Tchoupitoulas to Trade

Yesterday was International Day of the Diaspora. Before you throw something at me for telling you the day after, it is also the Decade of the Diaspora, so you’ve still got over nine years to get with the program.
I started the holiday, which was a much more satisfying holiday than the voyage that led to the Middle Passage, with breakfast in Leimert Park under the sounds of “drum church” at Vieux Carre at 4317 Degnan Blvd. with a Tchoupitoulas Omelette, filled with shrimp, crawfish tails, smoked sausage, bell peppers, onions and cheese.
Not only was it the best omelette of my life, but it was a culinary representation of the diversity and flavor of the black experience, just like the chocolate banana bread pudding I had in West Palm Beach at the end of August.
Thus prepared, I was ready for the word from Dr. David Horne, professor at California State University-Northridge, that the African Union had prioritized the decade through 2020 as the decade of the diaspora for the sixth region of the African Union–displaced Africans from around the globe–to organize itself to participate in the future of the African continent.
Horne told the audience at the Shaping Black Culture in the Diaspora conference at the Vision Theatre that without culture, Africans in the Diaspora would continue to lack a foundation.
“Whether in the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America or Europe, one thing you will find in common is that we have serious abandonment issues because we wonder at some level why no one kept us from being taken,” said Horne.
I was sitting next to someone seeking to do something about that. Al Washington, organizer of what Horne called the first serious African-American-African trade conference he had seen in his 30 years in Los Angeles, at California State University-Dominquez Hills on Oct. 20-21.
Already, The Africa Channel cable network has started to bring a new source on information on the continent to American screens. Darrell Smith, vice president of community development, called to say that The African Channel is debuting in the Bay Area with an event on Nov. 9 at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. There’s been a tendency to think Pan-Africanism is abstract and removed from the daily lives of African-Americans, particularly in this down economy.
In fact, it is the solution to many of our economic issues. For example, Smith called for suggestions for caterers for his event. I was able to steer him to the Oakland and San Francisco pages of BlackRestaurant.Net and give him the locations closest to the space and science center.
Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center also saw the aggregation of black restaurants as an avenue to promote the new movie which debuted today, I Am, a telling of the ten commandments through contemporary lives in Los Angeles.
As I noted several empty storefronts on Leimert Park where there had been thriving businesses last summer, it underscored the importance of applying the principles of National Black Business Month all year round.
Next month, Ibis Partners, an investment and trade house, is sponsoring the Gulf Coast Regional Equity to Achieve Prosperity Summit in Pensacola, FL to give a new impetus to reviving the economies of the black communities in the Gulf States after Katrina and the Gulf oil spill on Nov. 11-13.
In February, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival is teaming with a similar film festival in Nigeria to give transcontinental exposure to filmmakers.
There is a new urgency to these efforts as we move beyond just making the effort to capitalizing on our inherent advantages. The riches of the African continent are not a surprise to the emerging investors streaming into the continent for a new round of colonization.
All these committed advocates are helping to remove the blinders which keep us oriented away from our real salvation.