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Globalization, Struggle, and Empowerment in the African Diaspora

Paper Outline

Background of the African Diaspora
Understanding of the “black other”

By the early 2000s, it was estimated that close to 156 million individuals with an African descent were living in Europe and the Americas. However, from a comparative analysis, it has been established that the African Diaspora population is not very prominent. There are some countries in the world that have been identified as lacking significant populations of the African descent. These include China, India, and Indonesia. The African Diaspora is mostly found within the Atlantic regions. However, other African Diaspora population can be found in Colombia, Peru, and the US Pacific coastal areas. The majority of the African Diaspora is found in South America boasting of 57.2%. The North American continent is host to 22.3% of the African Diaspora population. The central American region has 1.4 of the African American population. The Caribbean has 17.9%, whereas Europe has about 1.2% (Patterson, 68). The anthology that was edited by Clarke and Thomas focused on the African Diaspora and their experiences in various parts of the world. Various contributors have highlighted the various discussions and issues affecting the African people. However, the focus was on the Africans living in different parts of the world, and not in their homeland. This paper will aspire to explain why an understanding of the “black other” is central to explaining the experiences of the African Diaspora. In this case, the paper shall make reference to the essays presented by Jacqueline Brown, Naomi Pabst, Jayne Ifekunigwe, and Ariana Hernandez-Reguant.
Background of the African Diaspora
The African Diaspora is a term used to refer to the Africans who are living outside the African continent. The Diasporas came into existence due to migrations. This can be involuntary or voluntary migrations. However, the migration of the African people from the African continent can be categorized into three: primary, secondary, and tertiary migrations. In reference to primary migration, it was facilitated by the slave trade that was rampant between the mid 15th century and the late 19th century. Notably, about ten million Africans were taken into the Americas as slaves between the 17th and 18th centuries. The secondary migration of the African Diaspora was witnessed during the late 18th century. The slaves in the US crossed to Canada and the Carribean. In the 19th century, the fleeing slaves ran to Canada through the Underground Railroad. During the early 19th century, the Afro-Caribbean individuals relocated to the US and the Central American region. The secondary migration of the African Diaspora was witnessed during the late 20th century. There was a migration of the Africans to various parts of the world including the US, Western Europe, North America and the Oceania region. The Afro-Caribbeans have been identified as the most migratory group accounting for over 90% of the secondary migration across the Atlantic. The tertiary migration of the African Diaspora was characterized by the movement of the people of African descent to urban areas. In this case, there was a mass movement of people of African descent from the South to the urban North in the US. Therefore, it can be observed that most of the African Diaspora resided in urban areas after the tertiary migration. However, most of them are found in slum areas where the living conditions are deplorable. It has been established that, in North America, Europe and the Caribbean, the African Diaspora has a high rate of urbanization (Patterson, 71-72).
Understanding of the “black other”
The Diaspora has been defined as “a process that generates subjects through negotiations arising from particular structural and historical conditions that change over time” (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 12). This process should be observed within the relational network context that has been established through the aspect of globalization. In general, it can be agreed that social aspects emanating from numerous, political economies are missing in the debate on globalization. This way, the relationship between people and things is disregarded.
The essay by Jacqueline Nassy Brown centers on the issue of gender and sexual desire played a part in shaping the Diaspora. Therefore, Brown’s work focused on the issues of cultural and geographical aspects. The author explored the manner in which the movements of the African Diaspora and their desires have been shaped based on gender and sexuality. The author reviews Liverpool as a seaport and the manner in which blackness was viewed by the residents of this city. According to Brown, the arrival of the African seamen in Liverpool led to their intermarriage between them and English and Irish women. This “set into motion both the institutions of interracial marriage and its one-way gendering” (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 75). The black men were regarded as sisters, and thus they were not viewed as marriage partners. The African women advanced a preference for “the American Dream” as something that the black men in Liverpool were not giving them. It can be viewed that, “’longing’ in the formation of the Diasporas” prompted the migration to Liverpool where individuals would realize their dreams (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 87). Brown presents a situation in which women are existent and agents in the African Diaspora.
In her essay, Ariana Hernandez-Reguent talks about the Timba music that was popular during the 1990s. She analyses the issues related to this music and how the Afro-Cubans took the music. In fact, she noted that the Timba music presented the African Diaspora in Cuba with a platform whereby they could enjoy without posing a threat to the status quo. Indeed, she argued that the men were presented with social mobility. This was attained “through intimacy and sexuality” (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 250-1). The music was liked by the Afro-Cuban men as it reinforced their dominance over women. The essay is marked with numerous occasions where the men are presented as having dominated women in the various gendered productions. This is widespread in the African settings where men are portrayed as superior to women. The Cuban society is characterized with racial and gender hierarchies where the men are seen as superior. This essay discusses politics surrounding the issues of gender, sexuality and race and how these issues have been integrated into the national discourse. The issues discussed are also directed by “class and state authority” (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 272). Therefore, it can be argued that this essay focused on the politics of masculinity among the Afro-Cubans. Cuba boasts of a considerable number of the African Diaspora. In this society, the men are seen as superior to women, and these racial and gendered aspects have been incorporated into the national culture.
Naomi Pabst focused on the issue of blacks in Canada. The essay examined the association between geopolitics and African prejudice. She looked at the issue of the African Diaspora in Canada and North America within the geopolitical setting. The author is categorical that the essay does not focus on black Canada per se, but rather is a journey to Canada. She analyzes the journey to and from Canada. It can be noted that the African Diaspora who were serving as slaves in the US found their way into Canada with the hope of getting freedom. At the height of slavery in the US, the African Diaspora used an underground channel to cross over to Canada. Canada was seen as a prospective homeland for the disillusioned African Diaspora in the US. Although Canada was perceived to pose little danger to the Africans, there was no guarantee that Canada did not have elements of racism. In fact, there are reports of racism among those who went to Canada. According to the author, Canada is well known for its multiculturalism. However, racism is still witnessed within the Canadian society (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 116).
The author observes that slavery in Canada has not been covered with a lot of emphasis. Canada was opposed to slavery, but it was not an anti-racist society. The fugitive slaves who were running away from the US were welcomed to Canada to provide cheap labor. It can be noted that Canada encouraged the runaway slaves to return to the US after the abolition of slavery. Indeed, many African Diaspora opted to return to the US to be with their relatives, as well as free themselves from racism that was rampant in Canada. However, even as some African Diaspora returned to the US, others continued to cross into Canada for opportunities lacking in the US. Therefore, the issue of blacks in Canada is quite complicated (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 124).
Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe wrote an essay on the case of the African Diaspora found in Europe. The focus was on the Nigerian women who find their way into Italy as sex workers. In this essay, it has been established that the women African Diaspora moves to Europe to work as sex workers or domestic workers. The author noted that West African women are smuggled into Europe, especially Italy, where they work as sex workers. The issue of African women engaging in sex work is complicated. They are mostly driven into sex work due to financial constraints (Clarke and Thomas, 2006, 213).
The issue of the African Diaspora is very complicated. The African Diaspora has continued to struggle to establish their identity. They have experienced different challenges in their search for identity. Therefore, it is critical to examine the experiences of the various groups of the African Diaspora to have an understanding of their experiences in different parts of the world. The collection of essays by Clarke and Thomas has been vital in telling the experiences of the African Diaspora. In the wake of globalization, the experiences of the Diaspora can be compared and different lessons noted. In the essays presented by Jacqueline Brown, Naomi Pabst, Jayne Ifekunigwe, and Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, it has been established that the African Diaspora had different experiences in various parts of the world. These experiences were further defined by the gender aspect. In most instances, African women are highly disadvantaged in the society. The issue of gender discrimination is evident whereby women are forced to play second fiddle to men. Apart from the essay by Naomi Pabst, the other essays have integrated the issue of sexuality in the African Diaspora experiences.

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