Will the secular trend withstand crisis?

Whereas religious adherence has seemingly declined in the US, resulting in the nonreligious becoming the fastest growing demographic, I don’t think that such a trend is irreversible. In fact I think that economic hardship and extreme weather events will spur a return to religiosity. In the lacuna between anxiety about the present and uncertainty about the future, the longing for a god to save humanity from hardship will likely grow in tandem to fear and suffering.

In some cases people will be praying for rain and in others they will pray for the rains to stop. Some will likely pray for financial support whilst enriching their religious leaders who profit from their misery.

Internal colonialism

I have always been puzzled about the debate as to whether the Black/African community in the US constitutes an internal colony. To me it was always obvious that we are an internal colony due to the form and degree of exploitation that we are subject to. Our community is subject to racialized containment, state surveillance, resource extraction, labor exploitation and suppression, systemic violence, ineffective/extractive institutions, cultural suppression and malformation, and co-opted leadership.

Racialized containment are the measures employed to restrict our movement within various areas within the US, such as restricting us to certain neighborhoods of the city or certain towns within a region. One one level we are surveilled as a consequence of hyper-policing and the carceral state. On another level our social movements have historically been subject to surveillance, infiltration, and disruption by the US government as in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program. One of the principle resources extracted from our community is our culture. It is, for instance, commodified by the entertainment industry. Additionally, our community is mined for intellects capable of servicing the dominant system. Further, we are variously displaced from our communities on the basis of racist hostility (via massacres) or capitalist accumulation (i.e., gentrification). Black labor is either eschewed (resulting in high levels of unemployment) or undervalued (resulting in high levels of under-employment) in the broader labor market. Institutions which are located within the community often are ineffective or facilitate the extractive ends of the state or corporate interests. Our culture is either suppressed in practice (consider the suppression of African culture during the era of enslavement) or policy (consider the restrictions on hairstyles or the regulation of Black speech in schools). Further, via the entertainment industry, cultural forms which originated with Black/African people are reconstituted into mediums that fetishize sex, violence, substance abuse, and materialism. Finally, those who are elevated as Black leaders, generally serve the interest of the state or capital.

This is internal colonialism.

10 Questions for so-called Black Native Americans (i.e., those who deny that we are of African descent)

1. If our ancestors aren’t African, why do we primarily have West African haplotypes? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4048334/

2. Why do we eat African foods? How did these crops get to the Americas? https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/how-enslaved-africans-influenced-american-diet/4816356.html

Why is our diet not identical to the Native American diet? Consider, for instance their relationship to corn in contrast to ours?

3. Why do we speak a language (AAVE or Ebonics) that has African syntax, rather than the syntax of Native American languages? https://www.academia.edu/17776766/Africanisms_in_Contemporary_English

4. What is this and how did it come to America? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo#/media/File:Bluegrass_banjo.png

5. The earliest Muslims in the US were Blacks. Where did they come from? How did they get here? They said that they were brought on slave ships. They actually told their stories. Were they mistaken or confused? https://nyupress.org/9781479847112/servants-of-allah/

6. Many Africans in the 18th and 19th Century used the term African in the organizations. Examples include the African Lodge, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the First African Church. Many of those who lived during these times were taken directly from Africa or had forbears that were. Were they mistaken? Were they confused?

7. Many African Americans gave their children African names. Why didn’t they give them Native American names? Were they confused about where they came from? https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/names-and-naming-african

8. Many Africans wrote narratives of the experience of enslavement. Where are the period narratives that affirm that we are, in fact, native to the US?

9. If we are native to the US, are Afro-Cubans, Afro-Brazilians, Jamaicans, Haitians, Afro-Columbians, etc.? If so, why does so much of their culture also derive from Africa? Such similarities defies coincidence do they not?

10. Why are our fighting traditions African-based? Why aren’t these methods of fighting found amongst Africans and not the indigenous population of the Americas? https://uscpress.com/Fighting-for-Honor

The reality is that our relationship with the indigenous population has been complicated. We have collaborated with them (i.e., in instances of insurrection), extirpated them (i.e., as in the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers), and been exploited by them (i.e., as in slavery). However, we are not them. We are Africans.

To quote Edward Wilmot Blyden, “Your place has been assigned you in the universe as Africans, and there is no room for you as anything else.” The embrace of such a sublime reality as our inherent Africanness is the very foundation to our regeneration as a people.

Sailing on the high seas of irrationality

One cannot debunk conspiracy theories with logic or evidence. Logical arguments only demonstrate one’s conformity to the mode of thinking that the conspiracy theory seeks to unseat. All evidence contrary to the conspiracy theory is perceived as evidence of the conspiracy’s existence. The durability of conspiracy theories is predicated upon such circular reasoning.

Our petty bourgeois strivings

I know that many of us continue to celebrate African/Black people being installed as agents of the state apparatus, the same state that kept Africans in shackles during the era of chattel slavery, suppressed Black voting rights for nearly a century, sabotaged Black movements for sovereignty, assassinated Black leaders, and has consistently sought to inflict “on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

I am reminded in the midst of these celebratory moments of the wisdom of Malcolm X, who stated, “Racial unrest never occurs among the satisfied, bourgeois class of Negroes. They can easily be appeased and controlled and influenced just by continuing to drop crumbs on their table—the crumbs of tokenism. And this type of Negro that the so-called Negro leadership represents is a type that can be appeased and can be controlled with the crumbs of token integration.”

I think that Malcolm X’s criticism highlights the inadequacy of integrationism as a political strategy and ideology. In many ways one might say that he anticipated its devolution from appeals for structural integration to the present bifurcation of the African/Black community in the US, where the petty bourgeoise class continues to aspire to enjoy the bounty of capitalist exploitation, which the masses are increasingly dislocated by. 

Ultimately, the performance of representation by powerful institutions is a paean to the aspirations of the Black elite. Such strivings do not equate to the imperative of self-determination for the masses, a self-determination whose actualization dismisses the very legitimacy of the dominant system itself.

On Cruses’s Two Streams

The notion that Africans/Blacks in the US can advance by asserting their “Americanness” & denying their “Africanness” is an old idea, visible in the poetry of Phillis Wheatley in the 18th Century. Wheatley and many who would come after her reflect Cruse’s integrationist stream.

Cruse also acknowledged another stream, the Black nationalist stream, which many say begins with Martin Delany, but I think saw its inception within the traditions of insurrection, maroonage, and the earliest examples of repatriation with Paul Cuffe in the early 19th Century.

When one considers the intellectual legacies of integrationism and Black nationalism, they seem irreconcilable. Assimilation results in African people’s subordination to white domination. Whereas nationalism rejects the legitimacy of African life under alien subjugation.

The history of these streams remains unfinished, but as ever, the integrationist stream is presented as the singular expression of Black political thought, while the nationalist stream is decried as folly. However, all evidence suggests that integrationism is not possible, nor is capable of solving all of the problems of our people–problems that result from our lack of control over our lives.

Impoverished notions of freedom

African/Black people are strongly encouraged to embrace a notion of freedom that centers on the self-interest of the individual, rather than one wherein self-determination and sovereignty are our principal objectives. The former striving is reinforced across the cultural landscape, while the latter is portrayed as an unattainable myth or heresy.