FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2020
Washington DC – Today’s holiday, Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States has garnered much attention and support given the nationwide protests that were sparked by the murder of George Floyd. These last few weeks have brought to the surface a long standing hurt felt by many Africans and in particular descendents of enslaved Africans. It has us questioning whether slavery ever really ended on June 19, 1865.
Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP, Executive Director of the Africa Faith and Justice Network, whose work has been featured in international media on the issues of racism, injustice and its many forms, and faith made the following remarks:
- “Racist ideology was intentionally and carefully crafted to paint people of African ancestry as less than human, dangerous and needing to be controlled and subjugated for their own good. It permeates our educational and justice systems, housing, health care, and every fabric of our services.
- “The Africa Faith and Justice Network educates and mobilizes people to stand up against modern slavery and its many forms which include: human trafficking, forced labor, child labor, crippling debt burdens, and corruption.
- “Despite their abundant resources, nations in Africa cannot thrive due to cripplying policies, corporate intrusions, illicit financial flows and the heavy debt burdens which keep these nations subservient to their creditors.
- “As we mark Juneteenth to celebrate the proclamation of the end of slavery, much still needs to be done, racial tensions and violence against people of African ancestry continue. We call on all to work together to bring a comprehensive solution to this virus that threatens the health of our society and our wholesome communal life.”
Rev. Barthelemy Bazemo, M.Afr, Policy Analyst of the Africa Faith and Justice Network who works on improving civil society participation and good governance practices said:
- “Modern slavery is not exclusive to ownership of one being over another, it also encompasses practices and policies that deprive human being of their rights, their dignity, and the ability to realize their full potential.
- “Poverty is a type of slavery caused by corruption and injustice on the poorest and most vulnearble. People of goodwill must create a united front against systemic injustice that harms innocent people across the world.”
Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst for the Africa Faith and Justice Network who works on U.S. – Africa advocacy, good governance and policy reforms said:
- “There are different forms of enslavement. It can be cultural or intellectual. For instance, it is only when I am among people of different races that I am told that I am black. In Africa, I see myself as a human, no color association needed.
- “The erroneous characterizations of black vs. white are taught, conspicuously and deliberately to perpetuate intellectual enslavement. Now is the time to ban the reference to people of African ancestry as black. Who has seen a person with a color white? We must reject these labels.
- “The sale of family members to different slave traders and masters destroyed the notion of families of former slaves and many of their descendants today still bear the scars of such cruel practice. This practice was intentional and systematic to destroy black families. To further weaken these families, people of African descent, particularly men are massively put in prisons.”
Sr. Eucharia Madueke, Women’s Empowerment Coordinator for the Africa Faith and Justice Network who works with people on the African continent to stop human trafficking and other forms of exploitation said:
- “Modern slavery exists. Around the world, African women and children are being trafficked into forced labor and prostitution. To stop slavery, we need to stop the demand for these services and for cheap labor.”
Read Rev. Aniedi Okure’s article, Juneteenth 2020: A reminder of unfinished business
The Africa Faith & Justice Network is a faith-based, non-partisan coalition of 29 US-based religious communities of men and women. Inspired by the Gospel and informed by Catholic Social Teaching, AFJN seeks to educate and advocate for just relations with Africa and to work in partnership with African peoples as they engage in the struggle for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. www.afjn.org
Available for Interview:
Aniedi Okure, Executive Director
Rev. Barthelemy Bazemo, M.Afr, Policy Analyst
Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst
Sr. Eucharia Madueke, Women’s Empowerment Coordinator
Contact: Lydia Andrews, Communications Manager
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