I have spent the bulk of today, reading Malcolm X quotes, and listening to his speeches. His smooth, precise, passionate speech personifies the poetic prose of black power personified. He is “our shining prince” as they say, in both life and death. He shines because his internal freedom bleeds outward. Yet, this year, perhaps more so that previous years, illustrates the necessity for this light to dim.
I received in my inbox a number of invites and notifications for events to take place on what would have been Malcolm X’s 93rd birthday. These events however, were not anchored in Malcolm X. No, El Hajj Malik Shabazz was a co-star on his own day. Though our “shining prince” he is juxtaposed to those who contributions pale to his own. To this I draw the comparison on the pig and chicken to a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. The pig made a sacrifice, the chicken made a contribution—this sandwich is an American staple, because this alignment is central to American deflection.
This is deliberate. Most evident in the “competing” showcase of today, which I refuse to mention. Malcolm X engenders “self” andbelief in a collective self. His legacy inspires the black mind to see the best in him or herself, to question as he did “who told you to hate yourself? From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head?” Questions, antithetical to the submissiveness demanded by the lethally pervasive white supremacist culture. Burying Malcom X’s legacy, or shooting it with holes, ensures that the black collective remains distracted. That we continue to believe in everything but ourselves, and continue to relish in knowledge that also buries the totality of contributions and global oppression.
Malcolm X is a black success story, because he did not rise to conventional standards of success. He was not wealthy. He didn’t have fancy degrees from institutions built on the backs of his ancestors. What he had was an education given to him by a black man, a black organization that while flawed had an ideology functional in freeing the black mind from colonization.
What Malcolm X had was esteem. He culminated a pilgrimage to self, a journey so many of us never take, because we are conditioned to, as Malcolm once said, “suffer peacefully.”
I thought of this pilgrimage as I made my way to Ferncliff Cemetery, the earthly resting place of Malcom X and Betty Shabazz. The journey is one I took with full acknowledgement that it was symbolic, but necessary.
I appreciated the ceremony. I reveled in the ability to see what the media would never cover or admit, that there is beauty and unity within blackness. However, though beautiful,this pilgrimage is not what makes or breaks blackness. The journeys that we take are not physical.
We see this with our kinfolk who were not physically abducted, but subject to the mental torture in their own homeland. They too were culturally raped by the white man, their culture stolen from them as they slept in the land of our ancestors.
The journeys that we take, like all that was taken from us, must be mental. That is the lesson that I have extracted from Malcolm X’s legacy.
Malcolm X epitomizes mental freedom.He embodied the state of “free African”,he or she who is willing to die as they lived—in power.
Malcolm X, not validated by the limitations of American society or global white supremacy, imbued a freedom that enabled him to live without fear.
They took his last name, and his language. He divorced himself from that last name and used the language of his colonizers as a weapon. Then then took what they thought was his home, but his home was in his heart and and in his blood. So they strove to take what they thought they could, his life.
The ceremony today, however, attended by hundreds of people in the violent rain and unseasonable cold, fifty-three years after his assasination—proves that his oppressors could not even take his life.
Despite everything that’s happened to us, we—the African people are still the bearers of life. We have made it so that the candle of Malcolm X still burns, a flame significant because as the late Ossie Davis said at Malcolm X’s funeral:
Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.
Malcolm X, was and is our blackness.
Father. Teacher. King.
“Rest” seems alien next to the pillar that is Malcolm X. But I will say King Malcolm, that I hope you rest in me.
I’ll be honest with you, I never intended to author a post on Cardi B. The post reflects an aspiring writing seizing an opportunity to practice the skill to which she has dedicated my life.
Before I continue, I want to state that I do not regret anything that I posted. I do however regret the aftermath of my articulation—namely bringing the disingenuous and intellectually impenetrable to a blog designed to expose the labyrinth of a global racial paradigm.
Soaring Stats: A Gift and a Curse
Saturday marked the most readers my blog has ever seen. Three and a half years ago when I started this blog, this news would have been great. The traffic however, was not those seeking a collective consciousness, but those who maintain a proximity to blackness but seek to centralize what they compartmentalize as their faction, in discussions of blackness.
Specifically, this increased traffic was solely credited to Cardi B, and those solely interested in engaging blackness from an Afro-Latin/Latinx perspective. So while the majority of the hate-spewed comments accuse me of being ethnocentric, the argumentative interest prompted by my Cardi B. post was in fact fomented by ethnocentricity.
To those who counter my assertions, I ask you—where was the influx of “Afro-Latin”* commentary on my post remembering Recy Taylor—the black woman gang-raped by white men in 1944? Where were you a last week when Erica Garner passed? And where are you yesterday when as the black community honored black author Zora Neale Hurston on what would have been her birthday?
I want to point out that all of the previously mentioned names are those of black females born in America, just like Cardi B. But neither of my articles speaking of those bearing the same blackness my skeptics claim to believe in, garnered any traction from the Latinx community.
Where was your interest in blackness when not anchored in the location of your drop off?
The answer is simple— basking in the ethnic deflection created by the sorcerers of white supremacy, claiming the many labels, like Puerto Rican and Dominican, created by the white man to diversify how they call us all n*ggers.
I would have welcomed a proposal to partner with a diasporic sibling to widen my pan-Africanist scope. I would have welcomed a critique demanding I acknoweldge the diasporic black female form like the late Isabel la negra—but this is not the critique.
No, the overwhelming amount of insults, accusations of ignorance, and declarations of my misunderstandings of colonialism, reflect the colonized minds of those who place nationality before race, and attack truth to maintain the fallacy necessary to eschew looking the true villain in the eye.
Most of the comments on my piece on Cardi B, are from those who did not bother to read
the article. The article specifically acknowledges diasporic Africans as descendants of the same black bodies abducted from the shores of Africa. But rather than take the article for what it actually said, many approached the piece with their own insecurities regarding all that they’ve gained from blacks whom did not choose their placement in America.
Yet despite my descendance from the same abducted black bodies that birthed by brethren outside the U.S., I have been credited for stealing my own ancestors, for doing the white man’s work of dividing the most beautiful and resilient people offspring of Africa.
Namely, what makes these comments problematic is the personalizing of a collective argument, by attacking what my skeptics perceived as a representation of the haughty “African-American,” while the true villains escape these scathing replies and instead maintain their esteemed place in the bloodline, the employment, and bed, of my mythic adversaries. These verbally violent acts– socially reproduced almost two-hundred times in the last seventy-two hours– not only depict misdirected anger, but reflect the type of cowardice that brings our shared oppressors to tears of joy.
Africa is the common branch to all her lost children, but to act as though some of her children have not forgotten the black foremothers and forefathers of their past, is sheer denial of the part many of Africa’s children play in the wrath of white supremacy. While certainly not limited to Africans outside the U.S., the migrant black is often given an easy out by the American white supremacists who wish to discount the horror inflicted onto blacks in the “land of the brave and home of the free.”
Now, my blog does not discount that that there are diasporic Africans, like the late and prolific Arthur Schomburg and Dr. Ben who made incomparable contributions to blackness. Though also born in Bronx like Cardi B, Dr. Ben is absent from ALL criticisms of my diasporic siblings, which reflect the limited and prejudiced scope of my skeptics. Dr. Ben reflects those who placed nationality second to their African origins– those throughout the diaspora that welcome their separated siblings with open arms, and dedicate their life to the whole of blackness. But in the same breath that I remember and honor the late Dr. Ben, I would be remiss to acknowledge the overwhelming majority that do not mirror his actions or ideology.
This assertion does not mean that those with African ancestry must identify as black–there is no pressure to associate with blackness. The conscious objective is not to “convince” folk that they are black, but embracing those who do.
Yet, the issue with the post was not so much my analysis of Cardi, but that me, a person of the black collective not only understands the unmatched contribution of blacks to the globe, but possesses the confidence to shout it from the mountaintops.
I, like countless other blacks who stand up despite the pervasive expectation that blacks must lie down and take the exploitation and appropriation violently handed to them by those inside and outside the black diaspora, endure the labels of “bitter” and “angry.” Labels that function to cloud black confidence with the same negativity–namely bitterness, anger, and hate– that foments our continued disenfranchisement.
The animosity that accompanied this post, mirrors the animosity endured by the outspoken black deemed bitter, angry, and difficult by whites threatened by blacks who articulate an incisive understanding of what has been designed to destroy them.
The question is not and never has been whether an individual is “black enough,” but how present blackness is in the life and identity of a person who considers themselves black. Light skin does not discount one’s blackness, as Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyonce, while flawed, have never stated that they are not black. Rihanna, though a black woman, has never identified as a black woman—Amber Rose, though birthed from a black woman discounts her blackness—though both reap the benefits and support from black people and their proximity to blackness, and also function to illustrate the pervasive ideology that the black female form oozes an animistic sexuality.
Orange is the New Black actress to Dascha Polanco, on the other hand, an African of Dominican displacement, has openly proclaimed herself as a black woman, although she plays a Puerto Rican woman on the series. Thus, the issue is not whether you are of African ancestry, but whether you function as a black person. Cardi B, and Bruno Mars have African ancestry, but do not function as black people. Having black blood does not make you black, its about owning your blackness and not treating blackness as a fair-weather friend. It’s about enduring the good, bad, and ugly of the black experience.
It’s about understanding the road you walk on as paved in the blood and bones of your brethren. It’s about joining forces with your black brethren, about aiding in the production of black commerce, be it economical or intellectual—not using black people, black support, or black currency as a key to enter the master’s house.
Rather than accuse me of dividing the black collective, I encourage those who identify as Afro-Latino, or Latinx to consider the ways they function to divide the collective. Particularly, do you check “black” or “hispanic”? “Hispanic,” “Latin,” etc all function similar to terms “mixed” and “biracial.” They are mythic labels implemented to divide the black collective. Thus, by calling yourself any of these names, an individual becomes a facet of a collective war waged against black people.
Namely, the systemic distinction between “black” and “hispanic” is a deliberate act implemented by those who observe a place at the top of the hierarchical structure to divide the black collective with an implication that black and hispanic/latino are mutually exclusive. So rather than ask me whether your displacement in the diaspora or bilinguality qualifies you as black, ask yourself whether you are black enough to check black on paper?
As seen in countless countries populated with Africans displaced in the transatlantic slave trade like Brazil and Haiti, blacks displaced in the United States sacrificed for centuries to engender modern (temperate) liberties. Our efforts, while birthing many feats, have largely knocked down the door for many throughout the diaspora who voluntarily flee to the US to get places that that young boy or girl in the projects will never obtain an opportunity to visit even on a school trip. Contrary to popular belief, this young boy or girl that does not get a chance to seize his or her full potential does not reflect lack of ambition or motiviation. This illustrates how white supremacists have succeeded in dividing and conquering the black collective, how the white supremacist society has succeeded in using our own siblings to systemically disenfranchise their own people.
(If you read this reference in the comments under my original Cardi B. post, I apologize for my redundancy.)
In her autobiography, Assata Shakur delineates the divide and conquer technique in an anecdote from her childhood. She recalls a summer trip to an amusement park where she and her family were initially refused because of the color of her skin. Once her mother begins to speak Spanish, they gain access to the park. Shakur concludes the anecdote with the following reflection:
” Anybody, no matter who they were, could come right off the boat and get more rights and respect than Amerikan-born blacks” (Shakur 28).
Were, Assata and her family any less black then when they first tried to gain entry?
But at that moment, their blackness took a backseat to the mechanism, or in this case language, manipulated to grant them a cruel duality, where their blackness birthed their exclusion, but the foreign nature of their blackness garnered their temperate inclusion. Thus, they opted out of blackness in order to opt into a white space.
To celebrate Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, and others employed in the same malevolent intentions to maintain the stagnancy of the African displaced in North American as occupying the base of American society, is to wave and smile at those granted entry to a space you were “too black” to attend.
Yes, I am saying that there are plenty of children lacking Bruno Mars, and Cardi’s racial “choice” that exceed their talent, but will never get the chance because they are “too black” to be anything but a rapper, or a “star” on Love and Hip Hop.
To this I would aptly engage criticisms of those who perform a similar deed in vacationing and staying at resorts where their brethren are suffering. To vacation at resorts when our diasporic brethren are rendered invisible by the culturally unenlightened and those indulging in a selective amnesia, who eat shrimp cocktail where diasporic Africans barely have enough to eat, is to also occupy a space established on the exclusion of your kinfolk.
But this is not the criticism.
The criticism is my failure to celebrate those who have the ability to choose whether they function as black. As a black person not subject to this choice, it is essential to my individual and collective survival to note that having black ancestry or a black ancestor does not make you black. People like Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Zoe Saldana, Christina Milian, etc,. have an option whether or not to identify with their black forefathers and foremothers in a way that author Wallace Thurman, singer Sam Cooke, and activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not.
This criticism, in its abundance and fiery presence under my initial Cardi B, post, proves an unintentional declaration of the low regard to which blacks displaced in North America are held. We are expected to smile in the face of a division that discounts our humanity to not seem divisive to those who imbue temperate benefits in the collective bludgeoning of black people from the white strategy of divide and conquer.
______ Conclusion: What Happened When I “came for” Cardi B.
So what happens when you “come for” Cardi B?
You are accused of lacking blackness in a failure to comply to the stereotypical traits expected of black people. It means being accused of dividing a people, while simultaneously subject to the division imbued in an accusation that me, a bearer of the black female form, “jumped Spanish girls in high school because they had better hair than me.” (actual quote)
I want to specify that I never “came for” Cardi B., I simply articulated a stance against cultural exploitation and appropriation encouraged and featured on the white media. I simply stood up for my people and my culture, and the aftermath illustrated diasporic blackness with regards to the black displaced in North America, as more abjected and ostracized than any article I could ever write.
So what happens, when you come for Cardi B?
White people everywhere snicker while the African displaced in Latin America and the Caribbean sulk in the exposition of the envy they hold for those they seek to emulate, but remain reluctant to appreciate and truly identify as.
This envy solely comes from those who pledge an allegiance to an African identity they do not truly feel, who separate rather than sync themselves with their displaced sibling separated on the ship that did not not sever our bloodline, but parted our bodies.
Bodies that in some way, shape, or form face the option (at varying degrees) to “opt” out of blackness, to become a weapon used against those born from the same continental womb, be it via skin color, hair texture, education, tax bracket, ethnicity, etc.
All the conscious community asks is a non-fickle choice to embrace or ignore blackness in part and whole, and to refute any and all options to work against your people.
While the systemic crippling of black folk throughout the diaspora, make it nearly impossible for the average black person, despite their placement in the diaspora, to travel or relocate from one drop-off to the next, in enjoying the richness of a diasporic culture, we, as Africans, must remain mindful of how our bodies can easily transition from familial to fatal.
In journeying to the places where our abducted brethren created culture out of kidnapping (in travel or migrancy), our goals should never be to get in with the master, but to get in with our people.
Thus, my issue with Cardi B, Bruno Mars and other diasporic Africans turned “hispanic” “Afro-Latino” or “American success story,” is not so much their selective blackness (for those who argue that they function as black at all), but that their goal is not to get in with black people, but to get in the black mind and purse. To get into spaces created by those raped to birth the privilege they presently observe.
Nevertheless, there is no shame in refusing to claim those who do not claim you, but there is great shame and entitlement exhibited by those who perceive blacks with the same disdain as our colorless counterparts yet demand support from those they see as subjugates.
So what happened when a being of black female form “came for” Cardi B?
She was reminded that all desire central placement in blackness, but few actually desire blackness.
*Members of the black collective need not occupy their time or thoughts with those who do not claim them, or only claim black to attain access to some benefit. Which is why I choose to end my post here :-).
Black Power, and all Power to the People Who Truly Identify as Black.
*The author places “Afro-Latino” in quotations as she includes all factions of diaspora in her use of the term “black” unless indicated otherwise.
“Our concern would not be to put the bus company out of business, but to put justice in business.”
Being pro-black it is not about destroying white people, but ensuring that the black collective is not fatally weathered by the wrath of white supremacy.
This ideal is commonly lost to non-blacks whose hierarchical placement has always been contingent on the subjugation of another faction. This proves that far too often individuals see the world as they are, and not for what it is.
So when a conscious person says black power, and acts or speaks in allegiance with others of the black collective through supporting black businesses, attending or promoting the black university, or in an endless devotion to the principles of black nationalism, this is not running away from whites or other groups nor is it working to put them down. Rather these actions exist to run towards blackness and lift the black collective from the subjugation that has followed us for centuries. Due to the intense subjugation that has fomented the dominance and capital of other groups seeking to consummate whiteness, it is understandable that the same evil be expected of blacks. This expectation also reveals that these groups, although benefitting from racism, and appropriating racism to advance their collectives, fail to properly conceptualize the term.
Non-black factions also fail to see the good in black pride. Instead the confident or proud black person is commonly labeled “racist,” “hateful,” or evil. Conscious blacks are made to feel guilty for being prideful, for remembering all that the global gaze begs them to forget.
On the flip side, blacks often find praise for forgetting their past and rejecting nationalism for a humanistic initiative by those who fail to see blacks as human. Consider how the “new black” term which surfaced a few years ago by producer/artist/entrepreneur Pharrell Williams and writer/actress Issa Rae, proved lucrative and even viral to blacks looking to covertly appease whites as a means to seemingly “get ahead.”
Yet to articulate a phrase like “black power” is to secure placement on a black list, where once again the term “black” is given a negative connotation. To the black nationalist, given their collective understanding of our racism environment, understand that placement on this list is a reflective of a positive action deemed negative by a collective threatened by black pride.
So when I say black power, I speak solely to conscious blacks and blacks on their journey to consciousness. Those who do not see Africa as a place.
I was told recently that my strive towards “Africa” was not in unison with the black diaspora but in rejection of whiteness. That Africa to me, a so-called “black American,” Africa is not unique to a country, tribe, or dish, but a metaphorical place that represents an escape from whiteness.
I fail to see alleviating the physicality of Africa as a bad thing. Yes, the food, and the little things that those abducted from the continent would not know, are important components to Africa. But Africa is not a place, its a state of mind. There are plenty of indigenous Africans saving up at this moment, or applying to western schools to escape the embrace of the continent, due to misconstruing this embrace as a choke hold binding them to a disenfranchisement fictively believed to dissolve once their feet touch the western soil. The pro-black gaze understands that this soil is quicksand, not a step stool for upward mobility.
My blog has evoked a similar upset, as many have complained that my analysis on black male portrayal, notably the function of the black gay male in mainstream western culture is somehow an attack on sexual orientation as a whole. Sexual orientation has never really been a prime area of focus for those on a stride towards consciousness, as sexual orientation, like gender and socio-economic castes function to distract the black mind from blackness. To be pro-black is to eschew the art of deflection, mastered by white supremacists who benefit from the deterred gaze. To be pro-black to is become immersed in functionality, not individuality. Specifically, to be pro-black to devote your life to explicating how whites are yet again employing black bodies as agents against one another. In short, to be pro-black is to be inclusive. It is encompass sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status, and education under the umbrella of blackness.
Mental liberation enables the conscious to see past the divisive attributes created by whites to foment black confusion. Blackness then becomes exposed as a construct to which the conscious can mold as they please.Many pro-blacks see themselves as an empty canvass to be painted by their own brushes. In reworking a black identity, the conscious black removes their collective self from their binary oppositional placement alongside white people. Their existence and ideology has nothing to do with whiteness, and everything to do with assembling the displaced pieces of the African diasporic puzzle.
Pro-blackness blackness does not crush everything in its path to advance. True greatness, and blacks are the epitome of such greatness, does not need to strategically obliterate competition, simply because there is none.
All of Africa’s children will not find their way back to their mother, a mother who while still beautiful, is incessantly raped, bludgeoned, infiltrated, and colonialized just like her children. But physically being in Africa means nothing if your mind is sullied by a European mindset.
Africa in the metaphorical sense, is what the continent was in the centuries preceding the 15th century. It is with those who built the pyramids, the kings and queens of our past, our oral history encoded the whispers of the winds. Africa is in the sphinx, in David Walker’s Appeal, in the unpublished and unwritten slave narratives, in James Baldwin’s essays, in Toni Morrison novels, in conscious fashion, indie films, in Malcolm X, Dr. King and Fred Hampton speeches.
I may never set my oversized feet on the continent, but that is neither here nor there. Africa to me is a place in my heart that pumps what W.E.B. Dubois referenced as “the hot dark blood of my ancestors.” Africa is a state of mind that allows me see melanin as not only redeeming but unifying.
Africa is not one place. Rather, Africa has a place within all her children scattered throughout the diaspora.
The road to consciousness is a long journey composed of many situations and people. These people and situations afford the conscious body an opportunity to evaluate their own behavior and actions—ultimately providing a chance for the individual to choose a collective ideology they'd like to adopt as their own, and those which they'd like to discard.
The "exceptional" biracial This person is not conventionally exceptional, but believes that their multi-cultural heritage gives them an upper hand. This person often seems cool, until they're called "black," "dark" or any term that aligns them with what they see as the detriment of blackness. This person often implies that others are jealous of them and puts blacks down for any traits the black individual shares with the racially ambiguous—as the interchangeability between themselves and non-biracial blacks proves damaging to their pseudo superiority.
2. The physically black individual determined to “un-blacken” himselfThis person bears all the attributes of an unsullied bloodline. From the rich complexion to the full lips to the beautiful coiled hair, this individual is a portrait of the motherland–much to their dissatisfaction. Due to an inability to change their aesthetics, this person will try to mimic whites in speech, dress and customs. They will often solicit white or non black mates to appease their low self worth and esteem.
3. The black friend who swears she's mixed Like the individual mentioned above, this person bears attributes that imply an unsullied bloodline. Understanding the impossibility to reverse their genetics, this person constructs a fictive bloodline that grants esteem in its proximity away from blackness.
4. The multi-cultural person who plays both sides This person has "mixed" ancestry and employs every component of their identity to reap benefits from multiple angles. This person bears no allegiance to any group, and instead seeks to not be too much of anything.
5. The Educated Fool This person consummated their journey to an illusive whiteness, be it in buying a home, obtaining an education, or any other material item attributed to conventional success. This person represents a demographic who believes because they "made it" any other black who does not "make it" is lazy or incompetent. Their conventionality distances them from the truth of black struggle, and they eventually (figeratively) stand beside their oppressors in castigating blacks for their systemic disposition.
6. The envious non-black womanThis person most likely sought out the friendship or acquaintance to magnify superior feelings towards black people, but became immersed in an unanticipated inferiority that accompanies juxtaposition to black brilliance.
7. The male friend that does not date black women This person may have liked a black woman at one point, but used this experience to fuel a dating life that eliminates black women as an option. This friend now restricts himself to the less intimidating and often less aesthetically pleasing non-black significant other— as a symbol of their upward mobility.
8. The fair-skinned woman who carries her skin color around like a designer clutch This person feels that the only thing going for them is their skin color, despite diligently working to prove otherwise. She'll drop her skin color in the most inappropriate ways, so that you remember she's light skin, because to this fair lady–light is right.
9. The black friend unhappy with her blackness that tries to makes you feel badly about your own.This friend may not like their hair or her body, so they'll thrown digs at you in attempt to make you feel as bad as they do every day.
10. The non-black man who is attracted to you but does not see color You'll see him looking at you from across the room. He'll make small talk, but if you say anything cultural he'll be immediately turned off at the reality of having to encompass the totality of your being.
11. The non-black who is insulted by your brilliance This person might be a coworker, supervisor, or friend of a friend. This person thinks lowly of blacks. He or she views black people as base, and is completely thrown off course by any black person who challenges this thinking. They will incessantly put you down to convince themselves that you are inferior, while they imitate your moves.
12. The non-black who loves you for not being white This individual may be a teacher, coworker, colleague, or person encountered in everyday life, appreciative or fascinated by black culture. They see you as the epitome of blackness and often tokenize you in a genuine (but objectifying) effort to encapsulate your greatness.
13. The black man or woman who takes you under his or her wind fearful for how you'll turn out without their guidance This person may not be the blackest person, but he or she appreciates your journey to an elevated consciousness and seeks to guide and protect you from the adversity that awaits.
14. The confused black who things the white man's ice is colder This person is scarily misguided, but often sees themselves as remarkable. They speak confidently in defending whites and ideas of white superiority, while vehemently supporting blacks who have either consummated white success or appear white in appearance. These are the same individuals who will say the fatal slaying of Bakari Henderson was an isolated incident, but the crimes in the black community reflect a hanus mindset.
15. The pseudo activist who is using black consciousness as his or her claim to fame This person is an individual seeming to uplift the collective but in actuality merely seeks to appease their own insecure need to feel better than others.
16. The non-black person who thinks going to a black history assembly or calling enslaved Africans "African Americans" makes him or her a revolutionary These are the same individuals who mistake hurt feelings for oppression in a bizzare ignorance that distorts perception.
17. The migrant black who thinks non-migrant blacks appropriate black culture This person has no Pan- African understanding and therefore sees blacks (or displaced Africans) as "Americans" and not Africans.
18. The confused black who aligns Obama with Dr. King or Malcolm X This person reflects a collective ideology that is in such desperate need for a leader that actual contribution or action is optional. Thus, they do not appreciate Dr. King or Malcolm X for their contributions, but for their image of strength. This makes it easy to compare President Obama to King and X, despite Obama allowing what King and X died trying to prevent.
19. The so-called black conscious person who lusts after non black men or woman I call it Cognitively dissonant coonery.
20. The conscious black who shrinks in “mixed” company
This person is often extremely conscious in private. They quote powerful black thinkers, and oppose the status quo. In public however, they avoid saying anything that can be viewed contentiously.
21. The conscious soul who “gets” it This person may be the strong silent type, or outspoken, but they live and breathe black. They see the unseen, and exist in the isolated state of cultural enlightenment. Their circle is small but dynamic. Their brain is in constant motion, their curiosity solely satiated by the thoughts and experiences of our ancestors and the enlightened few. This person is receptive to any invitation to be blacker, and will anticipate your gradual strive to a higher consciousness in the silent demand of their purposeful presence.
It may take years to find this person, and when you do you may never actually meet. But just knowing that they are out there makes the rough and unpaved road to consciousness well worth the while.
When most speak of going natural they mean freeing African hair from chemicals. This. liberating journey can be long, draining, and discouraging. The results however are unimaginable. Yes, returning your hair to its natural state is a tedious and gradual process, but even more so is freeing your mind from the chemicals of white supremacy.
Here are are 41 things that happen on the journey to a higher consciousness.
You begin to question your insanity. It becomes quite unclear whether you are unwell, or if others around you are sick.
”The hot dark blood of that forefather—born king of men—is beating at my heart and I know I am ether a genius or a fool.” WEB Dubois.
2. It becomes very hard to purchase anything that is not a necessity, from.a white or non-black establishment 3. Things like going to the movies, or going out to eat are not the same. Notably, they do not provide the intended purpose to escape to the conscious mind 4. Individualism becomes a thing of the past. You care less about being exceptional, beautiful, smart, successful as conceptualized by the western gaze, and more into achieving a collective greatness 5. You become more alienated from people and things of whom you were once inseparable 6. Working with whites or non-blacks becomes extremely challenging, if not impossible 7. Living through purpose is not “an” option anymore, it’s the only option
8. You’re called racist a lot. 9. Being called racist makes you laugh in its ignorance and impossibility. 10. Finding love isn’t about romance, it’s about finding that person that proves a gateway to deepening a collective black love 11. You become less judgmental but more observant and strategic 12. Down time isn’t for television or idleness, but creation and collective uplifting 13. You become very critical of celebrated blacks, and create your own heroes, most of whom are obscure to most 14. Material and money are not as desirable as time and purpose 15. You see the difference between true blackness and those with just black skin. 16. You regard whites with an indifference that paralyzes their need for hyper-visibility and reassurance from blacks 17. You do not have to look in the mirror to see your African beauty 18. You feel a sense of pride in supporting your own and inspiring others to do the same 19. You gradually start to increase water consumption and cut downs on breads, cheese, sugars and all other foods unnatural to the African body 20. You view praise for the African entertainer or athlete as an insult to black potential 21. You find yourself spending more time alone—often deemed insufferable by whites and pretentious by blacks not yet on a journey to consciousness
22. Your thirst for black culture becomes insatiable. You find yourself buying books incessantly and devouring them like water, listening to old speeches and looking at old pictures 23. You notice others often “put on a show” of black pride in your presence
24. You find yourself disinterested in any western holidays
25. You become indifferent to birthdays, vacations, and other tokens of western conception used to induce vanity and distraction
26. You no longer apologize for possessing and articulating a black state of mind, or feel the need to dilute your blackness in “mixed” company
27. You have one melanated friend who calls/texts just to get your perspective on “black” issues
28. You regard every “death,” “murder,” or incarceration of blacks with suspicion
29. You know that proof is a means to ease questions, so you take it at face value. Proof isn’t proof in white america, it’s hush info
30. Your biggest fear is not unemployment or even death, but being an Uncle Tom or Aunt Thomasina, or any weak representation of blackness
31. You don’t see whites who adopt black children, or take on black adults or children as projects as generous, but self-righteous white saviors
32. You become more empathetic to the burdens facing black people
33. You are turned off by the “Divine 9” and see it as weakness if not one of the many forms of contemporary slavery
34. You find yourself laughing less, and thinking more
35. You know that gay rights, the muslim ban, and feminism are all means to deflect focus from blacks and racism
36. You laugh internally at those who use the term “woke,” because often these are the most unconscious
37. You shirk most social media—seeing it for the mental poison it is
38. You don’t align “natural” hair, dashikis, “hotep” language as signs of blackness. Looking black is fashionable to some, but a lifestyle to the truly conscious
39. You find it hard to trust or respect those of African ancestry who look outside the race for love or acceptance
40. You prefer overt prejudice and racism, to the smiling racist as it is often far less confusing to the masses.
41. What most call Egypt, you call Kemet- “land of the blacks”
The journey to consciousness is not easy. It can be lonely, and extremely difficult–but it’s worth it.
1. Black Soap is the holy grail for black skin. It cures dark spots and gives black skin a natural glow. Go unprocessed if possible.
2. Water is Your Friend. Drink it morning, noon, and night!
3. Working out is like studying: You may pass without it, but you probably won’t ace
Try “Tiffany Rothe Workouts” on Youtube. She’s a beautiful black woman dedicated to fitness.
4. Embrace adversity, for this is often an opportunity to deepen faith in yourself
5. Every smiling face is not a friend, and every sister ain’t a sister
6.Never apologize or feel the need to dumb down your greatness
7. Put downs, or any emphasis of error, whether direct or covert, just means you are standing too tall for someone’s self esteem. This behavior is toxic, deal with it as you please, but do not forget.
8. To avoid envy, work hard to become the person you’d be envious of 9. Money is not anything more than what you make it
10. Modesty is a pillar of greatness
11. Know that your physical beauty, while remarkable, only the scratches the surface of your allure as a black woman.
12. Read. Read. Read. Reading enables individuals to stand in the past and present simultaneously. Don’t cheat yourself out of a full life experience. Reading is the gateway to mental elevation.
Ida B. Wells’ Southern Horrors, Gertrude Dorsey Brown’s “Measure for Measure” and “Scrambled Eggs,” Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, and The Autobiography of Assata Shakur are a just few must reads for black women (post on this
in progress :-)).
13. Anticipate white evil and refuse to let white hate ruin your beauty
14. Beware of those who bring up past grievances, often it is them that needs you to be who you once were
15. Those who pretend to know it all, often know the least
16. If done right, education reveals how much you don’t know, not how much you do.
17. View melanin as a redeeming not damning quality
18. Render white acceptance or opinion into cultural oblivion.
19. Seek a black significant other or spouse— someone whose blackness not only runs through their veins, but oozes out of pores
20. Understand that weaves, false eyelashes, and makeup does not enhance your beauty, it veils your perfection as an African Queen.
21. If you find your self verbally or physically assaulted by white women and women of your collective, treat as a compliment and testament to your greatness.Be patient with your sisters though, and aid them in seeing the beauty in themselves. We are all queens.
22. Make a vow to challenge yourself to be a little blacker every day.Whether its skipping out on Starbucks and choosing at black establishment, or dumping your Dominican stylists and choosing a sista’—make a vow to elevate your commitment to the collective. The ancestors will thank you.
23. Believe in yourself.When you are low look to the ancestors and anecdotes from our past to show you that not only can you make it, but you will!
24. Deep condition. Treat your hair like the crown it is! I like Coconut Water Deep Penetrating Treatment and Algae Renewal treatment by Camille Rose Naturals! Solicit black made products for your black mane.
25. Never give up on your own people. This is not to say that you will not be disappointed or even crossed by your own—it just means that you should be bigger than any smallness thrown your way.
26. Live your life at your own pace. You are one of kind. Comparing yourself to others only distracts from the magic that is you.
27. Regard every public representation of black womanhood, whether in politics or prime-time television with a grain of salt.
Media does not exist to entertain but to enslave the black mind.
28. Call/Visit your grandparents, and family elders.Your connections to your elders is essential to a collective understanding of the world before your arrival. Gift them small tokens of appreciation, like take them a snack, take the out to eat, revel in their beauty etc
29. If you possess an attribute of conventionality, look past it.
Whether it’s long hair, lighter skin, a slender frame, money, an education—find beauty in what the western world would finds “ugly” or “bad” instead.
30. Know your worth:The biggest mistake black women make is to value themselves far lower than they’re actually worth. You’re worth the sun, moon,a
nd the sky–anything less is an insult.
31. Acknowledge a collective identity to truly acquire esteem.Our history did not begin with slavery, knowing this fact and the countless others that line the rich history of Africans is the closest to freedom we can hope to come as the abducted children of the globe’s richest continent.
32. If anyone says that Native Americas “had it worse than blacks” redirect their attention to your last name and the fact that you’re speaking English.Our struggle as black people is real, and no one has the right to demean our ancestors. As queens, we must mind our thrones.
33. Never be scared to stand alone. To be conscious is to bear a lonely existence. Just know you’re never alone–the ancestors are with you always!
34. End every day by asking yourself: “What have I done for my people today?”
We must live through purpose in order to advance and achieve cultural nationalism. Whether you tutor, garden, volunteer at the library, or perform any other kind of civic duty, we all have something to offer. Don’t rob your community of your greatness, and most importantly, don’t rob yourself of culminating the full extent of your excellence.
This week in America has shocked some, scared most, angered others and left many with a series of inquiries. The murders of Alton Sterling, and Phillando Castile echo previous racial injustice seen in slain black bodies such as Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner , Freddie Gray and Mike Brown. However, this week’s tragedies occurring just after July 4th or “Independence Day” perhaps could not be more appropriate. Every year fireworks light up the American sky to commemorate freedom. Yet, this “freedom” or “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in its past and present implementation, excluded black bodies with an indifference so ingrained in western mentality it goes largely unnoticed. Thus, what should be a time to reexamine the laws that continue to disenfranchise us remans veiled behind for liberties circumscribed from black existence.
The murders, happening hours after one another, prove that the Constitution and the American government in its entirety continue to disenfranchise the black body through murder. Both murders made their way into the general public through graphic footage. Physically detained by police, Alton Sterling endured fatal shots issued at point blank range. Castile- following instructions issued by a police officer— endured four fatal bullets discharged in front of his girlfriend and a four year old child seated in the back seat. The cameras reel in a reality that mirrors a past where black bodies were lynched, torched then dangled as a public spectacle before a feast of eyes. The similarities in dismantling and displaying black injustice makes the past ever so present amidst the illusion of hope and change. Sterling and Castile’s murders substantiate a reality of white privilege fostered by systemic racism which discounts black life to uphold white supremacy.
For centuries, we as a black community watched as black bodied endure death, defilement and destitution to which our oppressors meet no consequence. To bear witness to continued injustice prompts anger, frustration, and helplessness amongst the black community. However, despite our disposition, our continued crises suddenly disappears when juxtaposed to a slain gorilla or lion. This is not to denounce the tragedies of Ceil (2015) and Harambre(2016), but to expose a societal double standard where animal life trumps human life when the humans are black.
Yet in wake of the turbulence cast upon black bodies since our arrival in the seventeenth century, the recent scenarios in Dallas produces empathy for the police and not for Micah Johnson, the alleged assailant. Johnson, a young black men slain in effort to balance a system unbalanced by systemic racism, is instantly cast as a villain. Johnson becomes a victim despite his victim status in a country that haunts his young black body with past and present events rendered to ingrain inferiority into his mind. Johnson, like countless other black faces within the black diaspora, most likely felt angered and silenced by the consistent attack on black bodies. The police as soldiers of white supremacy commonly inflict black injustice sans culpability as their actions maintain a false valor extended to white bodies who perform acts of racial genocide onto blacks. Johnson faces heavy castigating citing that violence should not meet violence. However, this logic quickly dissolves in the silence surrounding Johnson’s obliterated body rendered by a robotic bomb. His murder mirrors the murdered black bodies that sparked his outrage- slain with no principle and no regard for the human being who exists on the other side of the attack.
Although slightly tangental, it is fascinating how white bodies, when faced with crime, experience unrelenting humanizing efforts. Black bodies, however are always made into the villain. As shooters in mass murders white youths are commonly described as “abused,” “troubled,” “mentally handicapped” or some other adjective that victimizes the villain. Similarly, the media commonly describes white cops who kill blacks as “afraid” or “acting in the line of duty.” Blacks who commit crimes are almost always guilty of “reacting” to the negative stimuli placed in their path, which makes them victims not villains. In Johnson’s case he imbues reactionary acts to reflect a revolutionary mindset that opposes racial injustice. Yet, his body suffers a murder Johnson and conscious members of the black community anticipated with the indifference required to implement change. The news suggest that Johnson posed a physical threat which provoked his murder. However, it was the mental threat Johnson induced that prompted his murder. For blacks to feel empowered to take matters into their own hands threatens a country established on black helplessness. So Johnson, like any other black body that dared to remove his own chains, must face death to dwindle the spirit and courage of possible followers. It is also worth mentioning that the label “cop killer” as projected on to villianized black bodies, also lacks originality. In the late sixties and seventies, Black activists and freedom fighters Huey Newton and Assata Shakur endured lengthy and highly publicized trials. Both cases centered on accusations that the named black bodies killed police officers in cold blood. Prior to their murder trials, Newton and Shakur were prominent and fearless pillars in the black community tirelessly fighting for justice in an unjust land. Commonly, Johnson, Newton and Shakur faced varying consequence that depleted their means to directly impact their causes.
Nevertheless, this has indeed been a sad week. However, moreso than the events themselves I am saddened by the black bodies who empathize more with slain officers than a young black man who faced death fighting to be heard in a country that flourishes in his silence. I am more saddened by the black bodies who see these cases and continue to covet white wealth, white institutions, white standards of beauty or even white standards of success and worthiness. I am most saddened by the black bodies who turn the other cheek, deeming courage much too costly.
Now is not only the time to say as the late James Brown sang “I’m black and proud” but a time to maintain an unapolegtically black existence. It is a time to say without hesitation that #blacklivesmatter*. Any evil extended to #blacklivesmatter—a phrase uplifting a community that experienced every tragedy yet remains standing— demonstrates that all in lives in fact do not matter.
All lives clearly do not matter as demonstrated by white supremacists and white conservatives who call for a return to “the good ole days” or “Real America.” The quotes terms refer to a time where blacks generally failed to see their own greatness and praised rather than challenges whites. The “good ole days” references acts of white terroism veiled by white hoods that killed black people, raped black women and torched black businesses.
However, I too wish for a return to the “good ole days.” By the good ole days, I reference Black Wall Street or pre-integration where black communities featured abundant black businesses. This is a grave contrast to contemporary black communities that are entirely outsourced to whites and migrants who achieve the American dream by way of the black dollar bereft appreciation for black people. No, a separatists existence does not solve every issue plaguing the black diaspora. It does however present a platform for self-determination granting equity to the black experience. Simply put, a white supremacist system that is never courteous, professional or respectful should bear no presence in a black community. White bodies or any body bearing a western mindset should not patrol our bodies, teach our children or foster any guidelines by which we live. White presence in black affairs yields the suffering outlined by black psychologist Bobby Wright:
Therefore, suffering for Blacks was and is a way of life, not death, It was out of this cultural imperative that the “Blues” developed (and is now being stolen) and revealed the incomparable “Soul of Black Folks.” Centuries before Whites “discovered” existentialism, Blacks has accepted (unfortunately) that “to live is to suffer and the ultimate test is the meaning a people find in that suffering which dictates they way they live and die.” (Wright 16)
Pegged a prejudice murderer, Johnson suffered a life doused in reminders of a false inferiority which inspired his extreme measures to obtain visibility. He suffered as he took his last breath amidst the smoke and flames that hovered over much of his life. Flames and smoke that summoned him to his knees when he strove to live on his feet. Flames and smoke that reduced him to a boy even as a grew into a man. Blacks suffer as a collective consequence of white supremacy. Our identity is muffled by white imagination which fuels a suffering in variance from murder to assimilation. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of suffering too.
Black is beautiful. Black is worthy. Black is power.
No justice. No Peace.
*The Whispers of Womanism does not align with black lives matter the organization, but does employ the phrase as truth.
Yesterday, as the majority of America rejoiced in a day off from work or school the conscious black community rejoiced in the single holiday allowed recognition in the western world. Vastly reduced to his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King embodied a merging of humanitarian and intellectual efforts in using the principles of the church to change the state of the union. His written and spoken words articulate the struggle of Black Americans with poise and precision rendering hope to the traditional and contemporary oppressed people.
Admittedly as a young woman I too confined Dr. King to his “I Have a Dream” speech. In my youth, I also juxtaposed the late great Malcolm X with Dr. King, deeming King the lesser of the two. However this thought was conceived in my inability to see the power in non-violence. My younger self falsely oversimplified non-violence as turning the other cheek. In my error, I confused passivity with non-violence. To choose non-violence is to fight your oppressors in refusing to grant them their desired reaction. To stand up as if you’ve never been knocked down is the epitome of strength and Dr. King’s legacy revealed this truth to my then naive soul.
While my now twenty-seven year old self experienced the wisdom of Dr. King’s words in A Strive Towards Freedom and “The Purpose of Education”, I am most moved by his final speech “ I Have Been to the Mountaintop.” Although spoken twenty years to the date I would take my first breath, Dr. King’s words transcend time and death— speaking to the still prevalent conflict of systematic racism. I am not sure if most would consider Dr. King’s demeanor optimistic, hopeful or the latter but irregardless his words are uplifting. In this spirit, he speaks to the happiness in living in the time period that he did. Consider the following:
And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.
Among the destitute conditions of the 1960s which included underperforming schools, sub-par facilities and senseless violent and fatal acts on the black community (to name a few), the 1960s was volcanic— making change not only a want but a demand. In naming the perils of our past it is apparent that little to nothing has changed. Yes, we disposed of the physical signs that restrict access. In turn we are granted a diverse range of behavior that still asserts black presence as undesirable. Thus, we’ve received the symbol of equality but not the equity of experience. So yes we can shop at the same mall, but we aren’t given the same smile of our fairer counterparts. No, we are issued an inauthentic smile that becomes a penetrating gaze which becomes a not so subtle hovering over our demonized presence. Symbols like a black president and first family distort the ever-rising number of black men and women, girls and boys slain as casualties in the ongoing oppression of black people in America. In remembering Dr. King’s legacy on his birthday weekend, it becomes a painful reality that his slain body aligns him with other fallen heroes of our past, Garvey, Malcolm X, Medgar Evans, George Jackson, Fred Hampton to name a few. While saying their names breathes life into an undying legacy, it brings tears to my eyes in realization that with the deaths of these leaders, a portion of our “fight” has died with them — causing us, as a people to gain satisfaction in symbols of a revolution. The symbols are often falsely attributed to remnants of a revolutionary victory that we never gained because we have yet to fight.
Dr. King evoked the “revolution” or its results in metaphorically referencing the mountaintop. He said:
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
The end of his speech historically led many to believe that Dr. King predicted his own death. This assertion reveals those who rendered such commentary as ignorant to the revolution, for Dr. King, like any figure of change accepted death the minute he decided to fight for the greater good of humanity. Dr. King- although faced with a series of adversity never lost hope. It is this hope I believe that allowed him to see the mountaintop. I, like the much of the black diaspora, can also see the mountaintop— but from a vastly different view. For I see the mountaintop as I look up from climbing to the top. I see the mountaintop when I lift my head from the jagged reality that scars my heart and mind far more than it does hands and feet. As I look up I see the smiling faces of elders and ancestors like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, WEB Dubois, Booker T Washington, Ida B. Wells, Fanny Lou Hamer, Adam Clayton Powell, Alain Locke, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur who are also looking up. However, they see the sky and I see them.
Revisiting Dr. King and his mountaintop speech reveals they key to seeing the mountaintop as all about perspective. So while it is our job to keep our heroes’ memory alive, we must not become fixated on them as symbols. Rather, may they be the shoulders of which we stand to align ourselves alongside them on that mountaintop— crafting a world where the sky is the limit rather than the limit being the sky.
Thank you Dr. King. May you rest in the peace your legacy gives my soul ❤