Black Nationalism is making resurgence in America. And it’s not a moment too soon.
Some say the most vocal Black Nationalists went underground or were drowned out by the chorus of other people’s equal rights and integrationists at the conclusion of chapter four of the Civil Rights history book, which in Milwaukee coincided with the 1976 federal court school desegregation ruling.
The fact that the process was overseen by an appointed special overseer (yeah, that was his apropos title) should have revealed to the naïve that the “integration” ruling was a placebo.
Others believe Black Nationalism was pushed to the side by missionaries and poverty pimps who took over the movement when Black leaders gave them the keys to the Freedom Train a decade later.
Another theory is that the election of Barack Obama signaled a new world order that “we had made it” and the quest for equality and equal opportunity was at hand.
That later assumption went out the window with the election of Donald “The Trumpster” and the resurgence of racial animosity and bigotry, orchestrated attacks on civil and human rights and the tsunami of police killings of Black men (which was occurring with alarming regularity under Obama).
Under closer scrutiny it is obvious that while Black Nationalism is no doubt one of the most misunderstood—albeit practical—ideologies for Black America, its advocates have been scorned and attacked by enemies of Black self-determination and economic equality in part because the message holds the key to remedying the myriad of ills facing the African American community then, and now.
Many of those who historically denounced “BN” (Black Nationalism) did so in fact because they knew it was fueled by an African cultural paradigm that would empower our community and remove us as pawns in an economic and political chess game played by missionaries and poverty pimps.
Moreover, Black Nationalism would provide a sense of dignity and self-respect to those who have not found their way from under the cloud of slavery.
That’s a dangerous combination if you’re profiting from Black misery.
It was, and is, then incumbent upon those who benefit financially to confuse the issues and discredit those with the wisdom to set our own agenda.
This game has been played for centuries, yet only lately has our situation deteriorated to the point where people are starting to see through the fumes.
With smoke clouding our visions, we were blinded into believing that miscegenation was the only cure for injustice and American-style Apartheid, and that because we are (supposed to be) intellectually inferior and immoral by nature, we need the assistance and guidance of missionaries to be made whole, or three-fifths of a man as the constitution declared.
Supporting our own, building our own communities and embracing a communal system of self-determination were contrary to the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Dating back to the 1920s, those who espoused Black Nationalism were ostracized and silenced (jailed, deported or killed). Marcus Garvey was a case in point.
Later it was Huey P. (Newton), H. Rap (Brown), Stokley (Carmichael), Malcolm (X), and dozens of other first name leaders who had the initials “BN” tattooed on their backs.
King was also labeled by the establishment, but actually didn’t fit the profile other than seeking equality and an end to poverty. That latter goal got him killed (not his outspokenness against the Vietnam War).
To achieve a level of creditability before the major media during Chapter 5, you had to disguise your agenda by calling for the unattainable goal of integration, or assimilation by embracing the welfare paradigm of servitude.
You’ll find the same scenario today among the “endorsed” Black leadership—mostly Black politicians, civil servants and radio revolutionaries.
Most will, on occasion, espouse a nationalistic line and, by necessity, a sporadic stroke of righteousness while standing under our banner.
But generally, their agenda is to attack the conservatives, tout the benefits of poverty programs and articulate the problems without offering a solution.
Being a BN doesn’t mean you’re a racist, separatist or anarchist.
It does mean you love your people, recognizing the truth of the African adage, “I am because we are.”
It means you have rejected denigrating propaganda, do whatever to loosen the shackles of slavery and inferiority, as well as “his-story”.
Being a BN means, as Milwaukee’s foremost Griot, Teju Ologboni often says, “If all things are equal go Black.” In fact, even if things aren’t.
BNs understand that we will continue to be subservient and dependent until we realize every Black dollar must touch four Black hands before exiting our community.
It means supporting Black institutions, businesses and politicians exclusively, unless our choices are limited or another entity supports us.
It means we hold no blind allegiance to any political party (unless we control it), but we will support candidates who advance our agenda.
Being realistic, we recognize that the Democratic Party is far more in tune with our issues than are the Republicans, and that Black candidates must run on their ticket to be elected.
But they should never put their party before the people, or accept the party platform when it doesn’t serve us.
As Black Nationalist Polly Williams was fond of saying, “we have no permanent friends, and no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.”
Moreover, as historian Stephen Tillette wrote, the Democrats are not the good guys. “The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that the Democrats kiss you first.”
Black Nationalists generally view the world through an Africentric lens. We are part of the global majority, and of the African Diaspora. Those of us who have blanketed ourselves with the cloth of African culture, subscribe to and promote the Nguzo Saba, and the principles of Maat.
Black Nationalists reject the racist stereotypes that underscore the goal of apartheid, and vehemently question traditional Black (mis) leadership who believe our salvation will be handed to us by social services, government schools or either major political party (which are essentially different wings on the same bird).
We recognize that not everyone can, or will, embrace our philosophy—some out of fear, others out of ignorance.
But we stand on truth and history. That means we know Jesus “the” Christ was not a blond with blue eyes. And Nyame did not give Europeans a mandate to murder Native Americans and enslave our ancestors (not to mention rape our mothers).
We know that there is but one race, and divisions between people of different hues and cultures have been orchestrated to divide and conquer.
And we also recognize the difference between nationalism (observe the Jews, Asians and Native Americans), and patriotism; concepts that Donald Trump has successfully merged and used to distract and divide.
We are not a monolithic people. And there is a diversity of opinions on how to solve our myriad of problems; which train to ride on the Freedom track.
My philosophy is grounded in a belief our African roots provide a platform for empowerment. There is a reason why Nyame created life on the continent of Africa, and the commune evolved from that foundation.
I have yet to see any cultural system that is better than the Africentric model. But as we strayed from those tenets, particularly the nuclear family, spirituality and community economics, our nation within a nation has suffered.
Milwaukee has the highest Black male unemployment rate in the country. Seventy percent of Black households are headed by women. We host the lowest Black reading proficiency rates in the country, and not by coincidence along with the highest poverty rate in the country.
As I think back to my youth in Milwaukee, it was the exact opposite. There were Black banks, groceries stores, auto dealerships, a Black hospital and even an African American owned brewery. We were segregated, isolated and ostracized, but had we maintained those institutions, along with nuclear families and a spiritual foundation we would be much better off today. I guarantee it.
Most of us were Black Nationalists in 1970, as much by necessity as by culture.
But then we brought into the lie, and our cultural and socio-political paradigm was pushed to the side, save for the few voices who pushed Black empowerment projects under a different flag.
The School choice campaign was the epitome of a Black Nationalistic movement that sought to empower Black people.
And the opposition to that program proved Polly’s point about “friends,” but also about what happens when Black people come together. School choice was not only an example of Harambee—pulling together—but also of how the establishment will respond to our efforts to control the instructions that serve our community.
The establishment looks at our children as commodities, dollars signs. We look at them as our family and our future.
One of the best things to happen for those of us who espouse a philosophy of Black Nationalism was the election of 45IQ. The tidal wave of racism and bigotry that followed his election is again forcing Black American to wake-up, and seek answers beyond singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Trump’s election not only revealed the level of race manipulation that continues to thrive in America still, but also what we must do to survive, much less prosper.
Merely supporting the new party of “no” is symbolism at best. Welfare is being pared down to the bare bones (Neckbones at that), and there is a far greater possibility of you being shot by a Black terrorist than murdered by a cop.
Drugs remain the most successful Black business other than barbershops and the church, which explains how we can have the highest Black male unemployment rate in the country, and the highest Black incarceration rate at the same time.
And you can be assured that those negative social indicators will remain unless and until we seek another engineer for our Freedom Train. Maybe Black Nationalism isn’t the answer, but if you have a better one, I’m open. Just remember as you process that question, the old adage about doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. I think they call that stupidity.
Black Nationalism is making resurgence in America. And it’s not a moment too soon.