From: Michael V. Lewis <""

To: <""

Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2001 9:51 AM

Subject: Black Reporter says 'Thank God for Slavery"!!!!!!!!!

Outrage as Black Reporter says 'Thank God for Slavery'
Sat Sep 1 10:10:22 2001

A black American author has sparked anger and controversy among black
nationalists "by repudiating his African roots and thanking God his
ancestor was enslaved."

"Keith Richburg has been shunned and insulted for daring to reject the
Afro-centric idealism which is an article of faith in black America. In
Out Of America, published in February,1997, (hardcover, 288 pages;
'Basic Books,' ISBN: 0465001874), after he spent three years reporting
from Africa for the Washington Post, Mr Richburg hurls down a challenge
to black American leaders to stop deceiving themselves and the 35
million (black) descendants of slaves, that Africa is Eden on earth.

"I'm tired of lying,' he writes. 'And I'm tired of all the ignorance and
hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and read about Africa, much of
it from people who've never been there, let alone spent three years
walking around amid the corpses.

"Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my
African brothers and I'll throw it back in your face, and then I'll rub
your nose in the images of the rotting flesh.'

"Richburg spent three years covering the continent's senseless violence,
corruption, bloody and incessant cruelties--machete-wielding Hutu
militiamen, a cholera epidemic in Zaire, famine in Somalia, civil war in
Liberia, disease, dirt, dictatorships, killer children, AIDS, terror.

"Had my ancestor not made it out of here,' Richburg muses, 'I might have
ended up in that crowd...maybe I would have been one of those bodies,
washing over the waterfall in Tanzania or maybe my son would have been
set ablaze by soldiers. Or I would be limping now from the torture I
received in some rancid police cell...'

Afrocentrism 'has become fashionable for many blacks, Richburg notes.
'It cannot work for me. I have been here, I have lived here and seen
Africa in all its horror.'

"Mr Richburg's every word is an assault on the group identity politics
which have taken hold among black intellectuals and leads, critics say,
to a Balkanisation of American society. Thinking about his slave
forebear, transported in chains to the Caribbean and thence to South
Carolina, Mr Richburg writes: "Thank God my ancestor got out, because,
now, I am not one of them [Africans]. In short, thank God I am an

"Borders, a Washington D.C. book shop, was packed this month for a
lecture by Mr Richburg at which hecklers accused him of racial betrayal.
'One man demanded to know if the author had a white girlfriend,' said
Mary Ann Brownlow, who organised the lecture.

"When Mr Richburg appeared on a talk show on Black Entertainment
Television, Randall Robinson, leader of the TransAfrica lobby group and
one of America's most prominent blacks, refused to join the discussion.

"Jackie Clark, producer of the show, said: 'We African-Americans have
this vision of Africa as the motherland which we see in this wonderful
light, but people who have lived there can burst this bubble. It takes
courage to say things you know are going to outrage people, but I think
Richburg wishes he were white.'

"Out Of America is a gruesomely detailed account of barbarism and
corruption across the continent, particularly in Somalia and Rwanda. The
author pulls no punches in condemning it, and no...myth is spared. When
sketching how his ancestor was enslaved, he says it was first 'probably
by a local chieftain.' The suggestion that African blacks were slave
owners is anathema in America...

"Mr Richburg, who is now working for the Washington Post in Hong Kong,
says he is not condoning the evil of slavery, but insists that
condemning it should not blind blacks to the fact that good has emerged
from it..."

Reviews of Richburg's Out of America:

E.G. Long: "Africa is a painful reality. Over the past 21 years, I have
lived and worked in five African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia,
Zaire and Nigeria. ..There is nothing in Richburg's book that I could
contradict. I too, experienced the horror, and hopelessnesss of that
continent. I read 'Out of America' in one sitting... "

Steve Wishnevsky: "This is the voice missing from the current race
'dialogue.' Mr. Richburg is a courageous writer and clear observer...His
is an authentic voice and should be listened to closely. America is the
only land where the descendants of Africans have anything approaching
freedom and economic opportunity."

H. Luther: "So much of what you hear about Africa lately is from people
who have never been there. People who want to romanticize what is in
fact chaos and disaster...Richburg has written what he has seen, he has
presented reality with great integrity. It is a must read. "