|Defiant Ones, illustrated by Gustav Rehberger|
People don't like to talk about race. It makes people uncomfortable, angry, defensive. In the age of the überbrand, and thoughts spelled out in 140 characters or less, race relations is just not sexy, and attempts to repackage it with hyperbole like "the race card" and "reverse discrimination" have enter the lexicon with a resounding thud. Attempts to whitewash the past by trying to remove what was done from history has brought an unintended lens back to the history and it's explicit ugliness. Nobody likes to talk about it because no one knows where to start. The ones who left this legacy are long gone, but the blood-soaked inheritance keeps on giving in a perpetual round-robin system created for the advantage of their offspring. On the flip side, the ones who bear the striations are endowed with the baggage of pain past and expected to keep up the dwindling flame of a struggle that has become more imagined than real. Both sides are blinded by their perceived realities of themselves and each other and are chained together on a mental slave ship, rowing face to face, locked in a stalemate of inferior and superior complexes. What we don't realize is that we are not looking at the enemy of an opposing side, but in the mirror of our opposing self, a cranial confusion of not knowing that one is not outside of the other, but one is the other.
“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
- Frederick Douglass
The classification of the races did not always exist. Race classifications came about from western thought and rationalization and were born out of the wars between the Irish and the English who started to see each other as separate from themselves. This lead all of Europe to classify themselves as separate people. This is why in Europe today there is a strong emphasis on the differences between the European nationalities. This coupled with the idea of "survival of the fittest" has produced a warped thought process, a kind of battle royale we continue to follow today, that is harming people all over the world. This idea of "surviving" really has no merit past the fearful thoughts of a few Europeans who then worked themselves, and overtime, the European collective, into a frenzy supported by the idea of Western Civilization, cultivated by the Greeks, which started out as an inferiority complex to be more powerful than the (renamed) ancient "Egyptians." These thoughts have morphed into the self-propelled, Western perception of power and material wealth by "controlling" the people and lands that host the natural resources of the world.
Now, the issues of the human condition goes further back than the Europeans, however the current way of the world has to be put into a historical perspective to understand how things have gotten to the current state. That perspective traces back to Europe and western thought, western civilization, and the lie that affects all peoples today, regardless of race.
“Education is indoctrination if you're white -subjugation if you're black.”
-James Arthur Baldwin
Race shifted gears from national identity to skin color during the Atlantic Slave Trade where race played an important part in rationalizing the use of Africans as slaves. When white slaves in the new America, later called " indentured servants," would escape there was no way to find them because they assimilated into the society undetected. The idea was to use Africans because a.) the Europeans were going into Africa anyway to destroy any evidence of past civilizations and history (to proliferate information and bolster Western Civilization) and to find any natural resources (at that time land, gold, diamonds, copper, etc) that would fit their needs and b.) Africans solved the issue escaped slaves due to their skin color. So to rationalize this idea, the Europeans simply proclaimed that Africans were not only "savages," the Western perception of the indigenous connection to the natural world, including animals, plants and the environment, who needed to be "saved," or "civilized," but were also less than human. Just like as when certain Europeans declared that non-Christians and Jews were pagans in early Europe in order to spread Western thought through the guise of Christianity. These derogatory terms work first as a seed in the minds of the collective to separate the "them verses us," which then supports the use of violence through invasion, coercion, subjugation and cultural annihilation, which would later be rebuilt though Western perception, reinforcing the illusion of greatness and power of the Western world. By the way, many past and present genocides were born out of this process of thought.
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world."
- Charles Darwin
In 1858, the thoughts and perceptions of Charles Darwin were published as a scholarly work called On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life which theorized that evolution was born out of the natural selection, a competition between species (which he called races at that time) for resources and that only the fittest would survive. Darwin theorized that humans evolved from gorillas and that Blacks had the dominate gene when it came to race. Well, some then theorized that that could only mean that Blacks where the first humans to appear and they evolved from gorillas (animals who have been previously theorized to be a lower life from than humans) and since Europeans are white which is the opposite of black then surely they must be more evolved than anyone else, right? But the TRUTH still remains that there is no proof that we humans have evolved from any other animal or that animals are indeed a lower life form than us, these are theories born out of a Western point of view, thus the INCREDIBLY HUGE missing link. Ignoring the glaring truth is nothing when the education system is supported by your own theories and public reception of a theory can quickly become fact. Therefore, by the stroke of their own pen the Western world declared that black people, supported by their own Western science, were now "proven" to be inherently less human than whites, approximately 3/5 less, scientifically speaking, which in turned, convinced the masses of what these Europeans wanted to do, which was enslave massive amounts of Africans. So scientific illusion is a manipulation tool that has been used over and over again because it always fits into a real nice package that circles back to what was previously theorized and later changed into a fact, even if it is not true. And if some people question these theories, they are ridiculed, called ignorant, unintelligent, usually by other indoctrinated "scholars," and the weak minded are shamed into accepting these smoke and mirrored theories. Over time, the theory is passed along to the public through education as fact and the grand illusionary beast of "greatness" which is Western Civilization keeps trudging along. Race is not something that actually exists it is something that was perceived for the benefit of those who perceived it.
Africans lost most of their African heritage to take on a creolized variant of European culture. This absorption process really is cultural assimilation at work where a minority group, either through force or voluntarily, surrenders it's cultural traditions to become enveloped into a different and invariably dominate culture.
-E. Franklin Frazer
After the end of slavery, black people, collectively, were thriving in the Western world and this didn't sit too well with people who had been indoctrinated in the myth of superiority. This discomfort turned into a new fear of being be "taken over" or "survived by" the black race which spawned the Reconstruction period of Jim Crow laws, which ultimately stripped black Americans from the dominating culture's rites of land, money, and male voting and governmental privileges. This redefined role was then reinforced by random acts of violence through lynchings, arson and beatings which sent black Americans into a downward spiral of mental subjugation which has proven to be more damaging than the physical form of slavery itself. But instead of purging and rejecting the American way, black people chose to fight to be accepted by, to be recognized as equal to, not the spiritual sense which was projected, but more importantly in the mental sense, by the adoption, consumption and propagation of the Western way of life.
"I do believe that there will be a clash between East and West. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think that it will be based upon the color of the skin."
The once totally subjugated now proudly stand side by side (or at least tries to) with the indoctrinated as we instruct others how to correctly use the proverbial fork that is the Western perception of civility. Most of us will go to college, if only to prove how intelligent we are in mastering Western perception. Our stern belief in Western science which has further separated, categorized and dissected the natural world, without really knowing what is what, has pitted humans against their own environment, through industrialization and the continued accelerated overuse of natural resources, to the point that we now believe that we are adversely affecting the very ecosystem that sustains our life. Many of us go to pre-approved Western churches every week to prove that we are not heathens (heathen means you are not a Christan or a Jew and goes back to the term "pagans" used by the Christian Church in Europe as a derogatory term to separate people who were not Christian or Jewish and to get them to join the church while they backhandedly commandeered so called "pagan" practices), without any thought or question of what we are following, and how it came to be. We go to work everyday trying to get paid, committed to the hustle, the grind, honoring our real G-O-D, the Almighty, the D-O-L-L-A-R, working towards our real God's plan, the 401k, the retirement plan. The Western machine keeps people in a constant mental round-about not knowing why we do what we do and neglecting what it is we are suppose to do-- our calling, our bliss, the reason why we chose to be in this existence in the first place.
“I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
We are so coked up on what we should look like, who has what, what some celebrity is doing, and what profession is considered good or bad that we have missed the whole picture. We are so desperate to prove we are not lazy; we are a respected people, a productive member of the society, that we will do anything to get into a room that used to be restricted to us, just to be a part of something, because we are too afraid to stand on our own, in our own light, in our own glory. We want an American dream that is so elusive to most, even to those who have found material wealth, a dream that was never real in the first place because it is centered on exterior encroachments and not interior enlightenment. Western thought has entrapped both Blacks and Whites (and everyone else) in a wicked web of deceit, neither knowing that they are living someone's thoughts, someone's fears, someone's lies, and it has gotten out of control.
It is only when the shock of a James Byrd Jr., an Amadou Diallo, or a Trayvon Martin death enters the conscientiousness that both white and black Americans are temporarily awaken from their Western induced coma to face the reality of the festering disease of indoctrination and subjugation based upon symptomatic inferior/superior perceptions we have yet to remedy. The more we continue to see ourselves as separate we will never see the natural connection that is there and has been there. There is no such thing as to conquer anyone, there is no such thing as to have power over anyone. Because the idea that one can conquer or have power over, mentally binds us to that person and puts us into a prison of our own doing. Likewise, when we live under the spell of someone else's fear, we start to see the world in that fear, and become a victim of an illusion born out of a mental sickness of not knowing who we truly are. And because we are like stubborn, lost people on a road trip refusing to ask for directions, we keep going and going and going, making up excuses and remaining lost, to no end.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
One can not think that the very system of Western thought that has subjugated and indoctrinated us into one way of being will be the same system to free us, no. One must first purge Western thought from the mind through questioning. First ask your self, who am I? Everything you know of yourself you have been told. As children we were taught to think. We were given words and problems to memorize and told these are the things that make one intelligent. But is that true? What is intelligence? And why is it always measured by a standardized test administered by someone who is deemed that a certain number of correct answers makes one intelligent. Why do we all agree with this notion? Question how can we have something called carbon dating when calendars and years are made up? Just because you call something a complicated Latin name doesn't mean you know what it is. Simply observing something without experience it does not give one more insight or new knowledge than someone else. What is education and what are you being educated on? If man got the idea to build the dam from a beaver, who taught the beaver? What is intelligence and who has a lock on that definition? How is it the humans have figured out so much about the world but don't know where thought comes from? How do you know that what you are told is true when you have not experienced it? How do you know you are not looking at the world through someone else's lens and have become a mental slave to someone else's thoughts? QUESTION EVERYTHING, even everything I have written and let the answers find you.
Written by Xelinda Aïda