The Need for a New Perspective on the African Diaspora
by Santura Pegram
Last year I attended a workshop on 'Doing Business with Africa' and walked away with one of the same impressions that most in attendance had (including the people selected to speak on the panel). An impression that was refused to be discussed openly as one of the main impediments regarding why most business people who would otherwise be eager to conduct business with African countries are so distrustful of engaging in ventures involving The Motherland.
To your surprise, and likely the surprise of most people, the reason is NOT necessarily racism, because the only color genuine business visionaries see and care about is green, which can sustain incredible lifestyles the average person can only experience through dreams. Don't get me wrong, while there are those who still hold onto feelings of resentment due to their upbringing regarding racial differences, there is more to the story. Therefore, instead of being opposed to a unique opportunity because of a petty difference in racial/ethnic backgrounds, for most acute business minds it comes down to weighing two bigger factors: trust and socio-economic class.
Sadly, while I share the opinion of a growing percentage of people who are not a fan of Donald J. Trump mis-leading the U.S. (a common trait also expressed by most – although not all – other elected officials at every level today), and while I did not think he was the right person to say what he expressed in his sentiments describing Haiti and Africa, and failed to delve deep enough into explaining his remarks, he brought injury to insult when he further expressed consideration of "bringing in people from Norway in lieu of people from two s***hole regions." However, disappointingly, while he missed his greatest opportunity to win public opinion of black people when he failed to express a sincere desire to play a role in helping to improve such territories, one has to admit there is truth in some of his bitter-tasting rhetoric. Sometimes, important messages
come from the most unlikely or unexpected source(s).
Although I have not visited any of the 54 countries in the Continent of Africa (yet), I have visited Haiti on more than one occasion and most of the country is NOT an appealing environment. And, I've done business with a number of Africans over the last two decades. In fact, most of the Haitians and Africans I've had the pleasure of dealing with over the last several years are great people. Nevertheless, from what many of them say whom I've been blessed to befriend and/or do business with who either reside in Africa or once did, several of them feel their land is not an idealistic place due to its ongoing state of affairs too. They know Haiti and countries throughout Africa need MAJOR help eradicating their problems. However, the same can be said about describing the U.S. too because there are certainly regions of America that are considered deplorable just as easily as there are regions of each that are picturesque. Beyond the glitz and glamour of many American cities, there's a dark side to neighborhoods near Florence-Slauson in LA, streets near Ali Baba Avenue in the Opa-Locka section of Miami, King Drive and 60th. Street in Chicago, and several other unsavory communities.
Instead, when it comes to U.S.-Haiti/U.S.-Africa relations, what many forward-thinkers would prefer to see is this President and his administration form meaningful relationships with Presidents and administrations of those and other nations for the purpose of helping to revolutionize Haiti and all of Africa for the future, and develop bilateral international trade agreements which can actually benefit each side equally. One thing is certain, besides the deepest parts of the ocean, the Continent of Africa is undeniably 'The Last Frontier' in the world, and much of the natural resources of this vast land has yet to be explored by the U.S. The overall image shadowed by the bleak economic-political conditions of Haiti and countries throughout Africa should not be mistaken, because while most of the people in such regions live in the midst of immensely challenging times, the natural beauty of the land is unmatched and the world needs to see it.
Accordingly, for all of that to happen people throughout Africa and Haiti must responsibly
address the frequent nature of widespread corruption and the acceptance of illegal and/or
unethical business practices brought on by greed, and they must be properly taught effective business skills and financial literacy to prepare them for thriving within the global marketplace. Likewise, American business people seeking to do business with African countries and Haiti need to not only learn about how to properly engage in international trade, but also push the U.S. government to remove and/or reduce tariffs-sanctions which make trade with Africa and Haiti a cumbersome, if not virtually impossible, process.
As the United States moves further into the 21st Century where technology in every form is seizing control of the world, Haiti and countries throughout Africa indeed need more developed nations like the U.S. to step forward and help them, but don't underestimate it, the U.S. critically needs Haiti and African countries too. There are reasons why you can find increasing numbers of business people and government dignitaries from stronger countries like China and Russia penetrating Haiti and the Continent of Africa these days. That should tell America something.
* Santura Pegram is a freelance writer and business professional. A former protégé-aide to the 'Political Matriarch of the State of Florida' – M. Athalie Range – Santura often writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international business to politics.