Wednesday, January 18, 2012

‘America I Am’: Omission of Resistance:

By Chenhotep Freeman
I want to tell you about the touring museum exhibition that covers more than
13,000 square feet and will visit a total of ten major (African/Black) cities during it’s
four year campaign across the U.S.  It is supported and presented by broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley and organized by the Cincinnati Museum Arts Center, and the Arts & Exhibitions International, the exhibit displays more than 200 artifacts from 1600 CE to Present day. This exhibit was inspired by a quote from the late African intellectual W.E.B. Dubois, “Would America be America without her Negro Peoples?” By the conclusion of this reading I plan to clearly answer this question, and also to expose the misleading content that comprises this campaign.

Being a proud member of the African Diaspora, when I heard about this traveling exhibition in the celebration of our ‘imprint’ on American society, like so many others I was excited. As any honest and freethinking human being should be aware of America’s history with Africans is full of lies, genocide, and fierce resistance on behalf of the Africans who were kidnapped and dehumanized by the European ‘Americans’. Although, there were still many events to be celebrated during the last 500 years of African peoples struggle to reclaim our self-determination. The modern day lavish lifestyles of American living were built and still exist on the murderous exploitation and oppression of African people. Before entering the exhibit I began to think critically about the involvement of Wal-Mart, seeing as they are notorious for their profits over any and EVERYTHING, business policy included. My next observation was during my first trip to view the exhibit when I recognized that there were NO people of African decent who were hired in order to operate this exhibit (no ticket taker, janitors, security, etc.) not a SINGLE one of US.

The entrance to the exhibit is a hall filled with the faces of many of the finest son’s and daughters of Africa covering a span of five centuries, even though there were no names to identify each individual or their great accomplishments. Some of the artifacts in the museum were accompanied by an audio description with both Tavis Smiley and Kornell West, and these description were petty-bourgeoisie explanations for the behavior of Euro-Americans and their brutality towards Africans. Now we move into the room in reverence of pre-colonial African society, a few sculptures of warriors from great African nations. The first segment of the exhibit concludes with the enslavement of the Africans that includes slave dungeon doors from Ghana and displays a map that uncovers the global triangle trade of slavery and how Europe and America robbed the African land of its human and material resources in the pursuit of profit. From there we enter the era during which the peak of the western hemispheres slave trade was lead by the United States. This room consisted of the various torture tools used against the captured Africans, at this point notice that there has been no mention of the Africans constant resistance to institution of Capitalism and its products slavery and racism.

The next body of the exhibit is where the majority of the information is compiled, which is intended to stir up a feeling of ‘American Identity’ or patriotism within the captive peoples of African decent kidnapped for centuries. Now we enter a room with the document of hypocrisy ‘Declaration of Independence’ on one wall and the over coat of Fredrick Douglass. From here we advance through a hall that displays various anti-slavery activist and artistic poetic expressions, now is the first time that any light is shed onto the fierce resistance to American imperialism. A handful of slave revolts are mentioned, and then we are taken into the era of the ‘Civil War’ and reconstruction and bombarded with images of Black soldiers fighting in the ‘American Revolutionary’ war. This is where in the exhibit we view the 13th, 14th, and 15th (reconstruction) amendments to the U.S. Constitution, these are misleading, these three documents are what have evolved into the American Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) as well as the welfare state that Africans in America are so well familiar with. From here until the end of the exhibit it’s as if the historical timeline of events moves into fast forward. Next we enter an adjoining room dedicated to the ‘Jim Crow’ era of modern oppression, when states passes laws to restrict Blacks (Africans in America) from sharing public spaces with Whites (Euro-Americans).

As the museum steps forward we enter the room dedicated to the impact that religion had on the Africans, and how it was used to keep the descendent of African slaves docile and subservient. Here is where we find the personal diary and Quran of El Hajj Malik (Malcom X) as well as the M.L.K. Jr. and a replica of his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ holding cell. This room also displayed a video montage of the music and influence of the Black church on the masses of suffering oppressed African children in America. On the conclusion of the section dedicated to religion there is a display of a large white hooded KKK uniform along side some chess pieces, in the same room as some of the first historically Black Colleges and Universities, this also is misleading and confusing for the viewers of the exhibit. Now we enter the final gallery, this one is dedicated to the many Africans who have dominated the entertainment industries, everything from Muhammad Ali’s Royal Rumble boxing robe, a hand written poem from Tupac Shakur, and the performance outfits from various singers. Finally, the exhibit ends with the compilation of multimedia clips that display the hijacking of Black culture in entertainment by the copycat entertainers of then and now.
In conclusion, and response to the W.E.B. Dubois question, No, America was born from the murderous enslavement of African peoples, this country would not exist if it were not for Africa (the land) and its children being kidnapped, killed and exploited. We must recognize that the exhibit was organized by various ‘black elite’ neo-colonial forces in partnership with a few monopoly capitalist enterprises. This fact uncovers the campaigns true intentions to further mislead the Africans in America to believe in the idea of a post-racial American society. I would recommend to all of my fellow peoples of African decent invest your time and money into building awareness of our constant and continuous struggle against the system of European and American (white) capital imperialism.

Atlanta Civic Center
 - Atlanta
, GA
 - Sun, Sep 6, 2009
Posted 09/07/2009
by Akil
The exhibit was absolutely excellent. Tracing the African American experience from African to America was presented in a very factual and chronological way. However, I do not recall seeing any form of presentation or representation about Elijah Muhammad, Minister Louis Farrakhan and The Million Man March or Miles Davis. Why?

Atlanta Civic Center
 - Atlanta
, GA
 - Sat, Sep 5, 2009
Posted 09/06/2009
by stewkhandi
The expectation our family had upon arriving was a history lesson that would help fill in the gaps on historical things we did not know. As it turn out we knew more history than what was shown. The beginning of the exhibit was impressive. The room of the Ghana slave port castle was great. Once we left there it was down hill the rest of the way. The rooms that followed were filled with artifacts, some real ,some replicas and other that made no sense. Each room had a theme, which most of the time went off track. The most confusing being the "Music Room"? The best part of the exhibit was the ending short film. In whole it was as if the exhibit was not completely done. Too many people and contributions were left out. Especially in the fields of medicine and science.It was as if Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. Ben Carson, Benjamin Banniker, Eli Whitney and George W. Carver did not exist. We could have done better taking our children to the library. We didn't pay for the audio tour guides, and it was a good thing we didn't. People around us were having problems getting them to work properly. An audio loop for each room would have been better. Oh and by the way, WHY CAN'T YOU TAKE PICTURES!

0 Response(s):