- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

White and Asian people were ordered out of a conference on racism being held this week in Bridgetown, Barbados, after black organizers said it was "too painful" to discuss slavery in front of them.

Ten whites including at least two white journalists and two Asians left after cheering delegates approved a proposal to ban them. The ban was brought to the table by a British delegation of about 60 people. Nearly 95 percent of the 250 people in attendance voted in favor of the ban.

The conference dubbed the African and African Descendants World Conference Against Racism is seen by organizers as a follow-up to the U.N.'s anti-racism conference held last September in Durban, South Africa.

Just as at that conference, a delegation from the United States is in attendance. It is led by Jewel Crawford, a medical officer with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

She defended the racial expulsion vote as necessary.

"I think not to have dealt with it would have harmed the conference because our people have been traumatized by racism," she said in an interview with the Barbados Daily Nation newspaper. "We have been traumatized by white people and when we come to a meeting to talk about how we've been traumatized, sometimes their presence is upsetting."

Added Kuba Assegai, an activist from Connecticut: "How can they heal when the perpetrators are there?"

A leader of the British delegation, Kwaku Bonsu, told reporters, "We told [organizers] emphatically that we don't want to be sitting down with no Europeans or Asians and they assured us that this is an African and African-only event and that is why we came here."

The conference, which began Wednesday and ends tomorrow, is a follow-up to the Durban conference, which was plagued by anti-Semitism from several nations' delegations. It prompted the U.S. refusal to participate.

Whites were allowed to attend the Durban event.

Sponsors of this week's conference include the Commission for Pan African Affairs, the government of Barbados, the Congress Against Racism, the Barbados Tourist Authority and the U.S.-based Congress of People of African Descent Inc.

Also endorsing the event were hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and the civil rights group 100 Black Men of Atlanta. The Atlanta group disassociated itself immediately from the exclusion vote.

"Whatever is going on there, they did not ask us," said William J. Stanley III, president and chairman of the board of 100 Black Men of Atlanta. He said the group offered its support in name, but did not send any members.

"It would hardly be fair to have agreed to allow people to come to Barbados, and for these people to have paid to come and provide coverage and then to tell them to leave," Mr. Stanley said in a telephone interview. "We lent our name to the conference, but whatever is going on they didn't ask us."

Conference registration was coordinated by the Black World Today, a black news Web site. The news agency's phone has been disconnected.

A spokeswoman at the Barbados prime minister's office said that no one could discuss the conference or the government's sponsorship.

A manager at the Barbados Tourist Authority, which provided a financial contribution of an undisclosed amount, said that the sponsorship would be reviewed. The Authority also arranged for discounted air and hotel rates for those coming to the West Indies island.

"The chairman of the authority is very aware of the conflict," Gerald Cozier said. "It is something that he will deal with."

Among the Americans scheduled to attend the conference this week are actor Danny Glover and Roger Wareham, an activist lawyer who in April filed slavery-reparations lawsuits against FleetBoston Financial Corp., Aetna Inc. and the CSX Corp.

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