The Lies of Leadership and Moving Beyond “Basic” Blackness and The “Average” African American


I have been contemplating what it means to be average for quite some time. Specifically, what does it mean to be an average “African American” or basic black person in America? This query is perhaps most easily contemplated alongside discussions of politics or the pending election. A common perspective illuminated by the black voices that prove the loudest delineate a preoccupation with the superficial. Here, I speak to those either adamant about Kamala Harris as a candidate or those vehemently in opposition. Both extremes regard Harris as either a problem or solution and play into the smokescreen an anti-black society places in the path of black thought. The issue with those enthusiastic about Kamala is a thirst for symbolism or a black face. Here, I use the term black very loosely, as Kamala Harris possesses a brown blackness that enables the western world to erase and overlook enslavement as the founding father of this stolen terrain.

The anti-black world continues to rely heavily on the visual to sedate critical probing and veil practices and acts that will never meet the naked eye. For example, if the black community focuses on Harris as a potential VP for Joe Biden or Biden as resurrecting a nostalgia Obama engendered as symbol, then we lose focus on the reality that the electoral college is non-functional and that voting, though not without function, is largely symbolic itself. 

I am espoused to the belief that nothing done for black people has been for the good of the black collective in isolation. Thus, though the right to vote was the result of hard work by black people, this passed because white politicians realized the black constituency was a means to actualize their intentions. Therefore, it is no wonder that the system does not work for black people and has never worked. Thus, proclamations that the system is “broken” reflects  “basic” cognitive thought. It is not that the system is broken, because it continues to work those for whom it was designed. 

To regard the system as broken is to echo Trump’s sentiment to make America great again. The idea that a return is more integral than a revolution (or evolution) is in accordance to white hegemony. “They the people” have been conditioned to believe that their superiority is a birthright and that their hierarchy is “just the way it is.” Blacks have too been conditioned to take things as they are. Thus, this anti black work encourages and acquiesces to the socially engineered “basic” thought process that lusts for that which will never amount to anything other than symbols of the hegemonic forces that dominate the globe.

Moreover, to be a basic black person is to acquiesce to the idea of anti black as an intractable force. It is to make do, not to make a difference. Anti blackness may be everywhere, but this is not the way it has to be. Thus, to possess a basic blackness or to embody what it means to be an average “African American” is to conceptualize following the ways of white supremacy as leadership.

Notably, the loudest black voices, like the loudest white voices, follow the ways of white supremacy. So rather than taking a reactionary stance to black sycophancy or basking in symbolism,  perhaps now is a good a time as any to question what leadership actually means. 

This reconsideration is perhaps the perfect predecessor to the pervasive belief that for black voters, voting is merely to select the lesser of two evils. This belief also personifies what it means to follow the western binary as manifesting onto its most visible political parties. This binary means of conceptualization depicts a distinction between republican and democratic candidates— a distinction that from George Washington to Donald Trump exists in approach, not the intention. Thus, the lesser of two evils projects a difference that does not exist and circumscribes black people to a binary that essentially makes victory an inevitably for anti-black agents.

The binary way of thinking incites the black collective to follow beliefs and praxis antithetical to their collective best interest. More significantly, this binary means of conceptualizing life personifies a socially accepted means of following the leadership of white hegemony. One does not need a position to lead. Instead, it is the intellectual position one takes in life, particularly one that departs from European values as a default means to conceptualize life that epitomizes authentic leadership, one precluded in anti-black spaces. This leadership, which does not follow paved paths or dead-end roads, but forges new paths, encompasses an integral component to black self-actualization.

In closing, to be basic is to be butchered by white supremacy. To be average is to embody the cognitive assassination necessary to maintain the white supremacist wrath sponsored by sacrificing black minds and bodies. The black collective must ask questions and pursue the impossible as a means to survive and see a tomorrow past the hindrance of yesterday.

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