Pan-Africanism is often discussed in terms of the past. It evokes images of Marcus Garvey's Back-to-Africa movement, W.E.B Du Bois choosing to spend his last days in Ghana or even the little known fact that Tupac Shakur's mother worked for Patrice Lumumba in the newly independent D.R Congo. Yet, as old as the notion of Pan-Africanism is, its relevance to black lives today is unmistakable.
Today, Black people, whether in; Africa, North America, The Caribbean or Latin America are still systematically subjected to state sponsored brutality, hate crimes and various other indignities. The Charleston Massacre, the burning of Black churches across the American south along with the recent deportation of Haitians in The Dominican Republic all serve to remind us that the black struggle for equality, security and the right to self-actualization are in fact universal and ongoing.
We need Pan-Africanism now more than ever.
Thanks to social media, the world is now interconnected in ways that were previously unimaginable. Access to information about the the plight of Black communities around the world is unparalleled by any other time in history.With this increased availability of information, we have the power to define the boundaries of blackness and to determine how real or how artificial we want the physical boundaries separating our communities to be. This increased connectivity also allows us to lend our talents, platforms and most importantly, our voices across boarders and oceans to our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling to topple various institutions of oppression and marginalization.
Bree Newsome said it best when she explained her reasons for taking down the Confederate Battle Flag in North Carolina.
"I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes. I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free."
The fact that the bravery of a group of students in South Africa and the deportation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic can inspire a Woman from the American South to confront the physical representation of the legacy of slavery in the United States is testament to the fact that not only is Pan-Africanism alive and well, it is still profoundly powerful. So, as we rise up against oppressive institutions in our local communities, we should aim for global impact-recognizing and embracing the fact that our struggles run parallel to one another and that none of us are free unless all of us are free.