Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black History is American History?

We know the rap; we were forcibly brought to this country, stripped of our names, our heritage, our culture, our language, our integrity and our sense of self determination. Later were told we were negroes which indicates none of the above. Then we were allowed to have "Negro History Week" which morphed into Black History Month. While both of these observances sought to restore our pride, very little emphasis was put on restoring what was stripped away initially. Why? Because it would make us unmanageable. But that's the point of restoring our complete history and culture -it's 2012 - we can manage ourselves.

Look back at the way Black history has been presented and you will find two themes constantly re-inforced. Indvidual achievement and a starting point that begins in slavery. This is a subtle way of dicouraging unity and collective action and again, cutting us off from our true heritage, culture, language , sense of integrity and self determination. We didn't come from slavery, we came from Africa.

Now there's a new refrain - "Black history is American history." This appeals to our deep-seated longinig and need to be accepted in this country -so now we have a new plea, just as we begged and pleaded to become full citizens in this country, the new "movement" will be to have others recognize our history and contribution to America.

This puts the power in the hands of whites who can choose to accept our history or not, in their time and on their terms. It also puts us in the position of only highlighting the points of our history we feel would be acceptible and not "controversial" or discomforting, which equals more limitation in our quest for self discovery.

But let's get to the real point. Chanting "black history is American history" once again confines us to our experience in America since 1555. Let's look at this realistically. Black history has no birth record. As far back as archeologists can find we have had cultures and civilizations on record. This dates back before 4900 B.C. Nubia, Susa, Axum, Kemet (Egypt), Ancient Israel, Ghana, Mali, Songhai etc are all well established beyond the shores of America and before 1555A.D. If we have 4,500 thousand years of history that we were denied the knowledge of, why are we only focusing on the 450 years we have been enslaved and misinformed?!

As we clamor to make black history accepted and accecptible to others, we have to ask ourselves who really benefits? Certainly, not the ones who need it most -our children, who often get thier culture mixed up with drugs, low achievment and criminal activity. Look at the condition the music, mentality and behaviour of our children has drifted to in the last 30 years overall. We had our Afrocentric period in the early 90's, what did they have? What did we give them? We have to work to make our full culture, heritage and history acceptible, accesible and accepted by them - first, before we worry about how others feel about our history.

Black History is bigger than American History.

But let's be wise, why buck the mainstream? We don't know who is funding and encourging this new attempt at keeping us cut off from our true history. And it probably won't stop just because we don't like it. So let's look at it this way; the same way "American" history or culture somehow includes Christianity (a European development), Roman culture, Greek culture, the ideas of Euproeans like Adam Smith, Freud, Hegel, Darwin, Montesquieu, Bentham etc., we can introduce Kemetic culture, Moorish culture, and the ideas of Ptahotep, Diop, Asar, Al-Jahiz etc.,as American culture as well. Then with that understanding in mind- and only then- we can honestly say "Black History is American history."