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Give thanks to Congressman Rangel *LINK*

As I saw Congressman Rangel got up and address the US House on Monday 18th. I hope T&T remembers the US Congressional Black Caucus during our Emancipation celebrations in T&T.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives took an important step today toward improving America's understanding of the hemisphere and appreciation of the people who populate it by voting 382-6 to approve my resolution acknowledging the African descendants of the transatlantic slave trade.

Passage of the resolution marks the long-awaited crossing of a threshold for the U.S. It signifies the recognition by the House of Representatives that race is an important issue in the Caribbean and Latin America. It acknowledges the impact of slavery in the region and encourages the U.S. and international community to work to address the issue of poverty among those populations.

While the resolution does not have the force of law, it expresses the will of the Congress to pursue a better understanding of these nations and the African influences that permeate their cultures. It also calls on Americans to respect the diverse Afro-descendant cultures and their contributions to the global community.

A few years ago during a Congressional delegation to Europe, I asked the German Chancellor why he had placed so much emphasis on his country's support of Israel. He explained that in order to cleanse the German people of the guilt of the Holocaust, it was necessary for Germany to take aggressive positive steps to be of assistance to Israel.

In a sense in the U.S. we find ourselves in a similar situation. There has been enough said to absolve contemporary Americans--and Europeans--of guilt for the actions of their forefathers under slavery, though some Southern senators even now find it impossible to apologize for the lynchings and other violence committed by earlier generations.

Now is the time for the U.S. and the nations of Western Europe who engaged in the slave trade throughout this hemisphere to come forward in a positive way to assist in undoing the harm that was caused by their past colonial policies in the hemisphere. As a nation we should commit ourselves not only to the fight against terrorism, but to economic justice, defeat of the AIDS epidemic and vestiges of discriminatory policies of all kinds.

This resolution comes at an opportune time, when the Afro-descendant populations have themselves become willing to publicly discuss the racial barriers that have impeded them in the centuries since slavery. Increasingly, Africans in the Diaspora recognize that the reasons for disparities between racial groups in their countries are not limited to class differences.

The Congressional Black Caucus in recent years has played a positive role in working with Afro-descendant communities in both the Caribbean and Latin America. In the Caribbean, the predominant issues have been in the areas of trade, economic development and health care. In Latin America, where the Afro communities are now gaining their voices in politics, the CBC has provided encouragement and guidance to Afro-Latino activists drawn from their own experiences in the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.

Events have proven the natural ties between African-Americans and Blacks living elsewhere in the hemisphere. In the early 1990's when the U.S. had denied asylum to Haitians seeking relief from violence in their country, one of my constituents, a gentleman born in North Carolina, commended me for supporting the Haitian boat people. Recognizing that his accent was clearly that of an African American from the South, I asked him why he cared so strongly about the plight of the Haitians.

"Brother," he said. "We are all from Africa."

Trinidad and Tobago News

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