(BALTIMORE – August 7, 2016) – While mainstream television gives us their typical white-washed version of the 2016 Olympics which kicked-off Friday, the hidden story that caught this journalist’s ear is about Barr Media Village 3 (not far from Olympic Park) being built on sacred Afro-Brazilian ground, including the site of a mass grave of Afro-Brazilian ancestors. The land has long been home to the Quilombo, a Brazilian settlement that was established by Afro-Brazilians called the Quilombolas or the Maroons. A Maroon is known throughout the Caribbean as an escaped slave.
Aside: Quite frankly, Nanny the Maroon Queen in Jamaica is one of my favorite Maroons. Haiti’s Toussaint L’Overture is also high on my list. And, I can’t forget Harriet Tubman from my home state of Maryland. All of these people resisted slavery. All of them were Maroons. They were fighters who hated slavery. As a matter of fact, here in the US, I am reminded that many black people ran off with the Indigenous Peoples of North America, better known as the Indians. Consequently, many African Americans have Indian blood.
Back to the Olympics: The story essentially starts and ends with greedy developers who are in essence bullying their people off of land that they have always known. For me, I can’t help but look at this utter disregard of Brazilians of African descent and their land, and how it all fits into this international system of smoke and mirrors that constantly makes white people look smart and black people look otherwise.
The story of the Quilombo really deserves our attention. At the end of the day, greedy developers are intent on robbing these Afro-Brazilians of their land, including their history. Sadly, we’ve seen how this re-gentrification story plays out in countless black communities across the US, including Harlem, Brooklyn, Baltmore and Washington, D.C.
Personally, I love the Olympics, in theory. I love seeing all of the nations come together. I think that is beautiful on so many levels. The athletes get to show what they can do after 4 years or more of hard work. One gets to hear personal stories of various athletes’ struggles. It’s just beautiful. A large number of the nations of the world get to go there and compete. From that perspective, that is simply awesome!
At the same time, as a black journalist, I am keen on the story line and who is telling it. And, I’m quite familiar with the Western media, the imagery, the subtle slurs made by journalists who have long-passed their prime and who have never said anything much more than the traditional, good ol’ American spiel. So, I’m not surprised that this story about Afro-Brazilians is just getting out to the masses.
FACT: You just can’t go around building over top of people’s traditional grounds just because you want to build a condo. Wrong is wrong, so I won’t bedevil the point. Instead, my hope is that more African Americans will see this story about how the Quilombo of Brazil are under attack and use this as an educational opportunity to open their eyes to the battles of people of color across the globe. Brazil is particularly meaningful because they have 10 times the number of black people as the US and that makes them the largest population of Africans outside of Africa.
Another thing I hope people see is the similar struggle of people of color in the US, Canada, South America and Africa. It’s worldwide! Hence, I pray we grow an eye for concern over anything disaffecting peoples of color anywhere in the Diaspora. And that means following various news sources.
Further, I pray we better educate black children from a global perspective on their collective history going back to the San People of Southern Africa, home to the oldest genes on the planet. Too often, black children are robbed of knowing about African History. Many of us do not realize that black people speak most every language on the planet. You won’t know that by taking in typical media; we have to read and educate ourselves.
Too many black children lack knowledge of a map, a globe and subconsciously end up thinking the entire black experience started with slavery (especially if one never goes and learns for oneself). I earnestly believe, though, if more black people knew about the great empires of Africa, the science, the engineering, the study of the stars – we’d feel better about ourselves.
You see, all we really hear on the news is negative things about black people. I personally think it is because the people making the decisions in the news room are simply doing as has always been done. As for entertainment, sure, we have a lot of black stars. However, it’s as if we have to sell-out our souls to be famous. So, we have a lot of black stars; but, whether or not they are interested in the international struggle of black people remains to be seen. Too often, our black stars become disconnected from the masses and lose their way.
Instead of pushing our children to be famous, I say let’s push them to be conscious. If they are conscious, if they are aware of the score and where they fit into this big puzzle with a clear sense of destiny and direction – then we have done something. Then we have helped empower our future. But, quite frankly, a lot of black people are running around trying to look fly and have very little interest in the empowerment of people of color. We have become distant, privileged, stingy and greedy.
I will say – on a positive note – that the recent American killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the associated Dallas police officers gunned down by Micah Xavier Johnson spurred a great black banking push across the country. It has also gotten countless black people to tap into “Black Wall Street” efforts in terms of support local black businesses. Truth is, nothing makes me more proud that to see us using our one trillion dollars in annual disposable income more wisely.
So, the simple solution is that we have to educate ourselves, and use our dollars with “Grandma’s” wisdom. Our stars have to do a better job of stepping up and using their position to push the envelope for black people. It just takes a collective mindset.
I really hope this story about the Quilombo goes viral. It is an utter disregard for people of color, in this case Afro-Brazilians, something that is happening and the mainstream is nowhere to be found. It is awful, terrible, and downright disrespectful.
Part of the challenge facing all Americans is our geographical isolation. Most of us tend to see the world from a skewed perspective that rarely takes into account the sentiments, feelings let alone customs of people half a world away.
Because America is so powerful, people of color must be as knowledgeable as possible because we cannot afford to be in the dark. We must know how the rest of the world views us. That’s why we must develop a global perspective, one with empathy and understanding for people who look just like us and who are going through some of the same challenges as we. Re-gentrification is a classic example.
Even more truthful is the international face of white supremacy, wreaking with arrogance and a disregard for anything non-white seemingly anywhere in the world. The evidence is visible from West Baltimore to West Africa. Black and poor communities get destroyed while white communities get expanded and embellished. It’s the same old game.
There are those who think they can do what they want to people because they have the means, rarely ever acknowledging how the West, including the US, has actually grown its respective economies quite handily on the backs of free African labor and robbed African natural resources. Their arrogance and ignorance, something I call “arr-ignorance”, is going to be the death of us all unless we as a human race change for the better. Otherwise, greed and selfishness will eventually implode and wipe out humanity.
Doni Glover is a journalist, advocate, and media entrepreneur. He hosts “The Doni Glover Show” on Radio One Baltimore’s WOLB 1010 AM, is a television political analyst, and is the author of “Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography.”