As I reflect, I think about what a brave soul Dr. King was to transform his fight for “Negro” equality with White America and one that was based on Civil Rights, to a fight that was global in scope and based on Human Rights.
Like others have, I often ask myself what would Dr. King think about today’s America and the world as a whole? Would he feel as though all of his efforts achieved their end goal? Would he support the various Occupy and other social movements taking place the world over? The answers I keep coming up with are NO and YES respectively.
Given the continued disparities across every major aspect of life in America for Black Americans, I could not imagine Dr. King would be pleased with our progress. Yes, we have a Black President and we certainly have achieved great success in many areas of the business, sports, entertainment, the arts and the social world. However, we do not live in a “Post-racial” society. As a collective group, the majority of Black Americans have not benefited from the accomplishments of a few.
Statistically, we are breaking records in all the wrong categories of life:
- We are #1 in Incarceration rates proportionate to the overall American population
- We are #1 in Healthcare disparities
- We are #1 in Education disparities
- We are #1 in HIV/AIDS contraction rates
- We are #1 in Quality of living disparities
- We are #1 in Divorce and Households lead by single mothers
- We are #1 in Sperm donors who happen to be males not being fathers
- We are #1 in just about any other negative thing you can think of as it relates to simply living
It is not my intention to bring anyone down or paint such a dismal picture of life for the majority of Black Americans, but this is not my subjective truth. This is the reality of too many of our people. The bottom line, Dr. King’s goals have not been achieved.
We do not live in a “Post-Racial” America and we need to WAKE UP!!!
Kemet is the first civilization in the world. Kemet is the African name of the land we now call Egypt. This more modern term – Egypt – resulted from Greek and later conquerors of the land applying their own names in their own language. Kemet means “black land” or “black earth.” And, Kemet may well be the first complex civilization in the world. It is certainly the longest civilization to still be located in the same place. If you define a civilization by its ability to make war, Sumer in Mesopotamia may be older. But, if you define a civilization by its peace and stability, then Kemet again is the oldest. And, despite modern political assertions that Egypt is in the Middle East, Kemet is in Africa.
Egypt (Kemet) bordered by deserts is absolutely the “gift of the Nile.” But African civilization is the gift of Kemet. Eminent African scholar Cheik Anta Diop has said that: “Egypt is to Africa as Greece is to Europe.” In other words, Kemet should be considered the jewel at the heart of African civilization from which much culture, arts, sciences and technologies radiate. Much the way Western Civilization traces its key origins to ancient Greece; other African civilizations owe a debt to Kemet.
In the past, there has been a spurious controversy over whether or not the ancient people of Kemet were Black people. This is a racist argument on either side. The people of ancient Kemet – or Egypt, if you like – were African. Regardless of our modern preoccupations with race as evidenced by skin color, the people of Kemet were African. And, just like today, Africans come in many shades (as, by the way, do Europeans). Any detailed examination of artistic representations show Kemetic peoples skin tones to range from dark Black to light tan and everything in between. The argument that they were Caucasians is based on the racist mythos that only Europeans could create advanced societies. It was an ugly idea based on European ethnocentrism. And it served well to perpetuate relatively modern color-based racism that has evolved since the start of European colonization. The argument that all ancient Kemetic peoples had to be Black in the modern sense of the word simply reinforces skin color based distinctions that are contemporary and have very little utility to understanding the peoples in themselves. It is putting our 21st century concepts of race in the way of understanding how the people of Kemet saw race.
We will leave the discourse of Egyptian “Blackness” with some tales that show both the connectedness of Kemet with the rest of ancient Africa, and that race as we know it did not apply.
This poisonous master-class mentality did not die with the abolition of slavery—it continued, in new forms. In particular, each wave of immigrants that came over from Europe had to “fit itself into” the dominant relations of American society—they had to find an “economic niche” (usually toward the bottom rungs of the working class, at least at first) and they had to work out a relation to the dominant political and cultural superstructure of society. In doing so, these white immigrants often tried to distinguish themselves from Black people—and this often exploded into the open antagonism of white mobs rampaging against Black people and even lynching them—yes, in the northern cities as well as the South, as these immigrant communities defined themselves as “full-blooded” white Americans in violent opposition to Black people. This system reinforced the master-class mentality among northern whites with petty, but not insignificant, privileges in jobs and housing. And this became a major double-barreled shotgun for the capitalist ruling class: it blinded these white people and immigrants to their most fundamental interests as members of the proletariat, turning their anger away from the system that actually exploited and oppressed them, and turning it against the most oppressed and exploited people in society. And it gave them an “identity” as white Americans, with a set of expectations and entitlements to go with it—and to defend. A minority of whites opposed this madness, and took up revolutionary or radical or even just decently humane positions; but while very important—and we’ll return to its significance later—this sort of stand was far too uncommon. (A secondary, but important, effect of this master-class mentality among whites of all classes was to partly obscure the class character of the oppression of the masses of Black people—their position and role as viciously exploited proletarians, within the overall working class of the U.S.—and the many and close links between this class exploitation of large numbers of Black people, as part of the proletariat, and thenational oppression of Black people as a people.)
To return again to the period of slavery, it is important to be clear on an essential truth: the slaves fiercely resisted this. In the U.S. alone there were over 200 slave revolts, and the slaves of Haiti stunned the world when they successfully waged a 15-year revolution against first their colonial masters, then the British, and finally Napoleon’s armies. Even with these heroic revolts, it was only with the Civil War that the resistance finally bore fruit in the U.S., and the emancipation of Black people from outright slavery was achieved. Here too the masses of Black people—both runaway slaves and “freedmen”—played a crucial role. When finally allowed to join the Union Army, they died at twice the rate of white soldiers (while being paid lower wages for most of the Civil War)!
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