A full 10 years after the infamous St. Petersburg riots, the remnants of racial tension still linger despite Midtown’s seeming revival.
One explanation behind this trend sadly indicts key leaders of a certain group within St. Petersburg’s black community. Uhurus – or participants in the Uhuru movement – glibly refer to the events in 1996 as an “insurrection” rather than riots, implying that the arson and looting that destroyed many black homes and businesses was, in some sense, justified. An insurrection isn’t brute force, according to the Uhurus, but rather the rightful response to “oppressors” and the proper method of rectifying allegations of police misconduct.
According to Uhurumovement.org, Uhuru was born of the African People’s Socialist Party. The party’s ideology is mix of the inherent infeasibility of socialism and the abject racism characteristic of all ethnic power movements.
First, Uhurus do not see black Americans as individuals, but rather as indiscriminate cogs in a familial mechanism – as “daughters and sons of Africa.” Aligned with the racist notion that ethnicity determines behavior, the familial mentality assumes that people with a certain skin color or background automatically participate in that culture’s rites and are born into a sort of shared, collective identity.
To better illustrate the absurdity of such a position, I’ll give a personal example. Although my family is closer to its Polish ancestry – my grandparents emigrated in the 1930s – than most blacks are to their African ancestry today, I am in no way a “daughter of Poland.” I wasn’t born with an innate need to visit the “homeland,” name my children Wladvislavl or Ludgwiga to snub more Western oppressors, or wear chintzy Polish garb. If I acted according to the mandates of this cultural crutch, however, it would be a choice – not because my ancestry fated me to do so.
In a similar vein, the Uhurus demand that American blacks not be subject to the same laws as all other U.S. citizens because they are black. In other words, the Uhurus condone the separate legal treatment of races, so long as it “benefits” blacks.
Article 2 of the Uhuru party platform, for example, calls for the immediate exemption of all blacks from U.S. taxes. The sixth article then calls for the immediate release of all “Africans” from U.S. prisons because, obviously, no black person in prison could possibly be there because he or she committed a crime. Instead, all blacks are in prison “due to decisions, laws and circumstances which were created by aliens and foreigners for their own benefit and as a means of genocidal colonialist control.”
But perhaps the most laughable demand is that blacks should be paid billions in reparations for past injustices such as slavery and apartheid. Of course, in the case of America, nobody who actually owned slaves is still alive, so this would mean that today’s whites would be forced to pay for the obvious wrongs of people they’ve never met or had the opportunity to influence, just because they happen to look like them.
The African Socialist Party’s ultimate aim, however, is worldwide socialist revolution and the “onward progress of communism” to liberate black people everywhere. But even cursory analyses of history and economics show that illiberal economic policies foster poverty for blacks as well as everyone else, in addition to compromising individual rights.
Consider the case of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Originally hailed as a “liberator” against “colonial oppressors,” his socialist mantra culminated in 2002 when he mandated white, commercial farmers leave in order to redistribute the “stolen” land. Chaos ensued. Because food was no longer produced on an industrial scale, what had once been a fruitful agricultural region could no longer feed its own people.
In 2005 and 2006, Zimbabwe’s Marxist-Leninist government rendered homeless its urban poor by destroying their shanties in movements chillingly named “Drive out Trash” and “Operation Roundup.” Silly me – I thought socialism was supposed to help the poor.
The economic policies purported by the Uhurus and, in turn, the African People’s Social Party convey poverty onto the blacks they claim to advocate, as well as everyone else. But it is not the Uhurus’ harebrained cry for financial retribution that proves most troubling – it is the insistence that “members” of particular races are known merely by their identifying group, not by their individual sentiments, abilities or aspirations.
Yet such disregard of the individual, far from fostering equality, is the very attitude that allowed slavery to happen in the first place: to lower man to the level at which he’s thought of merely by means of race, ethnicity, nationality or “breed” promises that he be treated accordingly – as an animal, not a man.
Victoria Bekiempis is a sophomore majoring in history and French.