by Taki S. Raton
I really do not understand how a people and their leadership can just go against all rules and natural laws of group existence and co-existence with others and expect to survive.
I recall sometimes back in 2003 or 2004 thereabouts when Chicago Black Star Project founder Phillip Jackson asked me to join in on the organization’s panel on the suspension and expulsion rates of our children, Black boys in particular, in our nation’s public school.
The panel was held at St. Mark’s Church in the city’s Hyde Park community. I opened with these comments then, as is my position now. When you are beginning to speak about Black children, you are already too late. The damage is done. Who you should be talking about are Black men. Children grow into adults. If there is a problem with the child or with a community of children, the first segment you should investigate is the adults – in this case, Black men.
America is not a nation of “Black and White.” America is a multicultural pluralistic society noting a variety of ethnic groups, ethnic communities and respective proud and respected ethnic traditions.
Cultural traits of self-identity, self-evaluation, self-ideal, self-esteem, self-knowledge and ethnocentric affiliation begins with where you are and with an understanding and appreciation with the collective best of who you are, with an understanding and appreciation of the collective best of what you have been and with the promise of the collective best of that which you can become.
In a multicultural pluralistic society such as America, it is the duty, purpose and responsibility of respective cultural grouping to acculturate their respective membership, and especially with their children, with their collective best.
This responsibility additionally entails the impartation of such common mainstream socio-pluralistic traits as citizenship, civility, work ethic principles and self-respect.
America is indeed a multiplicity of cultures; a grouping or co-existence of plural (many) cultures who have the right to love, embrace, maintain, cultivate and see to the progressive perpetuation of their own distinct Higher Order best ethnic, religious, ancestral, cultural and heritage based attributes.
A natural law; a commonly understood dogma, Black man – It is not the responsibility of one group to prepare the membership and progeny of another group for cooperative and competitive membership in a plural-group anchored multicultural society. It is not the responsibility, Black man, of the White man to educate your children. It is not the responsibility, Black man, of the White man or other people to take care of your community. It is not the responsibility, Black man, of the White man to teach your children to be civil, socially responsible and self-respecting.
It is not the responsibility, Black man, of the White man or other people to ensure the quality of your future or if; indeed, you will have a future at all.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other traditional civil rights pundits had it all wrong.
They did not understand the nature of “men” in societal roles and misread totally the nature of the White man. And as a result, you are dying, your children are self-destructing and your/our future is in serious doubt. And anyone who knows me well and my teachings would be aware that I have been pronouncing this theme just about for as long as I have been in a classroom.
And listen people. Let’s not get conditionally stupid at this juncture. The immediate response among many is when a person says that he is against integration; the first thought is that this person is against White people. Such is defensive thinking.
This is not the case with this writer as I have already above stated and advanced my dutiful position, responsibility, and support of the American social order. Detailed benchmarks will become clear as we proceed.
But yet and still we continue to support integration and espouse this irresponsive “race transcendent” theme like you got some higher calling. There is no “higher calling” of transcending race. In the world, no man – accept your Black man in America – does away with race. In the world, no man – accept the Black man in America – does away with who and what he is.
All men, except Black men in America, understand that their children can grow only into their own ethnically unique talents, skills, gifts and genius. And it is the responsibility of the adults; of the men of the group to ensure that in each and every generation, such unique racial talents, skills, gifts, and genius; the incorporated self-esteem, self-identity, and self-ideal of the group is preserved, protected, revered, cultivated and passed down. If this does not happen, there is no reason for that people to exist.
In my teachings, I have often referenced a concept which I developed called “Ethnic Potency” or “The ability of the man to reproduce in his woman, in his family, in his children, in his community, in his institutions, nation and race that which he is ethnically.” Of course, the opposite – “Ethnic Impotency” – is “The inability of the man to reproduce in his woman, in his family, in his children, in his community, in his institutions, nation and race that which he is ethnically.”
And just to be on the same page, “that which he is ethnically” refers to his unique God/Creator, his Motherland, ancestry, legacy, heritage, history, values, customs, norms, culture, identity, purpose, direction, birthright, spirituality, name, laws, rituals, language, tomorrows, future, destiny, eternity and forever.
But unlike other children in America and in the world, our children, Black children, have none of this to grow into because the Black man – through integration – has become what Dr. Michael James in his book “Absent” refers to as a “Non-Being” – there is nothing there!
He is invisible. He does not exist. There is, therefore, no place for our children to go, no reasons to excel, and no one to become. Children of all other groups who are proud of who they are have their own Hispanic, Hmong, Jewish, Native American Indian, Irish, Polish, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, German, or Palestinian tomorrows into which to grow and proudly become. And it would be these children that our Black children will be competing with in the future. But we, you, Black man have already reshackled your/our children into failure and self-destruction in favor of assimilating into a man that historically has been your kidnapper, enslaver, master, and oppressor. How foolish can we be?
Of course, such a shameful powerless posture has its origins in our yet psychologically and mentally unresolved enslaved experience of some 246 years from 1619 to 1865. The Black man, under White rule and domination had to be de-Africanized, emasculated and kept in his place. This status, his status, has not yet been reversed since and over the 146 years from Emancipation in 1865 to the 2011 present.
But we don’t want to speak of that do we? We don’t like to talk about this thing called “slavery” and if we forget about it, just maybe it will go away. But within the context of this discussion, it was in slavery that your role with the Black woman was nearly totally reversed. You/we today run and control nothing because she does. It is because of our still yet unreversed enslaved conditioning that you/we are ethnically impotent.
I would totally agree with Daniel Patrick Moynihan who in his March 1965 Report on the Negro Family-The Case for National Action pointed out that the “fundamental fact of Negro American Family life is the often reversed roles of husband and wife.” Quoting a Detroit study, the report reveals, “Negro husbands have unusually low power… a pattern that pervades the Negro social structure. In 44 percent of the Negro families studied, the wife was dominant, as against 20 percent of White wives. Whereas the majority of White families are equalitarian, the largest percentages of Negro families are dominated by the wife.”
Moynihan would advance that this matriarchal pattern found in Negro families “reinforces itself over the generations.” And in his Chapter IV entitled “The Tangle of Pathology,” He shares that “the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure,” the results of which renders it “out of line with the rest of the American society” and seriously “retards the progress of the group as a whole.”
He would further submit that there is “no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement. However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages to begin with, is operating on another. This is the present situation of the Negro.”
The point further postures that American society “presumes male leadership in private and public affairs. The arrangement of society facilitates such leadership and rewards it. A subculture, such as that of the Negro American, in which this is not the pattern, is placed at a distinct disadvantage.”
And as we continue to navigate this discussion, the 1965 report additionally postures that in a matriarchal structure, “the women are transmitting the culture.” This predictable dynamic has far-reaching present day implications noting the dismal state of Black male/female relationships, the chronic decline in the Black family, the frightening academic and developmental outcome trends of our children, and the questionable quality of the future for our people.
Historical origins of this Black male/female reversal of roles during slavery can be referenced in the 1712 Willie Lynch document where he says to his student plantation owners “You must keep your eye and thoughts on the female and the offspring.” Upon the conquered destruction of the African man and with the male image destroyed, according to the Lynch writing, the Black woman was literally forced “from her psychological dependent state (on the Black/African man) to a frozen, independent state.”
In this frozen independent state, she will “raise their offspring in reverse positions.” The female offspring will be taught to be like the mother, out front, “independent and negotiable” (negotiating with the White master) and the male offspring raised, out of fear for his safety, to be in the back, mentally dependent and weak, but physically strong. The focus on the male was to “take the mind and keep the body.” The plan, of course, is that this independent out front female offspring and this stand behind mentally dependent and weak male offspring will later come together and reproduce, thus continuing the cycle which has, in reality, yet to be broken or reversed.
Reflecting the thoughts earlier of Bro. James and his point of the Black man’s “non-beingness” as a result of integration/assimilation, I do wish to share on this subject the words of Dr. Amos N. Wilson from his DVD the “Myth and Fantasy of Integration and Assimilation” where he says that integration is a fantasy that is bound to fail:
“It will never be realized. And if it were, what people who have any pride in themselves, who have love for self would want to disappear in the eyes of other people and who would want to disappear in their own eyes? What level of self-hatred and self-alienation must exist in us that we would wish to see our life image fade away from this earth? What level of self-hatred and self-alienation would have us overlook reality? You would not escape the pain (of our historical circumstance) by trying to escape into your former White masters and merge into the White man.”
Rev. Clarence Lumumba James, Sr. in his work “Lost Generation? Or Left Generation!” on this subject positions that when we began to opt out for integration, “it signaled the end of our era of triumphant survival and sounded what might well be our death-knell as a people. Choosing to imitate White people meant abandoning the unique ways of thinking and behaving that had been our bridge over troubled waters. Never before in the history of the human race has an entire group of people discarded their own identities, culture, history, and values in order to imitate and thereby become someone other than themselves.”
Further, Black civil rights leadership in beginning days and at present fully misunderstood and continues to misunderstand the concept of liberty and equality. Moynihan, again, is clear. Lincoln, he says, “freed the slaves. They were given liberty, but not equality.” We are indeed “free” and have “equal rights”. But in an American multicultural pluralistic society, such “freedom” and “equality” do not automatically equalize the African American to other people.
We have a history of passed down trauma and unresolved behavioral conditioning from our historical enslaved circumstance that has yet to be addressed and corrected. This task has to be successfully accomplished before we can stand again as a whole and complete people. Such an effort combined with our responsibility to uplift our own community, teach our own children, build our own institutions and forge our own rescued, reclaimed, resurrected African presence would equalize us at the gate with others.
One is not automatically “equal” in a multicultural society just because you are born into this world. There is no automatic distribution of achievements among all people comparable to Whites just because you exist. Individual group membership along with the children of each group has to be properly prepared by one’s own culture, by one’s own people; by one’s own Higher Order Perfect Best to respectively work, compete, and even to lend a commendable contribution to the onward flow of humankind ideals. There is no such thing as this myth of automatic “sameness” that our leaders and civil rights pundits speak.
Liberty, says Moynihan, does demand that everyone is free to try his luck, or test his skill. But, he adds, that such opportunities “do not necessarily produce equality.” In reality, to the extent that all competitors are equally prepared and to the extent that winners imply losers, equality of opportunity void of equal respective group readiness almost insures inequality of results.” And this is the outcome today in the Black community and with our children in public schooling.
There is no “sameness” with Black children and with White children. We respectively are different. We are respectively unique. We learn differently. Dr. Wilson and others would submit that in fact, Black children genetically are “intellectually more advanced than White children; that because of our genes, we have a greater natural capacity for learning” and that we can process information and data more quickly.
But these unique talents, gifts, and genius in ourselves and in our children are both overlooked and denied due to our yet still mentally enslaved and psychologically captive inferiorized state.
“The Whites must truly feel a sense of pride in seeing this Negro leadership so clearly validating their own belief in White superiority,” writes Dr. Chancellor Williams in his 1974 work “The Destruction of Black Civilization”:
“They are proclaiming to all the world that, regardless of general desegregation, in any all-Black or predominantly Black population, the Blacks themselves are utterly incapable of achieving and/or maintaining high standards of excellence in education or, indeed, in anything else. Here we have, within the race, the intolerable situation of an anti-Black group proclaiming the race’s inherent inferiority more effectively than the Whites ever could – precisely because this group is regarded as ‘Black.’”
Williams’ statement is reminiscent of the sentiments of Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore when she said: “Hardly anybody wants something all-Black to be excellent.”
Fortunately, there are many of us locally and nationally who do not follow such notations. We build Black schools – all Black schools for Black children. Teaching and inculcating values of positive self-esteem, positive self-identity, and positive self-ideals; teaching them first in the knowledge of self, we are able to bring out in them their unique talents, skills, gifts and genius.
Over the past thirty going on forty years now, we have exemplar national models where under this African Centered curriculum our children have far excelled district and state standardized test scoring. Jocelyn Freeman Bonvillain in her September 21, 2004 “Racial Identity Attitudes, Self-esteem, and Academic Achievement among African American Adolescents” demonstrates clearly that positive and strong traits of racial identity and self-esteem are “significant predictors of academic achievement.” Arthur L. Whaley in his 1993 research appearing in the “Journal of Black Psychology” reveals that cultural identity “seem to be more influential in the psychosocial adjustment of African American children.”
And one last thing that we proudly do, Black man that our integrationist “I want to be loved and accepted by others to feel equal” folk do not do. We start our children out not with White, not with others, but with the Higher Order Perfect Beautiful Blackness of themselves. We start them out with what this writer has developed as a “Before Time”–as a “Pure Time”–as “Our Time.” There was a time of us, for us, by us and among us before there were others. This time belongs in the heart, minds, souls, and spirits of our children.
As in the tradition of “Old School” teaching, we additionally teach our children “Dual Mastery”—mastery first of themselves; of their history and culture and second, mastery of mainstream pluralistic society – how to function, work, compete and be successful among others without loss of self-identity and self-esteem. We perform this task on the home, school, and community level. We understand and respect the rules of natural laws governing prideful, dutiful and respectable existence and co-existence with others while in your community still maintaining, cultivating, and continually building your own cultural and institutional base.
There must come a time, Black man, when we move away from these shameful integrationist fantasies and again do as other men – regain the power and ability to rebirth our children into a reclaimed tomorrow, into a future, into a destiny, into an eternity and into a forever that belongs to them.
Taki S. Raton is a school consultant in the African Centered instructional model. Former founder and principle of Blyden Delany Academy in Milwaukee, he is a writer and lecturer on the national stage detailing African World historiography, urban community concerns with emphasis on education, the social development of Black youth and African American male issues. He can be reached by email for presentation and consultant inquires at: [email protected]