Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Monday, December 15, 2008

Re: Then You Neva Was

On Nov. 25th I posted a response to an opinion piece by Mr. Muhammad Youngai which can be found here:

His original piece can be found here:

Mr. Youngai took issue with my response and sent this reply and contacted me. I told him my standing policy that anyone that has an issue with something I wrote may submit a reply which would be posted to the blog unedited. His comments are in green, my commentary in in black.

Brother Sondjata

I’ll respond to your criticisms but some of them are really not at all legit.

First you mentioned Pan-Africanism. I never mentioned it. So why would you assume I’m not down with it? And why would you apply the insulting appellation of “confused”?

Secondly, I never said that there was an ideological conflict between working for a better America and being a Nationalist. You seem to contradict your own critique of my position where I implied that I’m now more willing to work for progressive causes not necessarily connected with Nationalism.

In the second paragraph of your AJC ed you wrote:

As a black nationalist, I have considered myself an American only as a technicality or an accident of birth. I’ve never hoisted the red, white and blue, only the red, black and green

The Red Black and Green given to Africans by Marcus Garvey, is a (if not thesymbol of Pan-Africanism. When you wrote that you saw yourself as an American by accident of birth (a statement I suppose was influenced by Malcolm X) you made the implicit argument that you put the commonality of blackness, or shall I say Africaness, before your citizenship status. That is a Pan-Africanist ideology. We should note that there are those who define "black" as "African-American" and therefore limit their idea of Nationalism to African-Americans to the exclusion of other African descended people. It is also implied by your quoted statement that you are knowledgeable of and an adherent to the ideaologies of Pan-Africanism and specifically of Garveyism for whome the RBG is attributable to. This is key, since my later arguement regarding the election of Obama is dependent upon that particular knowledge base. Hence the "confused" statement.

In regards to your willingness to work with "progressive" causes not connected with Nationalism: I say that clearly then you have a limited understanding of what Nationalism is. What "progressive" agenda is not nationalist in nature? Education? Environment? Criminal Justice? Gender issues? Please do tell. By my reading your statement continues in the ceding of "Nationalist" issues to other groups who then claim ownership of those issues. As a result accusations of "narrow nationalism" are directed at declared nationalist as they are continually marginalized. Thus your statement is yet another example of how your statements, both in the AJC and in your reply here, serve to undermine the Black Nationalist community in America.

Thirdly, ignoring your juvenile reference to a “crack pipe” I never delineated a “plan” for independent Black communities within the United States. But if you’ve studied your history or ever heard of Malcolm X, I’m sure you heard him describe Black Nationalism as controlling the communities where we live, which is the same as gaining some measure of autonomy. And you must not be aware that there are some semi-autonomous communities in America today. Some Jewish groups have their own courts and special laws which apply only to them. So called American Indians are theoretically independent (Nations) and similarly have their own courts and laws, tax exemptions, etc. We have just never fought for our own special courts, laws and rights specific to our historically unique situation. Even the Kurds in Iraq and other groups around the world have gained a certain degree of autonomy. Additionally, I don’t need Garvey to endorse any ideas that I may have. Much of life is a progression and we’re supposed to build on the work that brothers like Garvey did. This may involve having some independent thinking! Brother Garvey didn’t think of everything which is where we come in.

No you did not delineate a "plan" for independent Black communities. Of course that is usually the problem. While I have no issue with Malcolm X's definition of Black Nationalism, or Toure's either your examples of so called "semi-autonomy" in America are not nationalism. Let's examine the groups you've mentioned.

The Jewish groups (and I'll add Muslim groups here) "autonomous" courts are religion based and therefore as you point out only applicable to those within' the group. Furthermore; even those groups defer to the national court systems. In fact the NY Times recently ran an article on the Sharia courts in America. Clearly anyone interested in governance would see the problem when that group runs afoul an outsider. Those courts actually have little power other than that given by those who use them. Certainly anyone can refuse to participate by those "court" rulings and there would be no real recourse. However, let one of those communities ignore a subpoena from a national court and see what happens. They do not represent any real sovereignty and therefore aren't really dealing with power.

American Indians are an entirely different case from your Jews and Muslims. American Indians, when located on a federally recognized reservation are in fact on sovereign territory no different than England and Canada. As Mayor Bloomberg found out recently, Those nations have the right to (and not to) collect taxes and enter into treaties with the US (or any other country I suppose). There is not a single black community in the US that can make a claim of sovereignty as Native Americans can. Nor will black people be able to do so, but if your thinking of seccession, by all means let me know how it turns out.

The Iraqi (and Turkish) Kurds are again a bad example. Like the Native American they have claims to land that spans thousands of years. Their land was taken from them by colonial entities. The current Kurdish "success" is largely a function of the illegal war in Iraq and the fall of Saddam. In any case the situation of the Kurds is more applicable to that of Africa than it is for America so it is really irrelevant for this conversation.

Refocusing on Black folk in America though we can look at certain communities such as the Assante immigrant community who still defer to enstooled elders. There is the Oyotunji village in Georgia as another example of "semi-autonomy." But even there you're not talking about sovereignty.

In reference to your position on a "Garvey" endorsement you are quite correct in that statement. However, it helps a great deal, if one is to call oneself a nationalist who hoists the Red Black and Green to at least be aware of what that man had to say on the subject. I myself have issues with Garvey and have stated them here often.

Most African Americans that I have seen or talked to no matter what their political persuasion have said that they didn’t think they’d ever see a Black President. And aside from your ridiculously insulting comment about (my) not knowing Obama’s heritage, he is still a Brother. Most of us have a white side of the family either in the immediate or remote past. Are you trying to suggest that only “pure” Blacks can be considered Black? Are you subscribing to Tiger Woods assertion that he is not “Black”, that mixed is some sort of new category of Negro? Well, try that in a race riot? I’ve been in 3 of them!

Well that most African-Americans you have seen said they'd never see a black president doesn't mean it wouldn't happen. And yes it is quite relevant that Obama is biracial. As we have seen in the history of America white folk have always and continue to feel more comfortable with biracial (light skinned) African-Americans (and there is research supporting this). I think it also helped greatly that he had a disconnect from "early arrival" African-Americans.

I am on the record as rejecting the one drop rule. I've posted much on the subject of genetics and race and perhaps you'll want to review that material. And no Tiger Woods isn't black by a genetic point of view though by American social standards he is.

When I mentioned my anger, what does “fault” have to do with it? What a puerile comment! I have a right be angry at years of nonsense, wasted lives and resources. As for your idea that serious black nationalists stopped the extreme anger…another simpleminded comment. I’m not concerned with what other people feel. Am I supposed to feel like you? No, I have my own emotions. But in my opinion, anyone who’s not angry, Black, White, Asian or otherwise is a fool. Plus, I stand by my assertion that most Black folks are extremely angry. Most of it is suppressed or turned inward which why we kill each other and engage in other self-destructive behavior.

In your AJC editorial you wrote:
Like many black folk, I have spent most of my life extremely angry about the oppressive treatment and double standard that has always existed in American society

To which I responded:

Well man that was your fault, no? all serious nationalists stopped with the extreme anger and had moved on from that stage of development a while back.

My points on this subject were
1) Living with extreme anger is bad for your health.
2) People who are angry tend not to think very clearly. It has been shown that angry people actually have less blood flow to the brain than those who are not.
3) As indicated in my response to your article, in the stages of development of black folk, specifically when it comes to those who are awakened to the issue of race, anger is a typical waypoint.

Having said that, upon revisiting that line of yours I see that it too helps with the propaganda, which Obama used to much effect, of showing "Nationalist" as angry black men (mostly) who just want to lash out at white people. Thus you again aided in propagandizing against black folk in a mainstream paper. Thanks dude!

Despite yet another insult, I stand by my statement that no “ethnic” has ever been president with the exceptions mentioned. You think Serbs or Polish or Italian (descendants) have ever been president? You need to check it.

Well sir your statement in the AJC editorial said:

No ethnic name had ever been uttered as president of the United States in its history. The closest had been Kennedy, Eisenhower and Van Buren, which are Irish Catholic, German and Dutch, respectively.

You made a declarative statement "No ethnic name has ever been uttered as president." I pointed out that ethnic whites exist, be they a national group such as Germans, Dutch, English, Scots, Irish, etc, or a subset of other groups. Clearly by your own statement, there have, in fact been ethnic names "uttered as president of the Unites States." Therefore your example and statement are false. You may have meant that there hasn't been a president of direct non-northwestern European descent and you'd probably be correct. But that is not what you wrote. perhaps you'll want to send a revised piece to the AJC on that.

But the main thing you need to check is the silly and arrogant attitude that if one does not agree with you, you have the liberty to fling insults and give juvenile analysis under the name of Garvey. If you were a wise brother you would not infer or imply something that wasn’t inferred or implied in the article. A scientific approach to thinking dictates that one acquire enough information before forming judgment.

Well given the notes above, I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether I'm "silly." I'm not of the opinion that I must be agreed with. I merely ask that the arguments put forth be factual and make sense. Furthermore I expect, from a so-called Nationalist, that one is more careful with providing mainstream newspapers propaganda pieces that work against black folk. The purpose of the AJC in publishing your piece was to attack the nationalist movement as being narrow, in need of ideological refinement and of being irrelevant. Knowing this, there are a number of ways that you could have approached the election of Obama within the framework of Black Nationalism, without invoking angry black men and narrow nationalism. Since you put yourself out there in public you must take some measure of responsibility of the material published with your name.

Lastly, the salient point of my article for people of African descent is that whether you like it or not, the Obama election changes the dynamic of our relationship to America. Someone who gave a mature critique of my article suggested that the system is using Obama to prove it’s not racist and to change its image. This is a valid critique, but without delving into the merits or de-merits of that idea, I would say that even the superficial cosmetic aspect of his election will produce profound changes in the way most countries and peoples think of and by extension, treat America. Those of us who are not flexible enough to adapt to change will either be destroyed or become irrelevant.

Well sir, since you've not followed the blog here, I'll have you know that the argument regarding the usage of Obama to change it's image, has been raised here a long time ago (among other topics). In reference to your last sentence I'll again refer you back to Garvey who said:

"Negroes" everywhere ought to take whatever opportunities that avail themselves to them wherever they may be situated.

Meaning of course we adapt to change. We've had that mantra since the early 1900's. But please don't act like this is somehow some new lesson to be learned. I wrote in my piece that I saw a black president coming in 1992. And I knew how he (and I did say he) would have to get there.

Muhammad Yungai

No comments: