I AM TRANSAFRICAN / CELEBRATING THE UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT /
CELEBRATING THE UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT
Did you know?
There are over 800 million Afro-descendants residing within the borders of Africa Approximately 140 million Afro-descendants reside outside the borders of Africa The three countries with the largest populations of Afro-descendants outside of Africa are: Brazil, the United States, and Colombia
TransAfrica is celebrating the United Nation’s Declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. The Declaration calls for the need for People of African Descent to have “full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture.” The Year has offered a global opportunity to discuss the need to have greater inclusion of African and African descendant voices in policies that directly affect their lives. The Declaration also brings attention to the historic contributions made by Afro-descendants worldwide and gives us all an opportunity to salute those contributions.
The year presents an opportunity for debate and proposals for policy change both among our partners in Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as with policy-makers in the United States. The International Year for People of African Descent is a vehicle to reaffirm our common histories and build our interconnected future. Afro-descendant groups have found recent efforts to address the global legacy of racial discrimination powerful tools for national conversation, reconciliation and reparations. These gatherings, such as the Durban World Conference Against Racism in 2001 and its review in 2009, have provided the space and international voice to communities that have historically been marginalized and disenfranchised by race and xenophobic discrimination. This site is designed to give you a snapshot of African descendants.
A. The Global Fight for Equity: Education and Employment
Brazil- Though education is free, access to education is minimal for those who cannot afford private educations. Though Afro-Brazilians make up at least 50% of the population, they account for 75% of all under-performing students. Brazil has over a 10% illiteracy rate and ranks in the high 50s in subjects such as reading, science, and math according to the PISA program (Program for International Student Assessment) out of 57 total countries. It is estimated that only 2% of Afro-Brazilians have a college degree while 10% of white Brazilians and 25% of Asian Brazilians have college degrees.
United States- Though a part of the same Diaspora, African Americans and African immigrants appear to have dissimilar access to both education and jobs that yield middle-class incomes. The 2000 census indicates that African immigrants tend to move into mixed population neighborhoods, as opposed to all-black neighborhoods. 29.3% of African immigrants reside in neighborhoods where the residents tend to have college educations. In comparison, “the numbers for non-Hispanic whites are 29% and 17.5% for African Americans.” (Diouf) Additionally, the average black American household nets approximately $35,679 a year while the Afro-Caribbean nets about $41,328. Africans also live in more affluent neighborhoods where the median income is around $45, 567, which is $7,000 below the median income of an average non-Hispanic white.
A characteristic that sets African immigrants out against all the rest is that they are “the most educated group in the nation. Almost half (49 percent) have bachelor’s or advanced degrees compared to 23 percent of native-born Americans, and less than 0.5 percent have less than a fifth-grade education, which is the lowest such percentage among all immigrants.” (Diouf) Many studies have also shown that black Africans, in general, have achieved higher educational levels than white Africans (consisting of those from North and South Africa).
It is estimated that about 71% of African immigrants hold professional and/or managerial positions in the workplace. They work as university professors, lawyers, researchers, physicians, engineers, and accountants. A third of the African immigrant population’s income is consistent with that of the average American, which is $50,000 a year.
B. Disparities in Access to Wealth
Brazil- Brazil is considered “one of the most unequal nations in the world, although it is one of the wealthiest.” (Beghin) The statistics for access to wealth for Afro-descendants living in Brazil are grim. “Two-thirds of all the poor are black, 70% of the total populations living in poverty (38 million people) are city dwellers and 51% (27 million) live in the northeast region.” (Beghin) The severe financial disparities impact both those living in urban as well as rural areas. Though Brazil is rich in terms of resources and GDP, the wealth is not equally distributed. The domestic policy towards poverty in Brazil has been focused more so upon “managing” it than eradicating it.
United States- Though the United States is considered one of the wealthiest, developed nations in the world, it too has a large population of individuals living in abject poverty. It is estimated that 43.6 million Americans are considered poor. Poverty, as defined by the Census Bureau, is determined by a threshold that represents the annual amount of cash income required to support a family. In 2009, 25.8% of blacks were living in poverty, where as only 9.4% of non- Hispanic whites were impoverished. The poverty rate also varies among the races with children. Black children under the age of 18 make up the majority of all children living in poverty with 35.4%. Non-Hispanic white children constitute 11.9% of all children living poverty.
Democratic Republic of Congo- The Human Development Index rates the Democratic Republic of Congo 168 in a listing of 169 poorest countries worldwide. With a national poverty rate of 71.3%, the DRC is lagging behind many other countries in categories such as life expectancy, education, gender equality, financial infrastructure, and overall standard of living. As of 2002, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development), cited that only “4% of the total working population and 8% of the male working population had jobs in 2002.” (1) Of the 5.75 million people residing in the DRC, only 23% have access to reasonable sanitary facilities and average approximately $189 per year. As dire as the DRC’s economic predicament maybe, there is hope on the horizon.
Much of the DRC’s economic disenfranchisement stems from a decade of heavy political instability and civil conflict that ultimately destabilized the economy and dismantled the government. The Lusaka Agreement of 1999 would be the catalyst to help inch the DRC towards economic stability. The agreement required ceasefire among the warring nations and factions in the region, the release of all prisoners of war, and the deployment of international peace-keeping forces. According to the World Bank the new government “is satisfactorily implementing an economic program supported by the World Bank through an Economic Recovery Credit (ERC) and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). In-depth structural reforms have been launched in the areas of economic governance, public expenditure management, poverty reduction, transparency, financial sector and public enterprises reform, local and foreign investment, and the mining and forestry sectors among others. Most importantly, economic growth returned (3 percent in 2002) and is expected to accelerate in the years to come.” (2)
Uganda- The World Bank sites that the national poverty rate is 24.5% in Uganda with 38% of the population having access to sanitary facilities. As of 2009, 83% of the population was gainfully employed. Though Uganda is deemed better off that other African countries, such as the DRC, they are still struggling to stabilize their economy. Uganda’s population growth of 3.4% has rendered stagnate the process of financial enfranchisement, and has resulted in nine million people (38%) within the country living on less than $1 a day.
2. Making A Living
Today, agriculture remains the most important sector of employment in Africa; according to the World Bank, it employees 80 percent of people on the continent. Documented agriculture began in the Sahara desert in 5200 B.C., which at that time was more moist and populated. The Saharan desert had a wide range of open which made cultivation easy; however, it was impossible for farming to increase over time because of poor soil and limited rain. Due to geographic differences, the agricultural techniques from Southern Africa have been very different from those of North Africa.
Since the 1970’s, agriculture has declined throughout Africa as, “food production has failed to keep pace with population growth and export agriculture has experienced declining market shares” (World Bank 147). This situation caused greater unemployment and hunger along with further displacement of farmers. Throughout the years, agricultural activities have diminished due to displaced farmers, lack of modern technology, and unemployment rates have increased.
Displacement has impacted many farmers in Africa deeply. Displacement is often caused by governments who sell land at bargain prices to private investors and foreign governments. Investors then move their companies into these lands without considering the displacement of the lands former residents and owners. In many cases land that should be used for the improvement of African agriculture is being sold investors.
The rapid growth of the population in Africa coupled with declining agricultural investments has created challenges on the continent today. This population growth has negatively affected Africa’s ability to “increase exports and provide people with food” (Population Growth and food supply in Sub-Saharan Africa). Many African countries do not have appropriate technology needed to provide enough food for their entire population. In many African countries, agricultural techniques need to be modernized to change the traditional way of life of farmers.
The use of high yielding seeds and new technologies in agriculture, commonly called the Green Revolution, has begun in some African countries. Existing production technology could allow substantial increases in the yields of many crops if some basic changes were made in the agricultural policies to incorporate the use of such technology. A way to achieve such change would be to make farming profitable. The population growth and the continuing decrease in returns in the agricultural sector, has created the need for families to plan and consider alternative ways of survival.
New agricultural production technology will help to improve the most important employment sector of Africa. It will increase the productivity of farmers and help keep the prices of food low, relative to other parts of the world.
Agricultural technology will also be an asset to Africa’s economic growth, poverty reduction and in providing more employment opportunities. This technology comes with a price in many cases, however. Multi-national companies often seek to increase the use of genetically modified seeds, which provide additional yield but also deplete the soil and create dependency on specific families of seeds. Additionally, mono-culture cropping has become a frequent practice which overtakes large areas of land with one single-producing crop, often inedible, and increases local food insecurity.
“Investments in agriculture research and development backed by favorable government policies will help Africa to tackle unemployment” (IITA Bulletin). Farmers in Africa have left agricultural sites due to lack of employment and their incomes have declined because they cannot compete with other modernized economies. In many cases, farmers assert that governments maintain barriers for the poor to access a better quality of life by supporting corporate agricultural investment.
Specifically in South Africa, the government is more concentrated on trading rather than producing domestically. Trade liberalization increases formal employment but negatively affects producers. Informal traders benefit from trade liberalization because of the lower prices on products.
Agriculture can be the key to Africa’s future success if it applies modern technologies to its current agriculture techniques. Governments, and complimentary civil society organizations, must take strides to improve agricultural development. The economic growth and increased resources and opportunities that will result from developing the agricultural sector, has the potential to help the livelihood of many people in Africa.
Agriculture and The Natural Resources Team, Technology and its contribution to Pro Poor Agricultural Development http://dfid-agriculture-consultation.nri.org/summaries/dfidwp4.pdf
Robert Guisepi, Agriculture and the Origins of Civilization, Part Onehttp://history-world.org/agriculture.htm
Joi Otite, (2008), Agriculture – The Basis of Africa’s economic woes http://bornblackmag.com/agriculture-africa.html
Ernest Harsch, (January 2004), Agriculture: Africa’s Engine for Growth Vol.17 #14 pg.13 http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol17no4/174ag.htm
Ideas to Action, (2006); practice of sustainable agriculture in Africa, Sustainable Agriculture in Africa http://www.policynetwork.net/environment/event/sustainable-agriculture-africa-ideas-action Neil MacFarquhar, (2010), African Farmers Displace as Investors move in http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/world/africa/22mali.html
Meerman J., (1982) Population growth and food supply in Sub-Saharan Africa http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12264271
IITA Bulleting, (2011) Agriculture is key to unemployment Reduction Issue no. 2059,7-11 http://www.iita.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=7dad9153-aaae-4147-a8ee-854d945babb1&groupId=25357
B. The Impact of International Trade and Financial Institutions
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The International Monetary Fund was created at a United Nations Conference in July 1944 towards the end of the Second World War. The Fund was created to build a framework for economic cooperation to help to prevent a repetition of the failed economic policies that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The IMF’s primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system, which is the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables international trade and transactions. The IMF currently has 187 member countries and its job is to promote a monetary system in which its member countries can achieve high rates of employment, low inflation, and sustainable economic growth. The IMF does so by keeping track of the global economy and the economies of its member countries, lending to countries to help overcome economic difficulties and giving policy advice to governments and central banks based on analysis of cross-country economic trends.
The IMF’s resources are provided by its member countries primarily through the payment of quotas, which are allocated to member countries upon joining the IMF based on the relative size of the respective countries’ economies. The quota determines each country’s financial contribution to the IMF, its voting power and its ability to access IMF funding. The quota allocation and the voting pattern is skewed because advanced nations get proportionally more votes than poor nations, as the voting power in the IMF is determined by the level of a nation’s financial contribution. Therefore, because of the scale of its contribution, the United States has about 17% of the vote with the seven largest industrialized countries (G-7) holding a total of about 45% of the votes in the IMF. Additionally, because substantive votes such as those on resolutions and amendments require an 85% supermajority for passage, the United States by default is the only country that wields veto power over the executive committee of the IMF since it holds over 15% of the votes.
The controversy associated with the International Monetary Fund is in regards to its policies that typically negatively affect poorer countries. The IMF provides concessional loans to help fight poverty in developing countries and loans to help countries overcome economic difficulties, but these loans typically come with strings attached, or predetermined economic policies that come under IMF packages. These conditions can therefore affect the extent to which the leaders of a country are able to govern their own economy. When a country is in a financial squeeze, the IMF typically insists that the government cut its budget or raise taxes which are not favorable policies towards poor populations. The IMF also often pushes governments towards market-oriented policies such as lowering barriers to foreign trade and investment and privatizing state-owned enterprises, but the beneficiaries of such policies are typically industrialized wealthy countries and corporations.
The World Bank is a similar institution to the International Monetary Fund because it was also founded at the end of World War II and it lends money to national governments, mostly to developing countries. The World Bank represents the same 187 member nations of the International Monetary Fund since membership in the IMF is a requirement for membership in the Bank. The richest countries therefore hold the majority of the voting power since they are able to contribute greater sums towards the IMF and the Bank. The 25 executive directors of the World Bank are made up of 5 executive directors appointed by the five largest shareholders: France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while the other 182 member countries are represented collectively by the other 20 executive directors.
The mission of the World Bank is to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world. While the IMF focuses primarily on macroeconomic and financial sector issues, the World Bank is concerned mainly with long-term development and strategies for poverty reduction. The Bank provides loans, policy advice and technical assistance to low and middle income countries. To carry out its mission, the World Bank is made up of two unique development institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).
The World Bank makes loans by funding structural adjustment programs, or it attaches loans based on what is termed as the ‘Washington Consensus,’ focusing on liberalization of trade, investment, deregulations, and privatization of nationalized industries. Critics therefore charge that the World Bank projects advance the interests of industrialized nations at the expense of developing nations. Since the United States is a significant contributor, the Bank assists developing countries in ways that Americans support which is usually in a way that is beneficial to American national interests and business interests. For instance, millions of American jobs are created or sustained through the exports to markets in developing countries where the World Bank has lending programs. Additionally, there are ethical concerns surrounding the types of development projects that the Bank funds, since many projects may have social and environmental implications for the populations in the affected areas.
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
The Inter-American Development Bank was formally created in 1959. It is the largest source of development funding for Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides loans, the IDB also provides grants, research and technical assistance to its member countries. The Bank is owned by 48 member countries who are its shareholders. Only 26 of its 48 member countries, which are Latin American and Caribbean countries, are able to receive loans and collectively have a majority ownership of the IDB. Each member’s voting power is determined by its shareholding. So although the 26 developing Latin American and Caribbean member countries collectively are the majority shareholders and hold about 50% of the voting power in the IDB, the single largest shareholder is the United States with about 30% of the voting power.
The IDB’s priorities and main areas of action are reducing poverty and social inequities, addressing the needs of small and vulnerable countries, fostering development through the private sector, addressing climate change and environmental sustainability, and promoting regional cooperation and integration. To achieve its objectives, the Bank has five sector priorities: social policy for equity and productivity, infrastructure for competitiveness and social welfare, institutions for growth and social welfare, competitive regional and global international integration, and protection of the environment.
While the Bank’s aim is to provide development support to its member nations, such as the instrumental relief package it provided after the earthquake to Haiti, its poorest member country, there is criticism surrounding the operations and projects of the bank. Civil society groups have questioned how genuine the economic and democratic reforms are in the developing areas in which the IDB operates. Additionally, IDB projects, like other projects funded by Multilateral Development Banks often have negative impacts on Indigenous communities and their lands, resources and environments. The adverse social and environmental effects caused by operations funded by the IDB can be a strain on local economies, which is contrary to their intended goals of reducing poverty and social inequities, and addressing issues of environmental sustainability.
AGOA – African Growth and Opportunity Act
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law on May 18, 2000 as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000 by President Bill Clinton. The purpose of AGOA was for the benefit of the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to facilitate trade between the United States and the region. Sub-Saharan countries that are eligible, can export apparel and certain textile to the United States free of import duty if they can prove compliance with the AGOA rules about origin. Although mostly apparel and textile, the list of products that have preferential access for export duty-free to the United States has expanded to more than 6,000 items. AGOA essentially offers incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets, and increases the number of African-sourced goods in the United States market.
AGOA was supposed to change the course of trade relations between Africa and the United States by providing improved access to U.S technical expertise, credits, and markets. The intended goal of AGOA was to encourage new investments, trade, and job creation in Africa, and to promote Sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the multilateral trading system and into more global trade negotiations. AGOA benefits U.S Firms because it provides incentives for African countries to implement economic and commercial reform policies that create better market opportunities for them in Africa. U.S Firms also benefit from AGOA as it opens up opportunities for privatization of African state-owned enterprises, or to partner with African companies in infrastructure projects.
The conditions that are placed on African countries to be eligible to receive benefits under AGOA include: establishment of market-based economies, elimination of barriers to U.S trade and investment, efforts to combat corruption and poverty, increase availability of healthcare and educational opportunities, protection of human and worker rights, and development of political pluralism and rule of law. While these conditions placed on African countries may seem for the most part to be in their best interest, however, progress in each area is not a requirement for AGOA eligibility. Additionally, the United States sets and determines the criteria and standards for African countries which are based on American values and national interests, and because of the economic incentives, eligible African countries strive to uphold these standards.
Many also claim that AGOA encourages fraud from foreign companies as they can simply establish manufacturing companies in AGOA-eligible African countries and export them duty-free. The establishment of these companies can outcompete and negatively affect local establishments and local jobs, which are the opposite impact that AGOA is intended to have on the economy of eligible African countries. The United States Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is the program of the Office of the United States Trade Representative under which AGOA provides preferential duty-free entry. GSP for AGOA-eligible countries has been extended until September 30, 2015.
North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented on January 1, 1994. NAFTA is a trade agreement which removes and most agricultural trade and investment barriers between Mexico, Canada and the United States. NAFTA allowed for an orderly adjustment to free trade with Mexico and full implementation and elimination of agricultural trade tariffs began on January 1, 2008. The agreement also contained provisions for market access to U.S. firms in most services sectors; protection of U.S foreign direct investments in Mexico, and intellectual property rights protection for U.S companies. Mexico’s main motivation in pursuing the free trade agreement with the United States was to stabilize the Mexican economy and promote economic development by attracting foreign direct investment, to increase exports, and to create more jobs with increased wage rates.
Several economists have noted that it is likely that NAFTA contributed to Mexico’s economic recovery directly and indirectly after the major currency crisis in Mexico in 1995 because Mexico responded to the crisis largely by adhering to its NAFTA obligations. It liberalized trade within the United States and Canada and continued with the course of market-based economic reforms, which resulted in increased investor confidence in Mexico. However, while NAFTA may have brought some economic and social benefits to the Mexican economy as a whole, it has brought about more negative impacts in comparison and its benefits have not been evenly distributed throughout the country.
Although Mexico now has a large trade surplus with the United States, Mexico has also developed a large and growing overall trade deficit with the rest of the world. Mexico’s net imports from the rest of the world now substantially exceed its net exports to the United States, which negatively affects the Mexican economy. Under NAFTA, the vast majority of investments into Mexico have been in maquiladora factories: export-oriented manufacturing and assembly plants that return profits to the U.S. and other investor-based countries, and do not promote direct economic development within Mexico. Insufficient wage rates and harsh working conditions are common in the maquiladora sector, in order to continue attracting foreign investment to the region.
In addition to the harsh working and living conditions in Mexico’s manufacturing sector, wages and official unemployment levels are lower since the implementation of NAFTA. The agricultural sector in particular, unable to compete with U.S. prices, has experienced a higher amount of worker displacement after NAFTA. For example, NAFTA has opened the door for the dumping of large amounts of subsidized U.S. agricultural goods on the Mexican market, which lowers local prices and endangers the livelihood of Mexican farmers. It is estimated that NAFTA created only 700,000 manufacturing jobs in Mexico, which is relatively few in comparison to the estimated 2 million displaced farmers and the 130,000 jobs lost in domestic manufacturing due to the replacement of formerly domestically produced goods by imports.
Furthermore, because of the increasing deteriorating living and working conditions in the cities’ since the adoption of NAFTA, it has lead to more urban-to-rural migration which is not typical of developing economies like Mexico. The increase in trade has also meant an increase in traffic and the accompanying air pollution. Despite an anticipated rise in pollution levels caused by NAFTA, nothing has been done to strengthen Mexico’s environmental protections. In fact, enforcement of environmental protections declined noticeably after NAFTA, and is often ignored by both corporations and the Mexican government.
http://www.sierraclub.org/trade/downloads/nafta-and-mexico.pdf, http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/NAFTA@7/mx.html, http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/policy/nafta/NAFTA_Overview_2006_files/frame.htm
The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE)
The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, also called the HOPE bill, was signed into law on December 20, 2006 and became effective on March 20, 2007 to support development and employment growth in Haiti. The HOPE bill provides extended trade benefits beyond what the country receives under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA). The CBTPA is a trade preference enacted in October 2000, which provides duty-free treatment for apparel from certain Caribbean countries, given that apparel is made using fabric and yarns imported from the United States. The HOPE bill does not replace the preference programs provided by CBTPA, but it amended Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act by extending additional trade preferences to Haitian manufactured apparel. Under the HOPE bill, tariff-free access to the United States market for apparel made in Haiti is allowed even if the fabric is not from the United States. While manufacturers in Haiti are allowed to use fabric from other sources as well, there are caps on the volume of this fabric and preferences primarily extended to fabric from countries that already have free-trade agreements with the United States.
The HOPE bill legislation was aimed at progress in Haiti towards a market based economy, increased employment, eliminating barriers to U.S trade, and protecting internationally recognized human and worker rights. In May 2008, the U.S Congress passed the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 which included an extended HOPE bill, HOPE II, which includes an extension of duty-free access to the U.S market for the next 10 years, effective October 2008. The HOPE and HOPE II are expected to create more employment and offer additional assurances to potential outside investors in Haiti.
The Haitian apparel industry benefits from a comparative advantage that rests on low-wage production and proximity to the U.S. market, augmented by flexible trade preferences created by the U.S. Congress in the HOPE Act, as amended. While the HOPE Act has helped to bring some desperately needed apparel jobs to Haiti, as originally created, it drew considerable criticism for its lacking of human rights and labor protections. HOPE has worker protection provisions but poor Haitian workers are still exploited, overworked and underpaid to keep the Haitian apparel industry competitive.
In value terms, apparel exports have nearly doubled since 2001. However, the increase in apparel exports has also driven by outside producers, many from the Dominican Republic, who can simply shift production to Haiti to take advantage of the proximity of lower wages and weaker unions.
The earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010 caused considerable damage to the apparel sector. Although much has been done to return capacity to pre-earthquake levels, the damage caused consequently negatively affected potential foreign investment in the Haitian apparel sector.
http://goo.gl/Xe1Cg - U.S Department of Commerce - Office of Textiles and Apparel
C. Organic Responses to Conflict and Disaster
Profoundly impacted by domestic economic policies and international financial obligations, the economic situation in Zimbabwe is extremely precarious. Civil society organizations estimate that unemployment in Zimbabwe is over 80% and incredible inflation coupled with few basic services make life extremely challenging for many working people.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) was created to facilitate a non-violent mobilized and informed social justice campaign across Zimbabwe. The network now boasts over 75,000 women and men as their membership. WOZA has been responsible for initiating protests and many of their members have been subsequently taken into police custody and been subjected to violence. The presence of WOZA has assisted regional organizations and created a national platform, The People’s Charter, to call for popular civic participation, government accountability and transparency, justice sector reform, land distribution, economic and educational equity and historic recognition of regional conflict.
Throughout the world economic and political insecurity makes women and children more vulnerable to both violence and displacement. Sexual violence against women has been used as a tool by military and para-military forces as means of political suppression.
Following the 2004 coup against Haiti’s then-President Aristide, there was a general rise in crime in Haiti, including rape and sexual assault recorded by human rights groups. A number of the documented attacks were considered politically-motivated and in response to this general increase in cases of gender based violence, KOFAVIV was founded. KOFAVIV opened to provide direct support services to survivors of sexual violence while giving them tools to do advocacy for themselves.
Though KOFAVIV was profoundly impacted by the January 2010 earthquake, including the loss of many members and their medical clinic, the organization has re-emerged to provide even more services for survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake. KOFAVIV provides emotional, medical and legal support to survivors of gender based violence. The organization’s peer-counseling groups provide support and mentoring to survivors while giving women the opportunity to advocate for themselves while building a larger political platform for protection and security for all women.
Security of Livelihood
In many communities the importance of communal property can not be understated, particularly in a country like Colombia where Afro-descendants have focused part of their fight for rights and autonomy around land. Afro-Colombians have historically been located throughout Colombia’s Pacific and Atlantic Coasts as well as large urban areas. Ongoing racial discrimination and social exclusion, a commitment to raising black consciousness as well as a lack of specific legal rights and protections for Afro-descendants, created the space for the civil rights movement in Colombia in the early nineties.
The work of Afro-Colombian civil society organizations, including the Black Communities’ Process (PCN), has been essential to this struggle. PCN is a network that links grassroots organizations, community councils and individuals fighting for Afro-descendant rights. Their work focuses on strengthening Afro-descendant autonomous leadership at the local, regional and national level while also building solidarity with people of African descent worldwide. In the face of a politically hostile environment where assaults and displacement of Afro-Colombian leaders and their communities continue unabated, these organizations continue fighting. The cutting edge work done by Afro-Colombian grassroots groups has increased pressure on both the Colombian and international governments.
3. Our Shared Cultural Heritages
The slave traders brought with them a few of the staples of Africa, which have come to make up some of the cuisine in North America, the West Indies and some parts of Latin America. For instance, there is a strong African influence that forms the basis of the Caribbean and Creole cuisine. Cassava, Cornmeal, Sweet Potato, Yams, Plantains, Okra and Rice dishes are examples of foods that may form the staple diet, which are all native African foods.
Specialties such as gumbo and pralines, popular in the New Orleans Creole cuisine are of African influence and origins. Other specialties such as the West Indian callaloo and duckanoo (a meal vegetables and sweet potatoes), several Brazilian condiments and hot sauces, and Jamaican bammy and pan breads (cassava flatbreads), are believed to have their source from native African foods.
“Soul Food” refers to a distinct type of culinary in the southern part of the United States that is an integral part of the cultural traditions of African-Americans. Soul food consists mainly of cuisine based upon cereal products, veggies (greens and yams), pork and chicken. The cooking style and food types of Soul food are influenced by West African cooking. For example, field peas, okra, eggplant, peanuts and yams are all native African foods, which are integral examples of soul food and the diet in the South
B. Arts and Culture
Culture and Festivals – African traditions are manifested through well-known festivals such as the Caribbean Junkanoo, the Brazilian Carnival and Mardi Gras.
Kwanzaa – An African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. According to the founder, Dr. Maulana Kerenga, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm the communitarian vision and values of African culture and to contribute to its restoration among African peoples in the Diaspora, beginning with Africans in America and expanding to include the world African community. Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday modeled on first-fruits celebrations in ancient Africa. The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the Swahili phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits."
The Junkanoo is a street parade with music which occurs in many towns across The Bahamas. This festival incorporates rhythmic sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums and whistles, accompanied by an array of brass instruments. The origin of Junkanoo can be traced back to West Africa. Junkanoo originated in the Bahamas in the 17th century. The most popular legend states that the name Junkanoo came from John Canoe, an African tribal chief who demanded to celebrate with his people even after being brought to the West Indies through the slave trade.
The Carnival of Brazil is an annual festival held forty-six days before Easter. This carnival is heavily influenced by Afro-Brazilian culture. Carnival is a major celebration with a week of festivities. Mardi Gras is used to refer to the events of Carnival and therefore culminates before the season of lent. Mardi Gras is especially popular in New Orleans, Louisiana. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, dancing, music and parades. The Brazilian Carnival and Mardi Gras are celebrated through communal cultural experiences which involve music, drama and costume, as well as visual arts and crafts. These were all fundamental aspects of African life. They were represented for example in the Yoruba eshu festival and the Bambara tyiwara harvest dance.
Stepping – Stepping is an expressive dance form that was created and is common today among African-American fraternities and sororities. Most historians agree that Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, and then Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, were the first to start stepping. Stepping evolved more with the contributions of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who introduced certain steps from directly from his traditional African culture, which used dance as a celebration of “coming of age.” One of the most popular step routines, the nut-cracker, uses traditional African beats and complicated movement characteristic of African dancing.
Afro-Caribbean Drumming- the presence of the African drum in Caribbean countries can be regarded as a symbol of the African Diaspora. Since the drum was prohibited on southern plantations in America, the isolated island cultures of the Caribbean became an area of protection for the tradition of ceremonial drumming. The practice of drum-making was passed on from one generation to the next and when brought together, the drum, songs and dances make a powerful reference to the strength of African spiritual traditions.
Cuban music – Cuban music represents the history and culture of Cuba. Cuban music is recognized through its beats, tunes and varied musical instruments. The roots of most Cuban musical forms lie in the Cabildos, a form of social club organized by slaves belonging to the same ethnic group in the 16th century. Cabildos preserved African cultural traditions. While Cuban music has been influenced by diverse genres from different countries, its principal roots lie in West African and Spanish music brought in by slaves.
Jazz music - The history of Jazz music origins is attributed to the turn of the 20th century New Orleans, although this unique, artistic medium occurred almost simultaneously in other North American areas like Saint Louis, Kansas City and Chicago among African-Americans. A large number of typical jazz elements originated from African music. The rhythm of jazz music, particularly polyrhythms, one rhythmic pattern super imposed upon another, is a trait found in traditional African music. The role of melodic and harmonic instruments in jazz music can also similarly be found in traditional African music. Some aspects of blues music are also believed to have evolved from slave field hollers and African-American folk songs carried from West African traditional music.
Hip Hop – Hip hop music and culture started in New York in the 1970’s and was considered the voice of African-American inner city youth. Hip hop has deep Jamaican influence since some of the first pioneers of hip hop were from the Caribbean and brought with them a similar music style found in reggae music in Jamaica. Hip hop, like all African-American music styles, borrows from African traditions which can particularly be seen in its raw beats, the rhythm of its lyrics and its style of delivery. American hip hop music and culture landed in Africa between the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Since then, it has become widely popular among Africa youth all over the continent who have evolved current day rap music by adding a new African twist. Many African rap artists, rap about the political and social dynamics in their countries and some even rap in their native languages. Countries which have some of the most developed and interesting hip hop scenes and artists include: Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.
Tamborito – The Tamborito, which literally translates to the “little drum,” is regarded as the national song and dance of Panama. The Tamborito dates back as early as the 17th Century. The Tamborito is a type of folkloric music that is derived from Spanish, Indian and African cultures. Particularly, the rhythm of the Tamborito music shows African influence. The lyrics of the Tamborito tend to be repetitive and incorporate popular commentary, which is also characteristic of West African vocal music.
African-Based Pidgins and Creole Languages - A pidgin is defined by its use as a lingua franca or a “bridge-language,” which is a language used to communicate between populations who speak different mother tongues. When a pidgin becomes a population’s first language, then it is called a Creole language.
Creole languages consist of a mix of various parent languages. For instance, Garifuna and Palenquero are examples of unique Latin American languages that have been formed from a mix of African cultures and various European cultures. Haitian Creole is made up of English, European and African cultures while Jamaican Creole is made up of a mix of English and African languages. They both have west-African influences and are largely made up of African-derived words. There are several Jamaican Creole-speaking communities in major cities outside of Jamaica such as Miami, New York City and London.
There are also English based Creole languages and variations of pidgin widely spoken in Africa. For example, Nigerian Pidgin, along with the various pidgin and Creole languages of West Africa, share similarities to the various dialects of English found in the Caribbean. Some of the returning descendants of slaves taken to the New World of West African origin brought back many words and phrases to West Africa from the Jamaican Creole, or Patois, and the other Creole languages of the West Indies which are components of Nigerian Pidgin. Although the pronunciation and accents differ, the English pidgins and creoles of West Africa are largely mutually understandable to the English pidgins and creoles of the West Indies.
Krio is another widely-spoken African Creole language mainly among the Sierra Leone Creole People. This language was formed as a result of the interaction between descendants of freed slaves from the West Indies, United States and Britain, and the indigenous various ethnic groups throughout Sierra Leone. The Krio language unites all the different ethnic groups and is also spoken in other West-African countries such as the Gambia.
The Gullah-Geechee –the Gullah-Geechee are descendants of African slaves who worked on the rice plantations mainly in South Carolina. They preserve their African culture as they try to hold on to the language and traditions that have endured for centuries. Their language is a mix of African dialects, English and Creole called Gullah. They also attempt to pass on crafts that were handed down to them through the years such as basket making, boat building, weaving and story telling. There are an estimated 250,000 Gullah-Geechee people living along coastal North and South Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.
Religion – Afro-Caribbean Religion
Many Afro-Caribbean religions blend African religion with some aspects of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. The Spanish, French and Portuguese introduced African slaves to Christianity and the slaves held on to various aspects of African deities partly as a compromise to ensure cultural survival.
The Afro-Cuban Orisha religion, sometimes referred to as “Santería,” is the product of the encounter between West African Yoruba Orisha worship and the popular practices of Spanish Catholicism in colonial Cuba. Enslaved Africans juxtaposed their beliefs and customs with those imposed by the Spanish colonists to give birth to a new interpretation of their traditional religion. The gods and goddesses of Santeria are of West African origin. Santeria is becoming more widely practiced in North America as immigration continues from Latin America and specifically Cuba.
Palo Monte’ is a central-African based ancient Afro-Cuban religion that is centered on help from ancestors and a relation with the earth, one’s land and one’s home. The followers of this form of worship are called “Paleros.” Palo Monte uses an African linguistic code to name and define its deities and sacred elements. Its linguistic code can be traced to the Kikongo language, spoken is a small area of the lower Congo.
Haitian Voodoo - Although Roman Catholicism is the official religion on Haiti, the majority of Haitians practice some aspects of voodoo. Many Haitians who practice voodoo believe that their religion can coexist with Roman Catholicism. The belief system of voodoo revolved around family spirits often called Loua. Beliefs also include zombies and witchcraft. Voodooists perform periodic rituals in which they offer gift to the spirits and many of these spirits, particularly the Rada spirits, appear to be of African origin. There are also symbols associated with the voodoo religion that come from ancient African tradition. For instance, the serpent known as Damballah, is the sacred snake which is also ritualized by the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Fon of Benin.
Afro-Brazilian Candomble- Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced mainly in Brazil. It is also practiced in neighboring countries and is becoming more popular worldwide. Candomblé draws inspiration from the African Diaspora, but it mainly features aspects of the religion of the Yoruba Orisha religion. The religion came to Brazil from the region of Yorubaland in Africa. Today this is in the area of the countries of Nigeria, Benin and Togo. The religion was brought over during the Atlantic slave trade by African priests and adherents who were dedicated to the worship of the Yoruba Orishas. Orishas are religious deities that are said to represent human characteristics such as bravery, love and honor. After the arrival of the Yoruba Orishas in Brazil, there was some association with the Catholic Saints and many of the Orisha’s are now referenced with their Catholic Saints.
4. Coalition Building
A.Afro-Descendant Groups Working for Change
Colombia’s Law 70
In Latin America, Colombia has the second largest Afro-descendant population after Brazil. Afro-Descendants make up at least 26% of Colombia’s population but been disproportionately impacted by economic and political policies marginalizing their communities. Afro-Colombians are most concentrated on the northwest Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast as well as interior cities such as Bogota and Cali. El Chocó, the first black territorial division, was established in 1945 and provided one of the first political vehicles for Afro-descendants to affirm their territorial identity and exercise autonomous decision-making power. From its inception, however, it has been neglected by the national government and its development has been obstructed by ongoing displacement and natural resource exploitation.
Much inspired by the civil rights movement in the US, and liberation struggles throughout Africa, Afro-Colombians led a successful movement for civil rights in the 1980s. The movement resulted in recognition of collective ownership of traditional coastal lands and special cultural development protection in the 1991 Colombian Constitution and Law 70 (1993). Law 70 gives Afro-Colombians the legal right to prior consultation regarding the exploitation of natural resources in their territories. This means that corporations and the government are required to consult with Afro-Colombian communities before economic decisions are made that will affect their land.
Law 70 also gives legal recognition to democratic Afro-Colombian governance structures including local community councils, similar to those of Native American tribes in the U.S., and a High Level Consultative Council. Community Councils have presented various sustainable development plans regarding territorial management of their communities to the Colombian government since 1992. None of these proposals, however, have been considered by the National Planning Council (CONPES) as mandated by Law 70. Though Law 70 seeks to provide significant protection to Afro-Colombian communities and their leadership, many amendments within the law have yet to be approved. Additionally, recently passed national legislation weakens the environmental rights of Afro-Colombian communities.
Afro-Colombians have broad legal mechanisms, including Law 70 as well as more recent decisions by the Colombian Constitutional Court, which provide significant protection to their land and livelihoods. What is lacking is political will to ensure the protection of these communities and implementation of existing legal protections. Afro-Colombians face ongoing safety risks, attacks against leadership and their communities and an erosion of economic and environmental security.
To read more about the FTA click here http://transafrica.org/category/policy-overview/latin-america/colombia/
To do something click here http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-us-colombia-free-trade-agreement
United Nations Convenings Against Racism
The World Conference
The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The Conference was called following the United Nations’ General Assembly’s resolution calling for a conference to create mechanisms to eradicate all forms of racism and to examine whether progress had been accomplished by individual Governments. The Conference sought to bring together civil society representatives and elected officials to discuss the legacy of racism and concrete action steps for eradicated racism today.
The Conference was delineated by conflicts over the legacy of slavery and the Middle East. The UK, backed by Holland, Spain and Portugal, refused to provide African countries and African-American NGO allies requests for recognition of the transatlantic slave trade as a crime against humanity necessitating reparations. The final text of the resolution included recognition of the appalling human and historic tragedies of the legacy of racism without a specific reference to reparations or an apology. Representatives from Canada, the United States and Israel walked out of the conference when a draft resolution was circulated critiquing the human rights crisis facing Palestinians. The Conference concluded with the creation of The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action for participating countries to implement in their own countries.
The Durban Review
In April 2009, the United Nations held the World Conference on Racism Durban Review (Durban II). The Conference was held to coordinate and review progress made in the eight years since the 2001 World Conference. Countries met by region for over two years in preparation for the important gathering. The U.S. initially made the decision not to attend and then later stated the door was still open for negotiation. In the end, despite contestation from US and international civil society representatives and governments, the US decided to boycott. In addition, seven other countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Poland boycotted the Review. Over twenty other European Union countries only sent low-level delegations.
The Conference sought to assess the implementation of The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, assess the effectiveness of the mechanisms for dealing with racism and xenophobia as well as to share good practices. The Review concluded by reaffirming the Durban Declaration as well as the consideration of recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Declaration included specific reference to racism and targeting faced by Muslims following September 11.
The second review Conference (Durban III) is scheduled for September 2011 at the UN in New York. On June 2, 2011 the United States announced that it would join Canada and Israel in boycotting the conference.
For more information: (TAF Durban Page decide what docs want to share http://www.transafricaforum.org/action-center/educational-resources/durban-review-conference)
The Bolivarian Alliance for the People of our America (ALBA)
ALBA is the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an alternative financial institution proposed by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. The principles of ALBA seek to move away from multinational competition and neo-liberal free trade and encourage sovereignty and economic sustainability. ALBA also seeks to build cooperation and relationships between countries in the Global South who have been particularly impacted by these trade models. In December 2004, Cuba and Venezuela entered into the first agreement made under the framework of ALBA; the agreement included a clear rejection of the goals of the free trade that have not increased the economic livelihood of marginalized communities. Current member countries of ALBA include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. Honduras was also a member of ALBA until the coup of December 2009.
ALBA was created in response to economic policies promoted and implemented by International Financial Institutions (IFIs), including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Under President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government has vehemently condemned the stifling national debt and social impoverishment resulting from IFIs policies of economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Loans distributed by ALBA have already enabled many Latin American countries to pay back their debts to IFIs and spend more money on social services and programs. ALBA loans financed through the Bank of ALBA have markedly lower interest rates compared to those offered by IFIs.
Since its founding, ALBA has provided increasing opportunities for its member countries. The PetroCaribe program increases access to energy by providing oil to countries at preferential rates and using the savings for social development. Initatives to increase access to health and education have also begun in various ALBA countries. Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are now recognized by the United Nations as being free of illiteracy. Free basic medical services have also been made to millions of people through the Barrio Adentro program.
ALBA represents an opportunity for relationships between countries in the Global South to be built and strengthened, taking into account the issues facing Afro-descendant, Indigenous and working communities.
For more information on ALBA go to http://www.alianzabolivariana.org/
The World Social Forum Platform
The World Social Forum is a meeting of civil society organizations held annually since 2001. The first meeting was held in 2001in Porto Alegre, Brazil and included 60,000 attendees with 12,000 official delegates from 123 countries. The WSF seeks to provide an open meeting place for social movements, networks, NGOs and organizations to share experiences, build connections, debate ideas and create solutions to economic and political structures that maintain global poverty. The WSF provides a unique space for organizations and individuals from movements throughout the world to share challenges and success and build stronger alliance across issues and borders.
For more information on 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar Senegal go to http://fsm2011.org/en
5. Present Day Leaders of African Descent
Barack Obama, USA
U.S. President Barack Obama broke barriers when he was elected in 2008. Obama, who’s father was Kenyan and who’s mother was white American, is the first leader of the United States of African descent. Obama says his upbringing in multi-cultural Hawaii was integral to his identity development as person of mixed racial heritage. Structural racism and white supremacy in the United States created a strict division between black and white people. For people of mixed heritage, like Obama, the historic one-drop rule meant that he was black.
Obama’s candidacy and eventual victory spurred various conversations and claims of a “post-racial America,” where Obama was an ideal candidate who was able to transcend race. It was clear, however, given the continued economic, social and political marginalization of people of color in the United States, in addition to overt and nuanced racial slurs directly against Obama, that any post-racial America has yet to exist.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela
“When we were children, we were told that we have a motherland, and that motherland was Spain. However, we have discovered later, in our lives, that as a matter of fact, we have several motherlands. And one of the greatest motherlands of all is no doubt, Africa. We love Africa. And every day we are much more aware of the roots we have in Africa…” President Hugo Chavez (September 20, 2005)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made history when he was elected in 1999. Chavez represented the first known Latin American leaders in recent years to identify with both his Afro-descendant and Indigenous heritage. Chavez’s recognition of his racial ancestry, including a positive affirmation of his African heritage, demonstrated a shift from the prevalent mestizaje (mixed) identity. Though the mestizaje identity names Venezuelan’s ethnic diversity, it includes no explicit recognition of African ancestry and has been used to maintain the myth of a racial democracy.
Afro-Venezuelans continue to face social and economic marginalization as well as racial discrimination and Afro-Venezuelan civil society organizations continue to pressure the Chavez Administration and the National Assembly for racial justice and protections under the law. The 2011 Census will for the first time ever include a question that allows participants to identify as Afro-descendant. The Afro-Venezuelan Network (ROA) estimates that over seven million Venezuelans (at least 26%) are of African descent. Throughout his terms, Chavez has emphasized the importance of building stronger connections between countries in the Global South, including concrete relationships between Venezuela and many Caribbean and African countries.
6. What you can do to support African descendants around the world
TransAfrica is an advocacy organization and we need your help! Below you will find short summaries of our most pressing advocacy goals. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for additional information.
Protecting Afro-Colombian Rights
The Obama Administration has expressed its ongoing support for the passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Inherited by President Obama from former-President George W. Bush, the FTA maintains an economic model which has been proven disastrous for working people throughout the world. These types of trade deals give rights to corporations and investors that dwarf communities; and in the case of Colombia Afro-descendants will feel the brunt of the impact.
Though the FTA has not been passed in the U.S., Afro-Colombians are already feeling the pressure of the agreement-ongoing assaults and attacks against their leadership, infringement upon their land rights and continued forcible violent displacement by both corporate and armed forces. President Obama and Colombian President Santos agreed upon a Labor Action Plan, providing labor protections for Colombia’s workforce. The Plan does not, however, take into account the specific needs and concerns of Afro-Colombian workers, particularly around land rights, environmental diversity and contract work.
Let your Congressperson and Senators know your thoughts about the human rights situation in Colombia. Until Afro-Colombians are guaranteed the social, political, economic and security rights enshrined in the Colombian Constitution, bi-lateral trade agreements must pause. Contact your elected officials and the general public to create a media buzz to stop the FTA.
Supporting the Survivors of Haiti’s Earthquake
On January 12, 2010 Haiti experienced a historic earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000-300,000 people, injured an additional 300,000 people and left 1 million people (over 10% of the national population) homeless. The earthquake spurred a massive domestic and international fundraising campaign to aid the survivors. Despite significant pledges and commitments from foreign governments coupled with private non-governmental organizations, for Haitians most affected by the Quake, the situation on the ground is worsening.
Over half of those made homeless by the Quake continue living in official internally displaced persons (IDP) camps where most homes are made of camping tents, plastic tarps and bed sheets. Unknown numbers more are living in neighborhoods and their old homes, often in damaged and unsafe buildings. In recent weeks, violent evictions from public spaces, including the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas, have escalated. Quake survivors are being forcibly evicted without any alternatives and frequently being forced to live in even more unsafe situations.
Let your Congressperson and Senators know your concerns about the stagnant reconstruction period in Haiti and the increasing evictions and violence facing those who remain homeless today. All Haitians deserve safe and secure housing coupled with job opportunities that allow them to relocate to a permanent home where they choose. Contact your elected officials and the general public to create a media buzz to support Haiti today.
Ensuring the International Protection and Participation of Women
In 1979, the United Nations created the Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a treaty to address discrimination against women. A year later then-President Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW. The next step for the treaty was its Congressional passage; but thirty years later it has yet to be approved by the Senate. Once approved by a two-thirds vote by the Senate, the treaty will allow the U.S. to be reviewed by an international CEDAW Committee every four years to ensure compliance. Almost all (186 out of 193) countries have ratified CEDAW, not including the U.S.
CEDAW has created standard guidelines for national progress for women and girls, creating laws that provide more security and options for women and their families. Some of the most important advances have been around sex trafficking and domestic violence, access to education and work, protection of the right to vote and maternal health services. CEDAW has created the space for advances in women’s rights and participation in many countries, leading to decreased gender disparities.
Tell your Senators they should vote for the approval of CEDAW when it is re-introduced. CEDAW has provided unparalleled protection and visibility for women in many parts of the world. If the U.S. is a leader on human rights and protection, we must show people in the U.S. and abroad that we support global treaties ensuring these rights. Contact your elected officials and the general public to create a media buzz for the passage of CEDAW.
7. Are you TransAfrican?
Join TransAfrica in our international campaign to open the dialogue between African descendants and our global partners. We are TransAfrican. Are You TransAfrican? In this the International Year for People of African Descent, TransAfrica has seized on this initiative and has launched an international conversation that we hope will bridge the gap between Africans all over the world. I am TransAfrican is a declaration of our oneness and solidarity. I am TransAfrican is the announcement that we stand with our African descendent family in Colombia, Uganda, Haiti, the United States, Europe and everywhere. I am TransAfrican is the mantra of a new generation of leaders who see leadership outside of the traditional box of civil rights and who demand respect for the human rights of everyone. Being TransAfrican is not limited to African people but for all people committed to human rights and justice.