Op-ed submission by Project 21
If something is good and it is enjoyable, it’s not surprising that people want it to last forever. We want the goodness to be unceasing. We want it to be sustained. But the sad fact is that nothing lasts forever. Even the cosmos is subject to the vagaries of time and will one day cease to exist.
Within black America, despite the hardships we have faced, there have been many favorable developments that have benefited our people. They should continue. Unfortunately, many appear to be unsustainable.
Consider the example of the black family. Formerly the bedrock of our community, the black family is now failing. Around 70 percent of black children are currently being born out of wedlock, and the availability of marrying-age black males is restricted by a very high, albeit declining, incarceration rate.
Several of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which many charge with maintaining a tradition of scholarly excellence in our community, are slowly but steadily falling by the wayside. Schools that were once virtually the only choice for black higher education are now failing to receive broad economic support because, in part, they become enmeshed in non-educational issues, reflect poor management and often produce graduates who exhibit sub-par academic achievement.
The rapid pace and major accomplishments of the Martin Luther King-era civil rights movement left the establishment black special interest groups with a hard act to follow and few critical hurdles to overcome. Today’s civil rights lobby is largely a “go along to get along” movement that often focuses on the wrong issues.
When presented with the declining black family, subpar educational achievement and a lack of progress on key economic issues, today’s self-professed black leaders seem quite ineffective in comparison with the greatness of their predecessors.
Even effective past efforts by the Nation of Islam to make black America more productive and independent are not being replicated today. Given Minister Louis Farrakhan’s current advanced age and declining health, we must wonder whether that movement will be sustained beyond his passing.
Conversely, there is an important institution that remains sustained, in form if not in substance. That institution is the black church. Why has the black church been sustained, and generally what are the keys to sustainability?
For institutions, organizations and movements that want to last, they must, at their core, contain the materials and the chemistry that it takes to be sustainable. Like kernels that always produce stalks of corn and create the kernels that grow yet more corn in the future, these institutions, organizations and movements must include what is essentially a genetic code that ensures their sustainability.
Sustainable entities must embody long-range plans with provisions for course corrections (consider the U.S. Constitution), systematic processes for leadership succession (consider the Catholic Church) and flexibility to evolve (consider creation itself).
Probably the most important key to sustainability for black American institutions, organizations and movements is a willingness on our part to work diligently and selflessly to make them successful. The reason that kernel of corn is successful in producing more corn is because earth, water, air and sun are always there to do their parts. Likewise, we must be committed to serving as the equivalent of the earth, water, air and sun to ensure that our institutions, organizations and movements are sustained.
While all good things inevitability come to an end, they do not have to suffer a premature demise. With work and care, good things can be sustainable for quite some time. As a result, we can avoid the hazardous stops and starts to our efforts to preserve ourselves as a people and as a community within the larger American nation.
B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. is a member of the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21. You can visit his website at http://www.blackeconomics.org
One of the controversies being bandied about by the African-American community with regards to Brad Paisley song: “Accidental Racist”, is that for him the Confederate Flag is a symbol of his “Southern Pride”.
“To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view”
African-Americans are passionate in their opinion that this Rebel Flag is a symbol of white power and racism. Rightly so, for it is. Under it’s banner, oppression, exploitation, violence and death were visited upon the African-American community. I wonder though if these same African-Americans are cognizant that as they reject the Rebel Flag and wrap themselves with Old Glory, that for the majority of Black, Brown, Yellow and Red peoples of the world, the American Flag is the symbol of white supremacy and military imperialism. Under it’s banner, oppression, exploitation, violence and death are visited daily upon us.
This is not a condemnation of all African-Americans or Americans in general. There are those who understand… and more importantly are vocal about the evils of American imperialism. They take no pride in the exploitation and oppression that Old Glory symbolizes for the rest of the world… the non-white world especially. There are those who are also aware of the fact that they have suffered longer and more insidious oppression, exploitation, violence and death within their shores, under the white supremacist banner of Old Glory, than they ever did under the Confederate Flag.
I am however condemning those who preach about “American Pride” based on the concept of “American Exceptionalism”, which is in reality just an excuse, as well as a justification for the crimes of “American Imperialism”… today and yesterday. They are as much an “Accidental Imperialist” as Brad Paisley is an “Accidental Racist”. AND just as they condemn LLCoolJ (someone referred to him as “LLCoonJuice”), I condemn those within the African-American community who align themselves with these “Accidental Imperialist”. These are the ones quick to self-righteously point out the “speck” in his eye but fail to acknowledge the “log” in their own. They proudly don the American flag of the Democratic and Republican Party to symbolize their ”Black Pride”. They proudly wave their American Flag while they march overseas with the propagators of white supremacy… intellectually, politically and militarily… to spread the disease which is American Imperialism, upon the rest of the non-white world.
I am currently reading “The Untold History of the United States”. I am learning about America’s exceptional history in it’s attitudes and relations towards non-Americans and specifically non-whites. American imperialism is no accident. The symbolism of the American Flag is no different than that of the Confederate Flag. Anyone in the African-American community who sing along with the “Accidental Imperialist” with their hand over their heart, the imperial anthems of the Republic to express their “American Pride”, are just as guilty of being a traitorous house negro, as they have sentenced LLCoolJ to be.
I want to thank you for your comment’s. Let’s continue to grow and learn.
I want to introduce another film today. This can offer just one perspective on African Diaspora in South Africa. I personally couldn’t have made the journey without the support of the producers of the movie called, Blacks Without Borders. Thank you to Stafford & Judith Bailey.
I had several questions about South Africa and they put me in contact with other African Diaspora who are in the country or were in the country. My comments, questions, concerned, and pitfalls that I should avoid were answered.
I am still in contact with many of the people in the movie. They often call or write me just to see if I doing well or if I need anything. Many of them live in Johannesburg, South Africa, but I have been blessed to meet a few of them face to face in Cape Town, South Africa.
Please enjoy the movie (click on the image).
As stated in the earlier post, this is another viewpoint, but what I hope we can all do, no matter where you are from or who are, is to network with one another. We are all going to have different views, opinions, and aspirations, but I hope that we can elevate each other.
I invite everyone to connect.
I had an interesting exchange with a friend on the value of celebrating Black History Month. My position: A study of Black History is essential to making us powerful… individually and as a people, while celebrating Black History Month has become a stereotypical caricature attached to Black people, particularly Black Americans, just like eating fried chicken and watermelons.
In my research on the origins of BHM, I learnt that African American educator and historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 started “Negro History Week”, to be held in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. His goal was not only to bring attention to the historical contributions of Black Americans in the USA, but he had also hoped that “Negro History Week” would one day be eliminated as black history would one day be a fundamental part of American History.
Today BHM has become at best, another sanitized and anesthetizing commercial enterprise, beneficial to the dominating eurocentric society. This month all throughout America and Canada, you’ll have municipal Mayors and/or Police Chiefs, hold BHM opening ceremonies at City Hall, surrounded by Black political, religious and social leaders… those whom they recognize as “Black” leaders… starting with a prayer from a Black pastor, followed by an empassioned speech from Mayor and/or Police Chief, brimming with civic pride on how their local negroes have
behaved as expected made positive contributions to the community over the years… although historically they suffered and continue to suffer personal insults, as well as institutional discrimination, persecution and injustice at the hands of the city’s “White” elite. They will then have a Black woman from the church choir sing a Negro spiritual, followed by a Black teenager reciting a Black History themed poem, then have little Black children in African costumes perform a dance to an Afro drumming ensemble and finally top it all off with a “soul food” meal, featuring fried chicken and watermelon… fo’ sho’. At the end of this minstrel show ceremony, or at best by the end of the month, everything will return to “normal” and Black people will be regulated back to “their place” in society.
The above scenario will play out all this month, to a greater or lesser degree, throughout Black churches, as well as Black cultural and social organizations, with the customary yearly donning of African clothing and head dress, spirituals, drumming, dances, poetry and culturally inspired soul food meals. Unfortunately celebrating the accomplishments of ancient Black Egyptians one month a year, isn’t empowering us into producing Black mathematicians, physicians, astronomers, engineers, physicists, etc., today. Unfortunately celebrating the accomplishments of Black Americans and Canadians one month a year, isn’t inspiring us to build upon their achievements to create a positive legacy of accomplishments of our own to pass on to the next generation. Instead we are conditioned into idolizing the Black icons marketed to us by the dominating culture, such as Li’l Wayne, Trinidad James, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Lebron, Nene, Oprah and Barak Obama.
If we sincerely embraced and utilized the power of Black history in our lives everyday of the year, we would truly understand the enormous historical significance of the irreplaceable afro-futuristic power, potential and accomplishments that the murder of Hadiya Pendleton has denied the Black community… not just for this month, but lost forever… instead of debating the merits of Beyonce’s fake and valueless 2nd Inauguration performance.
“There is no way to understand world history without an understanding of African history.” John Henrik Clarke
An interesting read: Black History Month Has Been an Epic Failure
I am looking forward to see Lincoln, the recent film by Steven Spielberg. I want to see it for purely selfish reasons: I am a huge Daniel Day Lewis fan. He plays Uncle Abe and from what I see from the previews, his performance is spellbinding. Those who have followed along with me in this blogging journey from the beginning, know that I used to be a working actor (in what now seems to me like a ”previous life”).
I was waiting to see it before writing a review, which most likely would have been from an afro-political rather than an artistic perspective. However I was watching Meet the Press on Sunday and the roundtable panel, which included the Obama apologist and MSNBC sellout Rev. Al Sharpton, were not only praising the film, but the nobility and sacrifice of Lincoln the man, in his fight to abolish slavery in Amerikka. Huh…I could see Sis. Deb shaking her head… and as we Jamaicans say… “sucking her teeth”… at the commentary (i.e. bullshit) they were spewing.
I recall that many, many years ago when I was a university freshman (in what again seems to me like a “previous life”), my final paper in my Political Economics course was based on the premise that Lincoln did not free the slaves for any noble or altruistic reasons, but primarily because he and the Northern industrialists knew that Amerikka could not reach it’s full industrialization potential with a slave based, agrarian economy dominating the South. Cheap labour needed to move North, while capital for industrialization needed to move South and the domestic consumer market needed to be nurtured. My thesis certainly wasn’t an original one, but as a young and very naive Black man living in Canada, who was just beginning to understand the “real” world and how it had been influencing my perspective about myself and those around me, this revelation was a part of the process I had been going through at the time: the stripping away of illusions and lies I had been told about “the good white people” like Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
Now let’s fast forward to the present and speaking of Sis. Deb, let’s be clear. As I watched the Meet the Press segment, I was reminded of an insightful and educational article she did on her blog entitled: Lincoln, the resolute white supremacist — the Changeling’s “homeboy”? I encourage you to read the whole article, including the links… it’s fantastic! It portrays the real Lincoln… in his own words. Another excellent article was previously posted here by brothpeacemaker: Quotations from Abraham Lincoln.
I have come to understand and expect the behaviour of the dominant culture, like that of a drug addict, to constantly feed it’s white supremacy cravings, so as to satisfy its needs to feel superior to the “others”, while at the same time feel comfortable about their white privilege, through the guise of their (supposedly) noble endeavours and sacrifices for these same “others”. We can see this playing out especially among the so-called “White progressives and liberals”. It is their “White man’s (and woman’s) burden”! Hence, no character representing, nor a mention at all of Fredrick Douglass and his influence on Lincoln in the film.
This discussion brings to mind a portion of the lyrics of Fight The Power by Public Enemy, with a couple of minor revisions:
Lincoln was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Motherfuck him and JFK
“It’s so amazing to me that so many of us speak of unity, yet we are to assume we know what is meant by unity and unification. The word is never clearly defined by the user. In the between time, there is a mean spirited tone to the discussion that should be avoided if we are truly in process of unifying. This is based on my own definition of the word.” Bro. Amenta
This is part of a comment by my Bro. Amenta on a previous post. He and I agree on the fallacy of black unity that is preached by the majority of Black people. At the very least, it’s a slogan of bygone days (during the activist stage of their life) or at the very most, it’s an intellectual talking point. Regardless, there is no real substance nor commitment to making this ideal a reality.
Furthermore, what does black unity really mean? I acknowledge it means different things to various people. For myself, there are some Black people I have no desire to “unite” with. In the words of Public Enemy: “a brothah ain’t a brothah just because of collah”… (I would add “sistah” too). The reason I have no desire to unite with certain Black people has nothing to do with their political ideology, or religion, or sexual orientation, or gender, or nationality, or “add in whatever”. It has everything to do with their character, sincerity of purpose and having the same goal (maybe different strategies) to empower people of African descent. I would much rather work to find common ground in an effort to unite with a Black conservative than with a White progressive. Working to unite with only Black people who believe as you do, whether politically, culturally or religiously, is neither work nor unity.
With all this in mind, I was not surprised by all the disparaging and demonizing comments leveled against the Black Republican speakers Arthur Davis and Mia Love, by some in the African-American community. I understand it’s all apart of the “Plantation” politics that the majority of African-Americans, who identify with the Democratic Party Plantation, are engaged in. However what I found troubling was some of the “mean spirited tone” of the attacks against Mia Love.
These two posts are examples of what I found utterly distasteful: “Women of color in a strange place” and “The questionable racial and ideological authenticity of Mia Love“.
Both articles stress the fact that Ms. Love parents were Haitian immigrants and one even falsely makes the point that she “represents the typical immigrant who came to America looking for a better life with her family”. The fact is that Mia Love was born and raised in the United States. However, by highlighting the nationality of her parents and by extension her heritage, both authors went on to use this fact to question her understanding, relating and empathizing with the so-called African-American experience. One went so far as to question her “racial authenticity”. Really!? This smacks of the “birther” arguments leveled against President Obama by the Republicans who question his American citizenship.
Both articles further makes the point that due to her Haitian heritage, Ms. Love has no understanding of the history of slavery that was faced by Blacks in America, and that the Black immigrant experience in America is so much different that the African-American experience:
“Ms. Love, in her mind, isn’t burdened by America’s sad history when it comes the blacks who were brought here under quite different conditions. So sadly she doesn’t even view herself as one of those American blacks.”
“The fact of the matter is that she is the only one of her generation in her family born and raised in these United States. As such, she doesn’t have a personal historical background as do the many black people living here descended from the slaves set free (on paper at least) by Abraham Lincolns’ Emancipation Proclamation a hundred and fifty years ago.”
The actual fact of the matter is whether you were born in Haiti, Jamaica or America and are of African descent, then we have this in common: we are all descendants of African slaves or servants of European colonialism. The actual fact of the matter is whether you fought for your freedom, granted your freedom or your freedom was proclaimed, today those of us of African descent worldwide have this in common, we are all under assault from White supremacy based capitalism and/or imperialism.
The actual fact of the matter is just because your parents were immigrants and you have a different political affiliation that most African-Americans, doesn’t make you any less “Black”.
Let me briefly discuss an aspect of the Black immigrant experience in the North America, whether in Amerikka or Kkkanada. Her politics aside, I can relate to Ms. Love in this respect. My parents came to Canada from Jamaica via England. I was born in England, spent some of my formative years in Jamaica, but I was primarily raised in Canada. My parents instilled these values in my sisters and I: take advantage of all opportunities available to you, but never depend on them to succeed. Regardless of whatever benefits government programs may provide or whatever obstacles society may put in your path, failure is not an option. Our success is dependent on the grace of God and on hard work.
Immigrants from the so-called “third world” have experienced that whatever programs their government provides to benefit the masses, they can be easily taken away by the next U.S. backed government or U.S. controlled international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank and IMF. Therefore they are sckeptical of what they see as “government handouts”. They have also experienced that social capital, such as education and affordable health care, are not regarded as a “right” by the government in the country of their birth. You have to pay out of pocket to be well and for your children to get even the basic elementay education and most cannot afford either. Therefore, good health and education, especially having the opportunity to attend secondary school or college is the domain of the rich, the children of government officials… not the poor and certainly not the intelligent.
So most children of immigrants are shaped by this message: you better work hard, maximize your opportunities, depend on your own knowledge, skills, abilities, most importantly resourcefulness, to get and keep what you have. Don’t put your faith in anyone or anything other than your God. Focusing on blaming the “white man” for all our ills as a community or as an excuse for your personal failures will get us nowhere… just do it!
One of the authors referred to Ms. Love as the “top token negro” in the Republican Party at the present time… which may be true, just as Barack Obama was at one time seen as the “top token negro” of the Democratic Party during their 2004 convention. Just like the Republican convention last week, the Democrats during their convention this week will parade their plantation negroes to the nation and the world, to extol the glory of their party and their presidential candidate. They will however trump the Republican’s “top token negro” with their own: Bill Clinton… and then by their close second… Barack Obama.
When you get involved in politics, align yourself with a political party and put your views, policies and platform out there as to be assessed and voted on, then they’re fair game to be discussed, debated, criticized and even attacked vigorously. Plantation politics aside, these types of attacks on Mia Love, by other members of the African-American community is neither constructive nor do they move us as a people towards real unity. What they are… in the words of one of the authors… “it’s serious House Negro behavior.”