By Frank T. Scruggs The Afro News USA
In spite of the gains made, the work that remains to be done is to regain all of the wealth of the African people, which like our history seemed to have been “lost, stolen or strayed.” Economic empowerment is the vehicle needed to provide the exodus from poverty, political marginalization, racism and oppression to economic autonomy and self-reliance. African people like all people have the need to provide for their families and share in the wealth that nations have to offer. Welfare and government handouts are not valid solutions for any people living in a nation. The people of a nation are the greatest natural resource available and should therefore be deserving of full political, social, economic development and opportunity. Creating unity to reach agreements for strategic goals and an agenda for political, social and economic development and the building of working coalitions within the black community is absolutely necessary.
African people throughout the African Diaspora need to implement and practice cross cultural negotiation due to the cultural diversity of African people in the United States, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean and everywhere else. One problem faced by the African American community has been that many issues have been unique to one faction. In this case, while a large number of African Americans see the problems of the entire Black community as a responsibility and as a universal obligation. Others do not see any reason to be concerned or involved; the same holds true throughout the African Diaspora and sadly even on the African continent. Thus, approaching these problems require insight and a way to achieve a strategic agenda for dealing with the problems of the African people throughout the world involves insight and awareness of how to communicate across the cultural divide that exists throughout the Diaspora which is multicultural, multi-lingual and politically fragmented.
On several occasions dating as far back as the1840s, Black Americans called national conventions to develop a strategic agenda in order to gain support for policy options important to the black community. In 1972 at the height of the Black Power Movement, an attempt was made to construct what was hoped would be a permanent unified national black organization dedicated to this end. A convention was called for by a number of black elected officials, civil rights leaders and others from community groups and held in the city of Gary, Indiana. According to Barker and Jones (1994) “the convention revolved around an “Outline for a Black Agenda,” a document that had been prepared by a taskforce of black intellectuals and some others…the agenda enumerated 30 objectives designed to “eliminate racism and exploitation from American life” and stressed the need for blacks to organize to realize them.” Delegates at this national convention saw envisioned themselves as state assembly delegates representing the black community from their home states. The hope of the Gary Convention (as it came to be known) would be unity and the promise of an organized national black assembly. The Gary Convention failed in this effort; almost as quickly as the National Black Political Assembly as authorized by the Gary Declaration, Barker and Jones (1994) stated “it was torn asunder by ideological, strategic and tactical differences and it ceased to function.” Conflicts typically arise between the classes within the African communities which are made up of different cultural factions. Even more importantly divisions flair up when elitist leadership (educated, wealthy Africans) side with policy that does not reflect the demands of the masses but rather the prevailing values of those holding Capitalistic and Eurocentric elites therefore changes will be incremental rather than revolutionary.
Coalitions are often perceived by some African leaders as a means of achieving political and social justice goals however another problem arising from black class division occurs in urban policy. What really is noteworthy is that conflict arises from the issue regarding: Who in the African community speaks for the African community? Leadership at all levels and across all class lines should work together to forge the various factions together at the very least into ad hoc, Afrocentric coalitions which are more capable of addressing issues that are of universal concern to all members of the African community. Negotiating cross-culturally would actually enable the Africans throughout the Diaspora to approach itself therapeutically and heal itself by coming to better understand other members in the myriad of different cultural factions that make up the collective soul of the African Diaspora. When focus is placed on commonalities, humanity, common objectives and specific achievable goals, the desire to negotiate and build coalitions for political and economic power becomes a greater reality.
Cross-cultural negotiation approaches employed within the African community are absolutely necessary because these approaches recognize that African people are complex and diverse. These diverse groups while constantly changing are very capable of reaching consensus through mediation and negotiation. This can be accomplished when there is a blueprint for negotiation, a vehicle for addressing issues and a model for communication the potential for articulating goals and objectives even across great cultural and ideological divide. Let’s keep the discussion going. Contact me at http://www.franktscruggs.spuz.com