Hetepu (Peace) Family.
I have tried to avoid posting this dialogue for some time now, but after watching a documentary, seeing a disturbing incident and having similar experiences, I had to say something. As most of you know, I am the eldest son to a Pentecostal preacher. My mother was the first in her family to get her high school diploma, bachelors and master’s degree in teaching. After my father supported my mother in getting her degrees, he went to school and got his college degree. Both of my parents are college educated because they came from parents and grandparents who didn’t have an education, but understood that it was essential in order to make it in this society, they needed an education. Consequently, I have a college degree and one of my brothers has a degree. Not only that, most of my extended family, close friends and associates also have a degree, which is reflective of two popular ideas that stems from post slavery.
One was from W.E.B. DuBois and the other was from Booker T. Washington. Both of these men were brilliant, but their brilliance is constantly overshadowed because Booker T. Washington inspired Marcus Garvey’s movement, which to date was the most successful African American movement in the history of the country and Afro-Diaspora. Because DuBois’ ceased agreeing with Garvey and both attacked each other in the media (DuBois for the NAACP and Garvey for the UNIA), DuBois was painted as being a sellout, which has indirectly branded just about any Black man or woman that gets an education and works for some major organization outside of the community, as a sellout as well.
It’s not stressed that DuBois was the first African American to graduate from Harvard, the leaders of an African American activist group that advocated civil rights, who was also an advocate of Pan Africanism. What most people know about him is that he was one of the founders of the NAACP and believed to be a conspirator to Garvey’s demise.
Was DuBois a sellout? Is anyone that gets a college education a sellout? Hell, for that matter, is Barack Obama a sellout or a house Negro?
Ok. Before we answer that let me share this story with you. I use to work at this job in the oilfield and there was this kid who just got hired. Now, he knew when he got hired that they required him to be on call, because he worked at a similar place of employment. So, the job would call the entire crew about two to three hours prior before the job. Now, this kid on several occasions when called was late getting to the work site. Finally, the manager decided he had enough and called him and fired him. In the midst of him being fired, this kid yells out for me to save him from getting fired and when I refused. He called me a “Sellout.”
Okay. What was it that I did that resulted in me being called a sellout? Did I do anything wrong? Should I have jeopardized my employment, me putting food on the table for my loved ones, etc. for him? Would this kid have done the same for me? If I lost my job, would this kid come to my home and shell out some cash for me to put food on my table for my family and provide a roof over their head?
No. I don’t think so.
Let’s revisit the scenario. This kid knew ahead of time that he was going to be on-call. Why was he late arriving to several jobsites is not important. The fact is that he was not RESPONSIBLE period. I was called out as being a sellout because I was RESPONSIBLE and taking care of my business.
Now, that United States has their first African American president, we have seen an increase in African Americans in the media, but we can all agree. They haven’t been the most positive images. Well, several decades ago, there was a few actors that tried to address this issue. Do you remember him? His name is Bill Cosby. Cosby was a well-known comedian and actor who had traveled all over the world, so when he created the Cosby show, he knew that this was the image that would be broadcast all over the planet.
What happened? Cosby’s show after numerous seasons was canceled because “It wasn’t Black Enough!” What was the complaint that many of us said, “No one in our community lives like this, with a father that works as a doctor and a mother as a lawyer.” We claimed that it wasn’t “Real.”
Now, I must admit that I appreciate what Tyler Perry has done in regards to building his studios, creating jobs and everything, but it is another example of someone not looking at the whole picture. You and I know that the Madea and Brown from Meet the Browns, image is not the norm, but people who don’t live in our community around the world, don’t know this. And my God! If they have an all day marathon, imagine these images being shown for 24 hours what an individual would think? The crazy thing is that I have actually had some white people ask me if certain things that were done in his movies were true. Again, this doesn’t make Perry a bad guy. He is fulfilling his dream and doing what he was destined to do, which was to make films from his perspective. He has done a good job at it and has a knack for story writing, after all he made “Daddy’s Little Girls” followed by “Dairy of a Mad Black Women,” which I think were his best films ever. So, there’s nothing wrong with what he is doing. The Divine within me helps me to see that Perry just isn’t seeing the whole picture and doesn’t see how certain images affect the greater whole, and that’s when someone with a better script is supposed to come into the picture.
Now, let’s return back to the DuBois and Garvey scenario. DuBois came from a much different background than Garvey, which is the reason he saw life for his people differently. This did not make him a bad man because he had a different perspective. He was just a man that had a different perspective than Garvey and saw things differently. In fact, when DuBois proposed his Talented Tenth theory, what he was saying was that he understood that not every African American was going to be able to go to college, but those who did manage to do so were the ones that would help the remaining 90%. But, what happens all too often, because of our warped ideas of what we should be (in someone else’s image) combined with our lack of knowledge of our history, and narrow perspective of the world. When our loved ones get a higher education, we ostracized them, tear them down and ridicule them for thinking outside of the box. This is what happened to DuBois.
As a matter of fact, did you know that one of the ideas that Garvey supported was that Africa be ruled by African Americans, which prompted DuBois to declare that Garvey was reckless. Not only that, did you know that part of the problems that occurred in Liberia, Africa were due to migrating African Americans imposing their American ways on the indigenous Liberians? This is the reason DuBois was against this concept in the first place. Understand that I am not saying that Garvey was a bad man, because he surely was not. At the time, he was rash and rough around the edges. Not a bad guy but I think that he didn’t see the whole picture and most of us are missing it too, we will keep getting stuck on superficiality and refuse to see each other’s divinity.
When we look at both DuBois and Garvey objectively, it can be said that DuBois wanted all black people to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. Garvey on the other hand was about nation building, which focused on centering or focusing upon a leader. Both philosophies were needed, neither was better than the other. One however was able to outlive the other because it was well planned and organized, while the other fell apart, inspired other groups, which had the same results. I wish both of these men would have had a chance to collaborate before their death, because it would have been phenomenal, but one of the points that I am making and hope you can see is that there is a difference between thinking and doing. In other words, there is a difference between being proactive and reactive. Our enemy fears us realizing the difference.
We see the same problem played out between Malcolm X and Martin L. King Jr., both were two different men that had different perspectives on how to reach a similar goal. But, the man most identify with is Malcolm because we love his direct, brash; I don’t give a damn approach over Martin’s alleged passive approach. This is why in earlier recordings Malcolm called these individuals approaching the situation as such “house Negroes.”
What people don’t understand is that Martin was a brilliant revolutionary that looked beyond the superficial. Martin understood that no matter how much black people in the 1960s wanted to have an arm revolution; it was not possible because of various factors. For instance, where would the elderly, women and children live while people were fighting? Who was going to supply the money for food, ammunition, etc.? This is why Martin didn’t agree with everything Malcolm was saying and for this reason Martin was branded as being a “sellout” or “House Negro” initially.
Malcolm didn’t understand this in the beginning, but when it finally dawned on him. All of a sudden you find him visiting world leaders. Question, where do you think he got that idea from? I am not suggesting that he got it from King but, I am suggesting that he finally came to his full senses with the help from fellow intellectuals.
What we need to understand is that everything is not as it appears. We fail to realize that racism has been so apparent in our lives that it has affected even how we perceive one another. We call everyone that doesn’t live in the hood, talk the way we talk, dress the way dress, etc. an Uncle Tom, without realizing that this was a fictional character meant to further sabotage our efforts. If would spend time investigating our own rich heritage we would learn that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was inspired by the former slave Josiah Henson who fled into Canada and started his own community to help other former slaves. This means that the real Uncle Tom was a revolutionary that made sacrifices to build and develop their own. Just like Uncle Tom is a fictional character, the so-called idea of blackness is a fictional idea as well that was created to prevent us from progressing. This is why I have seen Somalian men come over to this country, strive to rebuild their lives by getting jobs and an education, then all of a sudden start sagging their pants for respect and credibility. Not only that, today we have young people deliberately “dumbing” down their intelligence to appear stupid because they got the idea that to be smart is not cool and not “black”.
This stupid idea of blackness is causing us to exclude our own throughout the Afro-Diaspora (particularly those in Latin America), just because they didn’t grow up in the United States. Assata knew that blackness was silly, which is why she is dwelling in Cuba to this day.
We need to learn and teach each other to see one another’s divinity, so that we help each other grow. The 1960s and 1970s was a powerful time and the reason we all keep referring to it is because that’s when everything changed from the better to the worse. Most of the progress that was made even in those bad times was due to Harlem Renaissance era, which occurred prior. During that time we had numerous intellectuals and that’s when the attacks began because we were focused on us. Some of the people during the 1960s and early 1970s remember those glorious times because we didn’t control all of our community. We did control a lot of it because we respected who we were regardless of status and education.
It was about intellect and muscle, and that same attitude existed in the 1970s. For instance, when Assata Shakur was rescued and exiled to Cuba, it was a collaborative effort on several parts. I heard the story several times from my late history instructor Imari Obadele (born Richard Bullock Henry May 2, 1930 – January 18, 2010), the former president of the Republic of New Africa and strong advocate of reparations, who was wrongly imprisoned himself, but was freed after serving five years thanks to the help of Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit politician, and Amnesty International.
We need to get rid of the idea of blackness and replace it with Divineness. I do not believe that there are people in this world that hates their own kind. That’s contradicts the laws of nature. I do believe that there are people in this world that have different perspectives due to different cognizance and a lack of knowledge. This is the reason, every time we base our decisions on this superficial quality, we get played because the other party goes through this song and dance, of trying to prove how “black” they are. Clinton did it and Obama did it.
If people would have focused on one another’s divinity, they would have avoided being tricked and saw through the individual’s real intentions. For instance, if they would have looked at President Obama as just another man with a divine spark, instead of as a black man, they could have avoided seeing him as a savior that so many people perceived him as being. And instead, saw him as another politician. Now to be honest with you, this is not to say that I was not happy that he won the election because I like comedian Chris Rock mentioned. It meant that I could stop saying that stupid mantra, “You can be anything you want. Even the president of the United States,” but I didn’t expect anything drastic to happen as a result of him becoming the president either. Because he is a politician and politicians, politic for money. That’s politics, so stop being angry at him for being a politician and get angry at yourself for allowing yourself to get duped, again. Obama is doing his job and that is to be a politician. He fulfilled part of his destiny, so calling him a sellout is just like the kid who called me a sellout.
We have to stop putting our faith in other people and start putting our faith in ourselves. If you have in your heart to go in one direction and you come across another who claims to do the same, you will know because it will show in their actions. When you focus on your divinity and see the divine within them, you see what they are all about because they can’t hide it. You will always know a bird by the way it poops.
I had to see the divine when the young kid called me a sellout. It was hurtful only because I couldn’t reveal to him that I was a Spook Who Sat By the Door, striving to improve not only my own but his as well. If he had only been responsible and did his part. Who knows what we could have accomplished together. I was only able to forgive him because I understood that he was young and like most young people who are rash, doesn’t think. The youth corresponds to the Ra moment on the Maa Aankh, which if not managed correctly would lead to one’s demise because they are always acting or reacting and not thinking before they act.
We need to appreciate one another regardless of what level of consciousness we are on and see the role it plays in our own development. It is not meant for us all to travel the same path and have the same experience, because we all have different purposes. I have said it before and I will say it again, that if you read about Malcolm’s childhood, you would know that there was no way he was going to become a Christian. It was going to take a miracle for that to happen, and it was only because Master Fard appeared to him miraculously that he found Allah (God) in the first place, and became the great man that we know today. Just because someone doesn’t take the same path in life as you did doesn’t make them of less important. This is a trick from the enemy. Nothing happens by coincidence, everything happens for a reason but if you no plan, you don’t take no responsibility for your life and just wait for someone to save you. You will never succeed or achieve anything in life. We need to understand that we each play a role in our growth and development, which means you have to do your part.
You never know that that kid you insulted for walking upright might be the lawyer to save your behind from being incarcerated, or that guy you see as street thug may actually be a community organizer that rallies youths against joining gangs. We all have a stake and the only way to accomplish it is by seeing the spark within.
Don’t let the enemy lead you into believing that you are better, worse or not enough of anything. Invest in the understanding that you are a divine being surrounded by other divinities. Now go out and make the world you want.
Hope that helps.