Lessons From Around the World

By Malena Amusa Mar 26, 2007

(Dominique Sopo, SOS Racisme, France; Photo by Brian Palmer) The third plenary of the Facing Race Conference, “Lessons from Around the World: Race Culture and the Global Economy” brought together international leaders from France, America, and Latin American to discuss global solutions to displacement and post-colonial strife. Francis Calpotura, of the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action moderated the panel that featured: —Mallika Dutt, BreakthroughDominique Sopo, SOS Racisme, FranceNunu Kidane, Priority Africa NetworkGregoria Flores, The Fraternal Black Honduran Organization Panelists spoke passionately about their theories under-girding their activism. Dutt, an Indian immigrant, shared her quest to uncover her identities and argued that organizations should rally around common values instead of shared identities. “My political identity: woman, woman in power, immigrant woman, third world woman, lesbian, dyke, queer…I couldn’t bear being in a politically defined space [where] my friends were defined by only the oppression we found in common.” Movements must stand on visions, she said, and to articulate these, Dutt’s Breakthrough uses a human-rights framework, pop culture forums, and the power of media. Kidane, an Eritrean immigrant, critiqued media discourse that blames Africans for problems in Africa without looking at the genesis of conflicts and the impact of European colonialization. Criticizing development efforts of the West in Africa, Nunu pointed out how the U.S. provides 45 percent of the world’s weapons, giving conflicts their violent legs to run over attempts at development. She also highlighted the sharp increase of African immigrant to America and Europe which she said is due to warfare in Africa that the West cashes in on. Flores, an exile from Honduras, spoke about efforts of corporations to convert the Caribbean to real estate, and how attempts to fight back threatens the lives of people. Sopo pointed out France’s problem of immigration that resulted in race riots last year. "We tend to deal with immigration as a problem within our borders without realizing that the problem has causes which stem from many different places…. The real question is why are they leaving their country and what are the problems there?"