“The negro has two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” W.E.B. Du Bois
In the aftermath of Marvel’s billion dollar box office smash, Black Panther, an interesting conversation is occurring around the racial destiny of Africans throughout the diaspora. Identity politics has surged into the dialogue creating a more than fair share of rancor. An ugly puss filled boil of a latent internecine conflict has been brought to the surface: the classification of African-Americans. In all fairness, this conflict has been raging since the days of Marcus Garvey. While Garveyism sought to connect the fate of 13 million black people (at that time), with the destiny of the continent, it made no serious dent in the wounded psyche of those Africans brought involuntarily to the shores of North America. In fact, despite his gallant efforts, it would be rather naive to think that over 100 years of racial deconstruction and European indoctrination could be completely wiped away from the minds of African-Americans inside of a decade (the length of Garvey’s time in America).
While Garvey did successfully change the way many black Americans saw themselves in the context of Africa, the lack of political and economic power, combined with the gluttonous white hole of European colonialism, left a lingering refusal to accept the identity of a continent that merely validated the reality of white domination. Since the 18th century, Europeans, Arabs, and just about every other imperial power laid siege to the continent, changing its homogeneity, culture, and spirituality. It is these cultural mutations that produced an African culture that was antithetical to future generations.
Question: Nigga! What did you just say?!
Answer: As Africa came under the dominion of foreign rulers that conquered sections of the continent, race mixing occurred which shifted the culture and politics of the country. So if a country was under Islamic Rule, then the country became a bullhorn for not only Islam, but also for Arabian culture. Thus, if slavery was part of arab culture, by default it is now apart of African culture. And as part of African culture, it is now harmful to other Africans that up until that time enjoyed the blessings of liberty. Like let’s say those Africans, that were either sold or stolen from the continent and sent to the Americas for example?
THE NIGGA: Ion give a fuck nigga! they still sold us into slavery and didn’t look back!
THE MAN: Yes! Arab and Europeanized African rulers and collaborators sold us into slavery, And for that you can be mad, but you should be just as mad with everyone in the food chain. Not just the people who sold you.
THE NIGGA: They had all that shit over there and they didn’t come help us out, why not?
THE MAN: Because the ones who cared about us were not in charge. The ones who sold us also controlled all the resources of the continent. And their sympathies were with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Portugal, Belgium, France, England, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and every other non-black country on the planet. So the bulk of the wealth was exported to those countries.
THE NIGGA: BULLSHIT!
THE MAN: Nah! for real! Between January and December of 1960, 17 sub-Saharan African nations, including 14 former French colonies, gained their independence from their former colonial masters. Ghana on the West Coast of Africa,the place from which the majority of slaves came, gained its independence in 1957. That’s 61 years. Your granny was older than that when she died.
THE NIGGA: So what happen when them niggas got power?
THE MAN: The ones that got power, got it from the same people who controlled them. And those people continued to control them, and by extension, the economy. Take for example Mobutu. He came to power after the coup against the rightful Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. After he subsequently aided and abetted the murderers of his former friend, he became their nigga on the throne until he was overthrown in 1997. He stole about 15 billion dollars from the country on his way out.
THE NIGGA: But we been through slavery, segregation and all other kinds of shit. What they been through?
THE MAN: About 200 yrs of colonialism, a more sophisticated form of slavery. With colonialism came laws that: required Africans over 16 to have an I.D., prevented Africans from getting a college education without the express written permission of a white government official (which was rarely granted), took away their citizenship in their own land, segregated public facilities in their own segregated neighborhoods, forbid Africans from testifying against white people, controlled what jobs they could get, prevented them from owning land, and subjected them to random violence from white people with impunity. This included rapes, assaults, robbery, theft, arson, and of course murder. That’s the short list.
THE NIGGA: Sounds like some nigga shit to me.
THE MAN: It is…lol
THE NIGGA: But when they come over here, they act like white folks; like they better than us. They believe all of us are in the hood, criminals or in jail.
THE MAN: Let’s keep it 100. How many of us live in the suburbs? We are 13% of the population but what our rates of incarceration? How much wealth do we collectively own? How much political power do we really have even with a “Black President?” How many of us are the product of deteriorating family structures? Real talk! Can you really tell me that you didn’t buy into all those damn Sally Struthers commercials showing kids with swollen bellies, barefoot, dirty as hell with flies on their faces? (smile) That’s what I thought!
THE NIGGA: So what chu sayin nigga, you African?
THE MAN: I am an American whose roots go back to the Continent. I’m not pure blood, but who is really a pure African other than those who come from the continent with no interruptions in their blood line? You don’t see Jewish, Chinese or Korean Americans denying their origin for complete American accultration do you?
THE NIGGA: So what do you want me to call you?
THE MAN: You can call me what you always called me
THE NIGGA: Oh that’s easy nigga!…lol
The preceding conversation, or some derivation thereof, is played out in the minds of Black people in this country every time they are posed with the question of their racial identity. The question of who we are has not yet been definitively answered by either side. But the grievances that we have with each other is both real and trivial. Real in the sense that both groups have been baptized in the ratchetry of political and economic marginalization. Thus, we vomit the bile taught to us by the ones responsible for the confusion in the first place. How could it be any different when both groups have spent centuries under the indoctrination of conquerors. There are no quick, easy answers so don’t look for one. Like anything else that’s good, it’s gonna take time and hard work to fix.
But, if we are honest, we would confess that the only we reason we are having this discussion is because we are at the bottom of the race ladder. When we saw a fictional African nation technologically superior and minerally wealthy beyond our wildest dreams, overnight, we became pseudo Wakandans; even if we never read the comic. This suggests that all this acrimony and confusion is really not about past injustices like slavery or present slights. It’s about wanting to be down with the winning team. And that’s not African or African-American. That’s human! Wishy-Washy, shife, and niggerish, but human. Anyway listen to Smokey. You might actually agree with him.
TONY MACEO is a senior blogger at the Negromanosphere. He is the chief blogger @ powerandstrategy.com. Like, share and subscribe to the mailing list on the website and the You Tube Channel. Like us on FB. Or become a Patron @powerofstrategies on Patreon. Till Next time I’ll holla!