By Hakim Abdul-Ali
I was talking the other day with a conflicted ebony person of color who vehemently said that he was not an Afrikan-American because, in his opinion, the Afrikans are classless (sic), and he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) remotely relate to relate to that ethnic identity. It surprised me at first, but I calmly decided to hold back my despair at his naïveté and continued to let him speak.
I’m glad that I did because I learned more about his present mindset that, maybe, is indicative of a lot of other so-called “I’m not Black” or “I’m not an Afrikan-American” folk’s ethos today. Just the thought of being associated, in any format, with Afrika in any loosely-tied norm, seems to be the prevalent denying end game scenario among many (lost) “hue-mans” in today’s class conscious era and ethnic identity game.
Due to my conversation with this “don’t call me Black brother,” and yes, I do refer to him as a brother, even though he’s lost, I decided that I’d drop a few poignant class vibes for him and you. They are meant to make him, you, me and anyone else, especially if you’re of color, “think” about what “really” is happening around us before we cut off our inherited bloodlines from and to Afrika, the Motherland of all “hue-manity.”
I guess I’m following up on my article from last week entitled “On the Way to a Pensive Thought,” where I discussed pertinent racial dilemmas facing folk of color surrounding one’s true ethnic origins and identity. Again, intellectually seeking, I suggest that you read Spencer Wells’ 2002 dynamic genetic book called “The Journey of Man,” which is also out in DVD. It’s a winner.
The film and book are eye openers, and they are priceless in further achieving legitimate knowledge and understanding of “huemanity’s” original origin. Many times, I’ve found out that most folk in discussing racial historical issues, speak from emotion rather than from factual or truthful knowledge, and that I do believe describes where the (lost) brother was coming from.
Now, I’ll get back to today’s rap about being mixed up about who you originally are from a confused ethnic perspective and how that may lead to present bigoted hatreds of self and discordant divisions within in the national and global Afrikan family and communities. Maybe, at another point in my mind’s thinking, I’ll delve more deeply into the hatreds of self syndromes that exists in some of us, but, respectfully, for now, I’ll speak on “Divisions Within the Masses.”
My space is limited but I’ll try to address this age old Afrikan and Afrikan Diaspora divisional malady that exists in the minds, souls and hearts of some of us, who are obviously astray, with some scholarly opinions and slants on the class issue from a few wise Afro- American elders. Like I said previously, we should speak with knowledge, or in my rather blunt and frank opinion, we should sim- ply “Zip our lips” until we acquire accurate information.
The late consummate Black “our-storian” and academic Lerone Bennett, who was born in 1928 and died in 2018, related, “History tells us a nation can survive for years by shifting the burdens of life to the people confined by force and violence to the bottom.” Hmm! I wonder does that still apply today?
Civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges volunta ily.” Also, writer Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, born in 1825 and died in 1911, said, “I belong to this race, and when it is a down race I belong to a down race; (and) when it is up I belong to a risen race.”
Henry Bibb, who was born in 1815 and died in 1854, once said, “Domestic [i.e., house] slaves are often found to be traitors to their own people, for the purpose of gaining favor with their masters; and they are encouraged and trained up by them to report every plot they know of being informed about from stealing anything or running away, or anything of the kind; and for which they are paid.”
Modern day scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates adds, “Classism and racism have been compounded together in a crucible so it’s hard to know where one starts and where one stops. Stop and think about what Dr. Gates said and then ask yourself whether it registers in your thinking cap of denying who you are in the sparring for freedom and equality.
The supreme abolitionist Frederick Douglass said,”The American people have this to learn: that where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither property nor person will be safe.” Value this sentiment in light of today’s current global, national and local racial climates.
Legendary entertainer Pearl Bailey, born in 1919 and died in 1990, related, “The prejudiced people can’t insult you because they’re blinded by their own ignorance.” Wow! Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Miss Bailey’s feeling said it all, and I don’t think I need to rubber stamp that any further explain for any contrary and objective mindset.
And, before I forget, I remember something that I learned as a freshman in undergrad school at Howard University during the early 1960s. It was from a Sociology course where I learned that the respected sociologist, E. Franklin Frazier, who was born in 1894 and died in 1962, said,”The Black bourgeoisie has lost much of its feeling of racial solidarity with the Negro masses.” Today, I wonder, “Have they?”
While you think about it, I’d like to leave you with another provocative thought from the mind of Dr. King when he said, “Many middle-class Negroes, have forgotten their roots [and are] untouched by the agonies of the struggles of their underprivileged brothers.” If you look intently at what Dr. King offered back then, I believe you may see my (lost) brother, or even some others who you may know like him, in that same mind frame and ilk today.
Sadly, there are many, many more (lost) brothers and sisters throughout the Black world who don’t have, or don’t want to have, a connect to their original heritage and ethnic community. It’s a shame, especially considering the global state of the “Divisions Within the Masses.” Unity is a natural must and, yes, always remember that “Black is Beautiful.” For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”