Posted by: Khepera | Wednesday, 25 August 2010

ADDENDUM: Integration or Separation: Is This Even the Right Question?

[The addendum is at the end]


Arising out of a recent discussion with an elder, the point came up regarding the most common debate in the African American community over the last century+:  Integration or Separation.  Listening to him, and his references to a recent DVD out of the Nation of Islam.  After hearing his points, I suggested that perhaps that there is something significant missing from the conversation, not the least of which is that with the present state of technology, truly separate is not really an option.

As my father taught me, it is quite often more crucial to know the right question to ask, instead of the right answer.  Questions can lead, whereas answers are generally seen as an end in themselves.

If we consider the “struggle” here in the US, and the ones on the African continent, there is a fundamental contextual difference.  Here, we speak of the “struggle for liberation” or the “struggle for liberation”.  However, the African struggle was always about independence.  This is a most crucial difference, yet many consider them synonymous.  This is a crucial mistake…one which unfortunately has propagated throughout the former colonies.

Let’s examine the contexts and scope of the discussion.  Here, in the US, we sought ‘liberation’, the palpable abstract of ‘freedom’, which most never thought to examine.  When we scrutinize this supposedly simple concept, we rapidly discover than many people have many difference definitions.  Without wasting a great deal of time on this, let’s look at the parallels.

If we apply the same scrutiny to ‘independence’, we quickly discover that there is a much great consensus on what this means.  When we consider its opposite — dependence — we encounter the parallels with freedom…as well as critical differences. When we consider ‘freedom’ or ‘liberation’, we rarely put those considerations in a larger context.  African Americans are supposedly ‘free’ in the US, but our everyday reality constantly argues against this being true.  We can all give reasons, stories, experiences of why, but rarely do we engage a comprehensive view of what it would take to make it real.  Some thought having a Black president would get us there, but many realize — including Oscar Grant — that this is sadly and unequivocally not true.

Right besides the silent shouts of “Yes!” are the anxious screams of “Why?!”  We are conditioned — in this country & throughout the Diaspora — to not contemplate what true independence means.  It is the opposite of dependence.  In this country & throughout the Diaspora we do not control our own destiny, individually or collectively.  True independence means ownership of the means of production and distribution of those items crucial to self-sustenance — food, housing, transportation, health care, education, etc.  This is the essence of true power in this world.  In every instance I am aware, whenever we have begun to seize these reins — whether in Tulsa or in Africa, with visionary leadership like Nkrumah, Sékou Touré, or Lumumba — the resources or leadership has been viciously and comprehensively killed/destroyed.

In the 60’s, RNA(Republic of New Afrika) attempted to address this, by arguing for a separate land of our own, comprising a few southern states.  The Nation of Islam did something similar around the same time.  Since then, Hebrew Israelites and others have tried similar things in different parts of the US.  For some reason, this alarms white people…though they have no problem with Quakers or Amish doing something similar.  There must be a reason.

If we examine this thoroughly, then we come up against a simple pattern, which is far more pernicious than any Willie Lynch scenario.  The pattern, first & foremost, is to subvert &/or contaminate any efforts on the part of the African Diaspora to end their dependence on Europe, and their money.  This is most curious considering the the vast bulk of nearly all available mineral and petroleum resources exist outside the borders of Europe.  the USA and Canada possess some, but nowhere near what exists in the tropics, and in the lands of other non-white peoples across the planet.  One is left then, to wonder why it is that the money, the wealth resulting from the refinement and sale of these resources always ends up in the pockets of those who do not own the resources.

The second, and perhaps most key aspect of the pattern is to subvert, contaminate &/or marginalize any efforts on the part of organizations or leadership within the African Diaspora to germinate, cultivate, and, most of all harvest any shift or transformation in their thinking about what true ‘freedom’ & ‘independence’ really mean.  In computers, it was quickly realized that if you wanted to shift the mindset of what computing is, how it is done, and the premises of its operations, one would have to create not just a different model, but a different technology, a different implementation.  Everyone knew IBM/Microsoft would not do it, because it ran counter to their self-interest/monopoly.  As a result, Linux(particularly the free and open source software aspect) — and its spinoffs — were born.  To its credit, IBM quickly got on board.  But the collaborative model of Linux militates against ownership, and control, and has been seen as a threat therefore by many.  Had a similar movement arisen within the minds and consciousness of the African Diaspora, it would have been summarily crushed, deemed as heretic, perhaps even as terrorist…given that such an eventuality would have inspired terror in those for whom control/power is everything.

So, as Steven Biko often proclaimed, until we change our minds, changing our condition is impossible.  I would go a step further by referencing a quote from Mark Twain:

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Secondarily, I would add a line from an old friend of mine:

“Seeing is a movement.”

Until we can see the world, the planet, the universe differently — free of the conditioning of western society — until we can truly embrace the indigenous vision of our ancestors, not only will we not be able to recognize nor truly practice their wisdom systems, we will remain less than truly human, and victims of those less powerful and wise.  If you cannot see it, you cannot imagine it;  if you cannot imagine it, you cannot manifest it…and until you can see/imagine it, even if someone else manifest it, you will not accept it as possible, much less real.  Remember, with the present state of technology, truly separate is not really an option.  The better more comprehensive goal is to develop the inner strength, discernment and critical thinking skills necessary such that one can walk the world, under any circumstances, and remain centered, grounded in the principles and vision which empower and exalt our people.

A simple example of how this shift in vision/thought can manifest, consider the following. Nearly everyone reading this is well familiar with the Gregorian calendar, so much so, that if someone asks you the year or month, it’s likely all they would think to reference. Consequently, the source/authority of this calendar is then accepted, largely without question, in all matters relative to time. If it’s a discussion of age, antiquity, ancient civilizations, anthropology, dinosaurs – whatever the chronological context, there is essentially one authority, one voice in the room. However, many are also aware of the Indian calendar, and the ones of China, the Hebrews, Mayans and Aztecs. All but the last two are actually commonly in use today, within their respective cultural contexts. Further, each of these carries a current year much older than the one we use:

Hebrew: Year 5770/5771
India:Year 5111
China: Year 4708, 4707, or 4647

One of the key things to consider in all this is the issue of Puranic time, and the question of which yuga it is year 5111 of.

The point here is that when people from these cultures listen to Europeans speak of Stone Age this, or Pleistocene that, the Jurassic or Mesozoic periods, they listen in context, because for them, there is more than one authority, more than one voice in the room. As a result, they are less inclined to accept the European/western model as ‘gospel’, and beyond question. Case in point, the idea of Stone Age has shifted as those clinging to those references have been compelled to a regionalization of their chronological order. There were high civilizations in existence before and during the European Stone Age, and there are islanders in Melanesia/Polynesia who are presently deemed as living at a ‘Stone Age’ level. So what does this mean? That one’s sense of time – and thereby the very context of their living – is liberated/empowered by a knowledge of one’s cultural root chronology, and they will be less likely to be swayed easily in discussions related to time… history.

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