Earth Day: Colonialism’s role in the overexploitation of natural resources

Earth Day: Colonialism's role in the overexploitation of natural resources

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Mining is a highly destructive endeavour towards our environment but demand for gems and minerals is non-stop; early colonial relationships continue to define these industries. Shutterstock

Joseph McQuade, University of Toronto

We are currently experiencing the worst environmental crisis in human history, including a “biological annihilation” of wildlife and dire risks for the future of human civilization.

The scale of that environmental devastation has increased drastically in recent years. Mostly to blame are anthropogenic, or human-generated factors, including the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.

Other industries like gem and mineral mining also destroy the world’s ecological sustainability, leading to deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats. Much of this traumatic exploitation of natural resources traces its origins to early colonialism.

Colonialists saw “new” territories as places with unlimited resources to exploit, with little consideration for the long-term impacts. They exploited what they considered to be an “unending frontier” at the service of early modern state-making and capitalist development.

To understand our current ecological catastrophe, described as “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040,” we need to look at the role of colonialism at its roots.

This exploration is not a debate over whether colonialism was “good” or “bad”. Instead, it is about understanding how this global process helped create the world we currently inhabit.

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3 Things Schools Should Teach About America’s History of White Supremacy

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A Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington, D.C., in 1926. Everett Historical from

Noelle Hurd, University of Virginia

When it comes to how deeply embedded racism is in American society, blacks and whites have sharply different views.

For instance, 70 percent of whites believe that individual discrimination is a bigger problem than discrimination built into the nation’s laws and institutions. Only 48 percent of blacks believe that is true.

Many blacks and whites also fail to see eye to eye regarding the use of blackface, which dominated the news cycle during the early part of 2019 due to a series of scandals that involve the highest elected leaders in Virginia, where I teach.

The donning of blackface happens throughout the country, particularly on college campuses. Recent polls indicate that 42 percent of white American adults either think blackface is acceptable or are uncertain as to whether it is.

One of the most recent blackface scandals has involved Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose yearbook page from medical school features someone in blackface standing alongside another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam has denied being either person. The more Northam has tried to defend his past actions, the clearer it has become to me how little he appears to know about fundamental aspects of American history, such as slavery. For instance, Northam referred to Virginia’s earliest slaves as “indentured servants”. His ignorance has led to greater scrutiny of how he managed to ascend to the highest leadership position in a racially diverse state with such a profound history of racism and white supremacy.

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Women’s History Month Booklist 2019



Just as Black history is American history, so too is Women’s history. Just as the “African American” section of the bookstore is as infuriating as it is necessary, so too is the Chick Lit genre and the “Women’s” section. They serve the purpose of highlighting writers, ideas, points of view, and histories that sadly might go unknown, unexplored, or underappreciated otherwise.

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite women writers. Some are well-known, some less so but all are deserving of their turn in the spotlight. We invite you to turn the page!

  1. Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage

Pauli Murray and Patricia Bell-Scott

Paperback: 624 pages

Publisher: Liveright

ISBN-10: 1631494589

Although she is relatively unknown today—despite a rich, fascinating life---there are a decent handful of biographies to choose from if you are interested in learning about Pauli Murray. Born in Baltimore in 1910, and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Murray, the first African American woman to receive a Doctor of Law at Yale, a poet, a social activist, a confidante of Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, tells her own tale in this hefty memoir. It is a lyrical, powerful story.

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GBC Statement on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Democrats Abroad Global Black Caucus adds its voice to those of the NAACP, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Newport News), former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia House Democrats and the Virginia Black Caucus, among many many others, calling for the immediate resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

On February 1st, a right-wing online outlet run by former Breitbart staff published a 1984 photo from Gov. Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. The picture features two men, one in blackface, one in full KKK robe and hood. Initially, Northam took responsibility for the ugly, disturbing picture, apologizing for the image taken at age 24. He acknowledged his actions in a written statement and on video but then held a press conference and reversed course. He is now claiming that he does not recall taking the photo and that he isn’t one of the two men pictured.

A week later, after admitting to wearing blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson, and while still leaving unexplained how the racist photo was on his yearbook page in the first place, Gov. Northam has dug in and is refusing to step down. This is unacceptable. Blackface is unacceptable. As the director of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson said February 6, on the Rachel Maddow Show, the history of the KKK and the history of blackface, which is one of many vile social customs used to mock, shame, and oppress African Americans is the history of domestic terrorism. Every African American knows and recognizes this. It’s a history which school administrators, the editors of the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, and Ralph Northam knew and recognized in 1984. They were all in on the joke. It’s unacceptable.

The Black vote, specifically the Black woman vote---91%---put Northam in the Governor’s mansion. Gov. Northam cannot even bring himself to admit if he was the one in blackface or Klan regalia. Virginians nor the Democratic party continue to support him. He must resign immediately.

Written by GBC Contributor KC Washington in cooperation with the GBC steering committee.

2019 Black History Month




Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. African Americans have and continue to make significant contributions to the United States and our achievements deserve to be celebrated. Learn more about the origins of Black History Month.

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2019 Black History Month Film Recommendations


It’s Black History Month, which means there’s really no better time to see a great film that captures the diverse narratives of black people. Currently, there are so many excellent films about the black experience/black history, it's hard to choose. We've curated a selection of films in many genres, there is something for most tastes. Choose from documentaries, biographical/historical dramas, fantasy/sci-fi/horror, LGBT themes, and sports figures.

Be sure to watch Southside with You. The film chronicles the summer 1989 afternoon when the future President of the United States, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady, Michelle Obama, on a first date across Chicago's South Side.

Consider hosting a watch party during Black History Month.


The films listed below are in no particular order and most are on streaming services.

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Book Recommendations for Black History Month 2019












Every traveler knows that a book can be your best friend, your guide, and your sanity-saver. Living abroad, even more so than a pleasant jaunt away from home, can be as challenging and scary as it is exhilarating. And books often help the globetrotter step back, recharge, learn something new in order to plan the next adventure or simply appreciate the adventure they are already on. A good book, fiction or nonfiction, can also teach a traveler or expat the history or culture of the place they now call home.

In this spirit of adventure, this quarter’s Global Black Caucus booklist is comprised of old and new gems---fiction and nonfiction that take us from Hawaii to Mississippi and beyond. We hope these books will inspire, confound, and perhaps help you plan your next escapade. We invite you to turn the page!


The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Edward E. Baptist

Paperback: 560 pages

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN-10: 9780465049660                                                                              

An Associate Professor of History at Cornell University, Baptist uses all his persuasive research and writing skills to challenge the myth that the enslaved labor of Africans and the American Negro did not fundamentally create the United States of America as we know it today.

At times charming but mostly enraging, The Half Has Never Been Told takes on the myth, manufactured during and post-antebellum, that American slavery was somehow isolated from the social and economic formation of the United States. Baptist convincingly argues that enslaving an entire people and using their forced labor was essential to the economic prosperity of the fledgling country, the hinge which allowed it to become an economic and cultural powerhouse in a breathtakingly short amount of time and not, as slave owners, businessmen, politicians, historians, and everyday people proffered, simply a by-blow at best and incidental at worse.


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MLK’s vision matters today for the 43 million Americans living in poverty

MLK's vision matters today for the 43 million Americans living in poverty

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. displays the poster to be used during his Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. AP Photo/Horace Cort

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, while fighting for a 10-cent wage increase for garbage workers. These efforts by King were part of a broader and more sustained initiative known as the Poor People’s Campaign.

King was working to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement to include poverty and the end of the war in Vietnam. King and his leadership team planned to bring thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., where they would camp out on the National Mall until Congress passed legislation to eradicate poverty.

King was convinced that for the civil rights movement to achieve its goals, poverty needed to become a central focus of the movement. He believed the poor could lead a movement that would revolutionize society and end poverty. As King noted, “The only real revolutionary, people say, is a man who has nothing to lose. There are millions of poor people in this country who have little, or nothing to lose.”

With over 43 million people living in poverty in the United States today, King’s ideas still hold much power.

The Poor People’s Campaign

In the last three years of his life and ministry King had grown frustrated with the slow pace of reform and the lack of funding for anti-poverty programs. In 1966, for example, King moved to Chicago and lived in an urban slum to bring attention to the plight of the urban poor in northern cities. His experiences in the South had convinced him that elimination of poverty was important to winning the long-term battle for civil and social rights.

It was also at this time that King began to think about leading a march to Washington, D.C., to end poverty. King explained the campaign saying,:

“Then we poor people will move on Washington, determined to stay there until the legislative and executive branches of the government take serious and adequate action on jobs and income.”

King was assassinated before he could lead the campaign. And while the effort continued, the campaign could not meet King’s goals of poverty elimination, universal access to health care and education, and a guaranteed income that would keep people out of poverty.

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Slavery was never abolished – it affects millions, and you may be funding it

Slavery was never abolished – it affects millions, and you may be funding it

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Nail bars are havens for modern slavery. shutterstock

Catherine Armstrong, Loughborough University

When we think of slavery, many of us think of historical or so-called “traditional forms” of slavery – and of the 12m people ripped from their West African homes and shipped across the Atlantic for a lifetime in the plantations of the Americas.

But slavery is not just something that happened in the past –- the modern day estimate for the number of men, women and children forced into labour worldwide exceeds 40m. Today’s global slave trade is so lucrative that it nets traffickers more than US$150 billion each year.

Slavery affects children as well as adults

Debt bondage often ensnares both children and adults. In Haiti, for example, many children are sent to work by their families as domestic servants under what’s known as the Restavek system – the term comes from the French language rester avec, “to stay with”. These children, numbering as many as 300,000, are often denied an education, forced to work up to 14 hours a day and are sometimes victims of sexual abuse.

Slavery is a daily reality for 10m children around the world. Shutterstock

Read more: How trafficked children are being hidden behind a focus on modern slavery

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Phone banking for Mike Espy for US Senate

The midterm elections are not over. The race for US Senator in Mississippi will go to a Run-Off election on November 27th. Democrat Mike Espy needs our help to win.

This is a runoff election that until a few days ago was rated SOLID REPUBLICAN. But incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has continued to say extreme and SHOCKINGLY RACIST things (she joked about "public lynching") and photographs have surfaced of her wearing a Confederate hat while posing with a member of a known hate group.

She has now LOST the support of many donors, including corporations — and Mike Espy is fighting for every vote he can get. Mike Espy is a former Congressman from MS, a former US Secretary of Agriculture, and he will bring Mississippi forward, not backward. If he wins he will be the first black Senator to go to Washington from Mississippi since Reconstruction.

Mississippi Democrats need to turn out and VOTE on November 27th. Democrats Abroad can help by PHONE BANKING for the MIKE ESPY CAMPAIGN this Saturday, November 24th. 

RSVP NOW for one of the two call windows reserved for Democrats Abroad volunteers:

RSVP for the Morning call block. This call list is good for those in Europe and the Americas

10am - 3pm Mississippi time (CST)
11am - 4pm DC time (EST)
4pm - 10pm Great Britain (GMT)
5pm - 11pm Germany/France (CET) - good for Europe


RSVP for the Afternoon call block.  This call list is good for those in the Americas

3pm - 8pm Mississippi time (CST)
4pm - 9pm DC time (EST)


You will receive a link for the Call List you have signed up for, with an access code prior to the phone bank going live. A computer with an internet connection is necessary to participate.

Please feel free to HOST A PHONE BANKING EVENT near you, and tell us about it. We will share it on social media.

I hope you can join us on Saturday.

Thank you,
Angela Fobbs
GBC, Chair