Without question we have put in the time, the patience, the Christian struggle, the military volunteerism, and anything else we thought would win the day of full acceptance as American citizens. We’ve suffered the slings, the insults, the lynchings, the almost constant police bullying and harassment, and numerous other microaggressions. Still, here, we must pay more.
A substantial portion of the U.S. population—in spite of tremendous evidence to the contrary—still believes this country does not need us, doesn’t want us, and will do fine if we’re no longer here. We’re yet treated as only very partial and usually unwanted family members.
Rights we thought had been secured, are constantly being unraveled and trampled on repeatedly. Yet we are always expected to be loyal, compliant, and accepting of our position. We are America’s dangling participle.
But logic may yet prevail. Africa is calling its scattered Diaspora to come back home to help Africa complete its journey towards full development and worldwide respect. The African Union (AU), the continent’s successor organization to the earlier Organization of African Unity (OAU), in 2003 amended its Constitutive Act (Constitution) to invite the African Diaspora (non-resident Africans who are willing to help in the great effort) to come home and share/participate in the grand experience of building a unified and well-developed Africa—a United African States.
Many thousands have accepted the invitation. There are now approximately 2,500 Diasporans living in Ghana, another 3,000 living in Sierra Leone, another 2,500 in Kenya, with at least 3,000 in South Africa. But Africa is not yet what it will be.
In most of those situations, returnees are only allowed to stay a few months before they are required to either leave those countries or get additional paperwork authorized by individual African governments in order to stay, and that is a giant hassle. There is yet no all-African passport even for those born on the continent, let alone those trying to come back.
Ghana is yet different. It has already authorized new citizenship status to over 200 Diasporans who’ve returned. There is a move to get the AU to approve such a process Africa-wide. But approval is at a snail’s pace. The other great thing about Ghana’s Diaspora citizenship process is that it allows dual citizenship—that is, the new Diaspora citizens are allowed to keep their valid U.S. or Caribbean (or South American, Latin American, etc.) passports, too. In other words, citizenship in two countries with all the attendant privileges.
Until a few years ago, the U.S. State Department would not allow that process, but it now seems standard procedure as long as people don’t request co-citizenship in a country the U.S. has designated an international terror threat, or otherwise has major problems with (Russia would be a no go, for example).
This opportunity is not yet a polished apple, but it is also not at the infancy stage. African- Americans who are, or who become interested in this second option, are now learning of its existence. In other words, all of us no longer have to accept the statement: This is America—accept what you get here and be quiet about it. No one else loves you like we do.
Last week, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a group of African descendants from the Caribbean, from Europe, from Latin America and from New York and Los Angeles, met for a week to discuss and analyze the African Union’s 2012 edition of the Diaspora Declaration, a measured list of guarantees the AU agreed to in order to entice more non-residential Africans to move to Africa and help the AU achieve the program it laid out in the ambitious Agenda 2063 document for Africa’s future.
That Addis Ababa conference was very successful and also very much needed. African diasporans need to meet and plan their African futures together, rather than simply have that future laid out for them by others.
The way ahead is tumultuous. There will be plenty of casualties, plenty of teeth gnashing, and a lot of disappointment. But a second way forward is now not only possible, it is highly probable. We do not need to continue being treated like rag dolls in the country that stole us here in the first place. The U.S. is not the only way.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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