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Ronald Reagan Calls UN African Delegates 'Monkeys' In This Newly Released Audio

These unearthed tapes again confirm that the former U.S. President was racist.

The Atlantic has published newly released recordings of phone conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and then-California governor Ronald Reagan from 1971 that affirm their disdain for black people.

Tim Naftali is the clinical associate professor of history at New York University who unearthed the tapes. Naftali was also the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, the institution that holds the tapes, from 2007 to 2011.

The racist exchange explained below was removed when it was initially released in 2000 by the National Archives due to Reagan still being alive at the time. Naftali requested in a court order for the conversations involving Reagan to be revisited in 2004. Two weeks ago, the National Archives released the complete versions online.


The audio reveals Reagan making a racist comment regarding African delegates at the United Nations who voted to recognize China and expel Taiwan, which in turn went against the wishes of the U.S. Members of the Tanzanian delegation were dancing after the vote in celebration inside the General Assembly, BBC Africa summarizes.

Reagan rehashed his disdain to Nixon, asking him if he caught the vote on TV, saying:

"To see those—those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes."

Responding with laughter, Nixon then retells their exchange in another conversation, saying: "He saw these...these cannibals on television last night, and he says, 'Christ, they weren't even wearing shoes and here the United States is going to submit its fate to that,' and so forth and so on."

Naftali also adds that this same recording reveals new insights into Reagan's support of the apartheid states of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa in the late 70s.

Read more about these findings and listen to the clip here.

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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