America vs. the World >> Margaret Kimberley, Freedom Rider

Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014 by Black Agenda Report

America vs. the World

The word imperialism fell into disuse in recent decades. If it seems slightly retro, that is only because there aren’t enough Americans committed to telling the ugly truth about their government.

During the Cold War era we were told that communism increased in influence via a domino effect, knocking down nations one by one and forcing them into Moscow’s or Beijing’s orbit. In the 21st century there is a new domino theory which puts every part of the world into America’s cross hairs.

Barack Obama has succeeded in expanding America’s influence in ways that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could only dream about. The neo-conservative project for a new American century has reached full fruition under a Democratic president, who now has many notches on his gun. He and the rest of the NATO leaders began the trail of destruction with Libya, tearing that country asunder under the guise of saving it.

Using lies and their servants in the corporate media, they constructed a tale of a tyrant and a people yearning for protection. That evil success emboldened them and their Gulf monarchy allies further and they decided that Syria would be the next domino.

That plan didn’t work quite as well as Obama and the rest of the murder incorporated team thought it would. When the British parliament said no to new military adventures Obama was left sputtering on national television. He was forced to back down from an adamant position he had taken just days earlier.

The semi-comedic setback was only temporary because the monster must be fed at all cost. The system can no longer sustain itself and brute force is the only out. There is nothing old fashioned about imperialism. This malevolent force is still alive and well.

George W. Bush made efforts to overthrow the democratically elected Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela when he plotted with the opposition against the late Hugo Chavez. Obama is clearly more committed to violence than his predecessor and has helped to stir up right wing Venezuelans who want to rid themselves of Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has been weakened by the ginned up protests and is now forced into talks with an opposition that won’t be satisfied until he is dead and gone too.

The Venezuelan people have voted for their revolution numerous times. The U.S., a country that never ceases to call itself a democracy, has thwarted their clearly expressed will time and time again. But that is the essence of empire after all.

While armed force against Syria was temporarily blocked, the West, the Persian Gulf monarchies, Israel, and jihadists have not given up their effort to topple the Bashir al-Assad government in Syria. The savage war has made thousands of Syrians homeless and starving refugees, all because the empire needs its next domino.

Not only does the United States meddle in its own backyard, it also relentlessly interferes on the other side of the world in far away Ukraine. Popular discontent against that country’s president became a successful effort to bring that country into the western sphere of economic influence but with the awful strings of austerity attached. Ukraine has the choice of going bankrupt or being bailed out and dying a slow death à la Greece.

While the machinations were afoot, president Obama warned Vladimir Putin away with threats of sanctions. The scenes of sometimes violent street protests in Ukraine made a fortuitous tableau for the United States which claimed the infamous “responsibility to protect” which never protects anyone who actually needs help and which has brought so much suffering to people around the world. Every invasion, occupation and disruption in recent years can be laid at the feet of the United States and its allies. Iraq has been destroyed quite literally, Iran has been destroyed economically. Libya was taken out and Syria is on the brink.

The United States quite openly makes it clear that it wants to have its way in the world. If Russia attempts to use its influence then it is vilified and caricatured as a cruel dictatorship controlled by a tyrant. No matter how many elections Chavez and now Maduro won, they are called dictators by American talking heads.

A superpower can foment conflict anywhere it wants to at anytime it chooses. Venezuelans must knuckle under or face the prospect of more turmoil and violence. Ukraine must sign onto economic policies which have already proven disastrous. The United States leaves its fingerprints in these and many other places and that is the essence of imperialism. It is all about control with the rawest brute force available.

The United States hasn’t officially made Venezuela or any other a colony but it doesn’t have to do that. It just has to show that it is boss and the dominos will fall wherever it chooses.

© 2014 Black Agenda Report
Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.C

Black History Note – Betsey Stockton: Missionary and Educator

Betsey Stockton: Missionary and Educator


Karen A. Johnson,

Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies & Education at the University of Utah

English: Betsey Stockton was born in slavery c...English: Betsey Stockton was born in slavery c. 1798 in New Jersey. She traveled to Lahaina, Hawaii with Rev. C. S. Stewart in 1823 and worked as a teacher. She returned in 1825, and taught in Philadephia, Canada, and then Princeton, where she died in October 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1890s by foreign businessmen who were “unofficially supported by the United States military,” Catholic Presbyterian, Mormon, and other Protestant missionaries were “especially prominent in their religious zeal to convert and save the souls,” of the indigenous Hawaiians (Au 78; Jackson xix). During the early 1820s, a number of young female Christians took up the torch and embarked on missionary work overseas. Indeed, their desire to do the Lord’s work in remote regions of the world has its roots in the gospel of Matthew: 12 v. 50, which states: “For whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Zwiep 40). During this time, it was not uncommon for 19th century Black women missionaries and evangelists to travel in the U.S. and its territories to do ministry work. As Marcia Riggs explains, 19th century Black women evangelists and missionaries were “like biblical prophets … who brought faith out of the … sanctuary to the marketplace of human affairs where history was in process” (Riggs xii).

Betsey Stockton, a former enslaved person in the U.S., was one of the earliest Black women missionaries to travel to the Sandwich Islands (later Hawaiian Islands) in the early 1820s. No doubt Stockton felt a special calling to be part of history as God’s prophetic witness in an era when women Black women were still enslaved, considered second-class citizens due to their race and gender status; and generally denied the opportunity to become Protestant ministers (Johnson 7; Collier-Thomas).

Betsey was born in 1798 in Princeton, New Jersey into the slaveholding family of Robert Stockton. Robert later gave Betsey to his daughter, Elizabeth and son-in-law, Reverend Ashbel Green. Green, who was president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton College), taught Betsey reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and theology. He gave her “books and encouraged her to use the family library” (Johnson 7; Takara 14). In 1815, Green gave Betsey her manumission papers and the next year, she was accepted into the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey.

Betsey became a devout Christian and was very much immersed in the Presbyterian doctrines. In 1820, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missionaries granted her permission to travel with the second mission to the Sandwich Islands. Two years later, Betsey sailed to Honolulu, Hawaii with the Reverend Charles Stewart and his wife “on the Thames from New Haven, Connecticut” (Takara 14). Three days into her voyage, Betsey wrote the following in her diary on November 23, 1822:

“Saturday morning at daybreak shipped a sea. The water rushed into the cabin. I saw it with very little fear and felt inclined to say, ‘The Lord reigneth [sic], let us all rejoice.” … At 10 o’clock, I went on deck. The scene that presented itself was to me the most sublime I’d ever witnessed” (“Betsey Stockton’s Journal”).

Stockton arrived in Honolulu on April 27, 1823 and a month later, she traveled to Lahaina, Maui. In the 1825 issue of the Hawaiian Missionary Herald, it reports that “a colored woman connected with Mr. Stewart’s family … makes herself highly useful to the mission” in Maui (qtd in Nordyke, 243). From 1823 to 1825, Betsey cared for sick infants, secured clothes for the needy, and established a school on Maui for Native Hawaiian children. It should also be noted that while engaging in missionary work on the islands, Stockton continued to work as a domestic servant for the Stewarts.

While Stockton lived in Hawaii during the early 19th century, she was accorded the respect and trust of the local Hawaiians and fellow missionaries and her “advice and opinions were sought after in many matters” (Takara 15). After residing in Hawaii for over two years, Betsey Stockton relocated to Cooperstown, New York, with the Stewarts. In subsequent years, she taught indigenous Canadian Indian students on Grape Island and “led a movement to form the First Presbyterian Church of Colour in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1848” (“Betsey Stockton’s Journal”; Ravage 158). In addition, between the period of 1848 to 1865, Stockton moved to Philadelphia to teach Black children.

Betsey Stockton made pioneering endeavors as a missionary in Hawaii, but her legacy is not well known. Still, Stockton’s school “set a new direction for education in the Islands … [It] served as a model for the Hilo Boarding School,” and may have influence Samuel C. Armstrong, the founder of Hampton Institute, who also worked as a missionary in Hawaii during this period. After a full and productive life of service for the Lord, Betsey Stockton passed away in October of 1865 in Princeton, New Jersey (Takara 15).

Works Cited

Au, Wayne. “The Price of Paradise.” Rethinking our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice II. Ed. Bill Bigelow. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools LTD. Vol. 12 Issue 4 (Summer 1998).

“Betsey Stockton’s Journal, November 20, 1822 to July 4, 1823.” African American Religion: AHistorical Interpretation with Representative Documents. Ed. David W. Wills and Albert J. Raboteau. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (2006). Web. January 5, 2014.

Collier-Thomas, Bettye. Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and their Sermons, 1850-1970. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

Jackson, Miles M. “Introduction.” They Followed the Trade Winds: African Americans in Hawaii.Ed. Miles M. Jackson. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press (2004).

Johnson, Karen A. “Undaunted Courage and Faith: The Lives of Three Black Women in the West and Hawaii in the Early 19th Century.” The Journal of African American History. Vol. 91, No. 1, (Winter 2006): 4-22.

Nordyke, Eleanor C. “Blacks in Hawaii: A Demographic and Historical Perspective.” The Hawaiian Journal of History. Vol. 22 (1998).

Ravage, John W. Black Pioneers: Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier.Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.

Riggs, Marcia. Can I Get A Witness?: Prophetic Religious Voices of African American Women: An Anthology. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books (1997).

Takara, Kathryn W. “The African Diaspora in Nineteenth Century Hawaii.” They Followed the Trade Winds. Ed. Miles M. Jackson. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press (2004).

Zwiep, Mary. “Sending the Children Home: A Dilemma for Early Missionaries.” The Hawaiian Journal of History. Vol. 24 (1990).


Editors Note: This guest post is part of the Blog Carnival of Blogging While Brown for Black History Month 2014. -M.P.