Reflecting on 2019 betrays a significant new development with regard to the black collective. The rise of ADOS, or the African descendant of slavery, embodies a new chapter in an ongoing discussion about diaspora, blackness, and reparations.
#ADOS, is an initiative formally engendered by Howard Alum and Breaking Brown host Yvette Carnell and UCLA alumnus and attorney Antonio Moore, but let us be honest, this initiative was a long time coming among griots and jegna’s cast along the black communities in the diaspora.
ADOS, articulates its goals cohesively yet explicitly on its website. The #ados initiative is simple: to repair “African American” trajectory in America. Black economics and black home ownership are amongst its objectives, but oddly, it is #ados’s emphasis that reparations be exclusive to the descendants of those enslaved in the Americas that has garnered the most traction.
This distinction distinguishes between diasporic Africans who, like the non-black person of color, are also not to benefit. ADOS’s distinction is an important one, because for centuries the blacks displaced in America have received the social, economic, and physical scraps of America. ADOS demands that America make right what should have been resolved before other groups were granted an opportunity to make good on an American promise written in black blood. For this reason, the ADOS initiative is impressive, well-researched, and a promising stride toward repairing a system that has terrorized black people since its inception.
Nevertheless, reparations remains perhaps one of the most difficult topics to discuss. This difficulty is in large part due to the reality that the enslavement of African people is a crime cast against every person of African descent. Yet, Ados appears to outline compensation solely for those displaced in the United States. This outline, specifically the ability to acknowledge America’s sin against black people displaced in America, marks a significant stride in curating a diaspora consciousness.
What I mean here, is that what #ados outlines is not an exclusion. To see it a such, delineates anti-blackness as foundational in composing how migrant blacks come to conceive of themselves and their estranged siblings.
The African in America remains the most envied and mimicked black person in the diaspora. Our brethren from the continent and the Caribbean journey to America to become the African in America, to duplicate the invisible man. By invisible man, I mark the distinction between fantasy and reality as it pertains the African displaced in America. Specifically, the African displaced in America marks America’s sin, whereas to those in the Diaspora, the African displaced in America marks American possibility.
This view resulted in large numbers of black migrants flocking to the United States, a migrancy that virtually did nothing to aid a group systemically asphyxiated by the same legal system that brought those from the diaspora from the United States.
I say this to say, that the backlash and hate that the Africans displaced in America have experienced upon ADOS’s referenced agenda, proves that though synonymous with white possibility, the black displaced in America is not to have anything that is not shared.
This truth exposes a division that complicates the pan africanist ideology needed to expedite recovery from anti-blackness, but also substantiates why the African in America should be the sole recipients of reparations from America. Yes, America owes those whom they’ve held hostage for centuries something more than money, but in compensating the African in America, America enables black people to employ the black collective in a common struggle to overcome a shared enemy. Diasporic presence in America never reflected the black collective’s desires and ambitions; rather, diasporic presence betrays European need to reinforce American enslavement as a symbol for innate inferiority.
A large component of this crime is the perception of America as a land of opportunity.
Nevertheless, #ados engenders a movement and critical contemplation beyond a hashtag and a title. #ados successfully centralizes the African displaced in America in a manner previously unseen and exposes the entitlement and disdain that informs anti-black ideologies and precludes a pan-africanist black love. Moreover, #ados marks a significant stride toward the African displaced in America seeing their worth. The worth of the African displaced in America is, of course, not economical.
This brings me to the first issue I have with #ados:
I. It presents monetary and legislative changes as reparations.
Property, debt forgiveness, and even being born into money, appears feasible solutions, but does it heal the scars left from bondage?
The proposed reparations enables the government to stay as is and to make it so that white people “pay out” to blacks. Thus, my additions would be as follows:
Black History taught by qualified professionals: History is your core. One of the main rescources employed to systemically disenfranchise black people is a distortion of our history. Therefore, there is no repair without repairing access and pedgagogy with regards to black history. Without knowledge of a history, one remains bound to repeat its mistakes.
Black owned and operated schools, archives, media (ADOS makes this point). After centuries of systemic disenfranchisement, true reparations enables black franchisement that does not answer to the same government where their bondage was legal.
Black census and black generated statistics: For too long, the black collective has remained subjected to statistics created by adversaries that exist to incite ignorance in our communities. True reparations requires that all research and statistics on the black collective be conducted and archived by the Dr. Bobby Wrights, Dr. Amos Wilsons, and Dr. Francis Cress Weslings of our communities.
Nationally Recognized black social group elected by black people: The election system is an anti-black mechanism that commonly prompts the black votes to select between the lesser of two evils. “Lesser” is, of course, relative and virtually non-existent.
Money and policies are nice and well deserved. I want to be clear and state that the US SHOULD pay the descendants of the enslaved, however, it is important that we as collective acknowledge that this money does not offer the healing necessary so that #ados initiatives matter in the way that they should.
Money won’t buy the abducted back their names, or etch together their severed tongues. It does not reunite us with our siblings and disseminate the tensions that keep us divided. Money would only add to the capitalistic fervor that fuels the United States and her white supremacist ways.
II. The use of the word “American”
#ados’s use of the word “America” engendered my initial resistance. American and slavery should never be in the same sentence unless referencing the fourth of July. #ados outlines a means for black people to succeed in America. For some, this is enough. However, to succeed in America does nothing to overcome its poisonous values and detrimental hierarchical structure.
#ados policies, which aid in ensuring black institutions and black businesses thrive, overlook that a prodigious aspect of our systemic disenfranchisement is that there are little to no black people. America has stripped many within the black collective of their blackness and rendered them melanated instead. Moreover, our color is a symbol of white conquest and not of black lineage.
III. Yet despite the obscurity American alignment promises, #ados both betrays and incites an allegiance to America.
#ados, while freeing the black person in America from an identity shared with willing migrants, intensifies identification issues. By this, I point to the disturbing reality that the #ados label, a nuanced means for the “black American” to self-identity, too often accompanies the American flag. Our intercultural conflicts need not espouse us to a violent symbol of our systemic subjection.
I find it so interesting that many #ados place themselves antithetically to Trump, but, like many of his #ados adversaries, he too has the American flag in his Twitter profile.
The pairing between #ados and the American flag delineates a new Africana identity seasoned with anti-blackness. This American affiliation proved foundational to inviting the African-Adjacent to participate in the platform. Here, I reference the white speakers at the #ados conference and publicized invitations extended to those autonomous to the ADOS experience.
Moreover, #ados succeeds in betraying exactly how intense the intercultural contentions remain within the black collective. So when I hear people say that #ados divided black people, this too reflects a pervasive ignorance to a contention Willie Lynch engendered centuries prior. Perhaps the most disturbing component to this truth, is that the Willie Lynch ideology is an anti-black flame that continues to flourish all these years later.
IV. ADOS reveals a pervasive entitlement to any and everything that the Black person in America has.
The blacks displaced in America have “shared” anything remotely aligned with their identity politics, with those who willingly migrated to the scene of the crimes cast against them.
From the labels “negro,” “black,” or “colored,” to initiatives seemingly intended to enable black people to break the glass ceiling, many of our diasporic brethren maintain closer proximity to American resources made possible by blacks displaced in America, than the Africans displaced in America. In many ways, the diasporic African’s absorption into American culture functions as reparations to those blind to the piercing reality that America is not the antidote—she is the assailant.
V. The final issue I have with #ados, is the term’s employment of the term “slave.” I will say that though technically #ados, I am not the descent of slaves. My ancestors were enslaved.
This distinction is what keeps me from aligning with the American flag, or being content with the offered solutions.
While offering a possible blueprint toward progress, it is hard to distinguish #ados from #blacklivesmatter. Specifically, both movements employ black interest in anti-black initiative that leads the lost black individual to find their way into a cognitive cage. The result is that we are bought and sold until either our need or person dissipates.
Despite my issues with #ados, I do credit the platform as marking a significant step in seriously considering black contribution. The initiative cordially invites black people to a party in which we are the guests of honor, an invitation I hope we take as a collective, This invitation incites us as a collective to contemplate who we are, what we want, and what in which we are willing to fight. Even in its faults, #ados offers a roadmap of where we need to go as a collective, exposes where we are as a people, and perhaps most significantly, where we are not.
All things considered, call me Catherine, Call me C.C., Call me black, but do not call me #ados.
At least, not now.