My final post from Oxford as promised. I’ve spent the last day digesting the lectures on the African/Caribbean/Pacific trade policies with the European Union, and I’d like to thank those of you who chimed in with questions.

This is a thumbnail sketch of the lecture from the professor at the University of Pretoria, a native Afrikaaner, who is a stauch advocate for the people of the entire continent of Africa, but primarily sub-Saharan Africa. Some of my classmates believed she was too biased in favor of a fair trade agreement for the countries in sub-Saharan Africa (code speak for “Homegirl told the truth and they didn’t want to accept it.”)

Why is the truth so difficult when it’s delievered by one of their own, ala Tim Wise? One girl actually said “I think she’s biased on Rwanda; I’ve studied it.”

Yeah, but the professor, a white Afrikaaner, actually lived that shyt. So I think she would know what the hell she was talking about.

There’s that arrogance again “I’ve studied it so I think she doesn’t know what she’s talking about?” I had to close my ears to the restlessness of the natives when I chimed in my two cents about how similar racist remarks got Al “Blacks Have no Buoyancy” Campanis fired from Major League Baseball back in 1987 because he said that Blacks weren’t qualified to be in the management ranks of MLB.

I know I pissed off most of my classmates. But, hell, did they think I was going to sit in that classroom for two weeks and not bring in my own experience as a Black woman sympathizing with the plight of those in the African continents, when their plight has been largely due to racist policies, just like Blacks in the States? Didn’t matter if it was in Baltimore or Botswanna – I know dogwhistle when I hear it. Get real.

BTW, the instructor showed a movie that highlighted community, love for fellow man and love for community, called “The Number #1 Ladies Detective Agency” in which Jill Scott was absolutely fabulous and gorgeous. I swelled with pride, because the Africans in the movie were depicted with dignity, respect, educated and serious love of their country of Botswana. Makes a sista want to visit, except for all those damned shots you have to take as a precaution and I’m not good with needles. Anyhoo…

There are some eerie similarities in the trade policies between the EU and Africa and NAFTA here in the States, in that the countries that are considered poor and developing are basically getting shat on by the partners like the US and the EU. The EU, btw, is fast becoming more like the United States – in fact, the nickname of the EU is “The United States of Europe.” Which means there are policies more similar to the United States, all the way down to racism elements in those policies, and the foot-dragging in addressing them.

If you’re familiar with NAFTA and the effects on the Mexican economy (only the corporations in North America are making out like fat bandits, while illegal immigration is increasing into the states from Mexico because NAFTA dried up their economy and the money we give them is ciphoned off to corrupt government officials in Mexico City), then you have a similar issue with the EU and the ACP trade policies, with similar results. Meaning the poor countries are placed under regulations and requirements to be able to trade, and then they are hamstrung from trading because their market gets depressed due to subsidies paid to EU farmers who then dump their products on the market at cheaper prices, because the EU trade policy guarantees them whatever they’re going to be paid for the goods, so they don’t have to worry about being paid competitive prices.

However, the ACP countries have one thing going for them that Mexico doesn’t. And her name is CHINA.

The ACP countries are more willing to trust and deal with China in trade because there is no colonial history or past dirty racial history in dealing with the ACP countries. China comes with a clean slate. They don’t trust the EU because of past colonialism and basically being ripped off of their resources. Furthermore, China doesn’t put conditions under which they will trade with ACP countries – providing them a level playing field in trade and commerce. China is willing to deal with ACP countries as equals; not believe because they give them financial aid or trading, that they have a right to tell the ACP countries how to function in government and stick their noses into Africans’ business. They do business on equal trade for equal value. And Africa is rich in minerals like copper and diamonds and oil, and cobalt (cellphones and laptops, y’all). Hearing this discussed in class, I was reminded of Gina McCauley’s statement at Netroots Nation where she said “If they don’t want us at their table, that’s okay; we’ll just go out and build our own.”

Well, China is giving the ACP countries the material to build their own table.

The ACP countries have the same attitude and it’s giving the EU fits. However, the EU is equally stubborn in providing aid to ACP countries because the attitude towards ACP countries is one of “They’ll never get it right, so why should we keep helping them?” Okay, you want to pull up by the bootstraps, only they don’t have any boots, and your attitude is one that dehumanizes the country before they can get a toehold in commerce. It’s like ghetto parents telling their children “You ain’t shyt and you’ll never be shyt” and then act surprised when the children don’t amount to be shyt.

Yet, the EU is being forced to accept China at their table if they don’t want any shyt with them. Which, by fiat, brings ACP countries to the same table. We’ll see how that goes at the next summit meetings in 2009.

But, they want all the countries to honor human rights issues and enforce policies that prevent human rights abuses, yet not enforcing them or holding anyone accountable through penalities in violating the trade policy. Sometimes, some countries in the EU have been heavily penalized, but it had to do with other politics and not specific to trade and commerce. Go figure. While countries have frozen China out to some extent due to their human rights issues, it wasn’t enough to pull the Olympics from that sucka, now was it?

Sound familiar? We know the code when we hear it. So if you don’t want to help, and the ACP countries find another way to engage in trade and commerce, why is the EU throwing a hissy fit?

For the same reason we’re always assumed to be planning and plotting rebellions when we go outside the system to handle our business. So, if you want us to come to the table, stop moving the table, and when we get to your table, come correct or not at all.

Cause whether in the ACP countries or here in the states, we know how to get things done, no matter what obstacles are thrown our way, both us and our African-Caribbean-Pacific bretheren.

That’s the thumbnail sketch. My policy paper due for this course will actually discuss the similarities between the EU and the US regarding their trade policies with developing and poor countries, and how it all smells like racism yet again. Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences here in Oxford with you.

Next year, it’s looking like Southeast Asia if I’m accepted and approved into another study abroad course.

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