Over the years, there have been many programs and “solutions” put forth to address the problems of the black community. Regardless of the metric used to measure success, they have all been dismal failures. Part of the reason for these failures is misidentification of the problem. The problems are identified as drug addiction, drug peddling, prostitution, teenage pregnancy, academic failure, poor health, crime, etcetera. These are not the problems, they are the symptoms of the problems.
The real issue is external and internal. On the one hand, the cultural elite, the powers that be, orchestrate and maintain these conditions in the black community so that African people can be continually exploited, and so that they never pose a threat to white hegemony through effective organization. The external problem is white supremacy.
The internal issue, which is what this post will address, is the destruction of our cultural-historical consciousness; the memory of who we are as a culturally distinct people. Without it, we have become cultural mutants. We have been transformed, against our will, from something beautiful into something hideous. A once proud and independent people, we called ourselves names like Yoruba, Igbo, Ashanti, Ewe, Fulani, Mandingo, Hausa, Dogon and Fulani — names of a culturally conscious people that we gave to ourselves. Now, stripped of our cultural identity, we call ourselves by the names our enemy calls us by: bitches, hoes, pimps, thugs, colored, coon, Negro and nigger. People think and behave in ways that are consistent with the names they use to identify themselves.
The destruction of our consciousness can be traced back to the slave trade where it all began. The obliteration of African cultural traditions and all of the ideas, attitudes and beliefs that go with them was not incidental. This crime — involuntary behavior modification — didn’t happen overnight either: It was systematic, and it took generations.
In order to facilitate the control of captive Africans, the institution of slavery developed techniques designed to subvert and erode feelings of kinship, moral beliefs, and a sense of self-worth. Simultaneously, feelings of dependence, fear, and reverence for the white man and his institutions were cultivated in African people.
Some of the methods used to undermine the African’s quest for freedom included grouping together people who spoke different languages to hinder communication; Brutality, murder, and torture — daily occurences on the plantation — were routinely meted out for the slightest infraction, real or imagined; Women and girls were regularly raped and made into concubines; Africans who sold out their own people were rewarded for their treason, a tried and tested strategy of divide and conquer out of which white supremacy continues to get great mileage out of today; Religion was (is) used to convince African people that meek acceptance of their oppression would ultimately guarantee them a place in heaven, that their lot in life is preordained, and that the white man is God.
The result of these and many other nefarious techniques included replacing feelings of family and oneness with distrust and contempt, replacing traditional values with the perverse values of the dominant society, and replacing feelings of pride and self-love with feelings of shame and worthlessness. The consequences of this profound and terrible alteration of the African psyche can be seen amongst black people around the world today.
The assault on the African’s cultural-historical consciousness was only as successful as it was because of the near total control slavers exercised over the lives/environment of their captives. Over time, captive Africans became dependent on slavers, their enemies, for food, clothing, shelter and direction of their daily activities. Inevitably, intangibles such as values, self-esteem and spiritual guidance were determined by the white community as well. Slavers came to realize that affecting the psychological development of a people requires great control of their environment.
If the hold of Willie Lynch is ever to be broken, culturally conscious black people must control the environment of black children. To counter the negative influences of the white world, black children need to be reared and educated in a culturally relevant environment. An environment in which they and their people will be validated. Black children need a place where they can go and learn to love their history, their heritage and their heroes instead of those of the European.
Community commitment will not be taught to our children by whites — the controllers of every major institution in this country. Racial loyalty will not be taught to our children by whites. They want our children to worship them; to serve them. This is why black children are indoctrinated from birth to pledge their allegiance to whites (white power), and not to the empowerment of their own people — nor should they. That is our job. Only fools sit around (or march around) waiting and begging their enemy to do for them what they should be doing for themselves!
Ultimately, every institution through which African children pass — family, school, places of worship, etc. — must be controlled by African people. This is an ambitious objective. But those who believe in themselves and believe in the people, who are willing to put in the hard work and allow themselves to be guided by the spirits, will make it happen.
The place to start is with a camp; an Africancentered place of instruction where our children can be taught Black Nationalism, Pan Africanism, African history and African cultural traditions. They will learn about community responsiblity and core principles of village life: reciprocity, honesty, hard work, respect, obedience, communalism, loyalty, the importance of family and Ma-at.
Camps must be on grounds and in facilities owned by black people committed to the struggle. This ensures the autonomy to operate as we see fit without interference from outside agencies who would rather see the situation in the black community stay as it is. The staff that operates these camps have a great responsibility. They must be chosen carefully. Not only will they be the administrators of the camps, they will also serve as much-needed role models for our young people. They, our children, will see and be under the tutelage of men and women who act like men and women, and who will show them love and discipline.
The curriculum, the core of the program, should be multifaceted and implemented with enthusiasm. The basics of the curriculum are as follows:
Culture: Traditional African value system (philosophical/moral/spiritual teachings), history, customs/traditions/way of life (government, law, holidays, celebrations, marriage, warfare, commerce, tribal structure, religious practices, etc), languages (spoken and written), and the arts (sculpture, painting, weaving, construction, pottery, music, dance).
Academics: Math (to include finance and the history of mathematics), English (or whatever the dominant language is where the camp is constructed), an African language, behavioral science, natural science, and social science.
Health: Athletics, nutrition, herbology, exercise and hygiene.
Survival: Finding and constructing shelter, making fire, purifying water, navigation, first aid, hunting and gathering, food preparation, and gardening.
The curriculum should be reviewed annually to see what if any changes should be made. The administrators, like the curriculum, must be dynamic, fluid and flexible.
Only revolutionary, grass-roots organizations who have built up credibility with the community will be able to launch such a bold initiative, because only with community support can this be done. They will have to go amongst the people and make their case. They are going to have to convince the people that they have a plan and a strategy that will work.
The goal of this project, and the principle we use to evaluate the curriculum, should be the realization of the following words of wisdom:
“Our survival lies in our ability to produce a secure, competent, work-oriented incorruptible generation of Black men and women who will operate out of an Afrikan frame of reference based on a proven black value system that incorporates a sense of Afrikan love and responsibility .”
Haki Madhubuti–From Plan to Planet