Go Back to Africa
” is perhaps the most racially charged political phrase used in connection with Black people in America. Most Blacks, as well as most Whites, have probably come to interpret such an utterance as derogatory. However, Back-to-Africa political thought has not always been looked upon with such derision. Contrary to popular belief, Black leaders in America were the first ones to raise the issue of Black repatriation to the continent of Africa.
This unit is entitled Land is the Basis of all Independence primarily because the history of the development of the United States is a valid historical lesson for many Blacks, as it for many Whites. More specifically, if you do not control your own land, you will never be free. While I do not, in any way agree with the way in which Americans secured the land (they slaughtered and nearly exterminated Native Americans to secure it), I do believe that having control over the land on which you intend to call home is as fundamentally important to the development of a people as would be the food and shelter they would eventually derive from the land.
This unit, Land is the Basis of all Independence, is intended for use in Social Studies, United States history or Black history classes in grades 7-12, and will discuss the development of American political thought regarding the emergence and significance of Back-to-Africa political thought in America between 1790 and 1850.
This unit is further intended to serve as complementary information regarding discussions about US history in general, and American political thought in particular in order to address the pervasive dearth of qualitative discussions offered by most textbooks in the area of Black political thought. When textbooks do mention Black political thought, the focus is very narrow and almost always excludes the non-traditional political theories of Black people in America. This is especially true in regard to Black American repatriation issues.
This information is important to know for many reasons. However, what is of utmost importance in this regard is that in order to understand Black people and the diverse roles they play in American life today, and the choices that they have had to make in the face of intense racism and White supremacy, all people generally, and students in particular, need a vivid sense both of how passionate many Blacks have always been about making better lives for themselves here in America, and also how understandably embittered many have always been about the prospects for doing so here. As a result, emigration or repatriation seemed to be the best option for them.
Recognizing both of these as deeply entrenched, enduring features of the Black experience in America helps everyone to understand why many Blacks today have a strong sense of entitlement and ownership toward the United States, along with a perhaps equally or more powerful sense of alienation from it. This alienation has, in many cases and for many years, manifested itself in a desire on the part of some Blacks to leave this country, and go to the continent of Africa where they could, conceivably, become part of the ruling element. It seems to be a natural inclination for human beings to desire to be part of the ruling element wherever they may be. However, participation in the decision making process in the highest levels of American life is more often than not, closed to Black people. This has been, and continues to be, a fundamental failure of America’s version of democracy.