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Author Topic: new dimension to 'supremacy in black movements'  (Read 15205 times)
Yann
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« on: August 23, 2003, 04:58:22 PM »

It is easy for us as African people to believe that our 'Africanness' as we perceive it to be, automatically entitles us to speak authoritatively on the struggles and experiences of all black people in the Diaspora. This is far from the truth. Not all African people have had the same experiences with racism. Though we can all feel and understand its effects, it is a fact that our social circumstances, skin tone etc all tailor our level of EXPERIENCE with racism and often limit our ability to speak with any REAL authority on many issues.

I have been forced to stare the reality of my own privilege square in the face. While my own middle-class, relatively sheltered background could not shield me from gender discrimination, the complex quagmire of colour consciousness and a certain degree of racial discrimination, it definitely did shield me from substandard education, poverty, political persecution and any hope of a bright future. While we would like to say that we are united in the struggle for freedom of African people everywhere, it is a fact that we experience this bondage differently and thus can truly be part of the struggle for freedom FROM DIFFERENT LEVELS. Whether we choose to realize it or not, many of us have received subliminal messages of our own superiority over our 'less-fortunate' black brothers and sisters, not just because of racial discrimination based on lightness or darkness, but also from a class perspective. This too affects the way we relate to each other within the struggle.

While we say ' who feels it knows it', I wonder if many of us really and truly understand the ramifications of this statement. We all stare at each other across many divides as a community, some are based on colour and other are based on class and economic situation. This is a VERY REAL ISSUE THAT MUST BE CONFRONTED. While it seems that many are uncomfortable and incensed by the idea that they could be perceived as not ‘equipped’ for what ever reason, to lead the struggle or to contribute to black movements in a leadership role, to deny the truth of this is to ignore very real issues. We can only come to the table with who we are honestly and truthfully, having fully dealt with our own privilege, whatever form it may take.  As a black woman coming from a background of relative privilege and false ideas of class superiority, I cannot speak for, or lead a black or light skinned  person from a background of poverty, persecution and intense racial discrimination; I have neither the experience or moral authority to do so and do and frankly am simply not the right ‘symbol’ that such a movement requires to overturn the system that oppresses the disadvantaged.

This is not to say that I do not have a contribution and a responsibility to the movement. There may be other issues that I may be an authority on, those that I DO have direct experience with and it is my duty to act upon them where I see them. While spiritually I need to confront my privilege and realize that it is based on false, external trappings that mean nothing, I must also realize that my responsibility is to do what I can to empower those who have been forcefully DENIED power. This role is CRITICAL to the movement and does not negate my Africanness, or breed divisiveness in any way as far as I can see. It is not discrimination to say I cannot lead, it is simply assessing the reality and taking the most effective method to right critical wrongs
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Rootsie
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2003, 09:46:22 AM »

Yan, your post is a very good example of the difference between RESPONSE and REACTION.
The subject of privilege caused you to come thoughtful and honest about your own.
I wish others would summon the integrity and honesty to look at their emotional REACTIONS to this subject, and question themselves in a forthright way to see if any of the privileged behavior described here could possibly apply to them, and whether this might account for how embattled and attacked they feel.
I also am reminded by your post of how crucial self-knowledge and self-reflection are to development.
In the words of a beloved sister, "RUTHLESS self-examination" is the only way to come pure in truth.
Ones come here full of others' words, just like a politician, and then they get praise and strokes for their intelligence. Well at least they know good information when they see it, so that is something...
But EXPERIENCE is the big issue here, and not empathy and compassion and feeling the pain of the worst victims. Why, on that basis I, a white woman with an African ancestry not far past, can consider myself a leader in the movement for Black liberation! See how ridiculous this gets if we do not acknowledge that those who experience the worst effects of racism are best suited to lead.
The issue of class is of course the shadow that has been dogging this entire debate.
It was not nice for me to realize, once I shucked my victim mentality, that I am part of an elite. I do not scuffle for food or walk 20 miles for water. I sit in relative comfort and safety at my computer like the vast majority here. It does not surprise me that some of the reactions to this issue have been so violent and emotional, to the point of distorting the simple point that Diop made and Ayinde amplified. We are like the emperor and whoops we have no clothes.
If ones could come real and speak from their own experience of privilege, that would go far to advance the cause for equal rights and justice for everyone. We can only come as ourselves. And that is all we can bring to the struggle.
Ones who find certain topics unacceptable or 'divisive', clearly, they do not understand the true nature of Unity.

Rootsie
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Christine
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2003, 04:14:57 PM »

How many, who act and speak out in support of promoting FAIR SHARE TO ALL are READY and WILLING TO LITERALLY PUT THEIR MONEY AND PRIVILIGES WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS?

Change, in any constructed SYSTEM that  discriminates, can only be effective, when the people with AUTOMATIC PRIVILIGES, use their advantageous position to either uplift,  support or  share with the people who are never allowed easy, comfortable, or any access to the same privileges.

Though many have spoken and acted in support of changing the system, little or no movements occurred, because the force was not powerful enough to break through the barriers that secure this so-called system.

What most should be more concerned about, instead of fighting each other for what we consider a 'better' position, is to understand how the system works and work around it, by appropriately using their advantaged positions.

Another major consideration before choosing people for authoritative positions within the system, is a careful assessment of their personal history. An appropriate yardstick should be used to measure ones INTERGRITY and history of REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES. At that point, one can then better determine positions based on MERIT

If that is not part of the plan in the “SCHEME” of things, then the REAL PROBLEM, is the PEOPLE.

People are so conditioned to be slaves to the system, that they are blind to their own powers and abilities to make changes.

How many are SERIOUSLY WILLING to take back their power of support that contributed towards building the so-called system and use it constructively to do the work necessary to build and develop a RIGHT SYSTEM that allows FAIR SHARE to all.

UNTIL, the ultimate goal of this desired outcome is accomplished, the WORK will have to begin with the people who have the advantage with automatic privileges and are WILLING to extend and share the benefits with the people who need to be LIFTED up and out of the swamp of their disadvantageous positions, giving way for MORE PEOPLE POWER in support of CHANGE.

Christine
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Ayinde
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2003, 04:10:06 PM »

Yan and Christine,

Thanks for brilliantly expanding this reasoning! Two Thumbs
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Noah_The_African
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2003, 07:46:11 AM »

I think that we as a historically oppressed people need to fully understand what disgruntles us. Are we disgruntled with the SYSTEM or are we disgruntled with our position in the SYSTEM? Are we disgruntled with the Master/Slave dichotomy or are we simply upset that we have been and re disproportionately slaves and not masters and owners of slaves, in the western SYSTEM? This is an important point because if we are not cognitive of this question, we can easily be assimilated to become part of the problem that manifest in the oppression of others.

We must realize the rules of nature are supreme, thus, every action in this universe produces an equal and opposite reaction. The action of creating wealth has produced the equal and opposite reaction of creating poverty. The ACT of European exploration, imperialism, militarism and colonization of peoples and land has had the equal and opposite effect of producing wealth for Europeans and poverty and death and poverty for non-Europeans that were acted upon. This is how the western system operates; it fuels advancement and wealth via different degrees of exploitation.

In the modern era, this exploitation takes place less egregiously than in the past via a concept called capitalism. But let us all be clear that the empirical foundation of the creation of wealth and advancement has been exploitation, which is insidiously cloaked in capitalism. In a pure barter system, individuals simply trade goods and services of equal value, without the concept of PROFIT. However, in the capitalistic system, profit is the ultimate motivation, which intrinsically leads to exploitation. For the general rule is that profit comes to the owners in the interaction and exchange of energies and resources between owners, workers and customers, within a CLOSED system. Thus, in order for the owner to produce a profit, he has to get more out of this closed relationship than he put in. Consequently, if the owner is getting more out than he/she put in, then the worker or customer is getting less out of it than they put in. Thats the name of the game, which is getting more out of something than you put into it.

The system that we live under is simply a system of exploitation, which works very efficiently and thus motivates humans better than any other, BUT IT IS UNRIGHTOUS at its core because it is fueled by greed and gluttony. We need not be fooled into believing that success = righteousness, because that is not true. There have been no great empires built upon the principle of righteousness on this earth to date. All the great civilizations and empires were built off of unrighteousness and the quest for hedonism. It is proof of the adage that nice guys finish last, while the evil aggressives prosper on this earth.

So in conclusion, black people need to really understand HOW THINGS WORK and what it is that we are aspiring towards as a people and the ramification that such a path will lead to. For I am certain that a society or culture built off the principles of righteousness could never fuel advancement, wealth and the standard of living of the elites who operate and control a system of unrighteousness assuming that we place value in the life produce from unrighteousness. The life of the Western man, fueled by unrighteousness has created an anomaly. They have become the BENCHMARK  and target that others must aspire to, but the only way to emulate it is to follow the path of unrighteousness via finding others to exploit and transferee human energy and natural resources from, thereby increasing our PROFIT from the relationship.  Is that what we want?
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Yann
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2003, 08:28:39 AM »

the question arises then.. how can we manipulate this capitalist, profit-based system in which we operate?
the true test of wanting to truly bring about the empowerment of the powerless is as Christine stated to "LITERALLY PUT THEIR MONEY AND PRIVILIGES WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS"

those that are in a position to effect change cannot do so by paying lipservice to dismantling to system, but must be smart about using the system to bring about its own destabilization. persons of privilege have to ask they very questions that you have raised

"Are we disgruntled with the SYSTEM or are we disgruntled with our position in the SYSTEM? Are we disgruntled with the Master/Slave dichotomy or are we simply upset that we have been and re disproportionately slaves and not masters and owners of slaves, in the western SYSTEM? "

true integrity will allow ones to see that the system as it stands benefits no one for even the elite must constantly look over thier shoulders to see when those they have stolen from will assert themselves to re balance the equation.

what then is the formula (for want of a better word) for change? ruthless self examination is paramount. a position of privilege does not automatically make one the enemy but it is the crime of inaction that does. those who have access must use this very capitalist profit based system to bring about its destruction
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