The one who cautions you that the bridge is out over the cliff ahead is not trying to be disagreeable or challenge your ego, just trying to keep you alive and disregarding them does not show your muster, just your intellectual and cultural immaturity and your foolishness.
The beginning of and only trajectory towards the proper path to the stepping stones of success is the conversion of the rocks in a hard place associated with failure. He or she who cannot, because of ego critique their failures cannot affect that conversion and will never ultimately find that path. The troughs of my life failures are the foundation of the crests of my accomplishments.
(1) Once cannot take an ideological position on that which one has not sufficient critiqued. (2) One cannot sufficiently critique, with any degree of credibility or accuracy, that which they do not adequately understand. (3) One cannot adequately understand that which they have interrogated by the gathering of evidence and questioning which requires humility and is impeded by the ego. When one attempts to do (1) without addressing (2) and (3) to a reasonable degree, one will inevitably end up as an agent provocateur fomenting disagreement rather than common ground, and misunderstanding rather than understanding. The movement is full of too many people currently who start with 1 and think you work to three, rather than the inverse which is the correct methodology. They start with disagreement and ideological positions and then try to use them for critique and understanding.
Been reflecting a lot on being “alone,” that is without a primary personal intimate relationship or maybe alone more generally. I guess I am in a position to speak on this, having been so “alone” for decades, either literally or in relationship situations where there was a person there but where the feelings of mutuality, reciprocity and interdependence were not. Recently had a dear friend who described herself as grappling with this as well. This was relatively new territory for her. I shared some guideposts, if you will, from my own experience and I share here, hoping someone else might be encouraged.
Being “alone” is not easy, and I won’t claim it is or has been. I think a lot of how “alone” WORKS is connected to how you SEE or perhaps PERCEIVE “alone.” If you see it as the “absence” or “lack of” then it becomes difficult, rendered as some perpetual deficit to be rapidly addressed. It can lead you into negative, short-term relationships with equally negative consequences that you could have avoided with alternative thinking and a different spiritual orientation.
I try to see “alone” as me getting to know the essence of myself and re-centering myself spiritually, mentally and physically towards my progress in life and eternal goals. Relationships play in, in that I posit a potential for new interactions consistent with my development. I look at the past as purging things, that may have been appropriate for that prior time, but that are not necessarily the things and interactions that will sustain the “new” me to come.
My “aloneness” is my cocoon. I am being gestated to be reborn as something better, a product of my experience, but also of my willingness to embrace the world of the future.
I also await being embraced by those who can accept that the caterpillar has become a butterfly. It’s the “new me construction project” engineered by God, the ancestors, and me too. Construction teams say “pardon our dust.” That’s my line too, although I tend to use “I am God’s construction project, new wings opening soon.”
Looking around, I really wonder how many “relationships” exist in our community merely for the avoidance of being alone. I am NOT discouraging relationships since it is not good to be alone for an extended period, but the converse is also true, Being in relationships just for the sake of, with no reference to God or any common ground, is the worse torture you can inflict on yourself. Been there, done self like that.
The job of Negro leadership is simple. Develop, disseminate, and instill an ideological rhetoric designed to convince the people believe that the persistence of their negative condition is actually “change”, that symbolic action is the same as strategic and tactical action, and that THEY should be the sole representatives of collective social power as the creators of “change” and leaders of “action”. Their capacity to complete the aforementioned task well is the basis of their economic sustenance and that of their organizations and they will fight against anyone or anything which challenges their capacity to do so. Thus, Negro leadership does not ever fail to BE strategic and tactical, it is simply strategic and tactical with respect to its own perpetuation, rather than toward the collective progress of the people.
As a child of the most High God who does not fail or faint and does not give His Children a heart after fear or leave them begging bread, you are ALREADY made stronger than the circumstances within which you find yourselves. The challenge is that those circumstances and your reflection upon them tend to obscure your cognitive and spiritual awareness of that strength and therefore, of your ability to bring it to bear on them.
If the group or individual who ultimately benefits from your social oppression is also the primary financier, sustainer, and implementer of the mechanisms for change in your circumstances, you will find without fail that over time, “change” will look increasingly like the status quo. The important thing is not to be “surprised.”
If we build schools and make them a success, then our people will come. If we build kitchens and farms for their nourishment, they will come. If we provide for their housing, they will come. They WILL come and there CAN be unity, but when you have built nothing, and are building nothing and doing nothing EXCEPT waiting for unity, the people recognize that nothing is going anywhere and they are intelligent enough to leave you out there by yourself.
Afrikan movements in the diaspora, like Afrikan governments at home are hamstrung by the Eurocentric idea of “liberal democracy.” Eurocentrists can afford what they call “democracy” because they currently are in power. For oppressed people, this is a dangerously moribund philosophy. Eurocentric “democracy” requires that the same authority be given to you, the person who wants to engage revolution and the people who (a) oppose revolution, or (b) oppose your strategy, or (c) oppose ANY action. Imagine a Eurocentric democratic underground railroad bus for enslaved Afrikans. Tubman gets on the bus and obviously wants to drive it to freedom. Uncle Tom gets on the bus and wants it to stay parked at the plantation. Overseer Smith wants to go to freedom, but he wants to walk there, exposing the people to dangers in the process. Fat Louie weighs 1000 pounds and just gets on the bus to make sure that with his weight it CAN’T go anywhere. Eurocentric liberals will tell Afrikan activists they HAVE to use this bus IF they are to be free and that it would be UNJUST (imagine THEM judging) to not allow all these characters on it. Meanwhile, the slave master periodically passes the windows waves and smiles, knowing you ain’t going nowhere. You cannot unite in “democracy” with people that fall into the three aforementioned categories if you are going to have action. Those who oppose any action against oppression or anything that is not going to lead to its stoppage must be jettisoned as baggage to start with. The debate about strategy CAN be had, but it must be had with TWO buses or a bus and some other conveyance. We can advance no alternatives for collective action if we don’t actually create an environment to “pilot” them and compare their relative effectiveness for the advancement of our interests. We need to abandon the idea of coming up with the universal, one size fits all, unity strategy for Afrikan advancement. What we need is a multiplicity of strategies, syncretism and the analytical and intellectual wherewithal to accurately assess their political and social worth.
You will find unity with those who want to do what you are DOING and want to go where you are GOING and victory over the consciousness of the people shall be won by those who do the most, go the farthest and thereby get the greatest following on the basis of their ACTION not their plans.
There is community without unity. The community exists as such. Unity is a move within the community and it is not the prerequisite of social activism but the effect of it. Afrikan tradition shows us that most of our social progress was not made by the masses in unity, but the masses in unity following a “surgical strike” force of people of consciousness and commitment who went ahead and got something started. Huey Newton called this the “tip of the spear.” We would be better off starting something with those who are ready to move than waiting for unity. We are in this condition because their were ALWAYS some among us, who identified with other than us, and they remain because they are necessary for the system. Given that, they will always be a factor against unity and if you make unity the test, movement will not happen. Better instead to be the tip of the spear, let the people see your building and then have those among them who come along, come along.
Unity is BORN of effective strategic action and the people perceiving the same, not a prerequisite for it. Community the word itself is instructive. Community and unity are not synonyms. Community literally comes from the idea of common unity. That is not universal unity of all members on all things relative to action, but a common consensus on particular things for particular purposes. Thus we have a community of scholars. They agree on almost nothing, except the activity of cultivating scholarship and knowledge. So too we need the tip of the spear community, those who agree on a specific strategic and tactical step, not some universal unity which will always prove illusory.
I personally will always prefer 5 or 6 brothers and sisters ready to move over say a symbolic a march of millions to nowhere.
To the folks who lay all the problems of post-integrationist US Afrikan life at the foot of economic exploitation by churches:
The deception here is that civil rights organizations, fraternities and sororities, political parties and other groups have ALSO taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of the community over the last 30 years. The idea that it is only churches or uniquely churches that are the problem is a convenient trope for non-believers, but it’s not sociologically true. The problem with all of these organizations is that they were infiltrated and reshaped to serve as conduits for our access into the system of oppression during integration rather than being the community stores of values they were prior. If you go back churches had large resources during segregation, but it was not a problem because they used those resources to finance our schools, newspapers, political activism, and so on. Once integration was presented as the goal, all of our organizations and not just churches began to focus not on funneling resources in, but on facilitating us getting connected with the external economy. We don’t need to launch ad hominem and frankly scientifically uninformed and errant attacks against churches or believers or for that matter any of our organizations. We need to cultivate a new generation of seminary students, politicians, activists and others socialized and mentored to be from and for the people rather than for figuring out how to get them hooked up to the system of exploitation. There are exploitive churches to be sure and I join in their condemnation, as an activist, minister, and believer, but it would take a very small mind to believe that it is only churches that have bought in to the economic piracy and some of the worse attackers of the churches today are themselves not contributing much to the economic life of the community. It’s also not true that churches are the worst offenders. Here’s a stat I don’t think we include here. Churches are also the largest investors in drug treatment, jail readjustment, health care, education, and a host of other infrastructure things in the community so for the tales of the exploitive church, the contributive church is also a reality. I don’t defend churches because I am a believer, similarly I tend to dismiss those who have problems with the church who simply ignore any good they do. If we have bad organizations doing bad things, we need new leadership and new strategies and tactics not random attacks. The latter may get you lots of “likes” on Facebook from ideological friends, but make no mistake it is only the former that makes any real change happen for us collectively.