.BLACK AMERICANS: Prisoners of Socio-Economics Cycles As we study the history of African cultures in their times ory and times of extreme deprivation and oppression, one persistent characteristic stands out, whether we examine sub-Saharan African cultures or north African cultures, and that is the prevalence of a traditional value framework which nurtures individual character and personality development and simultaneously gives collective religious, political, economic and aesthetic direction. Furthermore, because of the persistence of a traditional value framework, great cultural achievements were made in all fields of learning and, because of those same values, there was always grass-root resistance during times of oppression or colonialism. In South Africa, the Bantu and Zulu tribes resisted the encroachments of the British and Dutch colonialists within a cultural value framework which was of their own genius, and today their struggle goes on because they have not abandoned their value framework. For instance, the communities of Mali, Songhay, and Ghana were great because of a unifying value framework which reinforced the identity of their people throughout their history. Incidentally, this value framework had grown out of the discovery of Islam.
When we consider those African people who were enslaved in North America, beginning in 1619, we are considering a real holocaust - a holocaust unparalleled in the history of humanity. This holocaust cannot be understood outside the context of global history during the period between the 15th and 20th centuries. It was a real holocaust because it stripped millions of human beings of their ethnic memory, erasing the sense of self-origin, self-purpose, and self-destiny. It is obvious that there exists an attempt to play down the real holocaust and its effects by focusing on the so-called benefits of life in the United States. This, however, amounts to a gross misinterpretation of the living conditions of Africans in America. We are being told that conditions are getting better for us and, to highlight this big lie, news media agencies ignore the real life conditions of most Africans and instead emphasize the material success of a few comedians, news and sports casters, athletes, and entertainers.
We have a few radio stations, a handful of mayors, and some local bureaucrats who administer federally-funded programs for the minority poor. But if we look behind the appearances which tend to obscure the reality of our condition, we see that what such figures actually represent are co-opted negroes who have failed to articulate the demands of our people, and co-opted negroes who have failed to apply the methods which would give us self-determination in our communities.
The deliberate policy of co-opting a large percentage of Black intellectuals on the part of the government and corporations of the United States has stifled our movement to freedom and dignity, Consequently our history has neither been accurately articulated nor interpreted, particularly with respect to a framework of values.
History is the chronological listing of past events and it is simultaneously the written perception of those past events. It is a listing and perception all too often conditioned by prejudice, myth, and/or lack of vision. History, as it is selected and perceived, therefore, is highly inaccurate in its portrayal of our experiences in America. It is not difficult to understand, then, why there is acquiescence on the part of the African people in the face of socio-economic injustice, horrendous poverty, and duplicity of federal and state governments in America.
If, therefore, we are to see clearly the events of the past and assign to such events their proper weight in the determination of our present circumstances, we must purge from our God-given minds the historical lies which have been fed to and continue to feed them. We must release our minds to seek out in our past the nature and destiny of our present. It is no easy task to purge the mind of the conditioning to which it was and is subject.
It is no easy task to sever the tie which the mind has to the social apparatus of America, a social apparatus which through brutal force, puppet leaders, and lies has led the masses further and further down the politico-economic scale. This social apparatus has sought in the past and seeks in our time consistently to disembowel meaning from our history and to leave it hollow and impotent in the face of modem challenges.
How do we begin to recapture this meaning? We must get at an understanding of our history, our past; we must strip such past of the myriad myths covering its true structure. Do we begin with devils and bogeymen, or with courage and struggle? We must have the courage to rediscover the African culture from which we were forcibly taken; the courage to see the brutal socio-economic structure of a slave economy which successfully stripped us of a knowledge of self. Consequently, one must ask, “Do we seek a knowledge of our past in the facts of our past - facts as causes and effects?” Then upon such a basis of factual observations,, we must bring to light reasons for our present circumstances.
In his article entitled: “A Survey of Islam and the African Diaspora,” Clyde Ahmed Winters states,”…the fact remains that Arabic and Islam has been one of the major vehicles of exchange among African people in Africa and in diaspora. This is supported by the fact that the majority of both the earliest and latest slaves to arrive in the Americas, came fromwhat European geographers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries called Senegambia, Sudan, and upper Guinea regions of west Africa…” http://www.oppression.org/americas/black_americans.html