If you are not actively engaged in efforts and progressive actions that will help us as a community, especially for our younger generation, we will continue to allow others to mistreat, degrade, and disenfranchise our people.
Start by doing the smallest you can do…
- Steer away from negative energy. Stop thinking negatively and taking negative actions that impact your well-being, your family, your cominity and our ancesters.
- Stop worrying about things that are beyond your control and concentrate on what you can do.
- Stop thinking negatively and taking negative actions that impact your well-being, your family, your community, and our ancestors.
- Have respect for your self and others; does not necessarily mean you have to be friends with everyone, but you can, at least, be cordial and courteous. Greet one another, wave, say ‘Hello’.
Steps as simple these may, to some, seem easier said than done and to others, it may seem like not enough; maybe I’m just stating the obvious. However, as a community, we don’t do enough of these. We don’t uplift our brothers and sisters, and we don’t empower one another. We degrade each other with B***, H***, N**** or the amalgamation of a number of epithets such as, “B**** Ass N***”, which, I guess, would be the lowest degradation of a N***** (which would further imply that among Blacks there’s a heirarchy of N*****s, a heirarchy within the lowliest classification on the social stratum. Sounds ludicrous, huh?).
All I’m saying is, there are so many manifestations of subconscious self-hatred that we inflict upon ourselves and to one another; so much, in fact, that we basically “welcome” others to treat us similarly. We get degraded, ridiculed, stepped on, spit on and pushed down by society because we have exhibited such malicious and self-destructive behavior amongst our own people. Maybe if we begin to treat each other with more dignity and respect; treat one another as brothers and sisters with a common struggle, a common legacy, common ancestors, and a common future, maybe we’ll finally begin to see ourselves as the kings and queens we are; and, our strong sense of pride and committment to the betterment of our community will be respected and recognized by the world at large. Dedicate each day to doing something positive, productive, and progressive that will indubitably radiate your influence.
I became familiar with DuBois “Talented Tenth” ideaology back in college and since I was, at the time, a so-called “college-bred” Black man who could not relate to strives of making a living with my hands, DuBois’ philosophy resonated with me quite loudly. However, as I began to grow into my own thoughts on social and educational upliftment for African-Americans, I began to see this piece as exceptional in theory, but overly ambitious and short-sighted in practice. DuBois contends that the small college-educated Black men were to serve as the vanguards for the masses, to teach, mold, train and uplift the rest. Again, I agree with this philosophy in theory; my issue was that this certainly wasn’t and still isn’t the case in reality. Our college-educated are NOT giving back. We are not working tirelessly to empower the masses, to reach down and pull up another brother or sister. We obtain our big, fancy college degrees, move off to the suburbs, have a family and shake our heads in shame at those who couldn’t acquire the same for themselves. The more I grew conscious of jobless rates of Black men and waves of Hispanics and Asians who are moving to this country building stable lives for themselves by learning trades and starting businesses, I began to align myself more with the Washingtonian ideaology. Don’t get me wrong: Washington, to me, goes down in history as an advocator of silent submission to injustice; in other words, an “Uncle Tom”, but still, his advocacy for economic empowerment, self-sufficiency and autonomy is exactly what our community is lacking. More on my views of Booker T. Washington later in another post.
Anyways, I decided to re-read “The Talented Tenth” and I have a newfound understanding and appreciation for it. I totally agree DuBois on much of it, but I also believe Washington was onto something as well. After reading it, here are some of the most profound statements I came across:
[On the goal of education]
“Education is that whole system of human training within and without house walls, which molds and develops men.”
In other words, education should be holistic. It should cater to the mind, body and soul of the student, and do more than prepare our youth to be master test-takers and even more than prepare our kids for college; education, at its best, should give our students the tools and confidence to be positive, productive, and purposeful citizens who are committed to the betterment of their respective communities.
[On the demand for positive role models]
To furnish five millions and more of ignorant people with teachers of their own race and blood, in one generation, was not only a very difficult undertaking, but a very important one, in that, it placed before the eyes of almost every Negro child an attainable ideal. It brought the masses of the Blacks in contact with modern civilization, made Black men the leaders of their communities and trainers of the new generation.”
Every single one of is, college degree or not, should be obligated to serve our communities positively and responsibly, so that, in turn, we provide the younger generation with a standard of morale, responsibility, and integrity. We should train those in our communities to be leaders so that in our inevetibale demise, our “heirloom”, or legacy, if you will, will be the inheritance of those same ideals catalyzing the procreation of another generation stand-up men and women.
[On the education of the college-bred Black man]
“…He is, as he ought to be, the group leader, the man who sets the ideals of the community where he lives, directs its thoughts and heads its social movements.” A leader is a visionary is sets the example and paves the road to follow.
[on the role of manual training in the Black community]
“I believe that next to the founding of Negro colleges the most valuable addition to Nefor education since the war, has been industrial training for Black boys. Nevertheless, I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men.”
The last line of this quote is extremely moving. This is a direct charge at Washington’s postulation that manual labor is the best means of progression for the Black man.
“Men of America, the problem is plain before you. Here is a race transplanted through the criminal foolishness of your fathers. Whether you like it or not the millions are here, and here they will remain. If you do not lift them up, they will pull you down. Education and work are levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work–it must teach Life. The Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people. No others can do this work and Negro colleges must train men for it. The Negro race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.”
I’ll leave you with this. He Ain’t Heavy by Donny Hathaway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HFDAp8XVrk
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I am strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know he will not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Is not filled with gladness
Of love for one another
Thank you, Lord
Said it’s a long…
I said it’s a long…
Heyyy, it’s a long, hard road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share?
And the load
Doesn’t weigh, doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
Just to give you a real quick update since my last post, February was a very busy month for us. I didn’t really do much Black History Month stuff because I feel practically everything we do is somehow tied back to the appreciation of our history. Not to undermine the month, but I do BHM stuff all year long.
Now, I’ve spent a great deal of weekend time with my young bros before, but this was the first time we did like a “Shakespeare Weekend Camp”-type of thing. Needless to say, I was painfully exhausted. We didn’t have school on that Friday so we basically spent the ENTIRE day together. That morning, starting at around 8, we made our journey down to Clark-Atlanta Univ. to visit their art gallery, but we actually walked in on the opportunity of an official campus visit. The best part about the visit was that it was during school hours, so we saw the hustle of students going to and from class; we saw the hang-out spots on the CAU’s “Promenade” Walk; it was Alpha Week so we saw the bros stepping out in front of the student center. They were truly welcomed into a microcosm of what campus life is like, at least on the campus of an HBCU. CAU’s gallery was interesting, to say the least. The tour guide gave them a thorough tour from the lens of “our” history. Many of the themes we saw expressed in paint, were the same historical lessons I was giving them in our meetings. It was good to actually see an artistic expression of the trauma Sarah Baartman experienced, a story I taught them for them so they’ll better understand why we should appreciate, not denigrate, our Black women. Not to dwell any further, we left CAU and went straight to the Atlanta HIGH Museum to study one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo. This was to give them a different cultural experience to broaden their perspectives on art, and even their place in the world as young men of color. We examined artwork of Frid, her husband Diego and the works of contemporary artists like Radcliff Bailey, Elizabeth Catlett, Thornton Dial, Picasso, etc. I created a tour guide for them where they had to list the titles and artist names for 10 pieces, followed by a ranking system on a scale of 1-4 with 4 meaning “liked it a lot” and 1 being “I’m not feelin’ this at all.” This allowed them to really examine the artwork from an analytical and appreciative standpoint as opposed to wondering around the halls of the gallery aimlessly.
After the HIGH, we found ourselves at the UniverSoul Circus, the world’s only African-American circus. After gut-wrenching laughs, sugar-highs, “stanky legs”, lean-wit-it-rock-wit-it, and swag surfin’, we called it a night about 11 pm to only get up the following day to go to Monster Jam, an experience neither of us ever had before. Aside from all the fun, one thing stood out in my head–while at CAU, the bros expressed an interest in wearing bowties. I remember I was wearing one that day, and I think we may have run across a couple CAU students who were also neatly dressed in the bow. I made it my mission to solicit funds and/or donations to acquire them some bowties. It took me faster than I expected, but thanks to the outlet of social media, I had the bowties within 2 weeks. I had a couple Facebook friends donate money to the cause, and I have a cousin, a Morehouse grad, who actually donated ties from his personal collection. After a brief history, I mentioned some notable Black men who were often seen suited in a man’s most formal wardrobe piece, the bowtie: men like Malcolm X and the Black Muslims, W.E.B. DuBois, sports contributor and former NBA champion, Bruce Bowen, and of course the brothers of the illustrious Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Once I brought out the ties their excitement left it practically impossible to contain them in a seat long enough for me to show them how to tie it. After much redirection, I finally managed to get them seated long enough to start, but then I realized I was forgetting the most important piece to tying a bow–the mirror. It’s practically impossible to tie one without it. All in all, I finished our meeting slightly disappointed because I felt they didn’t learn anything. I don’t know how I failed to realize I would need mirrors. We adjourned the meeting with repeated our ’11 Standards of Manhood’ and went home. I may have beat myself up for a couple hours for not accomplishing my task of ensuring every young bro would know how to tie a bowtie by the time w all went home. I left them with the resources to teach themselves, and they may be successful at it, but it doesn’t leave me with the satisfaction thay I taught it to them. I don’t know. That sounds pompous in nature, but that’s how I feel. I want them to one day look back and thank me for teaching them how to tie a bowtie at the age of 12, something most men can’t even do. Next week, we’ll try it again and this time I’m going to make sure I bring mirrors.
I’ll leave you all with some pics from the day’s event.
“No people can begin their history in slavery. God has never created anybody in slavery. All people are first created free, then they are enslaved. So any African beginning their history in the United States of America is a stupid African beginning their history in slavery. And if you begin your history in slavery, the best you can hope to be is a good slave.”—Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael)
History is boring, they say; there’s nothing interesting about. It’s just a bunch of dates and people that are too hard to remember at one time. Why is the teaching and learning of history important anyway? It has nothing to do with my ability to be a productive citizen, and it has nothing to do with how I make my money. It’s a useless discipline. These are common sentiments often heard from students, but strikingly, I hear the same from brainwashed or better yet, “whitewashed” adults. I am ashamed when I hear an adult Black man or woman grumble how he/she hates the discussion of history. They hated it in high school and they hate it even more so in casual conversation as adults. Considering our plight as Black Americans, I find it purely appalling, downright shameful for any African-American man or woman to not be thoroughly engaged in the teaching and learning of history—be it in a classroom setting or in open discussions.
In regards to our language, the Black vernacular, etymologists proclaim we have contributed absolutely nothing to modern American language. Our native tongue has been taken from us and we’ve been brutally forced to assimilate with the dominate culture. In regards to our history, Black American and African history, the historian tells us we have yet to contribute anything worthwhile to be considered for serious critical and historical analysis. They won’t even give us credit for the election and reelection of Barack Obama! They tell us he’s not really Black, he’s mixed! If I understand history correctly, they’re the ones who came up with the “One-Drop” rule, not us. Our history, they say, begins and ends with slavery. I guess this explains why you can peruse through practically any history book and find a tiny chapter dedicated to our struggle; correction, not necessarily our struggle, but our sale, lease and ownership as American chattel—detested slaves, the Black smudge of Americanism. ‘Our’story begins far before the Europeans raped and ravaged Africa. It begins with the first human beings who ever walked this planet Earth. It begins with the first civilizations that began to sprout among the Nile River and the Great Rift Valley in what is now modern-day Ethiopia. It begins with the ancient empires of Kush, Sumer, Kemet, Timbuktu—civilizations that predated Greek and Roman societies. It begins with the first accounts of a spoken language, written and artistic expression through song, dance, and cave paintings. We are not primitive. We are a proud and dignified people.
“Until lions have historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” –African proverb
“Our”story has been taken from us, deliberately torn and shredded from the pages of time and history, and you mean to tell me you’re not enraged? For years, the only history taught in American schools, in both white and Black institutions, perpetuated stereotypes of inferiority, docility, imprudence, ignorance, apathy, aggression and violence that only fueled the relentless flames of racism that engulfed crosses of the Holy Trinity in front yards; flames that engulfed schools, churches, businesses, homes, PEOPLE! These flames of racism found itself at the Little residence where a young Malcolm along with 6 other sisters and brothers came running out into the cold as they watched their only home burn down; flames of racism that burned from the muskets used to gun down millions of innocent Black babies, women and men from the so-called Dark Continent during European conquest or more appropriately termed, the African Holocaust; it found itself chopping off hands and heads in the Congo of Africa; it found itself on the blade of the knife used to castrate thousands of Kenyan men in the Mau Mau insurrections.
Black man, Black woman, you are a fool! You’re brainwashed into feeling that the study of history has no interest, no concern to you whatsoever. As much as I absolutely hate the perpetuation of stereotypes, I probably hate Black men and women who find no interest in history just as disgusting and embarrassing. Do you not see your apathy or disinterest in our history not only continues to perpetuate a stereotype, but you’re also doing exactly what they want you to do! They don’t want you to know your history because to them, there isn’t any. You have none. How do you expect to teach your kids and your kid’s kids how to be proud sistas and brothas if you’re aren’t? And no, you can’t be a proud Black man or woman with no sense of history, no knowledge of self. You just can’t be.
“You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree.” –Malcolm X
There’s a reason why they pulled your history from textbooks and only left the gruesomeness of slavery. Hell, some books even teach you that slaves were contented with their wretched condition! They exterminated “our”story because they want you to have no knowledge of self. They want you to understand that you are nothing without them. They gave you all that you have, all that you need, and that’s all that you need to know. Period.
Our moral and social upliftment does not begin until we begin to educate ourselves first, and then educate our children, while simultaneously educating others. The study of history teaches us to be proud Black men and women. It teaches us to learn from the mistakes of others while capitalizing on the talents of those we consider our shining Black achievements, our unsung heroes and heroines: Stokely Carmichael, Patrice Lumumba, Fannie Lou Hamer, Nina Simone, Fred Hampton, Shirley Chisholm, Marva Collins, Betty Shabazz, Myrlie Evers, Nat Turner. The list goes on. History teaches us to properly tool ourselves and our communities for the advancement of our people. It teachers us to be resilient, strong, powerful, dignified and unified with a strong sense of community. So don’t ever say you’re not interested in history. Engage yourselves in conversation. Listen. Learn. Educate. Black Thought & Renaissance