AP featured image
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, and other members of Congress, kneel wearing kente cloth and observe a moment of silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, Monday, June 8, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures Monday, an ambitious legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Democrats thought they were scoring points with their ludicrous display of wearing kente cloth (cultural appropriation anyone?) while kneeling to show that they were all on-board with the Black Lives Matter movement. As it turns out, however, those clothes they draped around their neck have a far more sinister history.

It was supposed to be a winning moment for Democrats. They knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time the officer knelt on George Floyd, resulting in his death. It all led up to Democrats introducing new legislation meant for police reform and all the media applause one could ask for.

But as USA Today points out, the Democrats publicity stunt was likely a little less researched than they thought. As it turns out, the kente cloth they wore were actually tied to affluent Africans who got rich selling their fellow Africans in the slave trade.

The issue was first pointed out by a man named Dave Brandon in a Facebook post, who noticed something was a bit off:

A little lesson in history. Yesterday the Democrats wore kente scarfs and knelt down for their photo op.

So check this out, Kente cloth was worn by the Ashanti. It’s made of silk so the affluent wore it. The Ashanti were also known as slave owners and traders. Huh? The Ashanti’s long-time ally, the Akwamu, were among the first ones to profit from the slave trade with the Europeans. Their captives were almost always prisoners of war, but they were not above to selling Akwamu men who offended the chief. They also kidnapped able-bodied men from other tribes and sold them in the coastal slave markets.

This makes me wonder why they chose to wear this particular tribe’s garb. So many questions!

USA Today pointed out that the cloth has a broader history for West Africa, but went more into detail about who Ashanti was and what his connections were to the slave trade:

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.

According to the BBC, by the end of the 18th century, the region exported an estimated 6,000-7,000 slaves per year.

USA Today still attempted to run defense for the Democrats by pointing out that the kente cloth has a more historical modern significance, but if we’re going to play by the rules the left has laid out, should that actually matter?

The left is currently tearing down statues if the person depicted was even a little racist in their past, or just racist by today’s standards. They vandalized abolitionist Matthias Baldwin and he was saying “black lives matter” long before any of these activists were, so you don’t even have to be racist at all.

Regardless, the Democrats are now guilty of wearing a symbol of a rich, slave-trading empire that made its money on the backs of enslaved Africans and passing it off as showing solidarity with the American black community. What the kente cloth represented might have been forgotten over time, but rest assured, this is its history.

Which is probably appropriate, seeing as how the Democrats have a long history of taking part in and defending slavery, even to the point of going to war over it. If they were looking to leave that image behind and be embraced as the party that protects and supports minorities, maybe they should get a different symbol.

It’s likely not going to happen, though. They’ll still wear the kente cloth while proclaiming that racist statues that depict pro-slavery historical figures should come down.

2020.

Brandon Morse
Senior Editor. Culture critic, and video creator. Good at bad photoshops.
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