‘My way of thinking about it is that it honors the creativity, the ingenuity, the skill of the people who actually make the kente…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and several other top Democratic leaders participated in a memorial ceremony for George Floyd and the other victims of police brutality while wearing traditional African kente cloths.
The entire ceremony, during which Democrats knelt for almost nine minutes to honor Floyd, was widely mocked.
But it turns out that the kente cloths worn by Democrats are more racist than risible. They are historically connected to the garb worn by African slave traders, according to a USA Today fact check.
The kente cloth was worn by the Ashanti (or Asante), an African tribe primarily known for owning slaves and trading them to Europeans—a fact pointed out by Facebook user Dave Brandon.
USA Today’s fact check confirmed this revelation:
“The Asante supplied British and Dutch traders with slaves in exchange for firearms, which they used to expand their empire. Slaves were often acquired as tributes from smaller states or captured during war. Some slaves were brought across the Atlantic whiles others stayed in Africa to work in gold fields,” the fact check explains.
Diana Baird N’diyea, a cultural specialist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, said that we should focus less on the specific historical connotations and more on the cultural significance of the kente cloth.
“It’s complicated because there’s a lot of evidence that people from all social groups and classes were enslaved,” N’diyea explained. “My way of thinking about it is that it honors the creativity, the ingenuity, the skill of the people who actually make the kente.”
Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also defended the Demcorats’ use of kente cloth, despite its troubling history.
“The significance of the kente cloth is our African heritage, and for those of you without that heritage who are acting in solidarity,” Bass said in a statement. “That is the significance of the kente cloth. Our origins and respecting our past.”
Ironically, Pelosi has gone the other direction when it comes to America’s own heritage and its ‘complicated’ relationship with slavery. She recently decreed that the House must remove the portraits of any of her predecessors in the role of speaker who had ties to the Confederacy.
Pelosi also demanded that statues of Confederate leaders be removed from Congress even though her own father, former Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, dedicated one such statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1948 and praised the Virginia-born military leader as a virtuous role-model.