Civil rights, for those of us whose philosophy is black nationalism, means: “Give it to us now. Don’t wait for next year. Give it to us yesterday, and that’s not fast enough.”
The public has been building toward the present space in time for the last decade. Images nearly identical to the white men embracing a black woman, dapping black men, or the white woman stepping in front of a kneeling black man, prove identical to the television series, public figures, and lauded societal voices that delineate integrated or interracial spaces and unions as encompassing the portrait of a changed America. These present depictions symbolically represent black people on their knees, begging for admittance into an American status rather than to accelerate their status as Africans in America. Specifically, this technique makes conversations or talk about nationalism taboo or non-existent.
In his speech the ballot or the bullet, Malcolm X argues that it is freedom or death, asserting black nationalism as black gospel. Black nationalism as the black gospel of course alludes to Martin Delany, notably his text The Origin of Race and Colors where he employs black nationalism as gospel. Though X gave this speech in 1964, his didactic discourse proves prevalent today. Particularly, his call for black nationalism underscores what the black collective must pursue. X stated:
So I say, in spreading a gospel such as black nationalism, it is not designed to make the black man re-evaluate the white man — you know him already — but to make the black man re-evaluate himself. Don’t change the white man’s mind — you can’t change his mind, and that whole thing about appealing to the moral conscience of America — America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago. Uncle Sam has no conscience.Malcolm X, “The Ballot of the Bullet” Speech, 1964
X’s assertions prove vastly important as they speak to the most heartbreaking component of the reactionary fervor that George Floyd’s murder engenders. Floyd’s death, in tandem with systemic injustice as a whole, exposed an unwavering fixation on white reaction. Despite what an anti-black world has projected, it has never been about white people; it has, however, always been about the black collective.
If we truly want to see justice for Breonna Taylor and Kenderick Johnson, we must pursue a nationalistic agenda where we no longer request rights from a government designed to oppress the black race.
This does not mean disarming the police, it means arming the black collective.
Talk of disarming and defending the police matter less than arming the black collective with what will liberate us from a systemic chokehold. The NAACP is not nationalistic. Let us remember, this is the same organization that had Rachel Dolezal as one of its chapter presidents. A disarmed agent of white supremacy is not just without a gun; He or she is without the structure that enables their supremacist stance. Similarly, a disarmed white person in America no longer functions as the majority, and their economic and social status must match their performed apology. A disarmed white person is an equal, not an ally, and this shift is not a reasonable expectation within the anti-black paradigm that inundates the world.
The Black Panther Party, though flawed, archives black elders and ancestors who protested a racist government by assuming a combative stance to protect the black community. So, I suppose what I am asserting here in making a plea to the black collective for a nationalist agenda, is a shift from #blacklivesmatter to #blackpower.
#blacklivesmatter functions within American reason, whereas #blackpower acknowledges race as the reason whites propagate to construct their superiority. Thus, to reason within the racial parameters established by white people inevitably secures a victory for whites.
#blacklivesmatter engenders a request, #blackpower enlists a demand. #blackpower works to take what the black collective deserves. Taking does not evoke an “anti” attitude, but a “pro” attitude that places blackness as the sole priority. In pursuing black power we must break the hegemonic hold white supremacy wields over the black collective socially and systemically. Thus, rather than fixate on African-adjacent reaction and engagement with our plight, we must pursue nationalistic endeavors, such as:
Black Franchisement: This extends far past supporting black businesses. By franchisement, I speak specifically to working toward keeping the black dollar in black communities. In taking strides forward, bankrupting African adjacent business such as Asian owned food and beauty supply stores, that take from the black community what they do not put back in, provides space in black communities for black franchisement. The African adjacent sends their kids to college and purchase homes with the hard-earned money of the black working class. #Blacklivesmatter merely requires them to acknowledge us, black power demands their ejection from our communities.
Black Press: Whether you like him or not, Roland Martin’s show is one of the few black platforms solely dedicated to black news. The Karen Hunter Show is also an underated pillar in black culture epistemology. The Amsterdam News is also dedicated to archiving the African’s experience in America. Now is the time to look within our collective for information and uplift the black storyteller.
Black Education: This is an initiative that many within History and Africana studies departments have pursued for decades, but it is a torch that we must carry amidst the present fervor. Malcolm X told us: “A segregated school means a school that is controlled by people who have no real interest in it whatsoever.” As long as adversarial forces determine what and how black people learn, the black collective will continue to see more people like Candace Owens than Nat Turner. We must fight the good fight for educating black children in a manner that addresses their unique experiences as Africans in America. Curriculums that focus on cultural sensitivity and anti-racism distract the discourse black people need to assume a position of cerebral combat.
Black Neighborhoods and Communities: One of the most devastating blows to a nationalist agenda is the nationwide genocide known as gentrification. Displacing black families is one of many legal ways to disarm the black fist the black collective forms in unity. A nationalist objective works toward re-establishing black communities and neighborhoods where the black dollar remains within the community, where blacks can go to their own for employment and actualize their ambitions whether it be to buy a home or start a business.
We will never be free if we allow education, economics, news, ambitions, ideologies, etc to exist under an umbrella of anti-blackness, white supremacy. It is only in seizing the reigns on our race functionality in the US and beyond, can we actualize a future that’s more than hollow promises from an immoral and selfish anti-black space.
Many may wonder why I opted not to include the pursuit of reparations in my post. America owes black people what they can never repay. While I do not think this truth should preclude an attempt, I do think the current state of the black union underscores that we must repair ourselves internally before any external force can permeate positively. Mediating on a governmental payout also betrays a fixation on the African-adjacent and supposed changed behavior. The black collective does not need the African-adjacent to engender change. Reparations is something we have the power to give ourselves: black power enables this intra-cultural gift.
Furthermore, white change should never be the focus of black people. History has shown us white recidivism, not white reconciliation. The choice, therefore, is not “include me or else,” it remains as X stated decades prior: the ballot or the bullet, stand on our feet rather than die on our knees, and true freedom through black nationalism, or die trying.