The Significance of Historical Consciousness
by M'Bwebe Aja Ishangi
“The Europeans not only colonized most of the world, they began to colonize information about the world and its people. In order to do this, they had to forget, or pretend to forget, all they had previously known abut the Africans."
— Dr. John Henrik Clarke
I find it hard to find another quote that summarizes our plight in relation to our loss of collective memory due to the mental, physical, and spiritual strategic design and execution at the hands of white folk. To humbly expound on Ancestor Clarke’s words, I’d add to his point, “while they pretended to forget, behind closed doorz they shared this knowledge with their kin while simultaneously making sure we most certainly forgot!”
See, as author and Kemetologist, Anthony Browder would say in his poem, ‘Transition 13’, …
”we learned all there was to know; then we taught others. Then we forgot what we had learned and then forgot that we had forgotten. Now we are taught by those who were once taught by us…”
The origin of the phrase, “[T]hose who do not learn History are doomed to repeat it,” can be allegedly linked to Spanish philosopher and poet, George Santayana, but I’d have to guess he had Afrikan people in mind for history showz we’re pretty much the only race that’s been caught in a proverbial hampster wheel of sorts, chasing our own tail in what’s become our cyclical cultural pause in comparison with the rest of the world whose growth is more on the lineal come up.
This poses the question, why are we Afrikan people in the predicament we’re in? Why are we just as baffled to officially identify the source (or culprits) of this confusion when it is abundantly clear right before our eyes? Who’s behind gentrification? Who's historically behind economic disparity? Who’s at the base of all this and why do we have the typical “forgive and forget” or “let 'god' handle it (although there's never a solution)” reaction at what seemz to be incidents that have recently picked up speed?
It is simple. Although I’m professionally the furthest to prescribe any kind of diagnosis to any ethnic races psychological competence, it is profoundly clear to me we collectively suffer from a case of mass ignorance (or “ignore”-ing of historical fact), coupled with ‘Mentacide’ or Mental Suicide, as Ancestor Dr. Bobby Wright phrased in the self-entitled book. I also find at the root of this absence lay a very low level awareness of our historical consciousness.
When we come to grips with the fact we are living from the residual effects of a cultural hemispherectomy — a surgical procedure where half of the brain is removed or disabled — you will find ground zero is the scattering or displacement of our historical consciousness. In layman’s termz, our brain has been wiped away; the likes of a computer hard drive being expunged nearly clean, and because of this, we’ve been stagnant or rather motionless in even an attempt toward self-reliance post-integration.
One of the greatest stratagem can be linked with the sentiments in an article I wrote, ‘When Knowledge Became Kryptonite’ where I conclude “books have become Afrikan peoples kryptonite.”
What are some symptomatic examples you ask? Although there are many, I will use two very fresh ones:
The most compelling comes a few dayz after a 21-year old caucasian, Dylann Storm Roof, who on June 17, 2015 stormed into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot and killed nine American-Afrikanz in cold blood! After he was eventually apprehended, a video that’s now become viral includes the victimz families speaking to and forgiving him for what he did, repeat, FORGIVING HIM! One even said, “we welcome you… in our Bible study with open arms… but as we say in the Bible study, we enjoyed you and may God have mercy on you.” Wait… she said what? “We enjoyed you”?!
This same tactic is puppeteered by white folks instructing Afrikan families of the victimz to sway the community not to rebel, as was the case in the Baltimore uprisingz a few months back and unfortunately, if we look at the judicial aftermaths of the killing of Afrikan male as well as the sudden murder increase of Afrikan females, in most cases (minus Baltimore), the families call for the community to respond “peacefully” which is really “passively”.
Looking closer at Charleston, using our historical consciousness, research showz one of Emanuel AME Church’s founderz was none other than our great Ancestor, Denmark Vessey who on the very same day 193 yearz ago in 1822 (June 17), planned a revolt to free Afrikanz from physical enslavement at the handz of whitefolk!
Question is, was Roof’s strike a coincidence or was he aware of the history of Vessey and slave uprisingz deciding to mimic the tenants of the Citadels, a group of white militia armed forces founded by Charleston’s government to protect white residents from its majority Afrikan population after Vessey was tried by a secret trial and hanged along with five other Afrikanz July 2, 1822. Be the wiser and know this is not a coincidence.
By the way, interesting fact: today, The Citadel University, established in 1842, is the top military college of the south and is directly linked to the South Carolina State Arsenal, based where? Charleston! Another coincidence?
According the Forbes Magazine, 79% of the 3500 student population are white, whereas 9% are POADUS (People of Afrikan Descent in the United States). I wonder if they would still attend if they knew this buried truth. Based on our current diagnosis in the lack of historical consciousness, they probably wouldn't budge.
The second example, two dayz after Roof’s slaughter, June 19, 2015 (Juneteenth weekend) saw yet another call for a national one day buying boycott. Like all otherz to date, they last but one day as we continue to ignore our most successful boycott in modern tymz, the 381-day Bus boycott of Montgomery, Alabama in 1955-56! With a 2015 $1.1 trillion purchasing power, POADUS would literally cripple this country and possibly even the worldz economy with as little as a 30-day boycott! But the disconnect from our historical consciousness continues to have us thinking small, not because we are feeble minded, but because of our ongoing inability to dictate the kind of education we’re “given”.
THE MOVEMENT CANNOT HAPPEN WITHOUT SANKOFA
We are familiar with the term Sankofa which speaks of enabling an effective future, one must reach back or return to the essence in order to go forward. In 1997, Dr. Clarke wrote an article, ‘Why Africana History?’ where he implored the importance of knowing ourselves through the study of history or “Our”-story as some may say. As we see the cyclical phase of assault on Afrikan people — from police brutality and killings to again, urban renewal (aka gentrification) — with the only significant resistance coming from our youth who creatively devised a social response effectively bringing attention that #BlackLivesMatter, his sentiments are as alarmingly vital now as it was when he wrote it!
Since the 1960s, the remnants of a once focused cultural movement toward Afrikan self-reliance has been polarized large-in-part to integration — possibly the most strategic move responsible for the existing “pause” we continue to face.
The key to all this is realizing we have become predictably reactionary to racial injustices with more responses of 24-hour rallies while the most important battle goes unchallenged… economics!
A vital component of Sankofa is tapping into our ADB (Ancestral Data Banks) which serve as the seat of our historical collective consciousness. Accessing our ADB compelz us to find solutionz for our future by simply revisiting our past.
Using our historical consciousness, many know of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street of the early 1900s, many don’t know there have been hundredz of other villages and townz successfully ran by Afrikan people in America, pre- and post-Emancipation. In fact, two lesser-known communities were in New York City before Tulsa: Seneca Village (1825) and Brooklyn’s Weeksville (1838)! But because most of our knowledge base has been dictated by white folk’s educational system and media propaganda, this did not make their history books, thus pointing out the significance of reclaiming our historical consciousness.
Because of this blatant omission, when it comes to creating community and addressing our needz, we often think we do not have the resources to do so. This is an urban myth facilitated by media and the western-based educational system that play a large part in our ignorance of tangible working examples to build on.
The fact is, POADUS have one of, if not the strongest collective buying powerz in the world (again, $1.1 Trillion of it this year alone!). And when we look at the POADUS demographic, in termz of marketing we are the quintessential "prime rib" or "Beluga Sturgeon caviar" of sorts to the world economy primarily because since integration, we’ve been 99% consumer, 1% producer. Before integration, on back to the Nile Valley, we were creatorz/doerz on account of racial and economic disparity caused mainly by the racizm of white folk.
Back then we did for ourselves because we were prohibited inclusion with whites — and we did well! This caught white folks attention post emancipation and more effectively since integration, we have become the breast the world has fed on, leaving ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually, and economically malnourished. But… as anyone on the brink of starvation that has a will, has the ability to still create a way or in this case, uses historical consciousness to resurrect a way.
STRATEGIC RESOLUTIONS: #BLACKLIVESMATTER MEET #BLACKLANDMATTERS
On the resolution side, we face an opportunity which has alwayz been us! We must realize everyone else has capitalized off us for ages and from that have garnished wealth for hundredz of generational offspring while we have yet to figure the obvious, as said by mineral expert, M. F. Stephenson... “There’s gold in them thar hills!” (we, Afrikan folk personified as the hills.) Because we bought into integration and trading independence for a dependence rarely delivered, we’ve lost the most valuable commodity: land — hence the effective results of gentrification over the last decade.
See, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for we've had many Ancestorz speak on the need of self-reliant communities. Two who went beyond the rhetoric were Booker T. Washington who noted, "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else," and Marcus Garvey advocated the need of "doing for self".
These serve as the core principles of what makes up a group focused on recreating/building intentional communities through cooperative purchases of land I co-founded in 2012, Duende Natural: raising ourselves up ourselves, a true essence of the meaning behind the words, "For Us By Us" (remember FUBU?). Or better if you ask me, the tangible response to our youths cry is #BlackLivesMatter meet #BlackLandMatters.
In the article, ‘The Unapologetic Quest to G.E.N.T.R.I.F.Y.: Ethnic Cleansing Through Economics’, I noted, ”Gentrification should be synonymous with colonializm. We walk thru New York City today not knowing two very large portionz of it were once occupied by free Afrikanz: Wall Street and Central Park. If we don't act, soon generationz will do the same walking the streets of Brooklyn.”
The current wave of land grabbing, or better put, western gentrification on urban and indigenous communities is nothing new. One of the most profound quotes I ever read was Eartha Kitt when she said, “I've always said to my men friends, If you really care for me, darling, you will give me territory. Give me land, give me land.”
The whirlwind Garvey spoke of does not have to start out as a tsunami, for every storm starts out first with an overcast. In order to compete, this won’t necessarily be an overnight sensation. It will take hard work, dedication, and most important, TRUST, as this has been the most unheralded thorn in the side of our doing for self.
The work we’re doing at Duende Naturál alignz ourselves with this overcast, venturing out to recreate intentional communities using historical consciousness as our base. From this, recreating our communities not only offerz the chance to build generational wealth and self-determination, fused with permaculture, it creates sustainability in the form of food sovereignty having access to healthier food by creating communal and individual gardenz; the most needed of food, clothing, and shelter by any being.
Using tenants borrowed from the Nguzo Saba, we’re currently building a village on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica where we invite like-minded folk to come to our numerous yearly excursionz to see for themselves the physical, tangible possibilities of creating and living on our own land. But overstand, wherever Afrikan people are, #BlackLandMatters, so we’re also building this same model domestically with the intent to duplicate this model around the world. For additional info on our tours.
If you are interested in joining our intentional community project, email us at email@example.com.
Each one teach MANY: #BlackLivesMatter meet #BlackLandMatters
Let's BUILD… literally!
• Become a member of BLM-REIC! — duendenatural.com/blm/join.html
• Come with us to Costa Rica this year!
See where we're going this year! We have a trip for you whether with family, solo, or with friends!
Additional Supportive Readings:
• Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice, by Jessica Gordon Nembhard
• Our Black Year, by Maggie Anderson
• What Happen: A Folk-History of Costa Rica's Talamanca Coast, by Paula Palmer
• The Unapologetic Quest to G.E.N.T.R.I.F.Y.: Ethnic Cleansing Through Economics:
• The Future of Our Past - Using Cooperatives to Survive and Compete in the Next Twenty Years
This 39-minute presentation looks at a series of core issues stemming from Emancipation as well as Integration that's led to the rise and fall of our collective loss of land economics and opportunity and how resuscitating the use of the Cooperatives can be a key factor in the next two decades.
>> Watch here
• Black Land Matters featured on the Laura Flanders show
Black Land Matters' co-founder, Mark Scott joined Weeksville Heritage Center's Tia Powell Harris on the Laura Flanders show on the historic relevance of using cooperatives as a tangible solution to addressing the disparities of POADUS' (People of African Descent in the United States) socio-economic opportunities.
>> Watch here