When Africa, Asia and the Americas Unite

Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.

Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.

In the post-colonial era, new and sometimes unexpected coalitions have been built that address the lasting effects of colonialism and imperialism. The term “tricontinental solidarity” focuses on alliances that have been built among people from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as these continents were the focus of colonial expansion. The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) is a Cuban political movement dedicated to building solidarity between these three continents while addressing issues of globalization, imperialism, neoliberalism and human rights abuses. Their publication Tricontinental Magazine and their brightly colored posters serve as one way they promote global social justice. The organization was founded in 1966 after the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, Cuba, which included over 500 delegates from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The conference was inspired by the Bandung Conference in 1955, an African-Asian alliance that worked to confront colonialism by the West.

In the article De la Esclavitud Yanqui a la Libertad Cubana”: U.S. Black Radicals, the Cuban Revolution, and the Formation of a Tricontinental Ideology, Besenia Rodriguez notes that the tricontinental ideology in Cuba was influential for Black activists in the United States, particularly members of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Rodriguez states of these activists,

Reframing the struggle against racism in the United States within the context of Latin American, Asian, and African decolonization movements, they asserted the humanity and self-determination of the world’s oppressed peoples and created an antiracist language of solidarity that transcended race. Instead of advocating an alliance based along biological, cultural, or national lines, these activist intellectuals understood “race” as a social category used to exploit a segment of the world’s population.

The tricontinental framework acknowledges the shared history of colonialism throughout the world and how the construction and discourse of race was used to perpetuate it.

Stokely Carmichael, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, and Shirley Graham DuBois in 1967.

Stokely Carmichael, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, and Shirley Graham DuBois in 1967.

Activist Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was intrigued by tricontinentalism and anti-imperialist measures in Cuba and took part in an Organization of Latin American Solidarity conference in 1967. Carmichael found Cuban leader Fidel Castro to be an inspiring figure, but took issue with “colorblind” policies that seemingly ignored realities of race and racism. He argued that, “…if we destroyed exploitation, we would not necessarily end racism.” While Carmichael admired Castro’s policy of land redistribution and acknowledged its positive impact on AfroCubans, he still felt these policies were not the only solution to ending racism. In the article Tricontinental Routes of Solidarity: Stokely Carmichael in Cuba, Sarah Seidman notes how many AfroCubans were inspired by activists like Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis because they helped them fully embrace their cultural heritage. She mentions that despite having some ideological differences, Carmichael and Castro shared a mutual respect and admiration for one another. These two leaders, despite their differences, serve as a reminder of what coalition building can be about – forming alliances based on anti-imperialist visions. This is what tricontinentalism is: discovering what exists in common and achieving shared goals.

by Rebecca McCarthy

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  1. If It’s Not Racism, Then What Is It? | We Maraud For Ears

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