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More Messages from the Grassroots: Afro-Muslim Anti-Imperial Geography and Community Activism During the War on Drugs

Date: 3:30pm PST February 23 Location: Albany 220

Albany 220

Please join the History department for a research talk by 2017-2018 Postdoctoral Fellow candidate Alaina Morgan.  The title of her talk is, More Messages from the Grassroots: Afro-Muslim Anti-Imperial Geography and Community Activism During the War on Drugs.

On November 30, 1987, The Final Call, the institutional newspaper of the Nation of Islam, featured an alternative world map.  This map reinforced a geography in which America’s imperial conquests, and the oppression of people of color worldwide, were connected intimately with each other.  While Louis Farrakhan and the editors of The Final Call discussed American neo-imperialism in the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean, it was the latter two which formed the basis for much of their critiques throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  While the United States was engaging in proxy wars abroad to secure resources and political influence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the Cold War, it was waging a domestic war against drugs which used race neutral language to criminalize the Black inner city.  Noting that the War on Drugs had become a War on Blacks, the Nation of Islam positioned the War on Drugs as part and parcel of the same imperial mechanism as American neo-imperialism, repeatedly using the language of occupation and control.  But more significantly, Farrakhan and his followers took action against these imperialist forces and launched a grassroots effort to do what the government refused to do – eradicate drug use in the Black community and promote rehabilitation.

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