the fictional Handmaid’s Tale, the warm welcome U.S. citizens escaping the tyranny of Gilead receive in Canada.  That’s TV.  In real life, we are still processing the images of Haitians arriving at the U.S. border, and the most unwelcoming reception they received.

In the TV show, getting out of America was more than a notion.  The borders were closed and Americans literally had to escape.

If you believe the U.S. is currently on the brink of collapse, in real life, and moving with all deliberate speed toward the tyranny of fascism, what is an appropriate response?  Should we get out now, while we still can – or take our chances that things are not as bad as they sometimes seem?  Do you see repatriation as a viable option?   The discussion below offers food for thought.  — LMO

Highlights from the discussion include the following:

The Motherland is calling; are you ready to answer? This week on the Dear Culture Podcast, our hosts, Shana Pinnock and Gerren Keith Gaynor, dig deep into a growing conversation about Black Americans returning to Africa.”  — Dear Culture

Gaynor begins the discussion by acknowledging Ghana’s “Year of Return” initiative, and reviewing some of the key forefathers and thought leaders of Pan Africanism, including Martin Delaney, Alexander Crummell, and Edward Blyden, who believed “Black people could not prosper alongside white people;” W.E.B. Du Bois, who described our double consciousness; and Marcus Garvey, who founded the Black Star Line.  He also discussed the importance of Black entrepreneurs learning to do business in Africa, referencing “Prosper Africa,” a U.S. trade and investment initiative.  He believes given the rising extremes of white supremacy, Black people of the diaspora should recover the Pan Africanism explored heavily in the 1960s and 70s, but lost in the quest for assimilation, learn our history, and decide what a new “Back to Africa” movement could look like.

“If it’s not all of us, it’s none of us.”

Pinnock notes the high degree with which Asians are currently engaged in business enterprises on the continent, and does see some hopeful signs for a new “Back to Africa” movement among Black Americans, including response to the release of the Black Panther film.  Ultimately, she believes Pan Africanism might be a dead idea because “we divide ourselves in really gross ways.”  Her concern is that differences among us, such as sexual orientation and physical ability, are exaggerated and “If it’s not all of us, it’s none of us.”  Pinnock is also concerned that Pan Africanism and capitalism cannot co-exist.

“I would love to see and feel that kind of collective movement and love and ability to fight this terrible, terrible insidious notion of white supremacy and colonialism in general,” said Pinnock, “but I think we are so busy trying to be like white people that we can never really learn how to love just Black people.”

Gaynor discussed the difficulty pinpointing a central source of Pan Africanist activity today.  He observes that while social justice protests related to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked global conversations and awareness among Black people across the diaspora, the politics of economics and power under capitalism mean a utopian world is not likely.  He also mentioned the work of Joseph Tolton of Interconnected Justice, which “is a global platform connecting people of African descent for collaborative action in the areas of policy and advocacy, media and culture, education and economics,” but notes this is the work of one organization.  In his own social circles, Gaynor sees more blending of African and African American cultures.

“For us to really have liberation,” said Gaynor, “we have to have some type of return to Africa – whether that’s through tourism or whether that’s through immigration…just leaving America altogether…I do think that there’s a way to have a new movement for Pan Africanism, even if it’s not in the way that our forefathers had envisioned.”

“For us to really have liberation,” said Gaynor, “we have to have some type of return to Africa – whether that’s through tourism or whether that’s through immigration…just leaving America altogether…I do think that there’s a way to have a new movement for Pan Africanism, even if it’s not in the way that our forefathers had envisioned.”

Pinnock has several friends who have moved to Africa and does see hopeful signs in the Afro Beats movement and spiritual experience and sense of connection we have through music, such as Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” using many artists from the continent.

“At the end of the day,” Gaynor said, “I just really challenge us…as in Black people across the diaspora, to reconnect with our roots, to understand that we are all in this together, and I just really want to imagine a different, better world for not just the world at large, but specifically for us, because I think we were robbed of the opportunity to truly be free and to truly love each other in harmony…I also think it’s about time that we stop looking to America for solutions to the problems we are perpetually facing.  This country has proven time and time again, that they do not have our interests at heart.  It’s possible that something as simple as power consolidation in Africa could re-imagine the allocation of global resources, as well as unleashing…psychological and political assets…that would unsettle social and political power structures in the Americas.”

“…I just really want to imagine a different, better world for not just the world at large, but specifically for us, because I think we were robbed of the opportunity to truly be free and to truly love each other in harmony…I also think it’s about time that we stop looking to America for solutions to the problems we are perpetually facing.”

Published by Loga Michelle Odom @Odomanian

Founder/Host, Reading Changes Lives; Senior Producer, OUR COMMON GROUND Media / TruthWorks Network / If America Fails?: The Coming Tyranny

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