With most of the present sources of power controlled by the white race it behooves my race as well as the other subject races to learn the wisdom of the weak and to develop to the fullest that organ whereby weakness has been able to overcome strength; namely, the intellect. It is not with our teeth that we will tear the white man out of our ancestral land. It isn't with our jaws that we can wring from his hands consideration and respect. It must be done by the upper and not by the lower parts of our heads. Therefore, I have insisted ever since my entry into the arena of racial discussion that we Negroes must take to reading, study and the development of intelligence as we have never done before. In this respect we must pattern ourselves after the Japanese who have gone to school to Europe but had never used Europe's education to make them the apes of Europe's culture. They have absorbed, adopted transformed and utilized, and we Negroes must do the same. The three editorials in this chapter and the articles which follows them were written to indicate from time to time the duty of the transplanted African in this respect. (emphasis mine)Please read this book, Family. Its mere 146 pages are chock-full of the kind of clarity we need to hear and heed. And please, know that his reference to "Africa" in the title is not restricted to the Continent itself, but to the diaspora worldwide. It was through Pan-Africanism that he saw us defeating white supremacy and benefitting from that struggle. First published in 1920, Mr. Harrison's book was not only prescient, it is still very relevant today (though I'm certain he'd be sorely disappointed with many of us -- "New Negroes," for whom he held out such promise).
Hubert Henry Harrison, Chapter VIII. -- "When Africa Awakes"
For the past month or so, I've been ruminating about Madiba's death, memorial service, interment and dedication of his statue in South Africa the day after. Combined, they all totally reinforced for me, how white supremacist-manufactured "symbolism" continues to cripple many of us, Black folk across the diaspora.
If the ANC's 1955 Freedom Charter (demanding the nationalizing of banks, mining and other major industries, as well as the redistribution of land, among other things) had not been abandoned and, had they told the IMF, "Thanks, but no thanks, we don't need your loan money. We've got gold, diamonds as well as plenty of those pesky rare earth minerals that YOU seem to need so much right here under our feet! So, how 'bout let's talk some contract renegotiations m'kay?" -- I think we can all agree, the marginalized in South Africa would've been able to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" a long time ago!
John Pilger's, "Apartheid Did Not Die" deals with that inconvenient truth most effectively. Take a listen:
After reading Ezili Dantò's most comprehensive, Madiba Is Dead: Condolences To Heroic Mother Winnie, I was more than good with my ruminations (Family, please take the time to read the entire piece, as well as the links). She begins:
Now that Madiba is dead: Remember to remember that icons created by oppressors will never liberate the people. Madiba is dead: Condolences to heroic mother Winnie. (emphasis mine)This is a sentiment with which I totally agree. And it, consequently, represents an excellent example of that "white supremacist-manufactured symbolism" that's still confusing us. According to them: pre-prison, resistance warrior, Nelson Mandela, bad; post-27 years imprisoned, compliant Nelson Mandela -- good; pre- and post-prison, resistance warrior, Winnie Mandela? All bad.
Ms. Dantò continues:
Since Mandela’s death, the same international powers that keep the structural conditions alive for Black suffering worldwide, are universally heralding the man and his great achievements. The same corporatocracy who helped keep South Africa and the global South in economic chains and political instability to increase their money-making profits, are lining up to have their pictures taken at the funeral. (emphasis mine)
Really, Family -- you just can't make this shit up!
And rather than Black bloggers reaching back to the "temple of their familiar," knowing that in our culture, a funeral service is a solemn showing of respect for a life lived (after the wake, of course!), there was a plethora of these kinds of pieces, mimicking the narrative of the oppressors. Apparently, cultural amnesia has replaced what we know to be true -- for us.
Is putting a Black face in command of the same racist, profit-over-people economic system – as with President Barack Obama in the US – a great change? (emphasis mine)...is an unequivocal, "absolutely not!"
“Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people’s terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.”To my mind, having "lived bravely," must always involve telling the whole truth (to one's self as well as others), owning one's fears and muddling through to clarity -- despite them. As I ponder young Sister Danticat's words, I wonder if Madiba did, in fact, lose his life on his own terms. Thanks to the non-stop white-washing, I guess we'll never really know.
Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker
As I write this today -- on Martin Luther King Day -- I would be remiss in not mentioning white supremacy's machinations of Dr. King's "symbolism." I've been pensive about it all day. It seems to me that Dr. King was Black America's own, pre-prison Mandela (though he was not technically imprisoned in America for 27 years). Instead of breaking him with jail, forcing him to finally disavow all for which he'd fought -- they killed him. Perhaps they concluded that, no matter what they put him through (unlike the Changeling), they could not turn him against the interests of his people.
White supremacy has done everything they can -- to manufacture a Dr. King with whom they can feel comfortable -- and in some ways, we have been and continue to be, complicit in their success. If I hear one more, "content of their character" quote manipulation and misappropriation, I think my damned head will just explode!
While he was alive, they maligned, demeaned and castigated him for standing up for his people, his culture and what he believed was right -- and human. After he died, they felt it their right and privilege to do whatever they wished with his memory, like they could, and can, still "own" people.
And just so other folk of color didn't get it twisted, they made certain to spread the bigotry around for those, thirsty to indulge in the "American
He said, "Yeah Mom, he said it. My friend, Charlotte Redd recorded it on her phone from the TV and sent it to me." Without a thought, I blurted out, "See, that's why I don't f*ck with Mexicans who think they're white -- send me that video so I can post it!" He did, but my non-computer wonk self couldn't figure out how to convert it to a Youtube video so I could post it, so here's the article where the station insufficiently addressed it: San Antonio weatherman says MLK slur was mistake.
Please! I could give two shits about their, or his, bullshit apology. Seems he thinks his white benefactors at Fox don't think something equally derogative about him (and his other Brown brethren crossing over the Rio Grande into the belly of the beast). Let me just say, he's still at work. Without a doubt, his thought processes benefit white supremacy immensely.
I'm ending this saying that, despite my disagreements with Dr. King's "respectability politics" -- I will always love him. Why? Because I've never doubted that he always stood -- and died -- for us. And the struggle continues, Family...
- Cameron explains selfie at Mandela memorial
- South Africa: Mandela Is Dead - Why Hide the Truth About Apartheid?
- When Martin Luther King Jr. gave up his guns
- How we get Dr. King wrong: “We’ve deliberately dismembered him,” Michael Eric Dyson tells Salon
- The Martin Luther King Jr. They Don’t Want You to Remember