Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Race Problem in Today’s Cuba

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 23 - I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several forums dealing with the problem of racism in Cuba. The most recent one was on November 18 at the Sacred Trinidad Episcopal Cathedral at the invitation of the Oscar A. Romaro Reflection and Solidarity Group. In it, a panel of experts made up of Gisela Arandia, Maria Ileana Faguada and Luis Carlos Marrero approached the problem from a historical angle and in its relation to the Catholic and Protestant churches.

Later, several invitees contributed assessments and data on the issue, which added to the depth, breath and multidimensional treatment of the issue. Not only was the phenomenon and its causes outlined, but also its eventual solutions.

The following is a summary of the three concrete points I referenced in my brief address as an invitee:

1.- The problem of racism was, and is, essentially a problem of power. This is especially in the sense of power being an element in the capacity for decision-making and action. Those who hold the power to discriminate against someone are those who can do so. In this manner, the existence of hierarchy and the concentration of power condition the possibility for the existence of discrimination.

Dispersed power, distributed power and -especially- distributed and socialized economic and political power would eliminate the conditions that facilitate racial discrimination (as well as other social problems).

2.- Racism had, and has, an economic base. Its origin in Cuba is in the horrendous history of slavery. Likewise, of those who participated and died in the wars for independence, there was a proportion of nine blacks for every white casualty. Moreover, the white minority came mainly from those classes that held economic power and were slave-owners, whereas the blacks were slaves.

Independence brought about the elimination of classical slavery, but it didn’t eliminate the exploitation of blacks. Rather, it opened the way for the full development of wage slavery under which most blacks later found themselves. Also, with independence, whites continued belonging to the economically more powerful classes for the most part, and those who had been hacienda-owning slave holders then became landowners who exploited sharecroppers, tenant farmers and agricultural workers, while those who were the owners of sugar mills and other industries exploited wage labor.

The 1959 Cuban Revolution brought us the overthrow of tyranny, new hope for freedom; the nationalization of properties owned by imperialists, landowners and the national bourgeoisie; a cultural revolution, a socialist system and equal possibilities for the development for all Cubans.

But the nationalization of the land and industries remained under statism, and the socialization of ownership did not advance; this was because all property, power and decisions were concentrated in the State and its bureaucratic apparatus. Meanwhile wage labor -the new slavery- continued being the predominant form of the organization of production.

The maintaining of wage labor and property concentrated under the State reproduced the old bureaucratic, hierarchical and discriminatory structures of capitalism, only in a different form.

It was believed that eliminating the formal problems of racial discrimination and providing the possibility for the equal development of all would be sufficient to facilitate the equal access of blacks and whites to education, government positions, and political and managerial leadership, thus eliminating racial differences - but without changing the system of labor force exploitation.

But those who previously were paid a wage -the great black majority in the main, and a white minority- continued being paid a wage. Into the State apparatus entered mainly comrades who came from classes that had had greater access to formal education and education in general, where logically whites prevailed given their socio-historic advantages.

The objective material conditions will remain for discrimination to continue as long as the statist wage system basically remains in its hierarchical form; while social division exists between those who manage and those who work; while property, land, factories, production centers and service centers are not truly distributed equally between all Cubans; while the means of production -the real power- is not directly in hands of the people, of the workers in each locale, in each municipality; and while the people are not the ones who democratically decide how production is managed and how profits are distributed.

This is for the simple reason that there will continue to exist a bureaucratic power with the capacity for independent decision-making, a power that is distant from the people and the workers, distant from the black majority. And discrimination (please recall) is exercised by those who hold power.

3.- Problems of inequality cannot be solved with “equalitarian” political positions. When social and economic differences already exist, it’s necessary to develop differentiated policies, “unequal” ones, to be able to resolve those differences. And those policies would favor blacks. Blacks, by virtue of first being the descendents of slaves and later wage slaves for the most part, have always been at a disadvantage.

The majority live in neighborhoods that are the most run-down and least endowed with the modern conditions of life, their housing is of lower quality; historically they have had less access to universities, to scientific and technical professions; they owned the least property and today -like almost everyone, black and white wage workers as a whole- we continue to not own anything concretely, to not have anything that guarantees us a future beyond our labor power, which can be an employed, or not, depending on the bureaucrat on duty. What’s more, that same labor power is paid for according to what the bureaucracy deems fit.

“Equality” for those in an unequal position is not fair - it is not equality. Those in an unequal position, blacks in this case, must be treated differentially. It’s necessary that they be provided with greater opportunities of all types (housing, education, employment and access to individual and collective property) if we really want to eliminate the conditions that foster discrimination.

It is necessary to design plans and policies specifically directed at improving the conditions of life of blacks. And this is not an instance of “giving” them anything, but of providing them access to that which they historically won through their participation in national wars and in the formation of the Cuban nationality.

Cuba must not, it cannot, forget that it owes a great historical debt to blacks. They were the ones who paid -overwhelmingly so- with their lives, blood, sweat and tears in contributing to our independence.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Internal State Department report criticizes Africa Bureau

By Elizabeth Dickinson

Do State Department bureaus mirror the turmoil in the regions they cover? If a critical new report (pdf) on the Bureau of African Affairs ("AF" in bureaucratic parlance) is any indication, the answer may be yes -- at least for certain offices.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concludes her seven-nation tour of Africa this week, AF is receiving mixed and strongly worded reviews back in Washington. A periodic report just released by the department's Office of the Inspector General praised the work of a bureau strapped for resources and burdened with demands, while raising serious questions about staffing shortfalls, planning priorities, and a public diplomacy program that is, in the report's words, "failed." Compared with other regional bureaus, Acting Inspector General Harold W. Geisel said in an interview, the Bureau of African Affairs received a worse review.

"These guys have been operating under incredible pressure, with crises popping up all over the continent; that's the good news. The bad news is that the bureau as an entity in the State Department was not operating as well as we would expect it to operate," said Geisel.

The report seems to have elicited different reactions among officials and Foreign Service officers within AF, welcomed by some and criticized by others, who feel that their functional groups were unfairly maligned.

The OIG report, divided into sections to address policy implementation, resource management, and management controls, was released early this month and covers an assessment period between April 20 and June 5, 2009. The evaluation concluded a month after President Barack Obama's nominee for assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnnie Carson, was sworn in on May 7. The bulk of the research took place while the bureau was under the leadership of acting Assistant Secretary Phillip Carter III, a rumored pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia. Carter's interim leadership was praised by the OIG as a time of "renewal"; Carson is likewise seen as a strong leader for the bureau.

[Update: A former senior State Department official writes in response to FP's report that "The OIG blast on AF has little to do with/against the then-Acting Assistant Secretary [Carter]." Instead, he calls the report "a massive slam" against Jendayi Frazer, who served as assistant secretary for African affairs under the Bush administration. Contacted by phone this morning, Frazer declined to comment on either the findings of the report or this particular remark.

Speaking more generally about the Bureau yesterday, Geisel also suggested that the decline began before the assessment period. He attributed shortcomings within the agency to "a matter of [dealing with] crises, but we also think it was a matter of leadership and lack thereof. As the report says, the acting assistant secretary was a wonderful leader. ... He did a wonderful job of trying to pick up the pieces and lead the bureau until Johnny Carson came in."]

Yet the report is highly critical of AF in other respects. First, it cites inadequate staffing, declining morale, lack of qualified job candidates, and a failure to mentor young officers as key shortcomings. "There is no bureau that is more difficult to staff overseas than AF," the report reads. OIG attributes the difficulty to perceptions about the poor quality of living abroad and insufficient hardship or danger pay. Hence, positions in Africa often remain vacant or are filled with candidates without the necessary experience.

Meanwhile, demands on embassy staff have only ballooned: "Embassy platforms are collapsing under the weight of new programs and staffing without corresponding resources to provide the services required," the report says. There is, for example, just one financial economist and one international economic position mandated within the bureau's economic team, rending State "an unequal partner in discussions" with other U.S. branches and multilateral institutions.

"Several embassies," according to the report, "had significant morale, performance, or leadership issues." Citing interviews and site visits, OIG notes deficiencies in leaders' abilities to facilitate staff cooperation and to mentor young colleagues. Staff survey responses demonstrated that there is "considerable dissatisfaction with the African Bureau, ranging from lack of communication from the regional desks to front office disinterest in all but the crisis posts."

In addition to leadership challenges, AF's policy planning was criticized for being largely short-term and reactive rather than strategic and broad-based. "There's always a problem in bureaucracies that the urgent outweighs the important. They were doing a good job of fighting fires ... but it was too much time being spent on the crisis of the moment and not enough time being spent on our strategy," Geisel said. The report goes further, saying that the "focus of the bureau appears to be more on the process and timeline for generative new MSPs [Mission Strategic Plans] and the new BSP [Bureau Strategic Plan] rather than on the content," a shortcoming attributed to "procrastination, a lack of buy-in to the enterprise, or poor understanding of performance measurement on the part of missions and other offices."

That lack of foresightedness plays out in several specific Africa policies, including food aid ("the United States helps feed Africa, it is not focusing as it might on helping Africans feed themselves") and HIV/AIDS ("programs spend more on medication than prevention"). OIG cites staff worries that, while HIV/AIDS occupies a large portion of embassies' humanitarian attention thanks to the massive and widely lauded PEPFAR program, comparatively little time or attention is paid to other development priorities such as promoting education and combating corruption.

Another sticky issue addressed in the report is the initially antagonistic relationship between U.S. embassies and personnel from the Department of Defense's new military command for Africa, AFRICOM. "The activation and role of the command was misunderstood at best, if not resented and challenged by AF," the report finds. While the report notes improvements between the two teams, misunderstandings remain. Embassy staff received little instruction as to how they should integrate and work with AFRICOM officials, for example. And within the department, there is "considerable internal debate about the wisdom of military funding of U.S. development and public diplomacy activities in Africa" -- things like combating HIV/AIDS.and building wells for drinking water.

Resentments may be exacerbated by the fact that AFRICOM's funding often far outstrips that of AF. "The military deals in resources that the State Department can only dream about, either in a pleasant dream or a nightmare," Geisel said. In one instance, a military information support team (the military equivalent to an embassy's public affairs staff) was funded with $600,000 for their campaign in Somalia, while the State Department had to make do with a mere $30,000.

"It's a totally different scale," said Geisel. Perhaps for this reason, OIG suggests that the State Department's overall very successful peacekeeper training and support programs be transferred to AFRICOM if State fails to receive adequate funding and staff for them.

The report's most strongly worded criticism goes to AF's public diplomacy office, which the report deems utterly failed, devoid of long-term strategy, marginalized within the wider bureau, and technologically ill-equipped. So poor was its performance, the OIG determined, that AF should commission an independent review within 90 days to examine the roots of the shortcomings. Asked why he felt the public diplomacy shop had performed poorly, Geisel blamed management: "The leadership of the bureau in my opinion took its eye off the ball," he said.

That notion, however, is disputed by some within the bureau. One official, who declined to be named, explained, "Public diplomacy is seen by some State Department officials as conveying a message. That is 10 percent of what we do. Probably 90 percent is to create relationships and mutual understanding with the public in other countries. What they [OIG] are commenting on is their understanding of 10 percent."

The report offers several other insights into the workings of U.S.-Africa policy. The much-touted Africa Growth and Opportunity Act -- passed in 2000 and since amended four times to offer trade incentives if African economies liberalize -- has had a limited impact, according to the report. "Poorly developed infrastructure, a lack of affordable credit, weak merchandising, and an inability to meet U.S. phytosanitary regulations are among the many factors that thus far have limited the intended trade promotion and diversification effects of AGOA." So although trade between the United States and the continent has risen almost fourfold between 2001 and 2008, non-oil trade accounts for just 4.9 percent of 2008's $104.7 billion trade figure.

Also of note was the report's observation that Somalia remained "the hottest of many policy fires burning within the bureau."

The report is both good and bad news for the Obama administration as it tries to craft its policy toward a continent that expects much from the first African-American U.S. president. Obama campaigned on a promise to boost foreign assistance and revamp the State Department, the need for which seems substantiated by the OIG's report. Much hope rests with new Assistant Secretary Carson, who is almost universally held in high regard by State Department officials.

Compliance procedures under the OIG require the Bureau of African Affairs to follow up with progress reports on its compliance with the 19 recommendations mandated in the report. The first reporting period concludes toward the end of this month -- 30 days after the final OIG analysis was circulated to AF staff, though most in the bureau had seen earlier drafts.

Elizabeth Dickinson is assistant editor at FP.

African chiefs urged to apologise for slave trade

David Smith in Johannesburg
Wednesday 18 November 2009

Nigerian civil rights group says tribal leaders' ancestors sold people to slavers and should say sorry like US and Britain.

Traditional African rulers whose ancestors collaborated with European and Arab slave traders should follow Britain and the United States by publicly saying sorry, according to human rights organisations.

The Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria has written to tribal chiefs saying: "We cannot continue to blame the white men, as Africans, particularly the traditional rulers, are not blameless."

The appeal has reopened a sensitive debate over the part some chiefs played in helping to capture their fellow Africans and sell them into bondage as part of the transatlantic slave trade.

The congress argued that the ancestors of the chiefs had helped to raid and kidnap defenceless communities and traded them to Europeans. They should now apologise to "put a final seal to the history of slave trade", it said.

"In view of the fact that the Americans and Europe have accepted the cruelty of their roles and have forcefully apologised, it would be logical, reasonable and humbling if African traditional rulers ... [can] accept blame and formally apologise to the descendants of the victims of their collaborative and exploitative slave trade."

Estimates vary that between 10 million and 28 million Africans were sent to the Americas and sold into slavery between 1450 and the early 19th century.

More than a million are believed to have died in transit across the so-called "middle passage" of the Atlantic due to inhumane conditions aboard slave ships and the brutal crushing of any resistance.

Three years ago Tony Blair described Britain's participation as a "crime against humanity" and expressed his "deep sorrow". The US Senate voted for an apology this year.

Shehu Sani, head of the congress, said it was calling for traditional rulers to apologise now because they were seeking inclusion in a forthcoming constitutional amendment in Nigeria.

"We felt that for them to have the moral standing to be part of our constitutional arrangement there are some historical issues for them to address," he told the BBC World Service. "One part of which is the involvement of their institutions in the slave trade."

He said that on behalf of the buyers of slaves, the ancestors of the traditional rulers "raided communities and kidnapped people, shipping them away across the Sahara or across the Atlantic".

Many slaves captured inland in Africa died on the long journey to the coast.

The position was endorsed by Henry Bonsu, a British-born broadcaster of Ghanaian descent who examined the issue in Ghana for a radio documentary. He said some chiefs had accepted responsibility and sought atonement by visiting Liverpool and the United States.

"I interviewed a chief who acknowledged there was collaboration and that without that involvement we wouldn't have seen human trafficking on an industrial scale," said Bonsu, the co-founder of digital station Colourful Radio.

"An apology in Nigeria might be helpful because the chiefs did some terrible things and abetted a major crime."

The non-government organisation Africa Human Right Heritage, based in Accra, Ghana, supports the campaign for an apology. Baffour Anning, its chief executive, said: "I certainly agree with the Nigeria Civil Rights Congress that the traditional leaders should render an apology for their role in the inhuman slavery administration." He said it would accord with the UN's position on human rights.

But the issue was not a high priority for most African citizens, according to Bonsu. "In my experience it's mainly the African diaspora who want an apology. People aren't milling around Lagos or Accra moaning about why chiefs don't apologise. They are more concerned about the everyday and why they still have bad governance."

Fred Swaniker, the founder of the African Leadership Academy, said: "I'm not sure whether an apology is needed, but it would be worth looking at and acknowledging the role Africa did play in the slave trade. Someone had to find the slaves and bring them before the Europeans."

The shameful history of some traditional leaders remains an awkward subject on which many politicians prefer to maintain silence. One exception was in 1998 when Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, told an audience including Bill Clinton: "African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them. If anyone should apologise it should be the African chiefs. We still have those traitors here even today."

Caribbean American Challenger Beats Vincentian Incumbent In NY Primary

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY
Weds. Sept. 16, 2009

A Caribbean American, Brooklyn resident with Tourette`s syndrome, last night emerged the victor in a heated New York City Primary election race for the 45th councilmatic seat.

Activist Jumaane Williams, who had the backing of the Working Family Party and was endorsed by a number of key media and unions, won the race with some 37 percent of the votes ahead of 25 percent for the incumbent, Vincentian City Councilman, Kendall Stewart.

Stewart managed to pull in 2,223 votes compared to Williams` 3,330. Williams is a first-generation Brooklynite of West Indian parentage who was a former housing director for the Flatbush Development Corporation.

Last night, from a victory celebration in Brooklyn, he told CWNN the win was `surreal` to him and he is still in shock.

`It has not sunk in fully,` he told CWNN via phone.

Most recently, he was the executive director of the NYS Tenants & Neighbors, a state-wide organization that fights for tenants` rights and affordable housing through organizing and advocacy. He is an alumnus of Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn College.

The other largely Caribbean challengers failed to come close to the votes secured by Williams and Stewart. Barbados-born Sam Taitt, who has run for the seat for several years now, managed to secure just 1,501 votes while newcomer, Dr. Dester McKenzie, a Jamaican, obtained 1,042 votes. Enrest Emmanuel of Haiti garnered 518 votes while Guyanese Erlene King fared even worse with just 397.

The win means Williams will now have to face-off against Stewart, who was faced criticism over his vote against ending term limits and scandal over his former chief-of-staff`s conviction on embezzlement, in the November general election.

Other incumbents were not so unfortunate, with Haitian Councilman, Mathieu Eugene winning, overwhelmingly with 3,879 votes, his primary for the 40th Councilmatic seat. Jamaican challenger, Ricky Tulloch, secured only 1,586 votes while Trinidadian Rock Hackshaw managed to get just 1,122 votes.

In Queens, Jamaican American Councilman, Leroy Comrie, easily won over his Caribbean challenger in Council District 27, while Councilman James Saunders also beat back two Caribbean challengers to hold on to the win in the 31st District.

The Democratic mayoral candidate with Caribbean roots, Bill Thompson, beat out two other competitors for his chance to go head to head with Mayor Bloomberg this fall in the race for City Hall.

With more than 98 percent of precincts reporting last night, Thompson had 69 percent of the vote to Avella`s 21 percent and Rogers` eight percent.

"It`s time for a change New York. Eight years is enough," said Thompson, who was endorsed recently by several Caribbean Americans, at his victory speech last night.

Meanwhile, outgoing councilmember John Liu garnered 38 percent of the vote with 85 percent of precincts reporting in the race for comptroller while City Council member Bill de Blasio led the race for public advocate.

What The Notorious BIG Can Tell Us About Race and Immigration

by Jeremy on 9.24.2009

In Black Identities, Harvard sociologist Mary Waters analyzes the racial and ethnic identities of first and second generation West Indian immigrants in New York City. At its core, Black Identities is a study of paradox. Waters eloquently states, “[For West Indians], America is a contradictory place…a land of greater opportunities than their homelands but simultaneously a land of racial stigma and discrimination. Immigrants readily buy into an image of American affluence, but are grounded in American racial and economic realities. One respondent noted despair that America is a “white world” in which “white people have all the money,” but in the same breath rejoiced in the fact that America is “a place where everyone has opportunity.” This is the inherent contradiction of the “American dream:” First generation West Indian immigrants must reconcile their lofty expectations of achievement with the myth of American social mobility as they grapple with structural and interpersonal racism in their day-to-day lives.

Second generation West Indian immigrants are also directly confronted with uniquely American race relations, resulting in contradictory immigrant identities. On the one hand, some immigrants embrace their Caribbean ancestry and construct social boundaries separating themselves from black Americans. On the other hand, many young, second generation West Indians (a plurality of her sample) buy into the uniquely American racial caste system and self-identify as black, abandoning other “ethnic options.” There wouldn’t be anything wrong with indentifying as “black,” if of course a slew of disadvantages and prejudices didn’t follow as a result. When race collides and interacts with social structure and culture, West Indian immigrant identity precariously wavers between ethnic loyalty and American assimilation. Paradoxically, the choice to remain loyal to their West Indian heritage affords these immigrants more social mobility than direct incorporation into American culture, as buying into American stereotypes often means downward mobility.

Sound familiar? Oddly reminiscent of a certain Brooklyn born rap legend? Indeed, The Notorious BIG represents an interesting case study—and exemplar—of Waters’ extensive empirical data. Biggie was born to a hardworking, loving Jamaican immigrant mother. While his father was largely absent from his life, Biggie’s mother held steady employment as a pre-school teacher and by all accounts was an involved parent. She enrolled her son in a private middle school in Brooklyn where he thrived academically. This scholastic success, of course, came to an end when Biggie began selling drugs at age 12. A (pun intended) notorious crack dealer, he eventually dropped out of high school, only to reach temporary stardom but ultimately suffer an untimely death.

A scene near the beginning of the recent biopic Notorious, in which Biggie’s character exhibits admiration and lust for the life of a street hustler, is telling. Waters’ research suggests that Biggie’s identity as a second generation West Indian immigrant could have, presumably, led him to continue his studies and perhaps achieve upward mobility—distancing himself both from the general stereotypes of American blacks and the actual hustlers in his immediate surroundings. But, when confronted with the reality of American race relations—in this example, Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill in the early ‘90s—Biggie could have just as easily been propelled to identify more with the black Americans selling drugs on the corner by his house. Like many poor second generation West Indian immigrants, Biggie lacked local models of success, a disparity caused by urban economic marginalization and resulting in a push to identify with a certain type of black American.

Big had an ethnic “choice,” sure; claim his Jamaican roots, or step in line with America’s vision of race. But it was a structured choice provided under economic duress and within the context of a uniquely American racial order. The problem is, both paths of ethnic identity formation have problematic results for blacks as a whole. By distancing themselves from the “black underclass,” many West Indians reaffirm long-standing stereotypes of blacks as lazy, violent, and generally inferior. In this model, immigrants achieve individual mobility at the expense of group advancement. In other words, individual immigrants can use this boundary work to catapult themselves toward success, but it negates the possibility for the advancement of blacks as a group. West Indians face American stereotypes and norms of black insolence, and their rejection—and even acceptance—of this identity solidifies white preconceptions. This puts West Indian immigrants in a uniquely difficult position—a Catch-22 in which either path of identity formation reinforces a firm black-white color line.

Biggie’s life story dovetails nicely with Waters’ analysis, complicating traditional studies of race, immigration, and assimilation in the United States. Of course, Biggie’s life obviously doesn’t reflect the experiences of all second generation West Indian immigrants. Still, Waters’ analysis in Black Identities does help explain, in part, why “G-E-D, wasn’t B-I-G.”

West Indians Show No Growth In Latest Census Sample

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Tues. Sept. 22, 2009

The growth of the population of people of West Indian ancestry is seemingly stagnated, according to latest sample data from the American Community Survey department of the U.S. Census.

The latest ACS data released to the media on Monday afternoon show that instead of growth, the West Indian population in the U.S. was put at a mere 2,532,380 or just 0.8 percent of the population.

In South Florida the percentage of West Indians dropped from 3.9 percent last year to 3.8 percent this year, according to the data. While in New York, considered to be home to the largest number of `West Indians,` data from the ACS claim the population is only 4.1 percent of the overall population of New York State.

However, the ancestry listed, according to the Census, `refers to the total number of people who responded with a particular ancestry.` Which means simply that people from the Caribbean are hardly filling out the forms, leading to the low numbers.

Ann Walters of CaribID`s DC executive, blames a lack of marketing and outreach in the hard to count Caribbean immigrant community and also the fact that many West Indians or Caribbeans are not listed in their own origins category on the form so they don`t feel they matter.

`This is definitely not a true and accurate survey. But we will be stagnated forever as many don`t even know such a form exists since there is zero promotion, zero marketing done in this demographic compared to others,` said Walters. `It is why Caribbean people need to seriously participate in the 2010 Census and write in their country or ancestry so we can begin to count and get the respect we deserve, compared to other groups. If we don`t participate and demand marketing dollars to get the message out to our people then we will continue to be dismissed and disrespected.`

CaribID continues to push the message of `Stand Up and Be Counted` to the Caribbean population in order to ensure the Census numbers are an accurate reflection of the demographic in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the CaribID movement has boosted its media partners with the recent signing of top New York-based, Power 105 FM radio personality, Carlos Pineda, AKA Deejay Norrie, as a spokesperson for the organization.

Caribbean nationals are growing at a rapid pace yet they have no accurate numbers that speak of their existence in the U.S., insist CaribID executives, adding that because of poor numbers, the Caribbean community is quickly discounted and ignored.

`We are a growing population, and our culture is leaving marks across the United States, giving inspiration to mainstream movies, fashion, and entertainment as a whole,` says DJ Norie. `Isn`t it time that we got credit for what it is that we bring to this country?`

CaribID Partner Named To Chicago Census 2010 Complete Count Committee

CaribWorldNews, Chicago, IL., Thurs. Sept, 24, 2009: Founder and President of the Caribbean Association of Midwest America and CaribID partner, Deon M. Lopez, has been named as chairperson for the African Diaspora Complete Count Committee in the Uptown Area of Chicago.

Lopez, through CaribID and her new post is working to increase participation in the 2010 U.S. Census among Caribbean and African communities. C.A.M.A. is an organization that promotes and educates the Midwest on issues impacting Caribbean nationals both in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Lopez, as part of the Carib ID 2010 initiative, will stress the importance of the Caribbean and African communities participating in the Census, as well as the direct connection between the Census and financial support for our communities.

`The Caribbean and African communities must be proactive in an effort to raise awareness of and draw attention to the untapped economic and political viability of our communities,` said Lopez. `We must educate and encourage the Caribbean and African communities on the importance of their participation in the U.S. Census. The Census is perceived as a tool to locate illegal immigrants and we need the Caribbean and African communities to understand that the Census will not adversely impact our communities, no one will come looking for them based on their answers, the information taken by the Census is confidential and can not be shared with anyone not even welfare or immigration services. `

The CaribID 2010 initiative states, `This is about the future and the future of our children. We can choose to be invisible and not participate in the 2010 Census or we can choose to write in our Caribbean/African country of origin on question 9 and tick the box that says no not Hispanic.`

With the Caribbean-American population in the U.S. estimated at less than 3 million ` it`s time that we the Caribbean community -STAND UP AND BE COUNTED,` added Lopez.

To learn more about the organization, visit the C.A.M.A. website at or for CaribID 2010 initiative visit

Rastafarians answer Gadhafi’s call for a united Africa

By Tangerine Clarke
September 30, 2009

Holding a portrait of Mummar Gadhafi, the President of Libya, a group of Rastafarians from Jamaica, joined hundreds of supporters to welcome the Libyan leader to the United States, during a rally outside the Libyan Embassy on 48th Street, in New York City.

The Tuesday, September 22, gathering coincided with Gadhafi’s first visit here, where his country was elected to hold the presidency of this year’s UN General Assembly, and where the leader participated in the historic Security Council summit chaired by president Barack Obama.

The welcoming group carried pro Libyan slogans, chanting welcome to the King of Kings of Africa, and long live Gadhafi, as the Jamaican stood on the sidewalk eager to have their voices heard with praise for the president of the African Union (AU).

Saying Gaddafi is the only man that said “Africa unite”, and who has the ability to stand behind his statement financially and politically, Don Black a Jamaican native said he is eager to take up the call for one Africa where all could live in unity.

“Gadhafi has been a ruler for 40 years, and his history shows what he has done for his people, and now he is calling for Caribbean natives to join the union said Black, who traveled from Florida to greet the leader.

“When Gadhafi became the President of the African Union, he specifically called on Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican to join him to create the United States of Africa, so we in the Diaspora and the Caribbean would naturally want to step in to help in this effort, because we know that Africa is our home.

Making a passionate call to Caribbean people, Black says Africans have been lost and scattered for a long time, many living in diverse places, but says now is the time for them to grace the shores of Africa.

Joined by Daniels, who traveled from Jamaica, and Flego and Val, who are from the N.Y. area, Black says he visits Africa often where a group of Rastafarians now lives.

“America is in a critical state, that is why we want to move to Africa where there is potential, for nation builders like us.”

“Gadhafi only has one year as the president of the African Union, so while he is in the position of power, we are willing to unite for the future of our children, said Black.

Flego added that Gadhafi supports a united Africa, with one passport. And that is meaningful to Jamaicans, the entire Caribbean population and black people in the Diaspora. He said a discussion is in process for a Caribbean African alignment.

The Bush administration in 2003, lifted a ban on Gadhafi after Libya agreed not to seek nuclear weapons, and he paid $1.5B toward the Pan Am bomb relief fund.

Called a dictator, Gadhafi’s motorcade shut down parts of the East side that was littered with dozens of Secret Service and NYPD cops, during his visit to the Libyan mission just blocks from the UN.

Caribbean American media association forms


It wasn’t storming on the night a few dozen Caribbean Americans gathered at the small Caribbean Today newspaper office in South Miami. Nevertheless, a certain energy seemed to rumble and stir.
Intellectual electricity – tempered with anxious mouths – rounded a buffet of fruits and Jamaican delights. A server meandered through the area carrying fried chicken paired with a curry sauce for dipping.

For many attendees, the Sept. 25, launch of the Caribbean American Journalists and Media Association marked the beginning of a new day for Caribbean Americans in South Florida.

“What we’re trying to do, number one, is to legitimize what everyone is doing and to say we’re a viable group of people,” said Peter Webley, publisher of Caribbean Today. “Just like you have Jewish and Hispanics organizations, there’s a certain legitimacy with branding your own brand.”

Felicia Persaud, a New York resident who was the night’s guest speaker, said she also believes that having a Caribbean organization would not only provide a support system for the professional community, but also a power-in-numbers approach when trying to make strides on a national level.

Persaud has pushed hard for people from the Caribbean to be counted in the U.S. Census.

“At the end of the day, African-American issues are very different from Caribbean American issues,” she said.

She pointed to immigration as a main vein that separates the two cultures.

When a group is not counted, they are simply not heard, she said.

Shut out on more than one occasion is Maxine Tulloch, founder of the group, which is also known as CAJA.

Tulloch is also the executive producer and host of “The Maxine Tulloch Show,” a talk show that spotlights business owners and professionals. It airs on Comcast, and also is broadcast in Jamaica.

Tulloch recalled a situation to illustrate her point: When a law office chose not to provide her company with advertising dollars, she said, “They said to me, ‘You’re not our market.’ "

She is still appalled to this day.

“We’re not your market?’’ she said. “What do you mean we’re not your market?”

This isn’t the only time she felt that her Caribbean community had little to stand on, she said.

“When Caribbean media goes out, we don’t get any respect,” she said.

She founded CAJA to change this situation.

The group did not blame all the conflicts on others. Hopeful members were quick to point out their own missteps.

Author Ivett Jackson of Lake Worth was among those who criticized her own community.

“The majority are not readers or don’t support their own,” said Jackson, adding that she feels little support from the Caribbean-American and African-American communities.

She said that most people who buy her books are Caucasian.

When Webley began his speech, he quickly questioned the group.

“Why is it that we have dropped the ball?” he asked the crowd made up of supporters who traveled from as far as Orlando and Palm Beach County to be at the event.

Some people muttered in agreement, but there really wasn’t a clear answer.

“We only have ourselves to blame,” he said.

To get more information about the Caribbean American Journalists Association, or to become a member, email e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Also, CAJA is looking to fill membership positions, including a paid managing director position.

For African Immigrants, Bronx Culture Clash Turns Violent

October 20, 2009

The storefronts on a stretch of Webster Avenue in the South Bronx tell the story of local shifts as well as any census: a Senegalese-run 99-cent store, an African video store, an African-run fast-food spot, a mosque, several African restaurants.

The owner of Café de C.E.D.E.A.O., named for the coalition of West African nations, envisioned it as a community hub in the Bronx neighborhood of Claremont, where Americans would try his wife’s cassava soup and realize it’s not so foreign after all. But a year in, the owner, Mohammed M. Barrie, said he could count the number of American patrons on one hand.

Meanwhile, he and his customers have been taunted, he said, and his restaurant’s window urinated on. Someone tried to break into a diner’s car. Then there is the bullet hole in the front window, a mark from a gunshot through the window late one night last summer.

“Those people, they don’t respect African people,” said Mr. Barrie, a Sierra Leone native who settled in the United States in 1998. “I pay my bills, I pay my taxes, they still ...” He trailed off.

Down the block, Muhammed Sillah sat in front of the tiny Al Tawba mosque, eyeing the jungle gym across the street and remembering when he used to let his children play outside.

“Spanish kids, American kids — but no African kids,” said Mr. Sillah, a Gambian mechanic raising five children in Claremont. “We’re scared.”

Their fear and frustration are shared by many local West African immigrants, whose fast-growing presence in the neighborhood — and in the city over all — has been accompanied by increasing tensions with the local black American residents.

“They think they’re better than black people,” James Carroll, a retired Army specialist standing in front of a busy convenience store, said of the West African immigrants. “We’re supposed to be one community — we’re supposed to be able to get along — but they don’t give it a chance.”

Some of the tension can be attributed to cultural differences that all immigrants face, though the West Africans in Claremont, as conservative Muslims, have the added challenge of adjusting to a post-9/11 New York. But resentment and mistrust has escalated to actual violence, and, they say, left them feeling under siege.

After reports of nearly two dozen attacks on West African immigrants in the last two years, community leaders reached out to the police, who interviewed 17 Africans in the neighborhood and filed 11 criminal complaints. Two of those were deemed hate crimes, including an attack in June that left a Gambian immigrant hospitalized for eight days. They have made no arrest in either bias case, but a police mobile truck with a video camera now stands outside the mosque.

Claremont straddles the 44th and 42nd Precincts, two of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. This year, there have been 319 robberies in the 44th Precinct and 237 assaults in the 42nd. At the Butler Houses, part of a complex of housing projects that loom over the neighborhood, police sirens provide a background soundtrack, and residents of all colors and nationalities caution against walking around at night.

But the West Africans say the attacks on them are calculated. “It’s prejudice,” said Dembo Fofana, who said a beating in June by 10 to 15 men left him with broken ribs and internal bleeding. “It’s because we’re African, and we’re Muslim.”

Mr. Fofana, who came to this country 21 years ago, has not returned to his job at a bakery since the assault. He stays home, recovering, receiving disability checks and caring for his five children.

“There’s a lot of tension,” he said. “Just yesterday, someone said, ‘What would you think if I came to Africa and tried to take your property?’ I told him, ‘Brother, I’m not taking anything from you. I’m just trying to live my life.’ ”

The African population in the Bronx has grown considerably in recent years: the census reported 12,063 sub-Saharan Africans in 1990, while the most recent census estimate was 61,487.

In the community district that includes Claremont, black Americans made up 44 percent of the population, according to 2000 census figures, with 52.9 percent of the area Hispanic. African immigrants were nearly 10 percent of the population, a number likely to be much higher in the 2010 census.

The Africans in Claremont hail mainly from poor, French-speaking countries: Guinea, Mali, Senegal. Like immigrants across New York, many are here illegally, working long hours for little pay. Many work as taxi drivers, convenience-store clerks, fast-food cashiers — jobs that keep them on the street late at night.

But some say the Muslims deliberately hold themselves apart. A 37-year-old American man who gave his name as Dre pointed to the pavement in front of the mosque where the African men, easily identifiable in their beards and skullcaps, gather each afternoon. “If you don’t give praise to Allah, don’t go there,” he said. “It’s just like Afghanistan.”

Kantara Baragi, the imam of the Al Tawba mosque, acknowledges that insularity is part of the problem. “We don’t hang around,” said Mr. Baragi, whose delicate frame nearly disappears inside his long, flowing robes. “We just go to work. We don’t have a relationship with people here. They don’t know us.”

So community leaders organized two meetings this summer with police officials, politicians, community board members and housing association leaders. The goal, Mr. Baragi said, was “to let them know us so they don’t look at us like strangers.”

Zain Abdullah, an assistant professor of religion, race and ethnicity at Temple University in Philadelphia, says it is common for African immigrants to suffer harassment when they settle in traditionally black neighborhoods in big cities, like Detroit, New York and Philadelphia.

“Many African-Americans feel that the influx of Africans coming in represents a kind of invasion,” he said. “Culturally, African-Americans have always imagined themselves as Africans, or at least of African descent, but they might have never encountered Africans from the continent. The actual encounter is shocking.”

Mr. Baragi, the imam, says he tries to accommodate his neighbors. His mosque, which blends in with the other storefronts, does not sound the call to prayer through speakers because “we don’t need to force everyone to hear what we’re doing.”

Instead, five times a day, from the sidewalk or, when it is cold, from behind the front door, a man from Al Tawba sings the call in a voice drowned out by the rumbling traffic.

Down the block at Café de C.E.D.E.A.O., a young man walked in last week wearing a Yankees hat tilted askew, an oversize military-style jacket and baggy pants. He looked like any member of the crowd hanging out in front of the Butler Houses, but Fofana Alhusane’s outfit was calculated, a camouflage to hide his Gambian roots.

“African clothes are dangerous,” he said. “I used to wear them, but I saw a few people get beat up, so now I wear New York clothes.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 21, 2009
An article on Tuesday about tensions between West African immigrants and black Americans in the Claremont neighborhood of the Bronx misidentified, in some copies, the primary language spoken in Gambia, one of the immigrants’ home countries. It is English, not French.

People of Caribbean Descent Must Stand Up as "Black" in 2010 Census

By Eddie B. Allen Jr.,

People of Caribbean descent must make themselves known in 2010, says a prominent D.C. advocate.

Dr. Claire A. Nelson, president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, is working in cooperation with other Black community organizations to urge island immigrants to participate in the coming U.S. Census. A public policy agency, the Institute is a national profile partner, in support of the April 1, 2010 survey.

As discussions about the significance of the next 10-year population count increase, Nelson, a native Jamaican, says that so-called West Indians should step to the forefront.

“Half of the challenge – and this is why this issue of being Black versus African American is important and why we are trying to carry this out, as far as the census is concerned – is where question nine asks about race,” Nelson says. “We want people to be cognizant that the way American policy is organized has a lot to do with the race of the people who respond.”

The ninth question listed on the 2010 Census form asks that respondents identify themselves as White, “Black, African Am., or Negro” or Native/Alaskan.

For the diverse population of African descendants in America, Nelson says it’s key that citizens answer accordingly, rather than ignoring questions or scrutinizing wording. While it’s common for Black and Caribbean citizens, like others of color, to avoid surveys out of concerns for their rights, Nelson argues that everything from safety to economics and private-sector marketing is determined by numbers: “We want to ensure that the U.S policymakers understand there is a Caribbean-American point of view, and that the private-sector understands that there’s a presence of Caribbean people in the Black community.”

Suggestions that Latinos from the Caribbean and elsewhere boycott the census to push the immigration issue are counter-productive, Nelson adds. Some suggest that missing numbers represented by undocumented residents will get the government’s attention.

“We certainly do not support that point of view,” says Nelson.
Today, the Institute of Caribbean Studies promotes the interests of about 5 million island descendants who settled in America before and since its formation in 1993.

Activists like Nelson are encouraging all Blacks to count themselves as "Black" or "African American." She says it is important for her that They say increasing the total number of people of African Descent in America will benefit everybody as opposed to the Black population dividing itself along lines of ethnicity or national origin.

“When I started, it was out of frustration,” Nelson recalls. “…With all of these pundits talking about what should be done in the Caribbean, there were never any Caribbean people talking on the issue.”

To help heighten awareness of next year’s count, the Institute will host its annual Caribbean Heritage Awards on Nov. 13, followed by a “Count Us In” campaign aimed at students and families during Black History Month.

For more information, visit the Web site

Yvette Clarke: President Must Act on Immigration

By Michael McAuliff
October 21, 2009 6:00 AM

Rep. Yvette Clarke and about 100 New York clergy members have a message on immigration for President Obama: It’s not just about Latinos and it’s time to get moving on reform.

Clarke and the clergy, many representing Caribbean and African immigrants, are set to deliver that message today to fellow members of Congress and the media in a 1 p.m. press conference.

“I think if the President applies himself to immigration the same way he applies himself to health care, we can pass immigration reform,” Clarke told us.

“As a son of an African immigrant, who better to understand the need?” Clarke said. “If his father didn’t come here to be a student, we wouldn’t have Barack Obama.”

That’s a pretty big debt to live up to.

But Clarke also wants people to remember that immigrants, including the undocumented, are not just Hispanics, although Latinos are often at the forefront of demanding immigration reform.

She says people like her, a second-generation immigrant from Jamaica, and people from Africa, like Obama’s father, are important to the reform debate.

“Theirs are faces we don’t often associate with the challenge of being undocumented,” she said. “But that community is really suffering with lack of mobility, and fear of how this country is dealing with enforcement.”

It’s an especially interesting stance for Clarke, who represents both a large immigrant community in Brooklyn, and a large African-American constituency.

Historically, American blacks have been suspicious of immigrants who are seen as lowering wages and taking jobs from people born in the country. Iconic liberal Barbara Jordan, the first black Southern Congresswoman, is now widely cited on anti-immigration Web sites for the work she did in the 1990s leading Congress’ Commission on Immigration Reform that advocated reducing immigration.

Clarke thinks that attitude has changed, especially in diverse places like Brooklyn.

“It’s sort of a problem that has been used to divide and conquer for those who are nativist in this nation,” she argued. “Everyone acknowledges that immigrants take jobs that Americans won’t do.”

And the sides have gotten to know one another, at least in Flatbush and nearby neighborhoods.

“What I have found, particularly over time among my constituents, is much more empathy now with the immigrant population, because of intermarriage and exposure,” she said.

And that will be on display this afternoon, but we suspect it will take more than that to get the President to tackle immigration this year.

Read more:

African Immigrant Found Guilty of Human Trafficking

Associated Press
Monday , October 19, 2009

NEWARK, New Jersey —
A Togolese woman accused of forcing girls from Africa to work in New Jersey hair braiding salons for no pay has been convicted of human trafficking and visa fraud in a case her lawyer says highlighted African cultural norms that failed to translate in America.

Prosecutors argued that Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, called "Sister" by the women she oversaw, helped bring at least 20 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 from the West African nations of Togo and Ghana on fraudulent visas to New Jersey starting in 2002.

They said she manipulated the impoverished young women, who aspired to live better lives in America, and kept them in slavery-like conditions while stealing all their pay — even tips as meager as fifty cents.

Afolabi's lawyer, Bukie Adetula, countered that his client was considered a benevolent mother figure and revered community leader — both in her native Togo and New Jersey. He said she was known for lending people money and aiding young women to escape their poverty-stricken homeland to learn a marketable skill in America.

"I don't think the jury quite got it, the whole essence of the defense that this was cultural; the argument that they (Afolabi) brought Togo to America," Adetula said.

He spoke outside the Newark federal courtroom following a unanimous guilty verdict on all 22 counts, which was returned just hours after the jury began deliberations.

During the monthlong trial, prosecutors outlined a scheme they say Afolabi and her ex-husband and son — who have pleaded guilty — used to keep the young women tightly controlled.

They said the women were beaten, psychologically abused and, in some cases, sexually abused, while being kept from phoning home, contacting friends or family, or accessing their passports and other documents.

Adetula said what the U.S. government called slave-like supervision was merely a West African custom of protecting young girls by making sure they were tightly supervised, especially in a foreign country where they didn't know the customs or the language.

Afolabi, who alternated throughout the trial between western wear and traditional African dress, sat shackled at the ankles with her head bowed much of the time, listening through headphones to a simultaneous interpreter in Ewe, her native tongue.

She wept often throughout the proceedings, especially during descriptions of her former husband's alleged sexual relations with several of the women, some of them underage.

Afolabi, who her lawyer said has been jailed since her 2007 arrest, faces up to 20 years in prison when she's sentenced in January.

Counterterrorism chief: secrecy vital for national security (Somalian Immigrants)

From the article, "While the U.S. has not faced as challenging a security threat from its domestic Muslim population as the U.K., Leiter noted, the Somali immigrant population in the country was posing an increasing challenge. 18-25 year old Somalis have been traveling in increasing numbers back to Somalia, attracted by the desire to defend the country against intervention from the African Union and other forces, which are sporadically present in unstable regions of the country. While Americans have always traveled abroad to fight for foreign causes, such as during the Spanish Civil War, Leiter observed, this was the first instance in which the U.S. was producing home-grown suicide bombers."

By Chris Szabla
Published: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 6, 2009

Michael Leiter ’00 breezed into Hauser Hall after spending the last two hours at the Kennedy School. “I’m in need of serious intellectual stimulation,” he joked, invoking Harvard Law School’s longstanding derision of its public policy-oriented counterpart across Harvard Square.

Yet Leiter’s cross-campus trek at Harvard mirrors the evolution in his own life: from the apogee of the world of legal academia, as president of the Harvard Law Review, to the National Counterterrorism Center, where he spends far more time analyzing foreign intelligence than legal opinions. When he first met Barack Obama ’91, the current U.S. president spun around upon hearing that Leiter, like him, had led the prestigious Review. “What are you doing briefing me on counterterrorism?” Obama wondered.

The National Counterterrorism Center was created in the wake of September 11th to collect and synchronize data from the U.S.’ various intelligence agencies, and to make corresponding recommendations for counterterrorism policy, which Leiter delivers to personnel ranging from the President to individual policemen and firefighters. He was appointed in 2008, after a career that included a clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer ’64, a stint as a federal prosecutor, and time spent serving in the U.S. navy during campaigns in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It was his military service that gave him his shot at working in counterterrorism.

Leiter’s current role puts him in a position to know quite a bit about the world, and during his visit to HLS – sponsored by the National Security and Law Association – he led a discussion on the security situations in areas ranging from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and even to the potential for domestic Islamist terrorism in the U.S.

Afghanistan and Pakistan, Leiter noted, were “in flux” more than at any time since Pakistan’s independence in the wake of Partition from India in 1947. The border area between the two countries was home to “core elements” of Al Qaeda, which are forming new liaisons with Pakistani militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, enabling the group, just a few weeks ago, to mount a direct attack on Pakistan’s military headquarters.

Pakistan, Leiter said, had traditionally used such groups as proxies through which to conduct its foreign policy. He hoped that the headquarters attack would compel the Pakistani military to decisively move away from its defensive stance toward India and to engage militant groups instead. He expressed optimism, however, that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would not “fall into the wrong hands,” saying that the weapons had been secured, and that he worried about the use of cruder, more improvised weapons instead.

Leiter also highlighted the security risk emanating from Yemen. Recently, a Yemeni national trained by Al Qaeda had tried to assassinate a member of the Saudi royal family, he said. According to Leiter, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia were symptomatic cases, illustrating a larger trend: extremist groups taking over sparsely-governed states or areas within states and using them as training grounds to export terrorism.

While the U.S. has not faced as challenging a security threat from its domestic Muslim population as the U.K., Leiter noted, the Somali immigrant population in the country was posing an increasing challenge. 18-25 year old Somalis have been traveling in increasing numbers back to Somalia, attracted by the desire to defend the country against intervention from the African Union and other forces, which are sporadically present in unstable regions of the country. While Americans have always traveled abroad to fight for foreign causes, such as during the Spanish Civil War, Leiter observed, this was the first instance in which the U.S. was producing home-grown suicide bombers.

While they existed in lesser numbers, Leiter also pointed out that Afghan-Americans have traveled to Pakistan to gain training from Al Qaeda, and have attempted to set off improvised explosive devices in the group’s name in the U.S.

Leiter said that it would be difficult for domestic agencies to form a single policy for engagement with the U.S. Muslim community, which he said was too heterogeneous for such a scheme, although he also noted that the government could do more to earn the trust of poorer, less-educated U.S. Muslims, particularly the Somali community.

Still, Leiter emphasized that instances of “home-grown terror” were not cause for any more alarm than traditional domestic security issues faced by the U.S., such as school shootings. In such a big country, he observed, there were always bound to be new and creative forms of violence. This illustrated, he said, that such terror should be dealt with as domestic law enforcement agencies deal with other threats – they should be prevented and stopped as often as possible, but could not be eliminated entirely.

Leiter said he had divined at least four major lessons from his time at the NCTC. The first was to not over-learn lessons from the past – an enemy could always react in a different way to a given tactic or policy. The second was that “the counterterrorism tail should not wag the policy dog” – that counterterrorism should not be the basis for foreign policy. He noticed that in Afghanistan, pursuing counterterrorism at the expense of other priorities had left the U.S. supporting literally any group that would act against Al Qaeda, with potentially dangerous consequences. Still, in some cases, as in Yemen, he acknowledged, the U.S. has few interests to attend to other than counterterrorism.

Third, Leiter opined, formulating policy was easy, but – and here was where he was most skeptical of the Kennedy School’s public policy perspective – forming a cohesive process to ensure accountability when something happens as a byproduct of that policy, work, he said, better suited to lawyers, was the hard part.

Finally, and most controversially, Leiter said that everything counterterrorism did would require a large degree of public trust. He believed transparency would undermine such trust, making it difficult for counterterrorism policymakers to operate. Much needed to happen behind the scenes, he said, citing the use of provisions of the Patriot Act to foil a recent bomb plot against New York City subways, and noting that, in terms of international operations, there “was no altruism in international affairs,” and that difficult and delicate trade-offs were often made in the pursuit of security.

Returning to his third major lesson, Leiter said that, in the absence of public oversight, lawyers ought to play a greater role ensuring that there is accountability for any action taken behind the scenes. A breakdown of the internal channels set up by the Church and Pike Commissions in the 1970s – specifically, a lack of trust in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the special courts set up to monitor use of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) is what has led members of Congress to leak vital information to the press, rather than deal with problems within the system. “Everything now plays out on the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post,” Leiter said, making it difficult for the NCTC and other national security agencies to pursue effective policies.

Leiter’s position on secrecy may reflect the fact that he is a legacy of the Bush administration, which first appointed him to his position in 2008. Still, he insists, his job has not changed much since Obama took office. 98% of his work, Leiter said, was “apolitical;” it was just that “the discourse” in the media focused on the hard cases that were not. “In the New York Times counterterrorism is Guantanamo, torture, and assassinations,” Leiter said. What had truly shifted between administrations, he observed, was the weight given to the needs and desires of different departments – Defense, in particular, had received more attention under Bush than Obama.

And while Leiter’s stance in favor of secrecy and internal oversight both rankled and invited skepticism, he insisted that the approach would and should not sacrifice its commitment to values. “The idea of not protecting civil liberties while doing this job,” he said, “is losing the war in a different way.”

Obama administration considers genetic testing for some, mainly African, refugee applicants

By MATTHEW LEE , Associated Press
Last update: November 5, 2009 - 4:02 PM

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is considering using DNA tests for some foreign refugee applicants following a Bush-era pilot program that found massive fraud among those claiming family links to join relatives already in the United States.

The State Department said Thursday that it and the Homeland Security Department are nearing a decision on ways to reinstate a refugee resettlement program that was suspended last year when the fraud was uncovered.

"These new procedures will likely include DNA testing," the State Department said in a statement given to the Associated Press.

The U.S. experiment using genetic testing ended in 2008 and was aimed only at proving family relationships. The program was not used to identify nationality by country, similar to a controversial effort in England, officials said. Genetic experts have cast doubt on the ability to use DNA results to determine a person's country of origin.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision has not yet been made on reviving or expanding the pilot program.

Although no final decisions have been made, the State Department said it "was close to the end" of a review that had been delayed by the change in administrations. "Now that policy-level people responsible for this issue are in place, we expect to reopen the program with revised procedures in the near future," an official said.

The suspended pilot program, known as Priority 3, allows foreign — almost all of them African — family members of legal U.S. residents to join relatives here.

With little fanfare, the program was halted in March 2008 after DNA testing on applicants in Africa found that up to 87 percent of their familial claims were fraudulent.

The experimental program was conducted in late 2007 and early 2008 on about 3,000 people mostly from Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia who claimed blood relationships with each other and wanted to be reunited with a family member who had been resettled as a refugee in the U.S.

DNA testing was not done on the alleged relatives in the United States. The State Department said it targeted Africans abroad only for genetic testing because they make up 95 percent of applicants to the program. The testing started, officials said, only after suspicions of fraud arose in applications originating among refugees in Kenya.

"We were ... only able to confirm all claimed biological relationships in fewer than 20 percent of cases," the State Department said in a fact sheet. "In the remaining cases, at least one negative result was identified or the individuals refused to be tested."

The fact sheet was originally released last year in the waning weeks of the Bush administration but was reissued shortly after President Barack Obama took office.

The idea of such testing on refugees came into the spotlight again this week when British authorities said they were using genetic tests on some African asylum-seekers in an effort to catch those who are lying about their nationality. That move has drawn criticism from scientists and provoked outrage from rights groups.

As the U.S. review winds down, questions were raised about what to do with the estimated 36,000 African refugees who arrived in the United States under the resettlement between 2003 and its suspension.

The Homeland Security Department has jurisdiction to determine if any of those applications were fraudulent but department officials said Thursday they had no plans to check those already in the United States. Such a move would likely draw opposition from civil rights groups.

Officials said Homeland Security does not have a specific DNA testing program in place in the United States. But one official said it has always asked for a DNA submission if an applicant does not have evidence that proves there is a family relationship.

Sudanese claim racist bans

By Charlotte Glennie
Updated Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:25pm AEDT

A group of young Sudanese refugees in a central Queensland city say they are being victimised because of their race.

The men say since moving to Rockhampton for work, they have been banned from a shop, a bar and a nightclub.

They say the bans were imposed as a result of trouble caused by some of their countrymen which had nothing to do with them, but the businesses involved stand by their actions and deny they have been racist.

Jacob Deleer, 23, is a Sudanese refugee who arrived in Rockhampton a couple of months ago to start a job at the meatworks.

He says he likes the work but not everyone in the city has been welcoming.

"When you go Friday night and you walk around in the street, you walk around from this club to that club or from that club to that club," he said.

"There is a lot of people looking for trouble. Especially trying to fight me or something for no reason."

He says his taunters also make abusive comments about his race and a few weeks ago he says he was banned from his local corner store.

"One day I walk into the shop and the shopkeeper telling me no, I can't sell you smoke mate. You know, I can't sell you anything in this shop and I say why?" he said.

"He said it was one of you yesterday come around here and urinated at the back of the shop and I say what do you mean, man. I don't even know what you are talking about. I don't even know who done that."

But the store's owner, Alan Longmore, says he was quite within his rights.

"I went outside to bring the signs in. There was a group of Sudanese people out the side of the shop and urinating against the shop wall," he said.

"They were then told that until they cleaned up the mess, they would not be served in the shop."

Mr Longmore says that almost two weeks later, a "token effort" was made to clean the store.

"Just some water was thrown against the wall and that was it," he said.

Mr Longmore insists Mr Deleer was involved in the incident, but Mr Deleer insists it was a case of mistaken identity.

Mr Deeler says he has since been unfairly targeted again.

He says he has been banned from at least two bars and nightclubs, because one of his friends got into a fight one night, when he wasn't even there.

"The security guy [was] telling me you guys are dangerous and you guys are always fighting and fighting and I said, you didn't see me, you know my face. You seen me a couple of time ago coming in here," he said.

"They said, yeah, I know you but I can't let you in mate."

But the owner of Rockhampton's Heritage Hotel, one of the establishments in question, says no one would be banned solely for their race.

Will Fowles says that only people who specifically cause trouble in the venue are banned.

"I am aware that a number of people, if they have acted up in the venue, won't be allowed back for a period of time at the discretion of management and staff," he said.

Rockhampton's Mayor Brad Carter is watching developments and says racism is unacceptable.

"We want an inclusive community, we are working hard to have a very inclusive community," he said.

"I would be happy to become involved in these issues and allegations that have been raised to see what I can do to smooth the troubled waters, if in fact the waters are troubled."

Open Letter to President Obama re: Deportation of Caribbean Nationals

October 15, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Over the past decade, Caribbean nationals deported from the United States have been handled akin to skeletons in the closets, tucked away in the sandy recesses of tropical paradise. Rather than receiving the treatment of the proverbial 'prodigal son' (or daughter), a returnee or deportee is stigmatized and labeled. But a rather unique opportunity exists to change the tide when you meet with heads of state from the fifteen-nation Caribbean community (CARICOM) later this fall in Washington, D.C.

In the aftermath of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the headline in a Caribbean newspaper read 19 Jailbirds returned to T&T. According to the article in the Trinidad Express, the nationals were being sent back after having served time in U.S. prisons for crimes ranging from 'murder, to robbery and illegal possession of arms and ammunition'. Contrary to popular opinion, however, this is not the norm.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Detention Overview and Recommendations, reveals that the most common offenses committed by criminal aliens are those involving dangerous drugs, traffic offenses, simple assault, and larceny. Of the approximately 380,000 aliens held in immigration detention during Fiscal Year 2008, Caribbean nationals make up 4 percent of the population.

Clarke calls for urgent immigration reform

By Nelson A. King
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 1:20 PM EDT

Stating that the U.S. immigration system needs urgent reform, in light of increased deportation to the Caribbean, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) last week made the case for “comprehensive” immigration reform.

“We are asking the Obama administration to focus on comprehensive immigration reform like a laser beam,” said Clarke, after hosting a group of Caribbean-American pastors on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The 100-member group, known as Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH), had journeyed from New York to Washington in their attempt to force the Obama administration to renew its commitment to reforming the immigration system.

“Who better to fully understand the importance of this issue then the son of a Kenyan immigrant?” asked Clarke, who represents the 11th Congressional District, the largest district of Caribbean immigrants in the United States.

“This is the next challenge for our nation, and no more will we let this issue fall to the wayside,” she added.

Convinced that comprehensive immigration reform is a “moral obligation,” the Caribbean clergy members on Wednesday lobbied the offices of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the New York delegation.

They said that the “broken immigration system has negatively affected” their largely Caribbean parishioners.

They also discussed how the Caribbean and African immigrant communities can expand the immigration debate.

“The time is now,” Clarke said, to expand the face of comprehensive immigration reform.

“Everyone’s voices must be heard, particularly in the Caribbean and African immigrant communities,” she added.

“When we turn our back on those who come to these shores to become Americans, to be a part of building our great nation, and to embrace the American Dream, we are turning our back on ourselves,” Clarke continued.

“We must never forget that this debate is critical to improving the lives of all American citizens, American businesses, and the lives of those who seek to be Americans,” she added.

In Bronx, some bias runs more than skin deep: Why Africans and African Americans have trust problem

BY Milton Allimadi
Updated Sunday, October 25th 2009, 11:30 AM

Years ago, I was about to pay for a shirt when, out of the blue, a Manhattan store clerk yelled at me: "Go back to Africa. You all run around naked in the jungle then when you all get here, you dress up in suits and ties."

I would've known how to respond had it been a white racist. But she was African American, so I was speechless.

Years later, I was a student at the Columbia's school of journalism and was having brunch with a classmate when an African American man charged toward us.

"I hate you," said the man, who was holding a huge stick. "You sold us into slavery. I should bust your head."

As an immigrant from Uganda who publishes a black-oriented New York newspaper, these and other painful incidents came flashing back when I read last week about widening rifts between African immigrants and African Americans in the South Bronx.

As African immigrant populations have risen there, so have tensions. So have reports of violence and even hate crimes. The African owner of one restaurant says he and his customers have been taunted and his business' window has been urinated on.

Such hatred, bubbling beneath the surface for years, could boil over if it's ignored.

Let's start by understanding the roots of the problem: culture and religion. African immigrants tend to be more socially conservative than their black American neighbors, and they tend to be Muslims. As a result, they're often perceived as aloof.

To this, add the strains of economic competition. Established communities tend to see any new arrivals as threats to their well-being, especially in poorer neighborhoods. So these African immigrants would be viewed with some suspicion even had they come from, say, Poland instead of Mali.

Yet how do we account for the ugliest remarks? Look to the legacy of slavery.

Africans sold into captivity 400 years ago suffered the brutality of southern plantations. Those who remained on the continent experienced colonial subjugation. So for years, some African Americans nursed resentment toward Africans, who were blamed for colluding in their enslavement. Some uninformed Africans underestimated the destruction that slavery wrought on the family structure of American blacks.

Media stereotypes only made things worse. To African eyes, black people were either entertainers, gangsters or "welfare queens." Conversely, African-Americans' perceptions were distorted by the depiction of Africa as an uncivilized jungle. Contemporary news coverage focuses on war, poverty and disease, rarely highlighting a country like Botswana, which has enjoyed phenomenal economic growth for decades.

The only way to break through the misunderstanding is to challenge it - frequently and directly.

"I don't like black Americans. They like to steal," an African vendor once told me. Since there are presumably also thieves in Gambia, I asked him, did that mean all Gambians were also lazy and didn't like to work?

Across New York, Muslim leaders and Christian leaders should get together and host town hall meetings. The city schools should promote after-school programs where parents of African and African American students interact with each other.

Most importantly, each one of us must challenge bias in person-to-person interactions. That can be uncomfortable work, but it needs to happen every single day.

Allimadi is publisher of Black Star News.

Why Africans and

African Americans have a trust problem

Vaccine Requirement to Be Ended (for African Immigrants)

Published: November 16, 2009

Immigrant girls and women will no longer have to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus to get their green cards. Starting Dec. 14, the human papillomavirus vaccine will no longer be on the list of immunizations female immigrants ages 11 to 26 must receive before becoming legal permanent residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the change on Friday. Girls and women seeking to become legal permanent residents were required to get at least the first dose of the HPV vaccine, which protects against some strains of the virus blamed for cervical cancer.

Sudanese refugee program ends as arrivals dwindle

By Alex Johnson
16 Nov, 2009 04:00 AM

AFTER securing almost $1 million to help 93 Sudanese refugees settle in Warrnambool, an apparent lack of arrivals has brought the six-year program to an end.

Warrnambool City Council has been forced to wind up its Migrant Relocation Program because "there are no refugees seeking resettlement in the south-west region", according to a statement.

But Sudanese Community Group chairperson Otha Akoch said at least one family of seven was eager to make a new life in the city and refugees from other war-torn countries could arrive any day.

A Sudanese mother-of-five, who had already settled in Tasmania, was in Warrnambool looking for accommodation before she brought the rest of the family to the city, he added.

The loss of the funding would force the community to reduce the activities it organised to help new arrivals integrate into the broader community, Mr Akoch said.

He understood that the city council was not responsible for the decision, but he appealed to the State and Federal governments to recognise the value of continued support for those who had recently arrived in Warrnambool.

The migrant relocation program ensured the community had access to education, training, child care, housing and transport services.

It also helped fund multicultural events, women's groups, sport and recreation activities, a youth camp, men's group, art, drama activity, health promotion and a youth in sport project.

"It's something we have to accept as a reality," Mr Akoch said.

"I don't know what will be the fate of those who want to arrive."

The council's acting community development director, Russell Lineham, said the council had secured several grants, totalling more than $980,000, from the Federal and State governments as well as national philanthropic trusts to keep the program running.

A lack of new arrivals meant the money was now going elsewhere, he said.

"The Government and other organisations were directing their funding to areas where there was a high level of refugee resettlement throughout Australia," he said.

The council will retain the contract for the Immigration Department's Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Support Scheme.

The Warrnambool program has received several awards and is used by the Refugee Council of Australia to measure the success of council involvement in refugee settlement.