Colin Powell: background to his role
During the time of slavery in the U.S. south,
certain African-Americans worked in the master's house. These jobs were
usually much less arduous than those in the fields.
These house slaves, however, did not have an inherently adversarial
relationship with the slaves working in the fields.
In contrast, certain slaves were made assistants to the white slave
driver -- the "overseer" -- who supervised the field workers.
Sometimes there was not even a white slave driver, and a slave would
function as the overseer himself.
In order to prove their loyalty to the master, these African-American
assistant or main overseers were often more cruel to the field hands than
the white overseers.
Even if not, the position of ensuring that the master's work was properly
done in the hot fields meant there existed an inherently adversarial
relationship between these African-American overseers and the rest of the
And no one would argue that the fact that a small number of African-American slaves were in
"supervisory" positions was an advance for the African-American
race in this country.
(Literature provides us with two notorious examples of such cruel
African-American overseers, the slaves Sambo and Quimbo in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.)
Colin Powell has the skin of an African-American, but in 21st century
America, that is not where his loyalty lies. Rather, he plays the role of
the white man's global overseer.
Colin Powell: the context
A major role of U.S. diplomacy and arms, especially since WWII, has been
to deter by threat of annihilation, and if necessary to mortally defeat, any
challenge by "uppity" Third World
peoples to this country's domineering role in the world.
For example, in the 1960's and early 1970's, U.S. armed forces killed
millions of Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians who had never harmed or
threatened a single American.
In the late 1970's and 1980's, U.S. forces or their proxies killed or
enabled the killing of hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Guatemalans,
Nicaraguans and other Central Americans. Again, not a single one had ever
harmed an American.
Colin Powell: his role
Colin Powell, in his jobs as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
now as Secretary of State, may be inclined
to, and may well succeed in, allowing some other African-Americans to
achieve successful careers in the U.S. armed forces or State Department.
That may help a few isolated individuals in this country.
But to the extent U.S. diplomacy and its armed forces continue to be used
to crush the aspirations of Third World peoples for a life free of
U.S./First World-engineered economic dependency, poverty and misery, having
more men of color like Colin Powell -- or women of color, like Condoleezza
Rice -- helping to do so just makes that many more lower-level overseers
running around to the detriment of other people of color.
Colin Powell: his willingness to play
Colin Powell has shown he is certainly not averse to doing his master's
bidding against other people of color:
Powell served in Vietnam, and was