There are too many of these people to name, but I'll just focus on two of them; this Dr. Umar Johnson and Tariq Nasheed. I focus on these two because they are embroiled right now in a youtube battle of put downs against one another that would be best suited to take place in front of a liquor store. Not that two people cannot have a disagreement, but these two proclaim to represent our struggle for liberation against oppression. With the glorious struggle and history that we have as a people, how did we come to this place where people like this, who openly refer to each other as the n word, and use every slimy method of putting each other down, are recognized by so many of our people as the voices of our dignity?
First, it must be acknowledged that people like these two are nothing new for African people. Our people are oppressed. We're oppressed politically, economically, and spiritually. And, we have been oppressed this way for hundreds of years. Consequently, we long for respect and dignity in ways that we don't really understand. We will do anything to give us a chance to move out of this suffering existence. We are so eager to do this that we historically don't use the most rationale in selecting our spokespeople. We are socialized within the tradition of African churches where slick rhetoric is basically all that is required to gain power and maintain it. This happens within the context of the patriarchal system where a man speaks this rhetoric and everyone is expected to fall in behind him. In this scenario, its often not whether this man is speaking truth, but how whatever he's speaking makes people feel, subjectively. That's the dysfunctional place we find ourselves in and we have never had a shortage of people who were primed to take advantage of us over it. From Daddy Grace and Father Divine in the 1920s in Harlem, to Jomo Kenyatta doing nothing to disclaim false rumors that he led the Land and Freedom Movement (the Mau Mau) in Kenya in the 50s/60s, to Reverend Ike in the 70s. African people have always been easy suckers for a good rap. If you don't believe that, just go into any African church on Sunday. You will observe people who don't even have enough money to pay their light bills placing their last dollars in the collection plate after a strong sermon. These slick tongued preachers have even convinced our people that doing that is really the only chance they have of getting into heaven.
So, if you understand that dysfunctional phenomenon, then its not hard to conceive how people like Johnson and Nasheed can create a vision for a people. A vision of capitalism (of course) e.g. creating individualistic wealth at the expense of the masses of people, with a healthy dose of classless Black Nationalism thrown in. This is what these guys are selling and because they definitely know how to package it right, many of our people are buying it, hook, line, and sinker. And, now, these two "men" are going after each other on social media, declaring that they should have a boxing match with one other over their back and forth sniping and attacks against each other. All of this while the masses of African people everywhere are engaged in a fight for our very survival. Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner who was brutally murdered by New York City Police, has died this week at age 27, clearly in large part due to her broken heart at the lack of justice in her father, and everyone else's cases. Our people in Libya, left shelter-less by U.S. imperialism's wicked destruction of the Jamihiriya government of Muammar Qaddafi, are being forced into the most brutal slavery and suffering. Our people have an infant mortality rate in the U.S. that rivals technologically underdeveloped countries. There are close to 100 U.S. military bases in Africa today and they are there to re-colonize our homeland. They are there to help crush our people's resistance against the systemic oppression of the cocoa, coltan, gold, uranium, bauxite, diamond, etc., industries where our life expectancy is 40 years old. All of this is happening to our people and these two negros are going to box it out over some BS.
Its not difficult to understand why we continue to fall into this trap, selecting people who don't deserve it as our leaders. The masses of African people are not organized. In fact, we are chronically disorganized. Because of our state this way, we have absolutely no idea which way is up. For example, many of us still have faith in a system that has oppressed us for over 500 years. We still believe in the Democratic Party which has betrayed us so openly and consistently that they must be running out of ways to do it at this point. We are a mess. And, because we are in such bad shape we are akin to the man in the desert who thinks he sees a bottle of water. Any semblance of anything that sounds good to us, we'll take it. And, the truth must to told that most of us have no experience organizing our people so we don't rightfully understand that no person is going to come out of the woodwork and save us. We are going to have to save ourselves, but we don't yet realize that so many of us are still looking for Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Kwame Ture, to come save us. Well, all of them are dead so we are stuck with Johnson, Nasheed, and these other social media created leaders - umm or somthing.
At some point, our people must develop some political sophistication. We can't just continue to measure things based solely on how it sounds to us. We have to acknowledge that we may not have the right tools to properly assess what we hear. We have to develop much stronger tools of analysis. For example, the first time I heard of these people I was suspect, but I did my research. I went to hear Johnson speak and I left the event with everything I thought confirmed. I'm a long time activist/organizer so one thing I learned a long, long time ago is no one person can solve our problems as a people. I mean we have had some of the baddest individuals a people can produce. Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Ture, Patrice Lumumba, Amy Garvey, Marcus Garvey, Shirley Graham DuBois, Huey P. Newton, Thomas Sankara, Assata Shakur, Kwame Ture, Malcolm X, Imari Obadele, etc. and none of them could solve the problem on their own. So, that tells me we can't solve it without the masses of our people organized. Or, without the organized masses because only the masses make history. That's what I know and there is no scientific challenge to that principle that can hold water. So, the minute it became clear to me that these individuals had no organizations to offer our people, I knew then that what we really had are more black power pimps, or people who use our struggle for their own individual advancement. You see, I was fortunate to learn from people who were really dedicated to our people's liberation. Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) was a person who could have been a governor in the U.S., or at least the mayor of any large city. All of his political contemporaries from the 60s achieved that. People like Marion Berry, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, etc. Kwame didn't want any of that. He only wanted the power of the organized masses. So he spent most of his life organizing for the masses. Not building up his own name and finances. So, after having role models like that, there's no way in hell I could ever relate to these social media stars who haven't risked one hair on their head for our people's liberation. And, I'm saying that as someone who has often risked my own life for our people and for justice, so let me say it again. I don't see where these people have risked anything for our people. So Johnson can say on youtube (as he did) that Kwame Ture was weak on Pan-Africanism" because he was socialist, but I know that he couldn't hold Kwame's toenail clippings. Of course he's anti-communist because that flies in the face of his money making plans against our people.
So, lastly, if you read this blog, you know I have never before talked negatively about people who were not specific representatives of imperialism against our people. I don't believe I am contradicting myself in this column because as was stated, these guys don't even have organizations so all I'm talking about are two individuals who are doing a great job making themselves look bad. I don't know either of them. I would only suggest that if either of them have any sincere commitment to our people's forward progress, first, they should take their efforts towards organization building. While they are doing that, they should take their beef off of social media and talk to each other. If they can't talk it out, then fist fight it out, but that should be between the two of them and no one else. And, I'm only saying this because that has been my personal practice. This is important because African people have enemies in this society everywhere. This government is our enemy. So, it doesn't really matter whether these two are legitimate or not (I don't believe they are). The fact so many of us believe they are is dangerous in terms of how our enemies can use their public beef against our movement. This is what this government has been doing to us for hundreds of years. This is just the first era where we are actually and openly helping them to do it, apparently without even being on their payroll. And, the fact these two guys are either braindead or incredibly naive enough to not know the potential damage their posturing can do to our people speaks volumes about how ill prepared they are. They couldn't lead me out my front door.
For my folks, there are no saviors for us. If you want true liberation and freedom you have got to be willing to contribute to this fight yourselves. You must be in organizations because that experience will provide you with the tools you need to spot hustlers a mile away despite how good they talk, how well they dress, and how much they appear to speak to your needs. Our solutions don't lie in individualism, patriarchy, or capitalism. And, until we can develop the type of political sophistication to recognize that, we will forever continue falling into this trap where people take our money and dignity while pitting us on another lonely path to nowhere.