By Hakim Abdul-Ali
Being a columnist, a self-aware “our-storian” and a cultural critic of the Afrikan-American culture always makes me feel humble because of my sincere appreciation for all of the past and current accomplishments of all folk of the Afrikan Diaspora have made to civilization en masse. Because of these illustrious beings, I’ve come to know how fortunate that all of us who call ourselves Black really, really are. I also realized that even with all of the untold insidious bigotries, gross humiliations and rampant oppressions heaped upon these acclaimed pioneers’ kinfolk and celebrated achievers’ ancestors, they all demonstrated unfathomable strength in such unswerving proportions until I can’t describe or put them into distinctive, adequate words.
It humbles me to no ends to be a part of today’s Afro-American family, forever seeking more knowledge at every opportunity that I can of my culture by continuing to learn from those who came before me. So, knowing that, I feel blessed to be an intelligently striving “hue- man,” labeled as an Afrikan-American, who’s not afraid to be an admitted continuously seeking student of knowledge of self and others on a diurnal basis.
Looking back, I, sometimes, don’t know how those past (and present) heroes and sheroes of “our-story” made it. This ever-present reality makes me now pause to gather my thoughts for today’s column in being able to ascertain what wisdom lies in being strong and disciplined in character. I affirm that after maintaining absolute pure faith in the Most High Alone and confidently practicing being patience at all times, I know that I must cultivate my arsenal of survival skills, comprising spiritual, mental and physical strengths, in order to make it in today’s living spectrum. And, while still thinking of all those heroes and sheroes of yesteryear and about the significant word “strength,” I’m reflecting back through my very own mental winds of time to recollect what the word meant as it was interpreted by the natures of some of those great folk.
It’s said often by some groupings “Never Again,” but I wonder if it matters to kidnapped Afrikans scattered everywhere. I have to politely ask that question of you, myself and others before I go any further. Hopefully, you understand why I’m doing that because I’m also consciously aware of the maddening traumatic sagas of global Black folk’s miseries, suppressions, disenfranchisements and sufferings due to “his-storical” enslavement, domination, colonization and mental miseducation directed towards global folk of color. “Never Again!”
Since I believe that Black “Our-Story” Month is an every month occurrence, I’ll use the topic of touching on Black strength today to, hopefully, illuminate your mind about how valuable possessing strength is in overcoming hardships of all standards. So, please read on very carefully because you may gain, especially, if you’re of color and struggling, some relevant insight into what ails you and us from being a united segment of any society where we exist.
I begin with the thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Afro- American Christian minister, a civil rights leader and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who said, “Throughout the struggle for racial justice, I have constantly ask God to remove all bitterness from my heart and to give me the strength and courage to face any disaster that came my way.” Dr. King’s heartfelt spiritual words of wisdom are guidances to thoroughly digest and embrace no matter what your religious persuasion, or lack thereof, may be.
The truly great Afro-American thinker, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois related, “I believe in pride of race and lineage and self; in pride of self so deep as to scorn injustices to other selves. Especially do I believe in the Negro race; in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.” Dr. DuBois’ words should make all Afrikan descendants deeply think of what strength lies in being proud of one’s color and ethnicity. I know that I do.
The first African-American Nobel Peace Prize winner, political scientist and United Nations diplomat Ralph Bunche said, “To make our way we must have firm resolve, persistence and tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up. We can never have too much preparation and training. We must be a strong competitor. We must adhere staunchly to the basic principle that anything less than full equality is not enough. If we compromise on that principle our soul is dead.”
Listen to what renowned self-help disciplinarian and educator Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) had to say about the empowering strength of being united. He said, “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” Please reread those rather simple words once more because they’re totally encompassing and powerful at the same time. Now I have to ask again, “Do you get what Mr. Washington’s penetrating explicit message to us meant, just as he attempted to direct it to those who heard it way back then when he founded Tuskegee? Now, let’s check out what “there’s strength in numbers” is all about.
Araminta Ross, commonly known and highly respected as Harriet Tubman made a statement once that should never leave any thinking souls of color’s mindsets, and I trust that you don’t forget it either. This great Afro-American humanitarian and abolitionist, who was born in 1822 and died in 1913, said, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
To the respected readers of my thoughts, opinions and vibrations over decades via this column, you know that I come to you with a no nonsense approach or of being afraid because I believe that “there’s no strength or might except in the Creator Alone.” That undeniable spiritual certainly I’d like to think is embedded in the inherent natures of all universal righteous-minded people of conscious sturdiness, no matter where they reside, who desire “equal” peace and justice for all.
In closing, “The Strentgh of My Folk,” is a loving testament to all those Afrikan and Afrikan descendants everywhere who exhibited the awesome capacities to withstand the rigors of racial oppression and bigoted pressures in order to survive and overcome the viciousness of Satanic evil doers of all kinds. That includes all of the oppressors and invaders from everywhere of innocent victims of subjugation, enslavement, tyranny and exploitation. “Never Again!”
Finally, writer James Baldwin said that “It takes strength to remember; it takes another kind to forget. It takes a hero to do both.” Have the strength to combat racism, oppression, bigotry and mental slavery. Know that “Never Again!” also means that “All Lives Matters,” including Black folks. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”