While statues glorifying white supremacy are being torn down across the globe, a Maryland county is busy desecrating African graves and building a new edifice to white supremacy.
“‘There is always something that is more important than Black Lives, in life and in death.”
“History teaches us that, in certain circumstances, it is very easy for the foreigner to impose his domination on a people. But it also teaches us that, whatever may be the material aspects of this domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned. Implantation of foreign domination can be assured definitively only by physical liquidation of a significant part of the dominated population.” — Amilcar Cabral
One of the instruments used to destroy or annihilate a race is the weaponization of culture. White culture has mastered that deadly art by eviscerating the ancestors, culture, names, livelihoods, physical locations, men (most commonly) —and cemeteries of Black people. This is the stuff of genocide. Without eviscerating African culture, white dominance would be impossible.
One of the battlefields of this genocide is in Bethesda, Maryland and the site is Moses African Cemetery. Moses is the burial ground and final resting place where little girls, kidnapped/enslaved from their homes in Africa were brought to be used in the most violent, vile and depraved European industrial-scale sex trafficking operations.
With the end of the so-called Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, “little girls,” as young as 7 and 8 years old were forced into sexual slavery and subsequently bred to supply the next generation of Africans to be worked and raped to death in the Deep South. The bodies of those “little girls,” many of who bled out in childbirth were buried in Moses African Cemetery. In fact, one archaeologist calls Moses, an international site of genocide. Montgomery County, Maryland has intentionally white-washed this filthy chapter of its history and literally paved over the bodies of our ancestors.
“Little girls as young as 7 and 8 years old were forced into sexual slavery.”
The latest development in this 401 year old saga of death, destruction and plunder is a simple email copied to all of the “important” members of the Montgomery County Council. In it, County Executive (CE) Mark Elrich reduces the importance of those stolen lives, cultures and sufferings of Africans who were kidnapped and exploited in a community on River Road to one paragraph and less than 100 words. Elrich expunged all of the history of these Black people. The only matter of importance for Elrich is to inform the descendant community of the final decision made by whites without any input from the Black community. It is not personal; it is a numbers game that reduces African life to the lowest common denominator -- the screening of human remains.
In an email sent from Erlich’s office to several recipients, we were informed that:
“Since I sent you the information from the County Executive, we heard from the archaeological firm last week and they wrote: ‘The owner has decided to authorize screening of soil samples from the northwestern portion of the site to augment our ability to identify any funerary artifacts and small human remains that may be present. We are beginning the screening this week…. It is about 0.2 acres in the portion of the site nearest the cemetery. We plan to screen about 400 cubic feet of soil from across this area.” (“This week” was the week of June 29).””
“The final decision was made by whites without any input from the Black community.”
Such is the power of white supremacy. Black people are never to question the absolute power of white authority particularly when a "property owner" has complete power over its Black bodies. The spectacle of the County Executive consorting with a property owner about "his" Black bodies is beyond question - even to the point of absurdity. The weapon of white supremacy is clear; I won't hold you accountable for finding human remains as long as you maintain the silence that is expected of "gentlemen of the manor." Of course, what is absent from the County Executive’s tidy summation is the suffering and fight by the oppressed that have refused to surrender to white supremacy.
This fight has endured upwards of three years of letter writing, public testimony, demonstrations, marches, protests, hosting of an African King, over 300 media mentions, interviews, multiple mediation sessions, and campaigning for then-candidate Marc Elrich for county executive. Missing is the salient point of the letter of support from one Dr. Michael Blakey, National Endowment for the Humanities, Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, College of William and Mary. Equally as important is Dr. Blakey was the Chief Scientist in charge of the investigation of the New York Burial Ground Project. He wrote in support of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition’s (BACC) efforts to protect its cultural heritage from the destruction it is now suffering under Elrich’s supervision.
Dr. Blakey writes, “The treatment which Macedonia Baptist Church members have received as they attempt to uphold the dignity of their sacred space, in my professional opinion, is simply another spelling of the n-word, as those who believe everything belongs to them attempt to have their way over the blacks they dismiss.”
“The weapon of white supremacy is clear.”
Absent also is any mention of the call the CE placed under the pretense of seeking Dr. Blakey’s professional opinion on what should be done about the current morass devouring our ancestors. In short, Dr. Blakey told Elrich that a stop work order should be issued immediately, that the process of the current operation was all wrong from its inception, and that a new process should start all over again with the descendant community fully involved in decision making in a transparent process. Most pointedly he told Elrich, "you need to find the courage to do what is right."
In less than 24 hours, BACC received the CE’s reply, not only to our request for a stop work order that we proffered through the law firm Baker McKenzie, and 2,000 signatures from citizens calling for an end to the desecration. His memo above, subtle but pointed, dismissed all of Dr. Blakey’s professional recommendations. It is clear that Elrich was not seeking Dr. Blakey's professional opinion, he was seeking a shill who would betray himself, his profession and his people. He was attempting to flip him. Nice try.
We would do well to note that several other archaeologists and anthropologists (whose professional expertise was also dismissed in the CE’s one paragraph encapsulation of the entirety of all things River Road African Community) had written to support Dr. Blakey’s position. Limiting the archaeological analysis to 400 cubic feet, when it is known that Blacks were buried all along the area south of Moses is arbitrary and capricious.
“Dr. Blakey told Elrich that a stop work order should be issued immediately.”
Cotton. Tobacco. Breeding. Sex trade. Parking lots. Collateral. Bethesda Self-Storage. There is always something that is more important than Black Lives. In life. In death. Even to the point where Mr. Elrich can’t be bothered to lift a finger after having been told about the white business owner adjacent to the current abomination in Moses who has now, on two separate occasions driven his SUV into groups of peaceful protesters; or the concrete truck who was told by the desecration construction manager to speed past the protesters and barely missed killing one. No need to send a second letter to Elrich about these incidents since he didn’t think it was important to acknowledge the first one.
While statues glorifying white supremacy are being torn down across the globe, Montgomery County is busy desecrating African graves and building a new edifice to white supremacy.
Mr. Elrich told Dr. Blakey he was torn about what to do. Really, Marc?
“As flies to wanton little boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” — King Lear
This is what you can do to stop the genocide:
Please sign this petition: http://chng.it/rphgSx74th
Contact County Executive Marc Elrich and tell him:
Stop the genocide on Moses African Cemetery, return that land to its rightful owner--Macedonia Baptist Church!"
Call Marc at Phone: 240-777-2550
Email: [email protected]
Please view and share this video on Moses Genocide by Kevin Berends:
Dr. Marsha Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA . She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). Marsha was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, March 2017. Currently, she is working to stop Montgomery County and HOC from its continue desecration of an African burial ground in Bethesda, Maryland.
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