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 Issue 15| Black August 2020

BSANI Updates
We commemorate the revolutionary life and struggles of George Jackson this month but Black August is about the history of African resistance, since Queen Ann Nzinga fought the Portuguese in the 17th century, to the creation of the UNIA by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and his creation of the most seminal Pan-African movement yet. Today BSANI continues that struggle and seeks to realize the vision of a sovereign, united Africa for all Africans.

Recently BSANI Executive Director Foday Ajamu Mansaray and President Kenya Malinke Mansaray spoke with Afrika Speaks with Alkebu-Lan on "Where Can We Find Practical Garveyism?"

To hear the full interview click the following link: https://bit.ly/3aTen3o


 
Education

Revolutionary Education Through Technology

by OnTay Johnson 

In my last article, I talked about how during these times, while quarantined, we have an opportunity to start looking at alternative forms of education. Now, I want to look at a specific method of doing so. I have been looking at the creation and growth of online education and specifically, Khan Academy.  Now this isn’t a plug for Khan Academy but I believe in analyzing it’s success, we can get a vision for our potential.
 
Khan Academy started in the closet of Salman Khan[1].  Khan was able to take something he was doing for his family and friends and turn it not only into an online platform but an institution that now also has a brick and mortar classroom[2].
 
I use the app and site with my kids from time to time. When I do, I always say to myself, that if we do the necessary preliminary work, we can surpass Khan’s impact and do it solely for us.  The website/app isn’t impossible for us to build. What has really intrigued me is how Khan turned a hobby helping family and friends into an institution that is used all over the world.[3]
 
As of today the organization has:
 
5.7 Million YouTube Subscribers
7.7k Videos Uploaded
1.7 Billion Views[4]
 
Again, my intention isn’t to direct us to Khan Academy so we can marvel at it so much as it is to get us to see the potential we have as Africans to utilize technology and subvert our current condition. Khan, despite being Indian, is educating children based on an eurocentric politic.  One may argue that it is not eurocentric because educators and students are utilizing the site all over the world. But I would ask, if it’s not eurocentric, then would Khan be considered Bill Gates’ favorite teacher if he wasn’t eurocentric?[5] Would Google donate millions of dollars if it was African-centered or even Asian-centered? [6] Would he be popular at TED talks [7] if he were truly revolutionary?  He probably could be so long as he ignored the fulcrum of white domination--Africans.

Go to Khan Academy’s site and click on “About the Team” and not one person of African descent shows up.[8] And I’m not asking to be included, I’m making a point that his curricula and success serve the european. It does not mean we can’t learn from it though.
 
There is an opportunity here and the capabilities of tech with education allures everyone. During the Obama administration, the Executive Office of the United States recognized the potential of eLearning, not only in the US but worldwide.[9] And that was nearly 11 years ago. What are our capabilities now?
 
We have to start asking ourselves questions that inspire us. What if we had an online platform that was funded by us and it wasn’t just a supplement to their current school but it replaced the pathological programming of the eurocentric schools our children attend now?
 
What if, from a young age, our children attended this school and quickly knew that their destiny was to overthrow the european because it was implemented into the school curriculum? What if this education program was designed to agitate and counter the various ways in which the present education system (worldwide) programmed us to seek jobs from our oppressors. 
 
What if brain drain was no more an issue because our best and brightest stayed in Africa or decided to focus solely on helping the African communities wherever they lived? What if we were able to amass a movement, where parents looking for alternatives would enroll their children into this African-centered institution, and it was not only cosmetically African-centered but actually led to a revolution and then renaissance?
 
What if? Would you donate to this cause?  Is it worth $10/month from you for your child to attend? Five dollars? A dollar?  What if we could get 100,000 attendees (worldwide) the first year? What about 1 million? Could it catch steam?  What would be the outcome in 20 years if it were sustainable?
 
I will reiterate, the times have presented us with an opportunity.  Of course, there will be a lot needed to get there. I know, but we have to start somewhere, and I believe we can do it with the minds of our children. I am aware of how romantic this sounds but I’m a visionary and hopefully others can be inspired by this and we can build. We simply must believe in ourselves for the benefit of ourselves.

 


[1] "Sal Khan: the man who tutored his cousin – and started a ...." 23 Apr. 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/apr/23/sal-khan-academy-tutored-educational-website.
[2] "Khan Lab School." https://khanlabschool.org/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.
[3] "Khan Academy International." 27 Apr. 2020, https://international.khanacademy.org/.
[4] "Khan academy | Youtube Statistics / Analytics | Trackalytics." https://www.trackalytics.com/youtube/user/khanacademy/.
[5] "Sal Khan: Bill Gates' favorite teacher - Aug. 24, 2010 - Fortune." 24 Aug. 2010, https://archive.fortune.com/2010/08/23/technology/sal_khan_academy.fortune/index.htm.
[7] "Sal Khan: Let's teach for mastery -- not test scores | TED Talk." 6 Sep. 2016, https://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_teach_for_mastery_not_test_scores?language=en.
[8] "About the Team | Khan Academy." https://www.khanacademy.org/about/the-team.
Technology

Surveillance Capitalism and the Commodification of Data

by Melissa Obi
 
The absorption of data has lent itself to commodification. Everything about you is for profit. Within a very short period of time, technological technocrats have developed new business models, shifted power relations and, in the end, created a new form of capitalism, “Surveillance Capitalism.”  This is a new form of capitalism that also preys and should be given more attention. It has the potential to have serious effects and influence on political and economic paradigms. 
 
A White House report some previous years ago on Technology firms concluded that the technological trajectory is that more and more data will be generated about individuals and will persist under the control of Technology firms. Google along with every other social media platform retains individual search histories that were also made available to state security and law enforcement, along with retail outlets. 
 
We need to be aware of what is happening and not be complacent about the surveillance we are undergoing. How this impacts or changes the way we engage with technology is a tough question. Many of us know that our data is being taken without our consent then used in attempt to manipulate us into becoming more predictable and more reliable consumers. We are but bystanders.
 
Many have never heard the term epistemic inequality as it relates to surveillance capitalism. It is the privatization and commodification of knowledge. Surveillance Capitalism and Behavior Capitalism are mutually inclusive. Surveillance capitalism is the collection of behavioral data.  The new business model for technocrats is digital technologies.
 
In Dr. Shoshana Zuboff's book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight For a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. She describes how Surveillance capitalism, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”

This is to align with totalitarianism.  Companies from all walks of life compete for our behavioral data so they can predict what, when, and how we will act, feel, want, and or presume to need. Surveillance capitalism has made our behavior a coveted product. This divides society into the watchers and the watched. The battle over who owns and controls personal data will be a central one in the years and decades ahead. Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon happily take our data in exchange for convenience, lower prices or free services, but individuals and businesses are beginning to understand the value of controlling their data instead of simply handing it over to the world’s largest technology companies. The battle to regain control over that data could also be starting in earnest.
 
IT companies had to find business models that would continue providing a growing return to their venture capital funders. In order to keep increasing the user base, it was essential for free services to continue to be free of charge for the end user, all social media platforms. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they chose to embed advertisements to generate revenue. However, the way in which they implemented this turned out to make these technocrats highly profitable at the expense of those who utilize their platforms.
 
Instead of merely placing ads, user actions were tracked and recorded in large data bases. When computer scientists at these companies invented algorithms to effectively analyze the giant volumes of data and employed statistical methods to derive predictions from user profiles, they invented a new business model that turned out to be so profitable that even companies that are financed by fees also adopted this practice. Based on this data, they generate revenue primarily by selling customized advertising. User data becomes much more valuable for this in contexts of past and planned purchases, when data corresponding to the same user can be connected across different contexts to generate a significantly more sophisticated user profile, profile data can be compared and correlated to similar profiles from the database, and it serves as a basis for behavioral manipulation. Which connects behavioral capitalism and surveillance capitalism.
 
Since it is their predictive and manipulative capital, usually the data is not sold directly, as that would undermine the basis of their business model. Although smaller companies exist that employ trackers and presumably serve as additional data suppliers, these transfers of user data are typically not visible to the end user. For the big IT companies instead, revenue is generated by predicting and influencing user behavior to market and profit off of.

 
Culture
South Africa

by Mzolo Veja Veli
 
I grew up under Apartheid South Africa, the White Supremacy System that kept Afrikans subjugated in every area of their lives. Under Apartheid everyone in South Africa was categorized under a particular race and every movement of their lives was monitored accordingly. Whites were at the top, followed by Indians, then Coloreds(mixed race), and Afrikans at the bottom. Everyone was separated in terms of living, work, travel, entertainment, education, worship; kwk. The entire country was a police state and militarily occupied. As the struggle against apartheid intensified, so did the occupation. I can remember having soldiers standing outside our classrooms in high school, being chased, teargassed, and a friend losing his eye after being shot with a rubber bullet.
 
When “negotiations” between the ANC and the ruling white National Party took place in 1994, South Africa was supposedly the last African country to gain its “independence.” South Africa was a Black country now--or rather a country ruled by Blacks. This was in spite of the fact that the law of the country is Roman/Anglo/Dutch law. The Constitution of the country is basically a European Constitution, the politics are European parliamentary system with European political parties, the land is still owned by the same people (Whites) who owned it during Apartheid, a neocolonial capitalist economic system, and the judiciary that is still controlled by the White Supremacists judges. The ANC further sweetened the deal by agreeing to pay off Apartheid debts.
 
What the Afrikans got out of the 1994 “negotiations” was a so called “Truth And Reconciliation” theatrics where Africans came forward before television cameras to relate personal brutalities that they, family members, or friends suffered from the terror of the Apartheid system. Individual whites were named as culprits and there were no real consequences for what they did. Blacks also got the ANC in parliament ruling together with the National Party. A new flag was hoisted, roads and buildings were renamed, new statues erected, all South African languages where declared official languages even though English and Dutch are the main languages used for business, education and other official interactions. Africans can now live wherever they want, or travel anywhere, even go to school where they please. Of course all of this is in theory because for the majority of Africans, very few can afford to. In essence, South Africa like the rest of the African countries became symbolically free. In reality the whole continent is still under Euro/American/China/Arab domination and control.
 
Twenty-six years later, the country seems to be on the verge of disintegrating. After the ravages of the HIV pandemic, the influx of Africans from other African countries, unemployment consistently in double digits for years, spike in crime some of which is brutal, self-dealings and corruption by government officials, and now the pressures of Covid 19; the masses are beginning to question the legitimacy of the ANC government. The resentment, the frustration, the anger and disillusionment has been festering for years now. It has expressed itself in what has been referred to as xenophobia, or boycotts, strikes, and riots that were a staple menu of the Apartheid era. This is as good as any time for the masses in South Africa to be re-engaged to the struggle not only in South Africa but struggles of Africans against White Supremacy/Racism on the continent and all over the globe. All African people should intensify the coordination and networking of all our people.  White Supremacy is a global system. We cannot keep acting like our struggle is localized and has little or nothing to do with all other Africans. The very fact that White Supremacy has managed to coordinate and localize symbolic independence of African people one country at a time all over the world is enough to realize that African people ought to reevaluate how we have not met the challenge. Pan Europeanism can only be met and confronted by Pan Africanism. Although we do have to respect some local urgencies, we should never fail to find a connection to other Africans all over the globe.

 
Politics
Marcus Garvey

a Poem by Dwayne Wong Omowale

 

Where did you go

Mighty Marcus

Where’s your dreams

Where’s your hopes

We watched in admiration

When you were in your prime

We cheered and joined up

For the Black Star Line

You gave us hope

You gave us pride

We flaunted our African identity

And never tried to hide

Well, where did you go

Marcus

Marcus Garvey

You made us stand tall

With pride on our face

We listened eagerly

When you said

“Up You Mighty Race”

We looked to Africa

We looked for a Black king

Because your words told us

That we were something

From Jamaica to Africa

You made the Negro world rise

How we loved it

Rastas said you prophesized

Well, where are you Marcus?

You said you went home

Home to make Africa free

So that all of Africa may know

The Honorable Marcus Garvey

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