This February | Celebrating Black History or Wielding Black Power (part 1)
Updated: Feb 16
Problem of the 21st Century
W.E.B. DuBois in his classic, Souls of Black Folk, stated in no uncertain terms, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” He penned these words in 1903, just after the turn of the century. Today, over twenty years after the turn of the twenty-first century, I am not too sure the color line is the most pressing problem anymore.
"The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of obtaining and demonstrating power based on the disparities that the color-line created in the twentieth century." -Tim Lee
An adept student of history will know that the world’s first universities were founded in Africa. Whether at these universities or Egyptian mystery schools, Europeans sat at the feet of world thought leaders and studied science, mathematics, medicine, and all other disciplines created and developed by the original dark races. It wasn’t until the Greek and Roman Empires that the arrogance of the Europeans shifted their entire race’s mental position from one of humble submission to one of a lust for power and absolute control—control of information, control of people, and even control of the world (world domination).
We learn about it in school! Some of the greatest leaders according to European History are Augustus Caesar, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Most notable among their displays of childish arrogance, these men added months to a more accurate ten month calendar so their names could live in perpetuity (July and August). Driven by the unnamed complex that bears his name today, Napoleon aspired to take over the world. From burning the libraries in Alexandria, Egypt; destroying facial features of statues in many parts of Africa; dividing Africa among European nations, creating so-called middle eastern region to confuse children in an attempt to erase the contributions of Africa in modern history, and historically inaccurate films depicting people with European features in roles of people like Ausar, Auset, and Heru, Moses, and even Jesus who were anything but pale skinned and blue eyed, and so forth and so on; the European nations, in recent centuries, have passed down a delusions-of-grandeur type sickness and other unnamed psychological disorders for generations, causing them to thirst after power and control.
Power and Control
The history of slavery viewed in this way changes a lot. Sure, the European outcasts who colonized America were so poor, grossly unskilled, and so terribly lazy that they kidnapped human beings from Africa and forced them to work without pay to build Europe and the Americas. This despicable piece of American History, however, was not solely motivated by money and building wealth. After a very short while, the relationship between the races became motivated by control. The owners of the plantation wanted to have complete control over the Africans working in the both the house and the field. For this reason, making slaves became a process that started with the mind.
In short, physical bondage is undergirded and supported by the mental process of breaking men and woman down to the point where they operate against their best interest and in the interest of their master. They are loyal to that master, afraid of that master, love that master, and essentially give their power away to that master. When freedom from physical bondage was granted in 1863 or 1865 (however you interpret the so-called "end of slavery") many slaves remained connected to slavery, not just because they stayed on the plantations, but because they didn’t change their minds.
In 2021, where are we, as a people, as it relates to power? No doubt, there are very influential African Americans who have accomplished status and wealth and fortune and fame... but does translate to achieving power AS A PEOPLE? I have spent past several Februarys wondering whether the mindset implanted in slaves still influences our collective conscious. I've wondered whether the reigns of societal and personal power/control have shifted from the former oppressor to the oppressed. And while we may use the language of autonomy and freedom, I am becoming more steadfast in the idea that very little has changed. The power has not yet shifted. Even in 2021, the masses of Black people are still dependent. The pyramid of social, racial, and political order looks no different today than it did during slavery. We are still under a certain control that prevents us from expressing ourselves like men and women who are truly free.
Our children are gunned down on the streets by police officers with impunity. Our only recourse is to march and chant for justice in a system that has never given us justice (Read: Why Demanding Justice Is Not Enough). We seem to be at a standstill regarding how we will collectively address the issue of Black on Black violence in the communities we inhabit; and unwilling or unable to educate our children in a way that will shift power into the hands of the people.
Unfortunately, in our present climate of fear and distraction, I am left wondering about the future again. Will our children get lost in the content from social media influencers dancing on expensive cars and pointing to words that create a clever phrase about Black History and never dive into the meaningful work that changes society and creates worlds? Will our children move beyond the (much needed) surface inspiration that comes from loving themselves and appreciating Black beauty to the next stage of creating realities and futures that comes from learning and perfecting Black power?
“To be black and beautiful means nothing in this world unless we are black and powerful.” - John Henrik Clarke
As we celebrate Black History this month (and beyond), let us be sure to see history as more than a celebration of past accomplishments or a reiteration of significant dates. History is a an instrument of power. One that if used correctly, will reconnect us, redirect us, and reposition us, as a people; the people we were created by GOD to be.