- LATEST POSTS
- BLACK WOMEN THE MOST RELIGIOUS
- THE DEGENERATION OF BLACK CULTURE
- WHY ARE WE STILL BEGGING?
- THE DEATH OF TRUTH
TO SEE ALL POST CLICK ON “BY JOHN VALENTINE”
According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation Black women were found to be the most religious people in the country.
This certainly came as no surprise to me. It merely echoed a belief I’ve long harbored. The belief that women seem to have a deeper understanding of the spirit within that many men fail to grasp. This, I believe, is the same spirit that causes women to put the importance of family and community on a higher plane than their counterparts.
Looking at the result of this poll I now understand a little better why my mother religiously attended our little country church, and dutifully insisted all her children accompany her.
And while I would have much preferred to be out in the woods exploring or on a lake fishing on the rural farm where I was raised, my mother was the sole reason I found myself each Sunday sitting in the hot and cramped Woodstock Baptist Church… trying to stay awake as Pastor droned on and on about pie-in-the-sky, turn-the-other-cheek, and proper tithing.
Obviously, I was napping during the turn-the-other-cheek proclamation because that was a religious edict I always found hard to swallow. Especially being raised in the south.
But, enough about me. Let’s talk about you… My mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, and grandmothers.
According to the poll 74% of black women said “living a religious life” is very important to them. Coming in right behind them at 70% were black men.
This shows that black people, regardless of gender, are the most religious people in the nation.
You don’t have to take the word of the Washington Post or the Kaiser Family Foundation to know this. Just look around you the next time you’re in church. Most likely, the mothers and sisters will far outnumber the males.
By contrast, according to the same poll, “living a religious life” was important to only 57% of white women and 43% of white men.
The poll also revealed that in times of turmoil about 87% of black women, much more than any other group, black men included, said they turn to God for strength and guidance.
And, as further proof that black women are the most religious people in America, and probably on the planet, our women across all income and education levels say living a religious life is a greater priority than being married or having children, and either surpasses or is even with having a career. Wow!
Many of my columns have mentioned how the undying faith of black people in the belief that God would eventually deliver them from the bonds of slavery kept them advocating and fighting for their freedom. Without this deep faith in God, though not necessarily the God of their enslavers, I don’t believe our ancestors could have survived not only slavery, but Jim Crow America and modern systemic racism.
Many sociologists have rightly credited both the black woman’s and the black man’s deep and undying faith in God as the main reason they were able to withstand not only the horrors of American slavery, but European colonialism and the rape and pillage of Africa as well.
I would also add that it was the spiritual certitudes of our African ancestors rather than the white man’s religion that undergirded our resolve to endure and prosper in America. Our belief in a higher power predates our arrival in America.
Faith in a superior being or a higher force, I believe, is the key to the survival of any oppressed group.
The enduring grip of evils such as hate, injustice, racism, oppression, and sexism in modern times is a phenomenon that certainly requires faith to cause us to believe the human species will one day see the light and eliminate these antiquated practices.
I have also long pointed out the enormous contributions of black women and girls to the social, political, and economic progress of black people, and how important it is to elevate them to a more prominent role in our modern affairs.
The mainstay of this support for the black fight for equality and justice has, of course, been religion. The black woman’s belief that she, her mate, her children, indeed her family, were as good as any other was the cement that bonded the entire community. Her belief that the black family was equally deserving of God’s grace and protection is a belief that lasts even today.
Males, over the millenniums, have sought to downplay or dismiss the contributions of women to human progress and survival. But don’t be fooled. Without the contributions of females we would not be where we are today.
It’s my belief that it’s this kind of thinking that retards human insight and growth. Patriarchy is an antiquated system that must fall for the human species to realize its full potential.
Some black sociologists interviewed for the Washington Post article felt it was the triple whammy of racism, sexism, and classism, a condition unique only to black women, that caused them to be so religious.
While I agree with this analysis wholeheartedly, I think this religious steadfastness goes much deeper… and much further back.
You don’t develop or find religion in the midst of brutal oppression. I believe you fall back on what you know. What you’ve always believed. What has sustained you so far.
We had religion long before our ancestors were brought to America in slave ships. This is provable. And undeniable.
What is truly amazing is how long and undying our belief in God has endured in the face of so much loss and adversity.
As to the races of men, successive epochs of terrestrial humanity, though they may co-exist, have each embodied and developed one of the psychic faculties the sum of which makes higher man. Realization of the faculty particular to a given race brings it to its peak, then, when a fresh human season starts the flowering of the faculty next in succession, to its decadence.
Are we done as a race?
Has our time passed?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines degeneration as (1). having declined in nature, character, structure, or function from an ancestral or former state. (2). To decline from a condition or from the standards of a species, race, or breed. (3). to pass from a higher to a lower type or condition. (4). to decline in quality.
Today, if we are honest, we can see the degeneration of our culture in all aspects and mediums. From music to art to literature to dance to ethics we are seeing a deterioration of our morals and our culture.
If we went back as recently as a century ago we can see how much our culture has changed for the worse.
Our quest for the almighty dollar and the acceptance of our oppressors have led to vulgarization of some of our most cherished arts and traditions.
Our almost messianic quest for integration has brought about cultural stagnation.
But don’t be fooled, the loss of many of our unique cultural affinities go far back in history.
The Sages of Ancient Egypt were concerned the African races that existed at that time were starting to lose their cultural identity due to constant migrations and invasions by Aryan peoples from Asia and Europe. As a consequence of the unrelenting assault on their culture and homelands, the ancient Sages began to sum up the history of the African ascendency by inscribing it in their Temples and Tombs.
This was more than 3,000 years ago.
Modern historians, particularly Black ones, will tell you we lost our cultural identity during the terrible centuries of slavery, both in Europe and the Americas.
And who can blame them? The terrible atrocities carried out against Africans is a story widely told, but still not fully understood in its scope and degradation of an entire race of people.
Imagine having your identity, your name, your language, your religion, your very spirit, denied to you in a strange and distant land.
Who could recover from that?
As sad as this story is our degradation did not start with American and European slavery. It started much much earlier.
As detailed in my book “The Clan of Southern Man: And the Origin of Black Culture”, the denial of our culture began at least a thousand years before the Christian era, which started around 2,000 years ago.
The denial of our culture and identity by Aryan oppressors has a long and sordid history.
I won’t detail this history here since it can be found in many of my writings. What I want to ask here is if a race that has been invaded, conquered, colonized, debased and enslaved ever recover its original self?
In other words, can we get our swagger back?
Can we get our mojo back when much of Africa is a cesspool of poverty, corruption, and warfare?
Can we ever regain our prominence when people of African descent in every country where they reside are oppressed and discriminated against?
When we, in America, are still being treated as second class citizens? When we are still being killed in the streets by racists Police? When our right to participate in the election of our leaders are being denied or restricted?
Can we, as a people, find happiness and self-fulfillment when we must adopt the culture of our oppressor to be successful?
When we expect our lives to matter to others when they don’t matter to many of us?
Seems impossible doesn’t it?
Sadly, there’s nothing I can say that would convince Black people to try to reconnect to the culture of Ancestors who suffered, sacrificed, and died so we could survive and prosper? But, perhaps the wisdom of the Ancients, passed down to us from the Sages of ancient Egypt might offer some advice.
In describing the Black race they inform us that our identity began with the consciousness of instinctive nature. This means we started by relying on our natural instincts for survival in a hostile environment.
The nuances and abstractions of life wouldn’t come until much later in our history, as our main goal was to survive. To protect family and hearth.
There was no time for self pity, self promotion, or selfishness, period.
It was all-for-one or none-for-all. Cooperation and community was of the utmost importance.
According to the Sages, our ancestors worshipped natural forces and developed psychic vision. This, of course, led to our development of a spiritual realm and the establishment of our earliest religious beliefs.
Our failure as a race, according to the Wise Men of ancient Egypt, was due to the ignorance of the mass who foolishly believed that consciousness of this order was its perfection. In other words, too many black people believed, and many still do, that others will see our innate goodness and respect it. And us.
Once our Ancestors established a pattern of life that worked for them they assumed it would be accepted by all peoples, even those coming from other lands with diametrically opposed beliefs.
Obviously, in the real world, or in the world of others, that’s not the case.
Let me leave you with some final words from the long ago past.
According to the ancient Sages: “Each race carries its innate consciousness in itself and the impulse needed for the flowering of its particular endowment. The consciousness it acquires is its own too; but the experience of its ‘Elites enriches the consciousness of humanity and makes for its overall progress. Such a race, when this experience is exhausted, may degenerate; but progress is established in the consciousness of humanity… in the species. In this way consciousness evolves race by race though each degenerates’.
‘In each race an ‘Elite is formed that survives degeneration of the people”. They then inform us that: “there is no mass advance from race to race, any more than from species to species; but there is a selection of individuals who will be the seed of the race to follow”.
Is it time for the ‘Elites of the Black race to throw off the shackles of ignorance and start a new race?
A race not burdened by the ignorance of the mass?
Why are we still begging in 2021?
Why are we still defining ourselves by others?
Why are we still begging others to love us… to accept us…. to validate us?
Why do we need them to be us?
Why do we need their certificates, their diplomas, their awards, their praise, and their accolades to feel worthy?
Why must we adopt their religion, their culture, their habits, their vices?
Why must we pay for their sins, their missteps, their insecurities, their hatreds?
Why are we still begging when we created the first civilizations, spoke the first languages, made the first tools, and created the first sacred spirit?
Why are we still begging when we tamed the Nile, conquered the Jungle, followed the rivers and the pathways and populated the world?
Why are we still begging when we discovered spirit in matter, venerated Nature, honored life, developed the extended family, championed community, and respected all creatures, big and small?
Why do we still feel unworthy when our ancient ancestors in Africa developed many of the tools, processes, and social systems that not only helped the human species survive and progress, but aided humans in populating the entire planet and developing the first civilizations?
Why are we still begging when our strength and perseverance saved the world, made the world, changed the world?
Why are we still seeking acceptance when we shed our blood in conflicts that were not ours, for causes that were not ours, against enemies that were not ours, for freedoms and profits that were not ours?
Why do we still need to prove ourselves when we’ve given them Harriet, Ida B., Frederick, W.E.B., Fannie Lou, Rosa, Thurgood, Adam Clayton, Martin and Medgar, Malcolm, John, Harry, Mahalia and Shirley, Marian, Satchmo, “Lady Day” and Bessie, The Duke, Sammy, Muddy and Howlin’, John Lee and B.B., Aretha and Patti, The Temptations and the Supremes, Lena, Diahann, Ossie and Ruby, Baldwin, Lorraine and Langston, Zora and Toni, Alice and Maya, Mandela, Kenyatta, Jesse and Wilma, Althea and Arthur, Jackie, Willie and Hammering Hank, Ali and Frazier, Sweetness and Emmitt, Big Bill and Kareem, MJ and Lebron, Barack and Michelle, Oprah and Gayle, and a multitude of others giants too numerous to name?
What more do we have to prove when we gave them the toilet, laser eye surgery, the refrigerator, the home security system, the traffic light, the ironing board, the potato chip, the carbon-filament light bulb, the blood bank, the gas mask, synthesized hormones, the super soaker, the x-ray, brain tumor surgery, the pacemaker, sickle cell anemia studies, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, dry cleaning, the dust pan, the folding chair, the ice cream scooper, the lawn mower, the touch-tone telephone, electric elevator doors, the hot comb, the automatic gear shift, the blimp, and a host of other products and processes to numerous to list?
Why do we hunger for their culture when we gave them fried chicken and barbecue ribs, fried green tomatoes, grits n’ gravy, mac and cheese, okra, black-eyed peas, candied yams and cabbage, pound cake, potato salad, sweet potato and pecan pies, cobblers and puddings, and hot water cornbread?
Why do we need their validation when they copy our way of talking, our way of walking, our way of dancing?
Do we not realize it was us who gave swag its swag, put the cool in cool, the smooth in smooth, the ‘tude in attitude?
Why are we still seeking validation when we gave them rhythm and soul? When, from the drums of Africa, to the banjos of the plantation, we brought style and grace to the human race?
Why are we still seeking acceptance when our culture permeates the globe? When our music is the soundtrack to virility? When our athletic prowess awes the world?
Why do we doubt ourselves still when our passion is the definition of love? When our hardships and suffering epitomize struggle… And nobility? And perseverance… and righteousness?
Why are we still begging for respect when we’ve created and built, crafted and invented, toiled and sweated, cried and died so others could prosper?
Why after we’ve run, jumped, thrown, raced, batted, dribbled, smashed, and putted for the world’s enjoyment must we be quiet in the face of injustice?
How much more must we give when we’ve given them Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop, the Cha Cha, the twist, the boogaloo, the Electric Slide, the Dougie?
Why must be continue to beg when we are copied, emulated, appropriated, and assimilated the world over?
Why must we still beg for equality after Harriet risked it all for us, Frederic advocated for us, Martin and Malcolm died for us, Thurgood ruled for us, Rosa held her ground for us, and Mandela humanized us?
I started my writing career in the 70s and 80s. Those were the decades after the racial turmoil of the 50s and 60s.
Those preceding decades saw the fight for racial justice and civil rights reach a crescendo of protests with marches, sit-ins, sit-downs, boycotts, and other actions designed to reach the ear of an America long used to ignoring the cries of desperate and oppressed people.
As I’ve noted before, my writing career was inspired by the brilliant and brave protest writers of the 60s and 70s whose angry, but truthful voices, were finally demanding, not pleading, for America to live up to the promise of its much vaunted constitution.
They were ready for some freedom, justice, and equality as promised by Jefferson and the rest of the powdered wig crew who had formed a new nation nearly two centuries earlier.
For once, it seemed America was finally listening to the agonizing voices of Black Americans who had been begging and pleading for justice and equal opportunities for decades since manumission.
During the 60s and 70s, even the white media, long a thorn in the side of black progress, seemed to have boarded the righteous train to black deliverance. White newspapers, magazines, book publishers, and even broadcast news came riding in like the cavalry to chronicle the jarring story of the Civil Rights Movement.
The white media throughout American history had played an integral role in both the propagation and support of slavery through its active participation in promoting the slave trade. This was done through their publishing of slave advertisements as well as their overall support for black bondage.
The white media later continued their support for slavery by running ads for runaway slaves who had escaped the South to try for freedom in the North. This same support continued through the Jim Crow era when many white newspapers supported lynching, police brutality, black disenfranchisement, and other segregationist policies.
For decades after the end of slavery many white newspapers, especially those in the South, refused to afford Blacks any sense of dignity and humanity… refusing to refer to them as Mr. or Mrs., refusing to capitalize their names, using racist tropes and stereotypes, hyping up lynchings like they were just another sporting event.
For a brief period in time it seemed white media had finally gained a soul as it courageously reported on the Civil Rights Movement and the violent backlash to it by white mobs backed up by corrupt law enforcement officials. The unleashing of vicious police dogs and high-powered water cannons on peaceful protesters that included women and children was an atrocity not even white media could ignore.
Seeing the heads of peaceful protesters bloodied or innocent little Black girls blown up while attending Sunday school was a bridge too far for many Whites.
There was a new day of racial awareness dawning in America.
And, when young white Americans came from eastern cities to join Freedom Riders in the South and were brutalized and murdered with no distinction from the black souls they’d come to support, white media felt it had no choice but to intervene.
Sadly, this come-to-Jesus-moment wasn’t to last.
Though white media made a brief foray into truth telling and fairness by giving a voice to the many Black protest writers and activists that offered compassionate and powerful rebuttals to white violence and supremacy, soon they were back to their old ways.
The old ways included stereotyping Black people, ignoring the legitimate needs of black communities, playing up black lawlessness while downplaying white violence, soft pedaling police brutality, and censoring or ignoring the thoughts, opinions and ideas of Black writers who refused to accept the status quo.
By the 80s, even the era of blaxploitation films and literature had waned. Sweet Sweet Back, Shaft, Foxy Brown, Super Fly and the Mack had all faded into obscurity and Blacks were still seeking some real and lasting gains.
Most of the brilliant black writers of the 60s and 70s had also faded into obscurity by then. It was now easier to shave a grizzly bear that to prick the conscious of a nation now obsessed with the American Dream of materialism, individualism, and personal aggrandizement.
Blacks, too, were all in on this new goal. Many were sick and tired of being sick and tired. Others wanted that white picket fence and two-car garage far more than they wanted self-determination.
The sacrifices of those who had suffered for their salvation were largely forgotten.
Making a buck became the rallying cry. Bling-bling replaced self esteem. “Got to get mine” replaced “Black is Beautiful” and “Power to the People”. “Just do it” encouraged us to throw caution to the wind and jump sight unseen into a cesspool of greed and individualism. “Have it your way” served as a slap in the face of “united we stand” and encouraged selfishness.
This new mindset was the unfortunate bastard child of segregation and our new quest to prove we could be as white as White people.
By the 90s, aside from allowing a Black writer or two a year to be heard, the white media had essentially returned to the old days of media segregation.
Hundreds of articles have been written since the dawn of the 21st. century detailing the paucity of black writers, reporters, editors, and behind-the-scenes people in meaningful positions in white media. This exclusion includes all areas of white media. From newspapers to magazines. From television to the film industry.
In much of white media today Black voices are either being white- washed or censored.
It’s as if they feel we’ve reached some color blind society and they can now go back to their old ways.
But, of course, we know this isn’t the case. White supremacy and systemic racism still exist in all its virulent and destructive forms. Police brutality and voter repression continues unabated. Black Americans are still searching for that freedom, justice, and equality long promised , but never delivered.
When I began writing for a living in the 80s I found a place for my writings in both black and white media outlets. But over the ensuing years the market for truth dried up.
As Lorraine Hansberry wrote… like a raisin in the sun.
The attributes of a culture that had brought us through slavery, segregation, and unrelenting oppression and violence were mainly cast aside in pursuit of the holy grail of the American Dream.
While we can’t blame the white media solely for our perilous slide into consumerism and its accompanying pitfalls, we can certainly blame them for their relentless push of the material over the spiritual. Greed over altruism. Individualism over community.
Lies over truth.
Sit down America. We need to talk.
It’s time for some inconvenient truths about our nation and how the propagation of systemic racism and white supremacy encourages what we recently witnessed at our national Capitol.
As more disturbing footage of the 1/6 Capitol Insurrection comes to light, many of us are having to face up to the fact our vaunted democracy is a lot frailer than we’d dared to imagine.
Seeing the chaos and the utter madness of the right-wing assault on one of our most cherished traditions reminds us that our destination toward “a more perfect union” is still a bumpy road. Not a smooth transition as Jefferson and others had waxed so eloquently about , but a road filled with potholes, speed bumps, and blind corners.
A WARNING UNHEARD
As an African American writer who have been writing about the complex and polarizing issue of race for many years, I have been warning of the type of white mob violence that we witnessed at the Capitol.
Born and raised in the deep south, I know first hand the ugly spawn of racial hate. During my lifetime, despite the recent election of the nation’s first non-white President, I have seen little evidence that the abyss between Whites and Blacks in our nation has been narrowed.
In the ensuing weeks we have been forced to contemplate how such an appalling breach of our both our Capitol and our sensibilities could happen in America.
LAND OF THE FREE?
I mean, isn’t this America? The land of the free and the home of the brave? A place where freedom, justice, and equality reign?
Are we now ready to face up to the fact we are not what we claim to be? That there are powerful forces out there that aren’t ready to accept a system of government that supposedly guarantees the rights and privileges of all its citizens, regardless of race, color, or creed?
Let me explain something to you. Those groups that invaded the Capitol, whether you call them white nationalists, fascists, Skin Heads, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, Three Percenters, or KKK, can all be framed under the name Neo-Confederates.
Neo-Confederates are those Whites who will never accept the legitimacy of a government that is constituted to protect the rights of Blacks and other minorities. Neither will they accept the fact the South lost the Civil War.
They’re united by a principal theme of racial and ethnic grievances and an undying belief that white identity should be the organizing principle of the countries that make up Western Civilization.
They harbor a belief that Whites are being dispossessed. They obsess over the belief Black males are lusting after their women and will one day take over. They fear changing demographics will soon relegate them to minority status.
They worship at the altar of the Second Amendment. Their ultimate goal is to bring about Civil War II. They feel they have unfinished business to attend to.
A CHECKERED PAST
Most Americans, white or black, can’t envision our nation ever returning to such a dark time in our history. That’s because they aren’t students of real American history.
How long will we continue to pretend we do not have a long and clear history of white violence, collectively and individually? Have we forgotten that not too long ago lynching was a part of our DNA? Or that violent rampages by white mobs angered by black progress, black protests, or just plain pleas for equal justice are a part of the American story?
Have we forgotten a long history of American courts protecting the perpetration of white violence against Blacks?
I suppose we’ve forgotten, or maybe never accepted, that often law enforcement entities, from the local Sheriff to the FBI, have been protectors of the white mob.
Have we forgotten the FBI’s role in trying to discredit and destabilize both Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement? Or the local Sheriffs that allowed their jails to be overrun by Klansmen who dragged untried, and in many cases innocent, black men and women to the nearest tree to be lynched?
For many in law enforcement during America’s darkest days, Black lives didn’t matter anymore then than they do now.
Never underestimate the power of hate… and misinformation.
A TRAGIC TOLL ON AMERICA’S SOUL
For those refusing to believe another civil war could occur in America let me offer you a tragic reminder of just what hate wrought little more than 150 years ago.
For many decades it was thought the Civil War was responsible for the deaths of around 620,000 soldiers out of the 2.75 million who fought. About 2 million fought on the side of the North and about 750,000 for the South.
But by combing through newly digitized data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghhampton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll. He increased the gruesome body count by more than 20 percent to around 750,000. This figure would translate to about 7.5 million people in proportion to our population today.
Just as alarming is the fact that not all those soldiers died from combat. Many died from accidents, disease, or starvation.
According to estimates another 50,000 civilians lost their lives from such things as bombardments, sieges, disease, and starvation. An additional 80,000 slaves lost their lives during the conflict.
The barbarism didn’t stop there. Nearly 56,000 of those soldiers died in squalid and poorly equipped prison camps from starvation and disease.
An estimated 40 percent of the dead were never identified. Because of advances in weaponry and the sheer number of people killed, many bodies were damaged beyond recognition, or left to rot in piles on the battlefield.
There was no anesthesia on the battlefield. Surgery was far from sterile. Amputation was the common treatment for broken bones or damaged limbs.
An estimated 880,000 Americans lost their lives during the four years of war. More soldiers died in that war than in all other American conflicts combined.
A NATION DIVIDED
The horrendous loss of life shows the severity of a conflict where brother fought against brother and father against son.
And all for a lost cause. An unjust cause.
Because the South was fighting for a way of life disavowed in most of the civilized world, the war was especially brutal and savage.
Atrocities and cruelties were committed in the prison camps of both sides. Country-sides were ravaged. Property was confiscated. Crops were burned. Businesses were looted. Women were raped and terrorized.
And when Black soldiers were finally allowed to join the battle the fighting became even more brutal. Animosities between black and white combatants resulted in unimaginable atrocities both on the battlefield and in prison camps. Many times black soldiers trying to surrender were shot down like dogs.
About 20 percent of the soldiers who died were under eighteen. There were even reports of some women disguised as men being killed on the battlefield.
The estimated cost of the war was $6.19 billion. That’s about $146 billion in today’s dollars.
A NATION AT ODDS WITH HISTORY
We must also remember the war was fought during a time of world instability. The U.S. was one of the last nations to outlaw slavery and many of its economic competitors were envious of the economic advantage that free labor gave the nation.
The South constantly sought to draw other nations into the conflict, and it took all the economic and political muscle Lincoln could muster to keep other nations from joining in the fight.
The war affected economic activity all around the world. The South’s economy was devastated. Many slave owners lost everything.
Thousands of women were widowed. Tens of thousands of children were left without fathers.
The American Civil War was the war that hate spawned.
The same kind of hate we saw on the faces and heard in the voices of the mob that stormed the Capitol.
A wise man once said that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it.
Wise words. Cautionary words.
A DARK MOMENT IN HISTORY
May 25, 2020… a day that will live in infamy.
Of course, we all remember where we were when we first saw the excruciatingly painful video of the white Minneapolis police officer’s knee on the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd.
We all watched in horror and disbelief as the seemingly unconcerned Derek Chauvin nonchalantly kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for about nine and a half minutes, repeatedly ignoring the helpless man plea that he couldn’t breathe, as well as cries to his dead mother to somehow come to his rescue. All this while the sordid affair was being captured on video by horrified onlookers on their cell phones.
Anger and disbelief spread through the crowd as they pleaded for Chauvin to take his knee off Floyd’s neck. Were they witnessing a murder in real time? Or were they in some unscripted episode of the Twilight Zone?
Eventually Chauvin did remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. But only after arriving medics told him to. And, only after the poor man had apparently stopped begging for his life… and breathing.
Equally appalling was the fact that three other boys in blue were on the scene, all three either helping to restrain Floyd or helping to keep the rapidly growing crowd at bay.
As a black man, I, too, felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew full well, as millions of other black males knew, that the lifeless man on the pavement could just as easily been me.
Even after having witnessed numerous incidents of police brutality over my lifetime, I was still shocked by the open disregard for black life.
After 400 years in America this was our worth?
A CRY HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
Always looking for a silver lining in a sea of black despair, I was heartened by two developments from the public murder. 1. Not only were Black people outraged by such a wanton disregard for black life, but so were so many others, including many Whites. 2. All four police officers were not only fired for their egregious actions but later charged with serious crimes.
The incident became a worldwide sensation, echoing around the world as unassailable proof that black folks had not been crying wolf when they complained about systemic police brutality. Brutality not only in modern day America but official murder going all the way back to Jim Crow days and beyond.
Floyd’s death triggered worldwide protests and gave Blacks and Whites a new found hope that maybe finally the issue of police brutality and racism would finally be taken seriously.
Within a couple of weeks, the Minneapolis City Council voted an intent to restructure the police department as a “new community-based system of public safety”.
Was the Black Lives Matter movement finally gaining traction?
Would something finally be done about the corrosive effect on black lives by racist police departments and their all-powerful unions that shielded and protected them from the consequences of their actions?
A CHANGE IS GONNA COME… MAYBE
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to non-racist policing in America. It hasn’t happened.
Mainly, because America is still one of the most racist countries in the world, and the the divide between its black and white citizens is still a chasm too wide to breach. Law enforcement… legal or illegal… from paddy rollers to the KKK… from chain gangs to the po- pos… have always been about keeping Black people under control. Especially black males.
This is something that’s not going to change anytime soon. Not as long as we are considered a social, political, and and economic threat to Whites.
Still, I believe a new awareness of the righteousness of the Black Lives Matter movement began after video of Floyd’s killing circled the world. This palpable outrage, simmering and hot, may have led to some major changes in policing in America if not for the bigot in the White House at that time. If not for his demonization of the BLM movement and his clarion call to his racist followers to do the same, America may have changed for the better.
But alas, that didn’t happen. We missed a true moment in history to not only hold America accountable for its malignant treatment of her long suffering black citizens, but the opportunity to bring about a reckoning for the world wide racism practiced against Africa-descended peoples the world over.
MORE INCONVENIENT TRUTHS ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA
Before we completely lose hope for racial progress in America, let me say a few things you may or may not want to hear.
One is that I’ve always said the prevalent of racism in America is both systemic and enduring. The ethnological term for it is Internal Colonization (see my post “Blacks Still Colonized in America”)
Racism in America will never end for a myriad of reasons outlined in my book “The Clan of Southern Man” and in many of my posts (see my post “Some Inconvenient Truths About Race in America”).
As I’ve said, Blacks and Whites, are from two different, contrasting, and diametrically opposed cultures. There is no record of any place on earth where these two cultures have existed in peace and equality. Just by the nature of things one must dominate the other.
Sorry. You can’t go up and down at the same time.
I’ve also said that one of the biggest reasons for our continued subjugation is our ignorance of our own history, and our own divisions within ourselves.
I have also warned of our fervent desire, almost a death wish, to fore sake our own culture for the culture of others. This is not a winning strategy. A race or group that runs away from its own history and past will never muster the strength to stand on its own and chart its own fate and destiny.
I’ve also said we have no coherent strategy for our liberation beside protest and complaint.
Another complaint of mine is our short memory of America’s racist history and how far we’ve come from the days of slavery and Jim Crow. We must learn to embrace change, acknowledge progress, and keep moving forward, all the while understanding we will never live in utopia in a foreign land.
And while the George Floyd murder and the other controversial police killings before and after haven’t created a sea change in America, there has been some real progress from the BLM movement. It’s incumbent on us to note this progress and be appreciative of it.
Nor should we downplay the good intentions of many non-black people who want to see real progress in race relations. Just as we don’t fully appreciate the efforts of the many Whites who helped eliminate slavery and Jim Crow segregation, we are also failing to give credit where credit is due to those trying to aid our cause today.
As I’ve said, good and bad exist in all races and cultures. No group has a monopoly on righteousness. Or evilness. No group is without blame for the problems that plague our warring, disease ridden, and drug addicted world.
Since no one else seems to be doing it I have gathered just a fraction of the encouraging actions that have occurred since the death of George Floyd, the most visceral manifestation of white brutality since, arguably, the Emmet Till murder in 1955.
A BODY BLOW TO RACISTS
THE CORPORATE WORLD STEPS UP
BLACKS CAN LEAD TOO
DOWN GOES ROBERT E. LEE!
BLACK ATHLETES REFUSED TO JUST SHUT UP AND DRIBBLE
WE’RE MOVING ON UP
PHILANTHROPHY ON THE RISE
MAYBE SLAVERY WAS WRONG AFTER ALL
WHO RUN THIS GAME?
WE’RE BRINGING SEXY BACK… YEAH!
WHITES FINALLY SEE THE LIGHT
ORDER IN THE COURT
These are only a few of the changes, big and small, that have come about since the death of George Floyd. In the year 1 A.G.F. we must learn to appreciate our progress and the people striving to improve race relations.
“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions”. Gloria Neale Hurston.
I, too, am an invisible man. And it doesn’t feel good.
In 1952, African American writer Ralph Ellison wrote the critically acclaimed book “Invisible Man”. The seminal book addressed many of the social and intellectual issues faced by African Americans in the early twentieth century, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.
Mr. Ellison described himself as an invisible man because he believed the world to be filled with blind men who could not see him for who he was. He spoke about the pain and feeling of helplessness he got from being socially or racially invisible.
Today, in 2020, more than 70 years after “Invisible Man”, I feel I am suffering a similar fate.
I have made it known throughout my writings that I was highly influenced by the so-called “Black Protest Writers” of the 60s and 70s.
Unknown to today’s generation of mostly non-readers, those intellectually brilliant and brave men and women of that era gave hope and courage to a generation of Blacks, who, heretofore, had been afraid to boldly challenge the system of white oppression and injustice.
Many of those writers and activists of the era, especially some belonging to the Black Panther Party, were hunted down like dogs and murdered in their homes, or hounded through sham legal proceedings or political persecutions that was aimed at eliminating them from the movement for black equality.
Few of those writers and activists, with the notable exception of Angela Davis and Elaine Brown (former Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party and 2008 Green Party candidate), remain alive and viable today.
The writings and activism of many of those people, such as Haki R. Madhubuti (formerly Don Lee), Huey P. Newton, Amiri Baraka, Dick Gregory, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Eldridge Cleaver, Richard Wright, Bobby Seale, Ntozake Shange, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Maya Angelou, and a host of others too innumerable to name, ushered in a new era of protest and activism not seen during the early years of the Civil Rights Movement.
Now, they’re all but forgotten, as are many of the courageous and intellectual black writers and activists of that era. Those writers and activists gave their all, sacrificed wealth and economic security, and risked their personal safety to speak out against a system that debased and humiliated them, and people like them.
Whether they were advocating for going back to Africa, building our own communities, fighting the “Pig” (police), or feeding and educating our own, this special group was offering different and diverse plans and strategies for black liberation. But, most of all they were showing that when given the opportunity Blacks could do more than pick cotton, clean houses, serve as porters , or wait on white folks.
This period of black intellectualism has never been surpassed, and most likely will never occur again.
Now, we have a host of black intellectuals with degrees from fancy white schools who are obliged to honor their benefactors by avoiding being “too black”, “too radical”, or “too outspoken”. Without one of these valued degrees, smart black folks with courage, commitment, or just plain “mother wit” are denied seats of power, not only within white institutions, but the black bourgeois set as well.
Of course, historian Carter G. Woodson warned us of this in his clairvoyant and provocative tome, “The Mis-Education of the Negro”, first published in 1933.
Dr. Woodson called African American leaders of the period “misleaders”. He described the chains around our minds and provided strategies for their removal. He believed white supremacy could be conquered with Africentricity. Self-hatred could be replaced with self-love. He believed that African people had to immerse themselves in their own history and culture in order to succeed as a race.
The Black Protest era was all about change of the black mindset.
According to writer Chris May, “In the struggle for racial equality in the U.S., the mid 1960s were a turning point. The Civil Rights era, 1955-65 had produced legislation against segregation, but everyday institutional racism continued to blight African American life, as did economic deprivation. The Black Nationalist era, 1965-75, was less pacifistic than the one which it succeeded.”
Anthems like “Fight the Power”, “Black Pride”, “Black Love”, “Black and Proud”, and “Power to the People” were in vogue during this era. They were more than mere slogans. They were a way of life.
Growing up in the racist south during the 70s I needed all the hope and change I could muster. Without those strong and brave voices I would never have dreamed I could become a writer and influence people with my words.
Today, I can unequivocally say it was the Black Protest Era, along with learning of the horrific murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, that set the course of my life, and made me determined to speak my piece… whatever the cost.
And it has cost me dearly…. The loss of fame and stature. The loss of economic opportunities. The loss of family and friends. The loss of loves.
But still I soldier on.
That’s a question I often struggle with myself.
Why sacrifice life and career to try and educate Black people to their true past and potential? Why give all to a “race” of people who seem to have lost their way, and seem unwilling to put in the work to rediscover themselves, and live up to the greatness of their ancestors?
Ancestors, who from slavery in America and far before, showed their mettle by outlasting invasions, colonialism, slavery and racism.
My disappointment isn’t as much with Whites, who have been programmed for centuries, if not millenniums, to oppress and discriminate against people of color, but my own people.
I’m talking about the Black people who’ve refused to support me in this effort.
I’m talking about the black people who’ve refused to buy my book, “The Clan of Southern Man”, a book which traces the history of our people all the way back to the beginning of the human line. A book which highlight the contributions of our valuable black women to the survival and progress of the human species. A book that uses the very latest scientific evidence (that’s science folks) to prove our ancestors gave modern people many of the systems, processes, and tools that helped to advance the human line.
A book that took me twenty years to research and write.
That’s not important?
Have we fallen off that much?
Is reading no longer fundamental?
Is knowledge of self no longer important?
I’m talking about the black press that has mainly censored me by refusing to publish much of my work. And in some instances, refusing to pay me when they did.
I’m talking about the black leaders, celebrities, politicians, intellectuals and academicians who have ignored my many entreaties for their aid in getting out my message.
I could belabor you with dozens, if not hundreds, of failed attempts to engage some of these people in this fight.
What has been my reward? Form letters and refusals. Turndowns and disappointments. Disrespect and disillusionment.
Has the cult of materialism overwhelmed the conviction of spiritualism that guided our ancestors through trials and travails that would have broken other peoples?
Have we lost our sense of community?
Or have we simply been mis-served by our leaders?
Have we become wholesale buyers of the me-generation? The every-man-for-himself posse? The self-over-community mantra that seems to permeate our society today?
Have we given up on ourselves?
Throughout my life I’ve always supported black people. Supported black businesses. Supported black organizations. Supported black charities. Bought black books and magazines. Bought black records and attended black concerts. Supported black newspapers. Hired black people in my profession of restaurant and retail management. Mentored black children. Tried to serve as a role model for my younger siblings and my many nieces and nephews.
Why am I not feeling the love?
A recent article I posted called on black women to continue the tradition of our great grandmothers.
The tradition of advocating for the family and putting the welfare of the community over self is central to the success of our struggles. The personal and cultural values those Fore Mothers instilled in their daughters imbued them with the courage to stand up to the slave master and later march in the face of snarling dogs and hateful policemen.
This is a modest request I think, considering all our Fore Mothers have done for us. Considering all the sacrifices they made to help steer us through centuries of turmoil and strife here in America, how can we abandon the path they paved for our liberation?
With all the back and forth we hear and see these days about twitter wars and instagram battles between some of our Sisters, especially from some of the younger generation, I was worried some of them were starting to become too immersed in the trappings of personal aggrandizement, notoriety, and materialistic pursuits. As a community, we need our beautiful Sisters to send out messages that tend to uplift rather than degrade.
THE MEDIA MONSTER
Hardly a minute goes by when mass media isn’t bombarding us with messages that tell us it’s not our fault, to have it our way, to be an Army of one, or to just do it. Little regard is given to the welfare of others, or the consequences of shirking responsibility. By discouraging personal responsibility and encouraging individualism, mass media has turned us into unthinking automatons, making us afraid to unfollow the herd.
I understand that we live in a youth-oriented society. I also understand that when we live in a society where we are constantly fed the false notion of the natural superiority of youthfulness, fealty to the old ways can be considered quaint.
The cacophony of voices urging us to walk to the beat of our own drum has become so loud that the voices of our Elders can scarcely be heard. When that happens, we lose the moral authority that has undergirded our struggle for centuries.
But, let me remind you it was the wisdom of our Elders, or the “old ways” as some call it, that got us out of slavery and to where we are today. It was the old ways that made us who we are. That kept us strong and resolute through unimaginable horrors and atrocities.
Sometimes old school is the best school.
Egoism, selfishness, and personal vanity are not the building blocks of a successful life, much less a united community.
Let’s remember, that in our mad rush to be young and to stay young, we can’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with changing with the times. As long as we don’t lose ourselves in the process.
Tearing each other down, dissing each other, calling each other names, or allowing personal vendettas to get in the way of facing up to our own failures won’t do any of us any good. If anything, it only reinforces the belief among our detractors that we’re not ready to govern ourselves.
A STOLEN LEGACY
In other articles, I explained how both Aryan and Arab invaders used this same excuse to rape and pillage the entire continent of Africa, and take the land, resources, and bodies of our ancestors for their own personal advancement.
This “not ready for prime time” argument has been used over and over again by racists and colonizers the world over. Not only was wealth and resources taken, but cultures. Names… Languages… Customs… Entire ways of life were destroyed. All in the name of “civilizing” indigenous peoples.
Sadly, the irony of bringing “civilization” to savages, while lying, cheating, stealing, and brutalizing indigenous people was lost on those men.
In my article I explained that some of the divisiveness between us go all the way back to slavery. Back to a time when it was in the best interest of slave owners, and other racists, to keep us divided and at each other’s throats. The ploy was to play up the differences between slaves, be they differences in skin color, hair texture, height, strength, gender, plantation size, etc. No difference was too small for them to exploit.
Over time, this type of pathology can become ingrained in a people, and last for generations.
A CALL FROM AN EX-WIFE
After the article was posted I got a call from an ex-wife who wanted to discuss the subject. Knowing my ex, I knew this would be a subject I had to approach with caution.
Apparently, my views had touched a nerve with her, and I certainly understood why. Truth be told, some of the same pathologies plaguing black male-female relationships today had played a part in our divorce after twenty years together.
It should be noted that this ex and I have been divorced for twenty years, and for the first fifteen years after our divorce we didn’t communicate with each other. This, though we still lived in the same city, and she maintained a casual relationship with one of my brothers and his wife.
About five years ago we we got back in contact with each other through another of my sisters, and have maintained a cautious relationship since then.
No, this is not a feel-good story about two ships passing in the night, suddenly recognizing each other, dropping anchors, docking together again, and sailing away… happily ever after. The biggest reason there would be no happy reconciliation, aside from the long separation, was my ex had remarried. And though I have never remarried, I was in a relationship myself.
My sole purpose for reconnecting with her was this quaint notion that two people who’d loved and argued so hard for twenty years could still be friends. I should have known this was an impossibility, given the way we had parted, and the toxic brew our marriage had become at the end.
Of course, she blamed me, and I her, and it took us many contentious conversations before we were able to admit we had both played a role in our breakup.
This was especially hard for me to accept considering I had always tried to bring honesty to all my relationships, be they family, friends, or romantic.
WHEN KEEPING IT REAL GOES WRONG
Remember the old Dave Chapelle bit about when keeping it real can sometime go wrong? Well, I’ve learned a similar lesson over the years. Sometimes it’s just not in the best interest of all concerned to be perfectly honest.
When I think back over some of my past relationships, including an earlier wife before my recent ex, I have finally learned my lesson about putting honesty above the feelings of others. Over the years, when I left exes crying at the door, I always took solace in the fact I’d been honest about my abhorrence of being tied down.
I mean, I had places to go and people to see. It was my sole responsibility to save the world, educate my people, stamp out racism, cure sickle cell, save all the starving children in Africa, and learn ebonics… all before I was twenty.
If those women weren’t willing to be with a struggling writer who hated working for “da Man”, then they couldn’t say I didn’t warn them.
Today, I thank God for finally giving me clarity.
I’ve learned that just because you’re willing to die for your art is no reason to demand a pint of blood from others.
And though I can think of a thousand things some of my exes did to offend or “disrespect” me, I can finally take personal responsibility for my own failings. My own hardheadedness. My rigidity. My unwavering quest to change the world. To change people. To be true to myself.
After all, I’m a Taurus, and isn’t stubbornness (though I prefer strong-willed) one of our defining characteristics? At least that’s what they tell me.
I had no idea that leaving could cause such lasting scars. I mean, doesn’t life go on?
MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Another thing I’ve learned about the female sex is that they love harder than us males. Females seem to express a more heartfelt love, unlike the more possessive type of love we males tend to express.
This may be because we live in a male-dominated society where anything less than full blown machismo is considered weak . Or maybe it has something to do with chromosomes, or hormones, or some other physical or chemical thing. I don’t know.
I’m not a psychologist, but I do like to play one when I’m pointing out the faults of others.
When my ex called me to discuss my article I told her she had some valid points about the general sorryness of black men, but again, just as we’d done for twenty years, we were talking past each other. I wasn’t listening to her and she wasn’t listening me.
Could it be because so many of us are so intent on getting our point across, while tuning out others, that we never hear them?
This, I feel is the gist of the problem between many Black males and females today. We can’t feel each other’s pain. We can’t walk in the other’s shoes.
We’re afraid of losing ourselves by recognizing others. We feel that sympathizing with the pain of others somehow lessens the legitimacy of our own pain and suffering.
We fail to realize that feeling the pain of others can sometimes ease our own pain. Put it into perspective.
Realizing we’re all flawed makes us more human.
Imperfection isn’t a character flaw. It’s a normal condition of the human makeup.
I am merely asking my black Sisters to try and understand some of the unique burdens black men carry from living in a male-dominated society where the Master of the house do not consider you an equal. A modern day overseer whose main goal is to keep you emasculated and thought of as not fit to be a father, a husband, or a leader.
Its sort of like living in your Father’s house and he hates your guts. Your manhood is not a consideration to him. You have no rights and privileges he is bound to respect.
And, as my father used to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”.
I have to be honest with you. I don’t know if my ex and I came to a new understanding. Or even a better one. But I do know we ended our conversation without bitterness or rancor. For once.
Hopefully, we ended with a new found respect for each other.
SISTERS DOING WORK
Anyone who have followed my writing career or read my book “The Clan of Southern Man”, knows I have a deep and abiding respect for black women.
My book is the only one to trace our history all the way back to the time of the African “Eve”, the ancient Black women that genetics have shown to be the progenitor of all humans living today.
This may not be a big deal to some, but it’s a big deal to me. To me, it’s a game changer. How can our detractors continue to say we’ve given the world nothing when they, themselves, carry the genes of a Black women.
I’ve tried to give this same respect to all the females in my life, whether family, friends, or personal relationships. No one who knows me can say I’m disrespectful to women, particularly my elders. I know what black women go through. I know what they’ve been through.
I can feel their pain.
I just want black women to understand we have pain too. Though we may be too proud or stubborn to admit it, the pain we feel is real.
Showing weakness or vulnerability just isn’t manly. Right?
In my book I take black men to task for our sexism against our own women. I also take them to task for their lack of appreciation for the long time struggles and sacrifices of our precious Mothers and Sisters.
Not all black men, mind you, but too many. Especially among the younger generation.
SOME THINGS BETTER LEFT UNSPOKEN?
I also take them to task for the obvious elephant in the room… our love of White women. Our attraction to a long time nemesis of the black woman is a sore spot for many black women, whether they’ll admit or not.
I am not condemning anyone for who they choose to be with. I truly believe love can be color blind. For me, it’s the qualities that a person possess, rather than the color of their skin that attracts me.
And, if those qualities are in a black woman then I’m all in. But if they aren’t, why deny yourself love and happiness? Right?
So, we need to talk.
That’s why I’m calling on my black Brothers to step up and recognize the hurt and pain we cause when we choose a woman of another race over our own. Especially when it comes after we’ve attained some measure of wealth and success. If you choose a woman and she sticks with you through thick and thin, through highs and lows, from the projects to the mansion, then you’ve got a good women, regardless of race or color.
My only intent is to make both sides understand the long and tortuous history of race relations, not only in America, but around the globe. Racism and discrimination against us go back millenniums, not centuries. Disrespect for our “race” did not start in America.
ALL WE NEED IS LOVE
The effort to sow division between us has a long and sorry history. Indignities and injustices have been heaped on us for a very long time. When you’re treated like an animal, over time you may react like an animal.
When you’re denied something while anything you have can be taken at will, you develop a deep sense of hatred. Of resentment. Of distrust.
You learn disrespect from being disrespected. You learn to lie from liars. You learn to deceive from being deceived.
As a race we are far from perfect. As individuals we have many faults and shortcomings. This makes us human. Not monsters. Not unworthy of love.
This is what I’m asking of us, males and females. A little more understanding. A little more love.
I don’t know of a deeper love than between two people who have suffered hardship and oppression and stayed together. Two people who knows how it feels to be disrespected, misused, and abused.
There is no better soulmate than someone who has your back even when you can’t stand on your own two feet. Someone who understands your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Who can empathize with you even in your darkest hours.
This is the potential of black love.
If we are to ever return to the prominence of our ancient ancestors and regain our status in the world, our love of our own culture must play a vital role.
This culture is the culture of matriarchy. A culture where women are an equal and complementary part. A culture where our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and wives are an integral part of all we do. All we accomplish.
This culture helped our ancestors survive the harsh and demanding African environment for thousands of years. The love of family and community, along with a gift for tool making and a belief in a higher power, gave them a strength and courage they never knew they possessed.
It was this same cultural outlook inherited from our ancestors that imbued us with the grit and fortitude to survive the horrors of colonization and slavery during the ensuing years.
A NEAR EXTINCTION
In my book “The Clan of Southern Man” I show how the matriarchal culture of our ancient ancestors led to the steady progress of humanity, and quite frankly, saved the human species.
According to Geneticists, the human species throughout the entire world, under the threat of climate change and other destructive forces, once dwindled to between 3,000-10,000 individuals. At its nadir, scientists believe there may have been as few as around 1,000 reproductive adults. One study says we may have hit as low as 40 breeding pairs.
This supposedly occurred around 70,000 years ago and almost led to the extinction of the human species. Now, nearly 8 billion people later, black people are still persevering, still fighting, still surviving.
I believe it was the matriarchal culture of our ancestors that saved us. Grouped in clans, groups of related individuals, it took all the skills and know-how of those ancient humans to survive and get us to our time.
Central to the survival of our ancient ancestors was the role of women and the part they played in the survival of our species. Without their complementary role of food gatherers, the bacon we men were able to bring home would not have been enough to keep us going.
Add to this, the role of mother and caretaker, and the contributions of ancient women were paramount to early human survival. The nurturing our women provided for the group made us strong and kept us together. I guess we can say it was matriarchy that saved us.
THE END OF AFRICAN MATRIARCHY
I also explain in my book how successive and unrelenting excursions and invasions into Africa from outsiders eventually brought about the destruction of matriarchy. This was a great loss not only for Africa, but the entire world. It was the undermining of matriarchy and the subsequent rise of patriarchy that led to the down fall of our Homeland, and caused us to devolve into the divided factions we are today.
This displacement happened gradually, and over many centuries, mainly because ancient African civilizations were too strong in their early iterations for foreigners to challenge, much less conquer. While the matriarchal culture of our ancestors was never about war, oppression, or territorial expansion, our ancestors fought fiercely to protect their families and their homelands.
The outsiders first came in as settlers, herders, and merchants, using trade as the bait for peaceful acceptance into African societies. Later, those peaceful interactions turned into invasions and wars, and matriarchy began to wane.
Over time, matriarchy was supplanted by a patriarchal culture of war and greed.
If today, we cannot imagine a society where women have an equal and complementary role in the affairs of the society they live in, then we have been derelict in our study of the real history of black people, and humanity in general.
THE AFRICAN “EVE”
In my book I also took black women to task for seeming to reject the culture of our great-great-great grandmothers, going all the way back to the ancient black woman that genetic tracing has shown to be the ancestor of all humans living today.
This ancient ancestor has been termed the African “Eve” by those who really believe the first people on earth were white and lived in a Garden where, of course, no black people existed. I guess we were too busy working in the kitchen or raising Cain and Abel to rate a mention in the white folk’s story. I don’t know.
What I do know, is knowing that an ancient black woman is the progenitor of the surviving clans that gave birth to all humans living today is pretty amazing. And inspiring.
I call her the “Great Mother”. We all carry her precious genes today. If we fail to honor and appreciate her then it shows a lacking in our own character… in our own knowledge and understanding of who we are and where we came from.
Some of the blame for this lack of knowledge, of course, has to go to Whites who have deliberately rewritten or distorted our history. But, we can only blame ourselves for allowing it.
If we believe all the bad things that have been said and written about us, then we deserve exactly what we’re getting.. systemic racism and oppression.
No one can make me believe my “race” never accomplished anything in the past when I see so many talented Black people today. Where did they come from? Who gave birth to the MLKs, the Nelson Mandelas, the Harriet Tubmans, the Rosa Parks, the Ida B. Wells, the Frederick Douglases, the Jomo Kenyattas, the Shirley Chisholms, the Denzel Washingtons, the Kareem Abdul Jabbars, the Thurgood Marshalls, the Barack and Michelle Obamas, etc., etc., etc?
THE NEW VERSUS THE OLD
In my chapter called “Black Women: Keep up the Good Work” I gave black women a lot of credit for helping to bring our “race” to our present position, but I also wondered if the priority of family and community was slipping a bit from the minds of some modern black women, especially the younger ones.
Seems to me, many of our Black women today are more concerned with the superficiality of looks, weight, plumage, material possessions, beefs, tweets, and twitter followers than exploring and embracing the real reasons women were once considered the very salt of the earth, and not merely appendages of men.
By calling out some of our modern black women, in no way am I excusing the boorish behavior of some black men, whom I have taken to task for being too willing to adopt the sexism of our patriarchal culture, both now and in the distant past. While the adoption of the oppressor’s culture offer some perks to my brothers in regards to feeling superior to our women, it’s a total sell-out of all of all the Black women who sacrificed so much to keep us alive and well over the centuries and millenniums.
Again, I ask the question. How can you be better than the woman who birthed you?
I won’t put the entire blame for our predicament on either sex. It takes two to tangle, as they say. Considering the width and breadth of the innumerable Black men who have fought and died, sweated and bled, preached and taught to bring about our liberation, I cannot possibly dismiss their sacrifices because of the actions of some.
Sadly, all is not well today between Black men and women. Something has been lost. Much has been forgotten.
THE RACIST PLAYBOOK
Here in the U.S., we must acknowledge a damaging rift between black males and females. This rift goes all the way back to slavery. It is continually exacerbated by the present Internal Colonization system we live under as outlined in my book.
Pitting oppressed people against each other is a time honed device used by racists and oppressors the world over.
Only by recognizing this ploy can we hope to erect new and improved relationships among ourselves that will best serve not only ourselves, but our communities as well. We have to recognize how these divisions came to be if we hope to come together to win some of the gains we’re still fighting and dying for.
Sowing dissension between black men and women was one of the cardinal rules for slave owners and the segregationists they spawned.
The sexual exploitation of black females during slavery, and the parallel denial of masculinity to black males, was made clear by plantation owner Willie Lynch’s 1712 screed instructing slave owners in the genteel “art” of making good slaves. The key ingredient in Old Willie’s recipe for black subservience was division… in all matter of things, no matter how small or inconsequential.
According to Mr. Willie, no difference between the slaves were to be ignored. Instead they should be played up. The differences in color, gender, size, strength, skills, texture of hair, even plantation size, were used to turn the slaves against each other.
The object, of course, was to create constant division, squabbling, and disagreement among the slaves, and thus keep them from organizing and uniting against their their slave masters.
The slave playbook was especially intent on driving and keeping a wedge between black women and their black partners. This they did by having their way with the black female slaves while making their precious “flowers” unavailable to black men.
Denying black males the right and ability to protect their wives, sisters, and mothers caused a gaping rift in the black family dynamics. It damaged the familial relationship between a struggling people who needed all the unity they could muster just to survive.
This, of course, had severe repercussions for the black male-black female relationship. It produced a distrust that still exist today.
When we consider the black man’s dalliance with white women today, much to the chagrin of both black women and white men, we should at least consider the origin of this dynamic.
Call it the “forbidden fruit” theory if you will.
Regardless, this is a conundrum we must honestly address if we want to improve the present condition between our men and women. Only then can we begin to build vibrant and thriving communities that give priority to community over self… altruism over greed… faith over hope… spiritualism over materialism.
THE WISDOM OF OUR MOTHERS
What good is it to gain material possessions if we lose our souls? What good are sparkling jewels if we have no self worth? What do we profit if we gain notoriety but lose our way? What good is a big house with no one to share it with? Who do we help when we’re rich in body but poor in spirit?
Can we take our riches to the grave with us?
If you read my book you will see how black women have always been in the forefront of forming and maintaining the black family. From ancient times to modern times. Even during slavery, black women were always there, keeping it real, and keeping us together.
In these perilous times we need the strength and wisdom of our mothers, sisters, and aunts even more.
Even during slavery black women found ways to protect and maintain their families. Some took whippings themselves rather that allow slave owners access to their daughters. Some begged, borrowed, and stole to get the extra food their families needed to survive the long and arduous days in the fields. Others risked their lives and limbs to prevent the lashing of an elderly slave or thwart the sexual advances of a slave owner.
And, when emancipation finally came, many of them crisscrossed the country looking for their children, or other family members, sold away during slavery.
Black women have always been among the strongest and most resilient people on earth.
Black women, you need not be subservient to anyone. You need not bow down to man nor beast. The strength and perseverance of your foremothers are within you.
How else could they have survived the rape of their homeland? The cruelties and horrors of slavery? The discrimination and injustice heaped on them throughout history? And through it all still be on the front lines for justice and equality for their communities?
Now is not the time to quit or be less vigilant in uplifting and protecting our families and communities. Today, we need our precious black women more than ever.
As an ancient Egyptian scribe once wrote: “Your work will be its own reward. Help others and you will help yourself. Work to know Heaven and Heaven will surely know you.”