Why Martin Luther King Jr. Traveled to Ghana and Cried

There are many misunderstandings constantly spread about African Americans and our relationship with Africans and or the African continent. Additionally, there are many misconceptions about Pan Africanism and its relevance in our lives.

In an effort to bring clarity to these conversations, I’ve started the #PanAfricanFacts series. This is the first post of the series.


Some would have you to believe that African Americans and Africans don’t have familial bonds or cultural ties. However, this belief couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is, the Pan African world remains connected and maintains relationships that uplifts the global Black collective.

One such example of this is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s trip to Ghana. In 1957, Dr. King and Coretta Scott King went to Ghana to celebrate its independence from Britain. Dr. King met with then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, who would later go on to be Ghana’s first president (Elnaiem, 2018).

Dr. King was so inspired by Ghana breaking from its colonial master that he shed tears during the independence ceremony.

In his speech titled, “The Birth of a New Nation”, Dr. King described his emotions in detail:

The old Union Jack flag came down and the new flag of Ghana went up. This was a new nation now, a new nation being born. And when Prime Minister Nkrumah stood up before his people out in the polo ground and said, “We are no longer a British colony, we are a free, sovereign people,” all over that vast throng of people we could see tears. And I stood there thinking about so many things. Before I knew it, I started weeping. I was crying for joy. And I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment.

After Nkrumah had made that final speech, it was about twelve-thirty now. And we walked away. And we could hear little children six years old and old people eighty and ninety years old walking the streets of Accra crying: “Freedom! Freedom!” They couldn’t say it in the sense that we’d say it, many of them don’t speak English too well, but they had their accents and it could ring out “free-doom!” They were crying it in a sense that they had never heard it before. And I could hear that old Negro spiritual once more crying out: “Free at last, free at last, Great God Almighty, I’m free at last.” They were experiencing that in their very souls. And everywhere we turned, we could hear it ringing out from the housetops. We could hear it from every corner, every nook and crook of the community. “Freedom! Freedom!” This was the birth of a new nation.

(King, 1957)

He then returned to the U.S.A, using Ghana’s independence as a source of inspiration, recognizing that if Ghana was free, African Americans would one day be free. He saw that African American and African freedom was intertwined as he pushed the Nixon Administration towards change.

Later in his speech, Dr. King linked the struggles of colonialism to the struggles of Jim Crow and segregation.

The road to freedom is difficult, but finally, Ghana tells us that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice. That’s what it tells us, now. You can interpret Ghana any kind of way you want to, but Ghana tells me that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice. That night when I saw that old flag coming down and the new flag coming up, I saw something else. That wasn’t just an ephemeral, evanescent event appearing on the stage of history. But it was an event with eternal meaning, for it symbolizes something. That thing symbolized to me that an old order is passing away and a new order is coming into being. An old order of colonialism, of segregation, of discrimination is passing away now. And a new order of justice and freedom and good will is being born. That’s what it said. Somehow the forces of justice stand on the side of the universe, so that you can’t ultimately trample over God’s children and profit by it.

(King, 1957)

In 2019, thousands of African Americans travelled to Ghana for the Year of the Return. Some seek to dismiss the occasion as simply a tourism ploy. However, they are wrong. The Year of the Return signifies the continuing cultural ties and recognition of our shared fight for freedom in the Pan African world.

The Year of the Return pays homage to our ancestors and uplifts our humanity by recognizing that our heritage did not start with enslavement. Our heritage and cultural lineage began on the continent of Africa. Our collective freedom and struggles for liberation will forever be linked to our motherland – and despite everything the world throws at us those bonds will never be broken.

This MLK Day, let us remember that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the civil rights of African Americans, while being galvanized by the liberation of African nations. Remember that in his work, he recognized the connectedness of the Pan African world and it helped him to continue visualizing and working towards freedom for his people.

#PanAfricanFacts

Recommended reading:

Elnaiem, M. (2018, August 16). The African Roots of MLK’s Vision. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://daily.jstor.org/the-african-roots-of-mlks-vision/

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. (2018, April 4). Ghana Trip. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/ghana-trip

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. (1957, April 7). The Birth of a New Nation,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/birth-new-nation-sermon-delivered-dexter-avenue-baptist-church

Photo credit: 23econfoey [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Understanding ADOS: The Movement to Hijack Black Identity and Weaken Black Unity

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By Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor
January 2, 2020

*Author’s note: Thank you to everyone that read and shared this report. Within the first month of publication, the report was read and downloaded by over 37,000 people. The main countries readers are from include: U.S.A., UK, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Germany, Barbados, the Netherlands, Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, France, Mexico, Switzerland, Finland, Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Spain, Denmark, Rwanda, Cameroon, Belgium, Italy, China, Russia – and more. Clearly, ADOS and the issue of misinformation and disinformation are conversations that are long overdue for the global Black community. I will continue to write and speak on this subject while sharing more information, resources, and tools that can be used to support the global Black movement for reparations, social justice, and human rights. – J.A.M. Aiwuyor, Feb. 4, 2020.

Introduction:

The term “American Descendants of Slavery” (ADOS) was created in 2016 to describe and distinctly separate Black Americans/African Americans from Black immigrant communities (Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos, etc). The movement claims to advocate for reparations on behalf of Black Americans. 

However, this movement’s leadership is linked to right-wing media and white supremacists that have a history of attempting to cause divisions in the Black community. ADOS leaders say they’ll use the moniker “ADOS” as part of their legal justice claim for reparations. But instead, it is likely to be used to create policies that would further marginalize and oppress Black communities. The ADOS movement is particularly seeking to impact the 2020 presidential election, the 2020 census, and beyond.

ADOS appears to be a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign using the combination of African American history (in order to build trust) along with disinformation and misinformation tactics. Yet, with the support of economist Dr. William “Sandy” Darity and Dr. Cornel West, the ADOS movement has been able to garner legitimacy in various circles – allowing it to grow through support from unsuspecting Black Americans that support reparations.

An Overview of ADOS

On the cusp of Black Lives Matter and in the middle of the International Decade for People of African Descent, a fringe movement called “American Descendants of Slavery” (ADOS) has emerged to systematically fracture Black communities and directly attack Black unity and or Pan Africanism among the U.S. Black population. 

The movement relies heavily on right-wing, anti-Black, anti-immigrant talking points, and a series of policy positions reliant on a person’s ability to produce documentation or what I am calling “slave papers” in order to verify Black native identity. If implemented, the end result of these policies could be a weakened, further marginalized Black population.

Their main slogans are #ADOS, Tangibles, #Tangibles2020, and “cut the check.”

The ADOS movement is often aligned with another group of similar beliefs called Foundational Black Americans (#FBA) founded by filmmaker and Youtube personality, Tariq Nasheed. 

Despite its claimed reparations focus, the ADOS movement appears to operate like the Trojan horse – to infiltrate the Black community, hijack Black American identity, and contaminate legitimate causes like the fight for reparations and civil rights. 

A critical look at the group’s leadership, proposed policies, and actions provides more insight concerning the ADOS movement’s true intentions. 

ADOS’s harmful and anti-Black practices and policies: 

  1. ADOS leaders have a history of working with right-wing media like NewsMax and the fake-progressive organization, Progressives for Immigration Reform that is supported by white supremacist, John Tanton. 
  2. ADOS leaders want to split Black representation on the 2020 Census and make “ADOS” its own category – which would negatively impact the representation of Black communities, potentially decreasing access to funding and other resources available to Black communities overall.
  3. ADOS co-founders claim to be outspoken advocates for cash payout reparations but refuse to support the H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act – a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. ADOS leadership initially supported the bill but is now pushing for the bill to include their newly presented moniker “ADOS” instead of “African American.” This is a frivolous excuse to move the goal post and center the reparations movement on the ADOS leadership instead of the communities they claim to represent.
  4. ADOS leaders have a proposed policy that would require Black Americans to provide slavery documentation before having access to affirmative action and reparations. Many Black Americans will not be able to provide this documentation. Consequently, their “slavery papers” policy would open the doorway to government scrutiny of family records, increased surveillance, and exclusionary practices.
  5. ADOS leaders bash and refuse to work with established Black reparations organizations like the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N’COBRA), which has advocated for reparations on behalf of Black Americans for decades. 
  6. ADOS leaders and members frequently attack Black historians, scholars, activists, and leaders through a form of online and in-person harassment called “swarming.” 
  7. ADOS leaders seek to limit Black immigrants from obtaining U.S. visas,  similar to the policies advocated by white supremacists that are attempting to stop the “browning of America” by decreasing Black and Brown immigrant entry to the U.S. 
  8. ADOS leaders do not believe that Black Americans can or should have any connection with Africa. They tell their followers to trace their lineage to America only and to stop acknowledging Africa as the home of our ancestors. 
  9. ADOS leaders have stated that Pan Africanism is dead and that African Americans are more closely connected genetically to white Americans than other people of African descent. 
  10. ADOS leadership and members use radicalization tactics like “othering” by demonizing and blaming Black immigrant communities for a lack of resources and jobs. They twist facts to fit their narrative and limit successful dialogue with others by telling members to “stay on code.” 
  11. The ADOS movement is suspected to be supported by a strategic propaganda campaign propped up by a large number of anonymous online accounts likely paid trolls – pretending to be Black Americans that agree with their movement in order to increase the appearance of their popularity and gain more followers.
  12. ADOS leaders use the work of deceased Black leaders like Queen Mother Audley Moore and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their campaigns in order to build trust in the Black community. They use the works of these Black American ancestors out of context and exclude all references to African roots, African identity, Pan Africanism, or anything related to global Black movements or unity. 
  13. ADOS leaders seek to take credit for all current reparations discussions, including the #1619 Project created by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the recent House hearing on H.R. 40 during which Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover testified.

ADOS Leadership, White Supremacists, and the Black Vote

The ADOS movement was founded in 2016 by Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore. The pair have a thriving Youtube and Twitter following. Moore is a lawyer and Carnell served as a congressional aide before gaining popularity on Boyce Watkins’ YourBlackWorld.net. Antonio Moore authored several articles on NewsMax, a right-wing leaning news site. 

Additionally, ADOS co-founder, Yvette Carnell served on the board of Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), a fake progressive/front organization linked to white nativist, supremacist and eugenics supporter John Tanton, who sought to limit Black and Brown immigrants in the U.S. (Lee, 2014/SPLC, 2010)

A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate,” states:

A quarter of a century ago, John Tanton, a white nationalist who would go on to almost single-handedly construct the contemporary, hard-line anti-immigration movement, wrote about his secret desire to bring the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization, into the nativist fold. He spelled out his motive clearly: Using an organization perceived by the public as part of the liberal left would insulate nativists from charges of racism — charges that, given the explicitly pro-“European-American” advocacy of Tanton and many of his allies over the years, would likely otherwise stick.

It continues: 

Now, the greenwashers are back. In the last few years, right-wing groups have paid to run expensive advertisements in liberal publications that explicitly call on environmentalists and other “progressives” to join their anti-immigration cause. They’ve created an organization called Progressives for Immigration Reform that purports to represent liberals who believe immigration must be radically curtailed in order to preserve the American environment. They’ve constructed websites accusing immigrants of being responsible for urban sprawl, traffic congestion, overconsumption and a host of other environmental evils. Time and again, they have suggested that immigration is the most important issue for conservationists. (SPLC, 2010).

The ADOS movement appears to borrow from the strategy of Tanton’s covert white supremacist based initiatives. Through an identity-based framework, ADOS is trying to increase friction between African American and Black immigrant communities – thereby increasing support for anti-immigration initiatives that will largely affect Black immigrants. With fewer Black immigrants in America, their movement could stall a Black and Brown majority population in the U.S. for an additional few years – this is a major goal of white supremacists. And this goal is tied to how African Americans see themselves in terms of identity, which is why ADOS leaders try to get their followers to disconnect from Pan Africanism and African heritage. 

Some ADOS members are even suggesting that we do away with the terms “Black American” or “African American” and use “ADOS” exclusively. This is just as dangerous as voter suppression and disinformation campaigns because language and ideology have a longer-lasting effect. If ADOS leaders can make Black Americans rethink their identity as people of African descent and ingrain ADOS’s American nativist sentiments in the national narrative, their ideology will still dictate African American sentiment towards Black immigrants and policies directed towards the Black community – beyond 2020. 

A recent PFIR newsletter stated: 

The ranks of the disfranchised are large and growing each year. In the last three years, the American Descendants of Slaves or ADOS movement, a movement that understands the impact unbridled immigration has had on our country’s most vulnerable workers, has grown to a size where it has real political clout. Given that if less than 90% of black voters who vote do not vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, the Republican candidate will win. Add to this the growth of black conservative groups such as Urban Game Changers that have coalesced around the topic of immigration, and it is conceivable the White House will be out of reach of any political party that does not prioritize restricting immigration. (PFIR, 2019).

PFIR believes that ADOS could help fulfill its mission and makes its intentions of fracturing the Black vote with their anti-immigrant campaign very clear. Thus, they celebrate ADOS’s contribution to their goals. 

ADOS Hijacks Legacies and Identities

Queen Mother Audley Moore – Hijacked Legacy

ADOS co-founders are misusing the legacy of Queen Mother Audley Moore, a vigilant Pan Africanist, that founded the Committee for Reparations for Descendants of U.S. Slaves (Farmer, 2019). ADOS co-founders hijacked her legacy and twisted her intentions to fit their narrative. Their advocacy is the complete opposite of Queen Mother Moore and everything that she represented. This is exactly the same tactic used and implemented by white supremacist John Tanton to infiltrate liberal movements.  

Queen Mother Moore’s work on reparations existed within the context of an international reparations movement.

Yet, when using the story about her activism, ADOS supporters like Dr. Sandy Darity neglect to share with his followers the fact that Queen Mother Moore referred to herself as African. 

Here is an example of Dr. Darity using Queen Mother Moore’s legacy to ignore the ADOS movement’s xenophobic and anti-Black core.

Queen Mother Moore also founded the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women and the African American Cultural Foundation, Inc. (Blaine, 2019). Additionally, she was a co-founder of the Republic of New Afrika (Berger, 2018). She is referred to as Queen Mother because she was given the honorary title in Ghana (Pace, 1997). 

Yet, ADOS co-founders continually strive to distance themselves and their followers from Africa. 

At the ADOS conference that was held in October 2019, “The audience was told that they should trace their origins to American slavery, not Africa. They were told that their ancestors had built the country with slave labor and that the country owed them a debt. They were told that they should demand reparations, and withhold their votes in 2020 unless the Democratic nominee outlined a specific economic plan for ADOS.” (Stockman, 2019)

ADOS leaders also build off of the work of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) but have been hostile towards the organization, even though N’COBRA members have a long-standing track record of advocating for reparations.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Hijacked Legacy

ADOS leaders claim to base their movement on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well. They have circulated media using his image and videos of his speeches along with their website and logo. Thus, they are attempting to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a posthumous symbol/spokesperson of the ADOS movement. The videos circulated highly resemble tools of propaganda. 

It should be noted that although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that we are the “descendants of slaves,” he did not use this statement to limit our identity to slavery or to distance Black Americans from global Black movements. In fact, he and Coretta Scott King visited Ghana, attended Ghana’s independence ceremony, and met with Ghana’s first president, the then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah (Elnaiem, 2018). 

Later, he said to Richard Nixon, “I want you to come visit us down in Alabama where we are seeking the same kind of freedom the Gold Coast is celebrating.” (Stanford)

“Ghana tells us that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice… An old order of colonialism, of segregation, discrimination is passing away now. And a new order of justice, freedom and good will is being born,” he said. (Elnaiem, 2018)

MLK was very much aware of Black American cultural ties to Africa, other people of African descent and the global Black push for freedom. However, ADOS leadership often cherry-picks history, miseducating their followers. 

They are essentially hijacking his legacy like they’ve done with other ancestors while attempting to hijack/recreate the Black American identity as a whole. 

This is why they insist on calling ADOS a lineage. And this is why it is important for us to instead reference them as a group or movement – to make it known that they do not represent and can not dictate the identity of 42 million Black Americans without our consent. 

And we do not consent.

The ADOS Black American Purity Test Will Further Persecute Black Communities

The irony of the ADOS movement is that it relies on a surface level analysis of Black identities in America. “Lineage matters” is another one of their slogans but they have yet to master the distinction of lineage even among the population they claim to support.

Slavery itself is not a lineage. Slavery is a condition that was attached to our lineage by oppressors and colonizers, that created the racial hierarchies upon which America has, since its inception, used to exploit and oppress people of African descent through laws, policies, and systems.

View their “slavery papers” criteria for reparations and affirmative action based on the work of Dr. Sandy Darity below:

1. An individual would have to provide reasonable documentation of at least one ancestor enslaved in the United States and

2. They would need to demonstrate they have identified as black, African American, Colored, or Negro on established legal documents for at least 10 years prior to the onset of the program

Note: In addition, we would add that at least one grandparent fulfills both prongs of the criteria if a person is biracial. (ADOS101.com)

The Black identity in America (even among those of us that descended from enslaved Africans) is far more complicated than they are suggesting. They neglect to provide examples of “reasonable documentation,” which, no matter the attempt, would result in a wave of issues not likely to be easily addressed. 

Following their guidelines, how would lineage be proved in the following cases? :

– African Americans descended from Maroon communities.
– African Americans descended from people that changed their names and locations after emancipation or escapes.
– African Americans with no trace of documentation beyond our grandparents or great-grandparents.
– Descendants of enslaved Africans that escaped or moved to Canada, Nova Scotia, Mexico, and Liberia.

Would they be excluded from ADOS payouts? Would they pass the ADOS Black nativist purity test? Would they be considered worthy of citizenship, affirmative action, and reparations? 

Who is going to manage this fact-finding/witch hunt expedition? Who ultimately decides who among us is the pure Black American? Who would wield that power, and under what authority?

Black American/ African American identity, heritage, and lineage are more complex than is traditionally acknowledged. 

And due to the complexity of Black existence in America, creating a litmus test reliant on documentation to prove our Blackness or our native Black Americaness would lead to a slew of additional exclusionary practices that would lock out even many Black Americans from the rights ADOS leaders claim to protect. Additionally, it could open up pandora’s box for scrutiny of existing family records or a lack thereof by the federal government. 

How ADOS Promotes Anti-Blackness Through Anti-Immigrant Beliefs

The co-founders of ADOS harbor anti-immigrant sentiments, primarily directed towards Afro-Caribbean and African immigrants. They believe that Black immigrants are taking the resources of the Black American population and that the native Black community should be distinctly recognized to differentiate between ourselves and Black immigrants in policy decisions.  

This narrative is from an old playbook. As Alan Jenkins, in his essay,  Bridging the Black-Immigrant Divide noted, “…that conversation was framed in terms of competition and conflict. That framing was no accident. The mainstream media have fixated on potential points of black/immigrant tension, looking for a conflict storyline. And that storyline has been amply fed by conservative anti-immigrant groups intent on driving a wedge between the two communities.” (Jenkins, 2007)

Currently, ADOS leaders are calling for additional limits to the H1-B Visa program so that less Black immigrants are allowed into the U.S.:

“Findings published in USA Today concluded that top universities graduate ADOS in tech, but those graduates can’t find jobs in Silicon Valley.  Only 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies are Black, according to the report, and many of those are Black immigrants, not ADOS.  And according to a study by Rutgers Professor Hal Salzman, American colleges graduate more tech workers than tech companies need, hence the H1-B program reduces opportunities for ADOS searching for careers in technology. The government must strictly limit the number of H1-B Visa workers tech companies that flow in each year.” – (ADOS Black Agenda, 2019) https://ados101.com/black-agenda

As noted above, ADOS leaders and members emphasize the same anti-immigrant narratives created by conservatives, white nationalists, and white supremacists (Hayden, 2019). The narrative of “leeching immigrants” that are “taking jobs and draining resources,” is fear-mongering rhetoric that blames Black and Brown immigrants for disparities in employment, housing, education, and other areas of concern – instead of placing blame for these issues on the racist oppressive systems that dictate our daily lives. Donald Trump and his administration have been actively promoting the same anti-immigrant talking points (Scott, 2019). 

Additionally, ADOS leaders and membership believe that Affirmative Action should be a “streamlined” program only for those that can prove their family was enslaved in America. Under their proposed Affirmative Action policy, the Black immigrant population, which also experiences racism and systematic oppression, would be excluded from Affirmative Action programs. ADOS leadership has no plan for how exactly this type of exclusionary illogical practice is supposed to be implemented, beyond their demand for Black people across America to suddenly produce slave papers to validate their Black identity.

Elevating divisiveness in Black communities through legislation that would ultimately affect all people of African descent in America would only cause more harm and certainly would not address America’s racialized systems of oppression. ADOS leadership and members (either knowingly or unknowingly) are advocating for the second-class citizenship of Black immigrants, somehow believing that Black Americans would be shielded from this process. Yet, that is not how America functions. Black is what America sees first. 

When Amadou Diallo was shot down by the NYPD, no one asked him if he was the descendant of U.S. slaves first. 

A true reparations movement, that focuses on transformative systems and policies would also promote reparative justice among the lives of Black and Brown immigrants. This is why renowned activist and actor, Danny Glover uplifts people of African descent around the world and is serving a spokesperson for both reparations and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

As was noted by Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, “Given the relationship of slavery and racism to the global economy, this outcome makes perfect sense. Many of these poor immigrant groups are themselves products of centuries of imperialism — slavery’s handmaiden, if you will — or descendants of slaves, as in the case of many Caribbean and Latin American immigrants (Kelley, 2002).”

Additionally, increased hostility towards Black immigrants will only lead to increased hostility towards the overall Black community. Just last year, Peter Sean Brown –  a Black American man, even after several attempts to prove his identity, was wrongly detained by ICE and almost deported to Jamaica. 

Brown stated after the incident, “I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen, and I can tell you it’s not a good feeling. And with policies like this in order and people implementing them like that, it was only going to continue…There has to be a stop at some point before it becomes all of us.” (Shoichet, 2018)

Noticeably, white immigrants are never met with this hostility or blamed for America’s failed systems. The discussion in general rarely even includes white immigrants. This is because the core issue is not about immigration. Black and Brown immigrants are demonized because by 2045 people of color in America will outnumber the white population. Thus, white supremacists are seeking to limit Black immigrants because their birth rates increase the overall Black population. 

They believe that limiting Black immigrants from entering the U.S. will slow down the browning of America (Stein, Dam, 2018). This is likely why racists like right-wing commentator Ann Coulter support the ADOS movement. And this is exactly why John Tanton, a known supporter of eugenics, supports PFIR and its anti-immigration efforts that ADOS appears to mimic. They enjoy and hope to gain from the divisiveness. 

View this exchange between Ann Coulter and ADOS  co-founder, Antonio Moore and FBA founder, Tariq Nasheed. Coulter says, “I like #ADOS, but I think it should be #DOAS – Descendants of American slaves.  Not Haitian slaves, not Moroccan slaves, etc.” 



Ann Coulter’s support and PFIR’s support is not by happenstance. It’s very intentional and telling about the trajectory of the ADOS movement. 

ADOS Visibility Online and Beyond

Election Interference Warnings

ADOS co-founders, Carnell and Moore, host shows on their Youtube channels, teaching their followers about the economic impact of slavery and the estimated amount of reparations owed to Black Americans. The shows are also used to spread anti-immigrant narratives, chastise Black activists that don’t agree with their movement, comment on various Black issues, and discuss their proposed policies. 

It is suspected that the ADOS movement is being elevated on digital media platforms by an election interference/ disinformation campaign. The suspicions are based on reports that similar tactics were used during the 2016 elections to stoke racial tensions. Some believe that for the 2020 election, a concerted effort is being made to attack the Black vote through divisiveness and confusion. ADOS leadership and membership’s rhetoric make them vulnerable to be used for interference purposes. 

For example, ADOS members are calling for the implementation of their “Black Agenda.” However, with their slogan, “No Black Agenda, No Vote!” critics of the ADOS movement fear that outside forces my amplify this message in hopes to implement voter suppression under the guise of activism. 

The National Urban League’s “State of Black America” report warned, “Your timeline is the new battleground for voter suppression. A sweeping Senate investigation found that before, during and after the 2016 presidential election, Russia’s St. Petersburg-based troll factory, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), used social media to distract and divide American voters, demobilize the electorate and depress the vote. Russian propagandists specifically targeted African Americans through a wide-reaching influence campaign. Their tactics included posing as legitimate activist groups, eroding trust in democratic institutions and spreading disinformation.” (pp. 10)

ADOS Websites

ADOS members continuously state that ADOS is a lineage and not a membership-based organization. However, most Black Americans have never heard of the movement and have not opted into this new moniker. Thus, ADOS does function more like a membership-based organization or group. Furthermore, ADOS group members have several websites and online groups/meetups indicating regional memberships like ADOSla.org, ADOS DMV, ADOSColumbus.org, ADOS.NYC, and ADOS_NC, ADOSA.org, ADOSInstitute.com, and their video arm ADOS.tv/Afroplex.com. The main website for the movement is ADOS101.com.

Seizing the Narrative

ADOS is mostly considered a fringe movement. Yet, because they have gone mostly unrebutted in a substantial way, they have taken advantage of an opportunity to seize the national narrative. They have already started gaining ground in the national media by engaging in protests and hosting events like their recent ADOS conference – featuring key figures like Dr. Sandy Darity, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Cornel West. 

For example, Dr. West attended their conference in October 2019 and celebrated the movement live on CNN. He has also been promoting the ADOS movement during his speaking engagements. Additionally, Dr. West has started preaching Black nativism in alignment with the ADOS movement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdvOUUJ_j1A&feature=youtu.be

As was mentioned earlier, Dr. Sandy Darity is also helping ADOS leadership to seize the narrative. As one of the leading economists and scholars championing reparations, Darity’s support of the ADOS movement is pivotal to its growth. He has faced some backlash by critics of ADOS but remains a supporter, believing that the ADOS movement is “the most vital black movement today in conjunction with Black Lives Matter.” However, Black Lives Matter is a movement that is inclusive of the entire Black community, with its leadership understanding the importance of global Black movements.

The strength of Black Lives Matter is its inclusiveness and its embrace of the overall Black collective. Whereas ADOS attempts to parse Blackness and disrupt Black unity in favor of aspired Black nativist privileges. So attempting to align ADOS with the strength and depth of Black Lives Matter is not grounded in reality. 

In one tweet Darity acknowledged the xenophobic, anti-Black attacks lodged by ADOS members, telling ADOS followers to apologize for “denigration” and “rejection” of other Black communities. 

But this is not enough and ineffective because ADOS leadership, the core of their movement, continually drives the movement’s xenophobia and anti-Blackness. 

For example, on December 16, 2019, ADOS co-founder Yvette Carnell live-streamed a two-hour video bashing the Ghanian tourism industry in which she implied that the entire country of Ghana was scamming African Americans. At a time when white supremacists have openly seized control of two-thirds of the U.S. government, everyday infringing on our civil and human rights – Ghana’s tourism industry and its appeal to African Americans was her pressing issue of the day. Because the unifying message of the Year of the Return is more of a threat to the ADOS movement than the white supremacists that support it. 

It is clear that Dr. Darity is doing a delicate dance between the reality of the ADOS movement and the potential he perceives it to have. He’s seeking to continue its growth while attempting to minimize the problematic ideals, beliefs, and proposed policies of ADOS leadership and its members.

ADOS Attacks and Online Harassment – “Swarms”

ADOS group members engage in an act called swarming. Its when bots, trolls, and fanatics send a downpour of tweets to one particular account, engulfing a person’s twitter account and notifications in order to overwhelm, harass, and bully them. 

First, attacks start with Black immigrants, then attacks are directed towards any Black person, especially Black Americans, that do not fall in line with their movement. They often reference staying “on code” as a way to influence their members to repeat their rhetoric and ignore criticisms of the ADOS movement.

Already in the ADOS world, if you look like an outsider, if your last name is not English, if you have one immigrant parent, if you’re married to an immigrant – you are viewed as a threat. Basically, Black people with the closest proximity to white American identity are celebrated, and those with the closest proximity to an African identity are villainized as outsiders. And if one is unable to go in their closet and pull out their handy dandy “slave papers”, which is not that simple (Taylor-Coleman, 2016), your identity and existence are continually attacked.

Here are some examples below, featuring tweets from ADOS members: 

Based on their repeated actions, it’s not hard to see that the ADOS movement encourages Black people to attack other Black people based on their assumed ethnicity or based on their refusal to acquiesce to their demands.

ADOS twitter accounts have attacked journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, activist Bree Newsome Bass, actress Yvette Nicole Brown, rapper Talib Kweli, radio host Mark Thompson, tv-host Joy Reid, political commentator Dr. Jason Johnson, and many others. They even mocked the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings. They attack anyone that does not agree with their beliefs, especially other Black Americans.

ADOS co-founder, Yvette Carnell, even hosted a two-hour video where she posted activist Bree Newsome Bass’ wedding photos in an attempt to chastise her for not aligning with their movement. Bass is known for her courageous act of civil disobedience when she removed the confederate flag in South Carolina during the summer of 2015.

On Thanksgiving Day of 2019, ADOS twitter accounts attacked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee because she handed out turkeys to people in her community. They were demanding that the H.R. 40 Bill be rewritten to include the term “ADOS” specifically, or they won’t support it, and they will continue to harass her online with hateful tweets. An ADOS twitter account has accused Jackson Lee of being a “Sneaky African/Caribbean immigrant masquerading as a Native born Black American.” 

How can such a movement and its leaders be trusted to manage and dictate the rules for reparations?  

How can Dr. Cornel West or Dr. Sandy Darity justify publicly supporting such a divisive, anti-Black movement and its leaders? 

The Pan African Response

In conclusion, I sincerely believe that many members of the ADOS movement are unsuspecting people that genuinely believe they are fighting for reparations – unaware that ADOS leaders and other outside forces may have used their vulnerability and purposely tied the reparations cause to the low-hanging fruit of divisiveness, anti-Blackness, and anti-immigration sentiments. Additionally, many are unaware that the ADOS movement is likely bolstered by a flurry of bots, trolls, and fanatics that seek to control the narrative through a swarm of tweets, websites, and online forums – with much of the interaction stimulated by multiple anonymous accounts. 

Unsuspecting social media users are then led to believe that the movement is more popular than it actually is. This allows ADOS leadership to increase buy-in from actual people in hopes to stir their emotions and get them to join their cause. Thus, any action taken to address this movement must focus on education that publicly dispels the false narratives shared through ADOS misinformation and disinformation campaigns. 

Educational campaigns surrounding reparations must highlight the global effects of imperialism, the global Black movement for reparations, the need for restorative justice, and the need for reparations aligned with radical systematic changes that continually uplift Black communities economically, medically, educationally, etc.   

There have been a few articles published to counter the ADOS narrative. However, the ADOS movement has already been featured in the New York Times, has started meeting with members of congress, and some ADOS-identified members have started running for office. Pan Africanists, Black activists, and scholars have the resources, institutional knowledge, and activism needed to push a more accurate, unifying narrative, but we must organize quickly and be ready to publicly denounce ADOS. Black Americans in the Pan African movement especially need to counter the ADOS movement’s false narratives.

There needs to be a more concentrated effort to uplift informed, unifying voices in the national media and, even more importantly, on social media. Additionally, supporters of the ADOS movement, that give the movement legitimacy, need to be publicly addressed. 

For the most part, many Black academics and activists are against the ADOS movement and recognize what is happening. However, the lack of a concentrated effort to drown out ADOS leaders’ voices and uplift trustworthy unifying voices has given ADOS leaders the ability to gain a stronghold online among impressionable and vulnerable Black Americans. We need more voices on social media platforms, in the media, at universities, at community events, and in conferences uplifting the Black collective and speaking out against the ADOS movement. 

We need to uplift the work of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) and The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), organizations, activists, and scholars that recognize the importance reparations and reparative justice within the scope of an international, Pan-Africanist framework. 

We must work to protect the Black community from disinformation campaigns and engage our communities so that they are aware of the consequences of the ADOS movement and others like it that will surely pop up in 2020 and beyond. 

Any person interested in joining the initiative to spread awareness concerning disinformation campaigns targeting the Black community and uplifting the Black collective, email jamaiwuyor@gmail.com

Additional Critiques of the ADOS Movement

Adjei-Kontoh, H. (2019, November 21). The tortured logic of #ADOS. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://theoutline.com/post/8286/american-descendants-of-slavery-movement?zd=1&zi=v43qa763

Afrika, O. (2019, February 10). Does the #ADOS & #MAGA convergence signal imminent Economic Collapse? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@omowaleafrika/does-the-ados-maga-convergence-signal-imminent-economic-collapse-1eea117620ae

Afrika, O. (2019, May 12). A.D.O.S 101 A historical primer of the anti-African roots of the ADOS movement. Retrieved December 18, 2019, from https://medium.com/@omowaleafrika/a-d-o-s-101-4b741e100598?

Brooks, R. (2019, March 1). Fake Black Voter Bots Could Sideline Real Black Voices In 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryancbrooks/black-activists-twitter-bots-2020-election-trolls

CRAWFORD,  BRYAN 18X . (2019 5). ADOS Its origins, troublesome ties and fears it’s dividing Black folk in the fight for reparations. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/ADOS-Its-origins-troublesome-ties-and-fears-it-s-dividing-Black-folk-in-the-fight-for-reparations.shtml

Drayton, T. (2019, April 12). ADOS wants reparations—but at what cost? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.dailydot.com/irl/ados-reparations-slavery/

Greene, T. K. (2019, November 11). Why #ADOS Is Trash. Receipts Attached. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@TalibKweli/why-ados-is-trash-receipts-attached-5a337f46f10

Hampton, R. (2019, July 9). A Movement or a Troll? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/07/kamala-harris-not-black-ados-reparations-movement.html

Media Matters Staff. (2019, April 15). What to know about ADOS, a group targeting Black progressives. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.mediamatters.org/4chan/what-know-about-ados-group-targeting-black-progressives

StrategyCamp. (2019, August 3). The Top 5 Reasons ADOS is Trash. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@SIIPCampaigns/the-top-5-reasons-ados-is-trash-a17b8c33262d

Velez, D. O. (2019, May 19). We should be discussing reparations for slavery. Beware those with a right-wing agenda. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/5/19/1856371/-We-should-be-discussing-reparations-for-slavery-Beware-those-with-a-right-wing-agenda

Wong, D. (2019, February 22). How the ADOS Movement is Hindering the Pan-African Struggle. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@dwomowale/how-the-ados-movement-is-hindering-the-pan-african-struggle-8fe6e57fc44e

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