Afrikan, New Afrikan, Black humanity

International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands – Photo: Piroschka Van de Wuow, Reuters

by Anthony Sharif Gay

In order for us to embark upon a serious reparations push, it is essential that we conduct conversations amongst ourselves about identity and self-determination as well as collectively attaining a robust understanding of International Human Rights Law. 

The world is on our side, but we have yet to emphatically and unapologetically invoke, exercise and assert our individual and collective fundamental human rights. In practice, we opt for so called civil rights, privileges given to us by governments who are complicit in international crimes against us.

State and federal actors under the cloak of authority are engaged in widespread systematic attacks against Blacks. State and federal governments along with white civilians are permitted to conduct extra judicial killings, mass incarceration, school to prison pipelines, selective arrests and prosecutions, disproportionate life sentencing and death penalties, separation of families, forced adoptions, chemical warfare, slavery etc. with impunity. 

In the international community and under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), these are violations of nearly every crime against humanity: extermination, imprisonment, genocide, murder, enslavement, forcible transfer of populations, torture, rape, persecution, apartheid and other inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury, such as impoverishment, food insecurity and miseducation.

What’s systematically and routinely being done to us on a large scale is also a violation of the Convention against Torture, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

This often photographed graffiti is in Cape Town, South Africa. But are we equal before the law? If not, then this country is a crime perpetually committed against the people.

These are all treatises that the United States has signed and ratified, meaning they are binding.

The question is why in 2021, are we still invoking our so called American civil rights and seeking redress and reparations from the very folks who have historically harmed and continue to harm us? 

Judges, presidents, legislators – Congressional Black Caucus included – attorneys general, prosecutors, law enforcement, governors and mayors are participants in ignoring the crimes committed against us in violation of our international human rights. 

Having our human capital stolen and redirected into constructing the infrastructural and socio-economic elements of a country is not the same as “building it.”

They’ve given themselves absolute and qualified immunities. But it’s telling that the ICC and international law don’t recognize official capacity as being relevant. No matter who you are in the world, jus cogens crimes and crimes against humanity are punishable. 

Ever notice how anyone who was involved in the Holocaust and Nazi crimes is arrested and tried in international tribunals? They can be 90 years old and only guards at the camps.

Why don’t we get the same respect? Are we collectively demanding it through action?

Did the Jews push to integrate with Nazi Germany, or did they push for self-determination and build institutions around the prevention of and defense against crimes against them along with reparations?

Mandela, Malcom X, the Republic of New Afrika, Chokwe Lumumba and so many others gave us the blueprint and the remedy to follow and put into play. 

They didn’t ask us to celebrate them with holidays and commemorations. They said seek human rights and self-determination. Get with the international community for redress and reparations.

It seems that a lot of Blacks don’t want to seem “un-American” or too “militant.” But they owe us! We don’t owe it to white America or the US government to be American and patriotic. 

A human right’s push also does not require or imply a “back to Afrika” mobilization. But I do think it’s important to understand that we did not “build this country” as so many of us assert. 

The true foundation and essence of a nation-state are its guiding principles, core philosophies, laws and strategic visions. Afrikans had nothing to do with that – we didn’t sit at the table to decide these things.

Having our human capital stolen and redirected into constructing the infrastructural and socio-economic elements of a country is not the same as “building it.”

The true foundation and essence of a nation-state are its guiding principles, core philosophies, laws and strategic visions. Afrikans had nothing to do with that – we didn’t sit at the table to decide these things.

We can – and I believe should – stay right wherever we are in the Afrikan-Black Diaspora and assert our independence, self-determination, human rights and reparations rights.

It may prove prudent to also encourage Black attorneys to start litigating from the perspective and force of international human rights and law, instead of only civil rights. Being awarded compensatory and punitive damages in civil action suits when one of us has been exterminated, executed, imprisoned, attacked, racially assaulted or discriminated against is a victory and necessary in the short run. 

However, it may be more important in terms of the larger picture to get these atrocities on the international record, so to speak. I believe many records are sealed, non-disclosure agreements are signed and other coverup tactics are used by the courts and state and federal attorneys to keep their crimes against us restricted to the domestic jurisdiction. We end up forfeiting our claims of genocide.

Do we acknowledge a government’s jurisdiction and authority when their very constitution considers us three-fifths of a person and illegally practices slavery and apartheid? 

How can we recognize state and federal governments and actors who preemptively protect themselves from punishment so that they can legally torture and persecute us?

Our push can’t solely be about protest, hash tags and civil rights. What are we integrating into? What do we want equality with? What laws are we giving consent to? 

We have some serious, life altering decisions to make and conversations to have. I think we know where a continued push for civil rights and protest will get us – we’ve been doing it for 150 years.

Along with protest, politics, grassroots organizing and all the traditional approaches to reparations and justice, we need to include the legal component backed by global constitutional norms, jus cogens principles and human rights. 

We should be petitioning not just the United Nations and High Commission but also the Inter-American Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and other transnational human rights tribunals and commissions. 

Individual Afrikans should be studying, invoking and asserting their international human rights.

Consider this as a future topic for discussion: What White Europeans have done to us, and still do, has literally altered the trajectory of our individual and collective evolutionary and genetic potential and possibility as evinced by and through our historic and intergenerational traumas. 

These are present injuries suffered by Black humanity – poverty, crime, etc. – that are the effects of and directly linked to slavery, the slave trade and Jim Crow. The United States as well as state actors, corporations and some families have retroactive responsibility to pay reparations enforceable by international law and treatises.

Feedback and dialogue are requested and expected. Live well.

Send our brother some love and light: Anthony Sharif Gay, 188904, ASPC Tucson, Winchester Unit 8B25, P.O. Box 24401, Tucson, AZ 85734.