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.”