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More Black People &More African Assistance Needed!

Malcolm X speaking to Nigerian students and local residents in Harlem, New York, circa 1960-1965. (Photo by Lloyd Yearwood/Three Lions/Getty Images)

By Jeffery Kazembe Batts
Policy and purpose can change, and maybe Brooklyn can lead the way. The population in NYC who identify as Black or African is declining. Building on the recent “The Need for a Pro-African Policy and Purpose from our Community & Elected Officials” essay, in honor and memory of Marcus Garvey, I offer some suggestions and possible next steps with the intention of building a mass movement for social justice for African (Black) people and nations.

One goal is to increase the number of Black people moving into Bed-Stuy, NYC, and the entire country. The other is to radically change the American government’s allocation of foreign aid to be more equitable and reflect the needs of Black nations. Because of America’s history of enslavement of African people, African migration should come first and be encouraged and facilitated. Because of the United States’ history of exploiting and undermining Black nations, resources should now be set aside for human development and infrastructure construction. How can Black people and others of good intentions facilitate the accomplishment of these two objectives?

African migrants are part of the tapestry of people who are crossing the border and entering the USA. With the support of the City Council, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs should set up satellite offices wherever large numbers of African migrants are settling. Whether in the Bronx, W 116th St. in Harlem, or in Bed-Stuy on Fulton St. Focusing on Bed-Stuy, only two blocks away from the intersection of Bedford Ave and Fulton St. sits the historic Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza. Here is a perfect location to provide a round-the-clock center for migrants to get services. Legal help, ID cards, healthcare options, food assistance, and language translation assistance can be provided at this new site.

36th Council member Chi Osse had a 4-hour “Migration Resource Day on February 1st.” 35th Council member Crystal Hudson faced a tense community meeting on May 7th regarding migrant shelters, although she has allocated funds for supply drives and trash removal. These two young city council members can come together and lead the creation of an Office of African Migrant Services at the Restoration Plaza.

Yes, we can specifically focus on African migrant needs. They have unique issues, for example. Most speak a variety of indigenous African languages. Not speaking Spanish puts them at a disadvantage compared to our Latino sisters and brothers, who are also migrating. The NYC social service system that they must use has long been built around the assumption that migrants speak Spanish.


Walking down Fulton St. between Bedford Ave and Franklin Ave, you will see dozens of entrepreneurial-minded young men selling clothes, providing carrier services with bikes, and networking to better themselves. The block is more alive than most blocks in the community. This Black energy must be supported as a counter to the mostly white gentrification of what was once the largest Black community in the United States, Central Brooklyn, with Bed-Stuy at the heart. Bed-Stuy is no longer a dark chocolate community, but it still has chocolate in it. Let’s add some more flavor and make sure in the future, we at least have milk chocolate!

Recently, President Biden signed a $95 billion aid bill that allocated $60 billion to Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, $8 billion for Taiwan, and the Indo-Pacific region for armaments or war-making. Wow! Do Black people pay taxes and exist in America? Where are the interests of African people in this allocation of our money?

Instability in Haiti, genocide in Darfur, war in the eastern Congo & northern Ethiopia, and underdevelopment of infrastructure and quality of life of people in many of the over 50 states that make up the African Union. Black people must demand that the US government “show us the money!” Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Majority Leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer signed off on this insulting allocation of funding.

Allegedly, there is money in the bills for “humanitarian” assistance for the rest of the world. Show us the money and specific dollar amounts for Africa and the Caribbean. Former President Aristide called on France to pay $21 billion to Haiti for the indemnity imposed on Haiti before he was overthrown. Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, and Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned a fairer international economic system before they were assassinated.

If we are not talking about dollars, it does not make sense! Black elected officials, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, must right this injustice. $100 billion dollars is the demand for African and Caribbean development aid. With no compromising, these nations have the right to determine their own destiny. The USA must respect their sovereignty and allocate the money which comes from our taxes.


In this crucial election year, these two congressional Brooklynite leaders, Schumer and Jeffries, must have a town hall meeting about foreign policy and come before the people to explain their signoffs and reimagine USA foreign aid with the interests of Black people on the table.

On Saturday, May 18th, the day before Malcolm X’s 99th birthday and a week before African Liberation Day is celebrated around the world, the “Pro-African Policy and Purpose” march will take place in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn at 2:00 pm starting at the intersection of Dekalb Ave and Marcus Garvey Blvd. Join us with your drums, bullhorns, boom boxes, signs, banners, etc., as we continue the legacy of Black people fighting and organizing for our proper place in New York City and the world. Policy and purpose can change.