what do you mean “where is the black outrage over China’s involvement in Darfur?”

My feelings about The Progressive (progressive.org) go back and forth. I find most of the articles published on their site to be a little too narrow in focus and not as critical as they should be of wider trends. Basically, I accuse some articles of The Progressive to be guilty of the same things many accuse most mass media of; distracting from larger issues by getting people riled up about narrow issues that won’t be affected by anything less than major changes.

With that said, I’d like to discuss an article I found today entitled “Where is the Black Outrage Over China’s Involvement in Darfur?” (http://www.progressive.org/mp/whyte080408.html). 

The article revolves around what the writer identifies as African-American athletes’ apathy (as indicated by their involvement in the Olympics currently taking place in Beijing) regarding not only the genocide in Darfur, but the fact that China is a major importer of Sudanese crude oil (80% according to the article) who has failed to apply political-economic pressure to bring about a resolution to the conflict.

I can get behind this as an issue. The whole, China not using their economic power to apply pressure on Sudan to resolve the conflict thing. It’s horrible, but not surprising. 

Most of my issues with this article stem from the opening statement; particularly the phrase “the racial injustice of China’s support for Sudan”.

1. I, for one, hardly find China’s “support” of Sudan to be because the Chinese have it out for Blacks. I think anyone intelligent would recognize that if a country is getting 80% of one of its most crucial resources from one place, it does not cut ties. It’s business, first and foremost, and it’s politics, pure and simple. It’s ugly and horrific, but no less true. Where else is China supposed to get its crude from, the Middle East? And get into a huge mess that’s been in the making for centuries with the Europeans and the Americans? Doubtful. Speaking of, at least China hasn’t taken decades to destroy the civilian infrastructure of Sudan in order to steal their oil. At least they’re doing business in a civilized fashion and merely staying out of the countries affairs in return. If you compare China to the US, who’s more diplomatic?

2. I find it hypocritical for any American to point fingers at the Chinese for continuing to import oil from Sudan while America continues to import oil from the Middle East given the atrocious human rights record of that region as well. While China imports oil from Sudan, China also exports weapons to Sudan. This arrangement sounds, for lack of a better word, identical to America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Where is the Black outrage to China’s involvement? The same place as everyone else’s; hanging out with everyone’s outcry to pull-out of the Middle East and stop arms trade with Israel. 

3. I also find it hypocritical for any American that purchases anything manufactured by an outsourced American company in China to point fingers at China’s involvement with Sudan. To act as though America’s economy isn’t deeply reliant on China’s is ridiculous, ignorant and irresponsible.

Let’s expand my issues section to the rest of the opening sentence now that that’s out of the way; “African-Americans are greeting the Beijing Olympics with a deafening silence when they should be denouncing the racial injustice of China’s support for Sudan.”

It’s unfair to single out African-American olympians as the individuals responsible to speak out against the conflict. The situation in Darfur is not a race issue. It’s a human issue. The writer of this article repeatedly demands that African-Americans take a stand for their African brothers and sisters and asserts that, with the lousy treatment Blacks have historically received in America, they should feel more inclined to do so. The writer speaks of all African-Americans’ feeling of lineage to the continent, something I find to be a gross generalization of what are complex attitudes of a highly diverse group comprised of millions of people. 

I also feel the writer is underestimating the potentially huge diplomatic steps that can be taken from an event as multinational and tremendous as the Olympics. In a post-Bush world the US is substantially lacking in friends. It may be more advantageous for Americans to not denounce the dirty dealings of a country they are visiting when the country they are representing has equally (if not more) reprehensible activities going on. Americans are known internationally for being hypocritical when speaking about other nations’ wrong-doings due to ignorance of their own country’s political and economic activities. 

Now, while I have expressed my issue with the racialization of this article, let’s do discuss racism in America for a moment.

Ideologically, African-Americans are only allowed to be positive models of success in three ways; 1. as a comedian; 2. as a musician (R&B and Hip-Hop only, please); and 3. as an athlete. If you boil it down, that’s really just one way: as a performer. They can be models of success, but not positively: as a gangster. And, they can be positive models, but not of success: in the church (because ministers don’t exactly rake in the big bucks, but these are highly influential leadership positions). With the options so limited, is it enough to just make it to the top, to succeed in becoming a role model, in the face of such social adversity? Or is one obligated to speak out against social injustice whenever they see it? How does one become more obligated to do so just by virtue of being successful?


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