Its undeniable that we are here in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere overwhelmingly because our ancestors were violently kidnapped and forced to come over here to serve as the human and material resources that would build this empire. Despite that fact, we have worked tirelessly to fit within this country that forced itself upon us. Or, as Kwame Ture said it, “African people have civilized this backward country!” We endured and continue to endure unspeakable trauma, terror, and death, for walking down the street, allegedly having a $20.00 counterfeit bill, selling cigarettes, riding BART trains, sleeping in our houses after a hard day’s work, playing with toys in Walmart, or just being children playing with toys on playgrounds. We respond to this brutality by simply asking this society to stop, look, and listen, and still, we are demonized and now increasingly, shot down for crying out in pain.
A critical point that will never be talked about in capitalist media is why African people continue to be terrorized and dehumanized? Why do so many European people see our existence as a threat to them to the point where us simply expressing our humanity has always been a normalized reason for us to be shot and killed to the joy and celebration of many, many Europeans? Why is it so easy for the established bourgeoisie political structure to find Africans on every street corner who are willing to come out and downplay the suffering of African people?
The questions above are answered by embracing some real truths about the concrete relationship between the masses of African people (not the African petti bourgeoisie) and the U.S. There is so much confusion today that a common refrain coming from seemingly well meaning people on the left is that “everyone except Native people here are immigrants!” Although we will always uplift and support any efforts to highlight the fact this land belongs to the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, the characterization of African people as immigrants negates the hard truths about our history here.
There are 100 million Africans in Brazil. Approximately 50 million Africans in the U.S. And, millions more Africans in Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and the rest of South America. We didn’t get here through immigration. We got here through the violent transatlantic kidnappings of millions of our ancestors. Our labor built up the initial wealth that fueled the development of the capitalist system, but clearly, we were never here to participate in this society. The fact we have been able to develop in all of these Western societies is a complete testament to our humanity, determination, and culture, but our existence in all these societies, including the U.S., is a reflection of our resistance to our oppression, not our integration into these societies. In other words, at no time in history has this system engaged in any humanity towards us without a demand pushing them to do it. Even those Africans who’s families came from Africa or the Caribbean, etc. in recent years don’t escape this narrative. The only reason there is even a need for Africans to come to Western capitalist countries is because of the exploitation that has subjugated Africa so the reasons all of us find ourselves here are still the same.
Understanding the above history is critical in being able to properly interpret the events taking place today. The current reality of police gunning us down like animals in the street and white supremacist vigilantes doing the same is nothing new in this backward society. Thousands of Africans have been lynched in the U.S. alone. This was such a normal occurrence that it was deemed a respected social outing to see an African brutally lynched in most areas of this country. The practice only ceased being public in the 1950s when the bourgeoisie political establishment in this country realized the hit they were taking in the eyes of the international community by literally having events where our bodies were torn apart. The Truman regime began placing pressure on state entities, not to stop lynching, but to take it out of the public eye.
Police, of course, evolved from the violent slave patrols who terrorized Africans seeking a better life into returning to the Southern slave plantations. The people who carried out these systemic and heinous acts were recruited to form the initial police departments and the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, so prized by the crazed right wing thinkers in this society, was largely written to ensure those slave patrols could remain armed to carry out their terror against us.
The point is the narrative that terrorism against African people could be explained away as “not who this country is” has always been a vicious lie. This country was built on terrorizing African people. Think of it like this. Someone has broken into your house and violently kidnapped you and some of your family while brutally killing your other family members. They forcibly take you and your family members across town to their house while maintaining control over your house that they seized when they kidnapped you. In this reality, you would strongly resist anyone who claims that the people who terrorized you own all the properties involved. That they worked hard to develop control over your existence and that they are justified in rising up violently against you to prevent you from voicing your opposition to the oppression they established against you. This is the reality for the African masses. This country has never loved us. It never will love us. And, it speaks to how sick we are that we would even want love from such a dysfunctional, violent, and immoral entity. Its time for us to face that reality full on so that we can deal with it and move forward.
No relationship can be successful if one party maintains such a disrespectful posture towards the other party. That is actually a relationship of abuse. African people have been abused by this country for 500+ years and us continuing to rollover to try and fit in is not only not working. Its helping to perpetuate the brutality against us.
What seems most viable is for the African masses to grow in consciousness in order to realize that we are on our own as a people. From an emotional standpoint, we recognize that history has been revised and the oppressors are depicted as the heroes/sheroes/theyroles. Everyone wants to feel like they come from the winners. I can easily recognize that being born and raised from San Francisco, a very prestigious city on an international level of recognition, there is a charge that has always come from telling people that is my origin. A charge that someone from Oroville or Redding, California, U.S. etc., doesn’t benefit from. I can also remember being a child in the 7th grade. Lacking any healthy knowledge about Africa, therefore being completely subjected to the dysfunctional and racist analysis of our history, I punched a dude in my class who told me “Africa hasn’t produced anything for the world.” And as shameful as that incident was, the part that I also remember is that when I hit him, I yelled “I’m an American! I’m not African!” Any dime store psychologist would decern that my reaction in that 7th grade class, despite what I said (just like despite what Africans always say publicly), the pain of being denied a true history about Africa, as well as feeling rejected by America, fueled that punch 100%. In a microcosm, this is the reality for African people in the U.S. We know nothing about Africa and we are not accepted in America. Yet because we at least have our lived experiences in the U.S., we rely 100% on those experiences to guide us into believing capitalism’s narrative that what exists here for us, regardless of how terrible, is all we have. Its all we can work with. As a result, we continue to forge ahead, trying to be respected and accepted here, despite all of the overwhelming evidence and history demonstrating how impossible that objective will be to achieve.
The aggressive stance so many Europeans are taking within the last few days i.e. praising the 17 year old terrorist in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., who shot and killed two unarmed protesters, is another case in point. There is going to be no outpouring of humanity towards us because most of these people do not believe we are human. Its that plain and simple. And, the sooner we can mature politically and accept this reality, the sooner we can figure out how to stop the carnage against us.
We of course believe that Africa’s redemption is key. No people have achieved forward progress while being disconnected and uneducated about their motherland. Africans in the U.S. are the only people on earth attempting to chart this unobtainable path. Africa’s liberation, regardless of where we live, will benefit all of us in every way related to how we are oppressed today. While we fight for Africa’s liberation, its important that we engage on the ground organizing efforts throughout the African diaspora. We must organize so that we can meet dehumanization and violence against us with comparable results. No one will respect you until you force them to respect you. That force comes from us becoming organized and presenting a united front that illustrates as Kwame Ture said at the Jackson, Mississippi, U.S. state house in 1966, “we have to build a power base that is so strong that we bring them to their knees every time they mess with us!”
We believe Pan-Africanism is primary and we also believe that non-Africans must abandon this backward and dysfunctional belief that you can be for justice while maintaining any type of loyalty and commitment to the U.S. imperialist state. There can be no anti-white supremacy coupled with American identity. America as a national entity automatically means endorsing the exploitation that has created the conditions we see playing before us today. The rejection of American identity says you recognize this system has to go. It has to be overturned and replaced. This is the fundamental question facing all of us today. Anyone who believes this upcoming bourgeoisie election is the primary concern is missing a lot. This is a question of humanity versus inhumanity. The oppressor, and those who side with the oppressor, against the oppressed. That’s what we are facing right now. And, at the core to this fight will be the willingness and ability of African people to grow to accept the reality of our relationship to this society. Power will never concede anything without a demand. Our best demand is not forcing this country to accept us. Its building our own independent movement for power that forces this country, willingly or not, to respect us because they are forced to deal with us on a mutual level. Something that has never existed here. Also, having non-Africans cease attempting to paint this moment as some sort of special moment that denies the well documented history of this country. When we can grasp this unescapable reality, we will then find our feet beneath us to move out ahead of this suffering so that we are no longer in the position of simply reacting to it. Once we can do that, victory will be visible on the horizon.