Black American Perspectives (7)
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group." — Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2 1
Raphael Lemkin Coined The Word: "Genocide"
"Genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves … Geno—Chide has two phases: one, the destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor."" — Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe 2
Raphael Lemkin (June 24, 1900 — August 28, 1959), a celebrated Polish lawyer of Jewish descent coined the word "Genocide" in 1943 (while the Holocaust was occurring) from the root words Genos (Greek for family, tribe, or race) and —chide (Latin for killing). When the German army invaded Poland in their September Campaign of 1939, Lemkin escaped from Europe and eventually reached safety in the U.S., where he taught at Duke University. 3 In 1942 Lemkin moved to Washington D.C. to join the War Department as an analyst and documented Nazi atrocities in his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. It was in this work, Lemkin first used the word "Genocide" in print. 4
Raphael Lemkin And The 1948 Convention on Genocide
"Genocide is effected through a synchronized attack on different aspects of life of the captive peoples." — Raphael Lemkin 5
On December 9th, 1948, the United nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as General Assembly Resolution 260. On
January 12th, 1951, the ninetieth (90th) day following the twentieth (20th) country to "deposit an instrument of ratification or accession" (i.e., to ratify the convention), the Secretary-General of the United Nations transmitted a copy of the convention to each Member of the United Nations announcing that the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide had met the requirements for enforcement. 6 Here is the "heart and soul" of the Convention:
Article 2 7 of the Convention defines genocide as:
"…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Article 3 8 of the Convention defines the crimes that can be punished:
- (a) Killing members of the group;
- (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
- (a) Genocide;
- (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
- (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
- (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
- (e) Complicity in genocide.
Surprisingly or not, the United States of America was not among the first twenty (20) countries to ratify the Convention. In fact, it took forty (40) years from the Convention's adoption in 1948, for the United States of America to ratify the Convention with certain "Reservations," "Declarations" and "Understandings (i.e., provisos, salvos and quid pro quos) on November 25th, 1988 9
What Took America So Long To Ratify The "Genocide" Convention?
"You knew about it and you did nothing. You knew about the super-exploitation and inhuman hardships inflicted upon the Black people and you did nothing. Your inaction, your indifference in the face of oppression means that it was policy." — "William L. Patterson, "We Charge Genocide, Civil Rights Congress, New York, 1951 10
With the exception of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, all presidents since Truman have endorsed ratification of the Genocide Convention. 11 However, on June 16, 1949, when President Truman sought the Senate's advice and consent to ratify the Genocide Convention, a small group of Southern senators blocked the process. Among those senators were Southern segregationists who believed in segregation (i.e., a very strict separation of Blacks and Whites). 12 According to legal historian Lawrence LeBlanc, these good ol' boys masquerading as U.S. Senators asked, "Could the convention be considered applicable to racial lynching?" 13 In addition to being concerned about their constituent's practice of lynching Negroes in their spare time being labeled as "Genocide," these senators also balked at the term "mental harm" being considered genocide, because their sacred segregation laws might also be considered genocidal. 14 Their fears were not unfounded or without a basis in fact. In 1951 the singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson 15 joined labor and civil rights activist William L. Patterson 16 in a petition to the United Nations that accused America of genocidal treatment of Black Americans. 17 The petition read: "We maintain that the oppressed Negro citizens of the United States, segregated, discriminated against and long the target of violence, suffer from genocide as the result of consistent, conscious, unified policies of every branch of government." 18
Again, What Took America So Long
To Ratify The "Genocide" Convention?
Professedly, there were several concerns, one of which was lynching Negroes. Apparently, if lynching Negroes could be defined as genocide, then genocide could not be defined as a crime in America.
Today We're Still Charging "Genocide"
"Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate United States Supreme Court Justice 19
According to the National Vital Statistics Reports of 2009, in 2005 there were 587,000 Live Black Births, 452,000 Induced Black Abortions and 292,808 Black Deaths from all causes, excluding induced abortion. 20 If we do the math we have 587,000 Live Black Births against 744,808 Black Deaths (i.e., 452,000 Induced Black Abortions + 292,808 Black Deaths from all other causes) which equates to a Black Life Deficit of a Negative 157,808. 21 Abortion, which has taken the lives of more Black Americans than heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined, is the number one (1) cause of death in Black America. 22 In the last forty (40) years Black Americans have suffered the loss of over twenty (20) million lives to abortion alone. 23 Still further, these numbers do not include those of us aborted by abortifacients such as ellaOne 24 or by "private physicians' procedures." According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and please keep in mind that the CDC's report legally excludes the numbers from California (the state that performs the largest number of abortions in the country), Maryland, and New Hampshire, Black Women accounted for 40.2% of all abortions in the United States of America. 25
Frankly, in light of sitting United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's admission above and if according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, "killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and/or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group" qualifies as an act of genocide, then Today, on the basis of the documentation detailing the impact of abortion in Black America alone, We're Still Charging "Genocide."
Brothers, we really need to talk.
01. "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide," Website of the UNHCHR (http://bit.ly/YNZyo).
02. Raphaël LemkinLemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), p. 79 (http://bit.ly/xBpFfX).
03. "Coining A Word And Championing A Cause: The Story Of Raphael Lemkin", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Holocaust Encyclopedia (http://bit.ly/jiFMWE).
04. Raphael Lemkin, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://bit.ly/4FxinT).
05. Lemkin, Axis Rule, preface, pp xi-xii (http://bit.ly/yNiSF4).
06. "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide", Office of the United Nations High Commisioner for Human Rights, (http://bit.ly/GYx9b). It took until October 14, 1950 to have twenty (20) countries (the minimum needed) to ratify the Genocide Convention. See also the Convention's enforcement provisions in Article 13 (http://bit.ly/YNZyo).
07. "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide", Office of the United Nations High Commisioner for Human Rights, (http://bit.ly/GYx9b).
09. "U.S. reservations, declarations, and understandings, International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Cong. Rec. S1355-01 (daily ed., Feb. 19, 1986)", University of Minnesota, Human Rights Library (http://bit.ly/xHSVj3).
10. "We Charge Genocide: The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief From a Crime of The United States Government Against the Negro People," New York, edited by William L. Patterson, 1951 (http://bit.ly/wrSwg5).
11. "Totally Unofficial: Raphael Lemkin and The Genocide Convention," Primary Writer Dan Eshet (http://bit.ly/xx1y4F).
12. Ibid., p. 42.
13. Lawrence J. LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 236.
14. "Totally Unofficial", p. 42.
15. The Paul Robeson Foundation, Biography (http://bit.ly/bmvFnN).
16. Patterson, William L. (1891-1980), BlackPast.org (http://bit.ly/wPv4VH).
17. "Totally Unofficial", p. 42
18. "We Charge Genocide," edited by William L. Patterson, 1951 (http://bit.ly/wrSwg5).
19. Emily Bazelon, "The Place of Women on the Court, New York Times, July 12th, 2009 (http://bit.ly/eRam4I).
20. National Vital Statistics Report: Vol. 58, No. 4 - Oct. 14, 2009 (http://bit.ly/d5K3jk).
21. National Vital Statistics Report: Vol. 58, No. 8 - Dec. 23, 2009 (http://bit.ly/hjtsxt). (http://bit.ly/hjtsxt).
22. "Abortion kills more black Americans than seven leading causes of death combined, says Centers for Disease Control data" (http://bit.ly/dMDHJshttp://bit.ly/dMDHJshttp://bit.ly/dMDHJs).
23. "Over Twenty (20) Million Aborted: Why Planned Parenthood Targets The Inner-City", February 11th, 2010 (http://bit.ly/ewh67w)).
24. "Abortifacients", Life Issues Connector, February 2010 edition (http://bit.ly/gQwyqM).
25. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2008 (http://1.usa.gov/zXJv0q).