On denialists’ folly

I recently watched an interesting video on YouTube titled, “Why flat earthers scare me,” which offered an analysis of the recent history and pervasiveness of this perspective. I agree with many points raised in this video. There are two points that are made that were valuable to me. First, the commentator cites a study that states that people who believe that the Earth is flat have a lower than average level of scientific literacy, but a higher than average degree in confidence in the veracity of their beliefs. Second, she notes that at some point in the mid-20th Century, science, reached a level of complexity beyond the comprehension of the average person—which poses important challenges in terms of scientific literacy more broadly.

This is all very consistent with my experience with individuals who claim that the transatlantic slave trade never happened. I have observed and interacted with individuals who seemed to know very little about history, cultural anthropology, or biology, whose ignorance limited both what they knew, but also what they were capable of understanding. These same individuals were also quite dogmatic in their views, insisting that those who knew far more than them were in fact ignorant of the truth.

Additionally, I see the basis of this ignorance as primarily social—that is, that it is a product of pervasive and intergenerational anti-African propaganda in the US, coupled with the suppression of information regarding African and African Diaspora history and culture in schooling system. 

Further, I think that this kind of ignorance is not only foolish, but that it has significant negative political implications for our community. Their view (that we are, in fact, native to the Americas) consigns historians, linguists, cultural anthropologists, archaeologists, and certainly geneticists to being a part of some vast conspiracy against an implausible belief. Further, they must ignore the preponderance of African cultural retentions in the Americas, accounts by African Diasporans in the 18th and 19th Centuries, as well as actual slave narratives to sustain such flawed premises. Lastly, our historical, cultural, and political connections to the rest of the African world have been and are a vital tool in our struggle for freedom. Such denialism undermines these connections and the potential that they possess.

Finally, these denialists demonstrate a political myopia—that is, not only is their idea historically and scientifically fallacious, it is also politically impotent. They have exchanged our actual ancestral legacy for one whose veracity is non-existent and whose legitimacy will always be contested. They reflect the Yoruba proverb that states, “Ibi tí a ti ńpìtàn ká tó jogún, ká mọ̀ pé ogún ibẹ̀ ò kanni,” which translates as “Where one must recite genealogies in order to establish one’s claim to inheritance, one should know that one really has no claim to patrimony there.” This means that  legitimate claims seldom require such elaborate performance. They do not require the suppression of evidence or its fabrication. They stand on their own merits.

On the African origins of African Diasporans (including Africans/Blacks in the United States)

To whom it may concern (including those who are in denial of this): Our food, language, music, dance, historical narratives from the antebellum period, combat arts, spiritual traditions, healing modalities, DNA, and so on are clearly African derived. These are not matters of opinion, but reflect the empirical reality.

On the Consequences of Silent/silenced Men

For example, one recent study found connections between stress and prostate cancer. They report:” Researchers at Loma Linda University Health contend that the disproportionate amount of chronic stress African Americans face is partly responsible for the alarmingly high incidence and mortality rates from prostate cancer observed in African American men.”

Of course, we also know that stress, as a long-term experience can greatly erode one’s quality-of-life, resulting in a shortened life-expectancy. A Pro-Publica article reports that: “Sherman James is a social epidemiologist who has spent the past four decades exploring why Black men have higher rates of diseases that lead to shorter lifespans than all other Americans.” The article continues, “His conclusion is that the constant stress of striving to succeed in the face of social inequality and structural racism can cause lasting physical damage.”

Furthermore, mental health challenges have particularly adverse impacts on Black men and boys. Citing a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an article from Forbes states, “A 2021 JAMA study revealed that Black men had a larger increase in suicide attempts than any other racial group. It also found that suicide rates in Black male adolescents increased by 47% from 2013 to 2019. Black suicidologists say it’s partially due to racism.”

Returning to my initial point, I cannot fathom how a silent (or silenced) group can help themselves, help others, seek help, or meaningfully exist in community. I may be mistaken, but I believe that for Black men, such silence could be deadly. Suffering in silence is a sure fire way to expedite a decline in one’s mental and physical health. I think that rather than men, specifically Black men, being silent, we should be actively engaged with people that care about our health and well-being. Being silent, particularly given the many challenges that we face could be fatal, as, like the African American proverb says, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

Black Male Suicide: A Silent Epidemic

Black Men Have the Shortest Lifespans of Any Americans. This Theory Helps Explain Why.

Cumulative stress in African American men may contribute to prostate cancer health disparity

Climate disasters as social entropy

Over time, the capacity of states to respond to climate disasters will diminish. The frequency and scale of those disasters will increase, eventually resulting in a situation that has already become normal in some parts of the US and the world, wherein people–living in the milieu of partial recoveries–struggle to carry on their lives in the midst of the detritus of environmental catastrophe. The long-term consequence of this, of course, will be a decrease in security, health, and well-being. These things are, I believe, inevitable. However, actions can be taken to reduce these vulnerabilities and to make local communities more resilient and self-reliant.

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.

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.