Amid protests and respect for African-American George Floyd who died after a white police man knee-struck him to the level where he could not breath, Ghana’s Kente kente scarves were given out to the congressmen and women by the Congressional Black Caucus (who wanted to appear African).
This happened when the United States of America (USA) Democrats in Congress proposed legislation to reform the police following weeks of protests over the death of Floyd.
It was shocking for some to see Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other Democratic lawmakers draped in scarves made from a cloth of colourful geometric Ghanaian designs called kente.
This congressional group meets to pursue legislative goals around greater equality for black people.
Karen Ruth Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus revealed that the contextual importance of the kente cloth at such a time is the African heritage it exudes. This is also to connect those without that heritage to a meaningful solidarity. She said: “That is the significance of the kente cloth – our origins and respecting our past.”
This is not the first time the Ghana Kente cloth represented African consciousness in the U.S.
The cloth which has been used in the US to reflect a pride in African heritage was worn by the Congressional Black Caucus last year to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to America and President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018.
kente, among other African fabrics is popular in America – often used to covey the African heritage and pride. It is worn at graduation ceremonies for students in historically black fraternities or sororities.
Modern kente is from a complexly woven, richly colourful geometric designs. It often comes in bold shades of yellow, blue, green, red and orange.
Kente, often woven from silk and cotton is associated with the Ashanti people in central Ghana and is linked with special occasions as it is expensive to make.
George Perry Floyd Jr. was an African-American man who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Protests in response to both Floyd’s death, and more broadly to police violence against black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.