Harambee, Kwanza, Hotep!
Umoja, Ujamaa, Ujima.African this, New Age that.
Pontificate here, postulate there.
This will save you?
Got to get to our roots.
We were kings and queens; you better know your history. This will save you?
Recycle those dollars. Make your brother, make your sister rich. This will save you?
We are living in the belly of the beast; so aspire to be like them. This will save you?
Vote; let me represent you. I’ll look out for your interest. This will save you?
I’m probably from Missouri. Show me.
I am compelled, as I was then, in 1963 to move forward. While Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his message of hope that summer, all that I had was hope. As four girls moved forward in Birmingham, all that I had was hope. I was born in September in Jamaica, many miles removed from Washington D.C., an African. Yet today, living in America, having grown up in Canada, having seen “the dream” embraced by all Black people then released and neglected, I cannot but sense a feeling of lost hope.
I refuse to believe however, that there is no hope for Africans. I refuse to believe that I was compelled to be born for any other reason than to bring glory to the Most High by helping to right the course of humanity. I refuse to believe that as the staff of God (Ra-staf-ar-I), I do not have the ability to make the rough places plain and the crooked places straight. With the power of Jah, I African shall move with a strength and vigor to let that which is self-evident be the reality of the land.
It is self-evident that what I dream, that which I put to words, that which I evoke, be it just and in harmony with the Creator, then so shall it be, Ashe. It is self-evident that the fabric of humanity is woven by all people and we Africans are responsible for our stitches, Ashe. It is self-evident that all people are inextricably linked, that all humanity and nature is inextricably linked and that all humanity regardless of practice or understanding is inextricably linked to Allah, Ashe.
Let me make my stitch. Not that this stitch is any better or worse, but it is my stitch that I make with all that has been given me by my Ancestors and despite all that has been taken away by my down-pressers. My dream is that despite the constant attempts to undermine, belittle, subvert, detract, malign, degrade, upend, contravene, postpone, misinterpret, and lie about our African culture, our children will be able to hold their heads high, knowing that without our greatness, the fabric of humanity has no shine.
What greatness? The hope of 1963 and subsequent Black power movement did not intend to wane in order to replace knowledge and reverence of our past greatness and ancestors with unrestraint desire for our down presser’s things. But wane we did as it seemed we could not answer the question, “What is so important about being African?” This is not a question for the academicians who respond that being the foundation of civilization, and the genesis of many cultures we should indeed claim greatness. No. This is a question for you, be you African or not. What is so important about being African?
In other words, what is the greatness? What is this inherent special-ness we Africans feel in our bones? When we interact with each other it’s hard to put to words; when we interact with others we find it wanting. And we know that it is obvious to everyone else. Why else would “they” spend millennia trying to overthrow us? If we are not so important why are “they” trying so hard to keep us down? Obviously we are very important.
I get the sense we are not very important when we stand alone; this is why “they” spend so much time trying to keep us apart. But, come to think of it, “they” try to fractionalize everyone even themselves! The truth of the scheme of things is that we are important, as are all cultures, because collectively we provide balance and beautifully order our world so that harmony may exist and in so doing glorify the perfect harmony that is the Creator. Alas, there is no harmony because in part we Africans have not distinguished ourselves or put into words, that which we dream; this dream being just and in harmony with the Creator.
So the elements that make us important, that which distinguishes us, are our differences with other cultures. Yes differentiation is the important thing. All those things that we do which are the same as others do not weigh in on the correcting side of the scale. Yes, our genetic and cultural predispositions make us different. Yes, our ability to endure hardship and survive makes us different. Yes, our compassion for others without concern for our own plight makes us different. Yes, our spiritual and secular harmony makes us different.
But in America and in an America controlled world our culture clashes with an ill-defined mainstream culture, so we have a constant conversion; people trying to be mainstream. We see Africans trying to be the same; trying so hard not to be different. We would rather take on other people’s identity and other people’s way of glorifying the Creator. Essentially we are losing the African differentiation. We are losing hope because we don’t understand that our difference is important.
I am compelled now to be a cultural architect. Understanding my importance, I refuse to let my difference subside; it’s not just for me or my fellow Africans, it’s for everyone even if they don’t know or understand. Simply put, I’m compelled, as I was then, to move forward.
I move forward in my pursuit of perfectibility in the Creator. All decisions flow from this relationship and context. This is a differentiating mark. I am a child of Maat. This is a differentiating mark. I measure myself against the Creator, I am no better or worse than anyone else. This is a differentiating mark. I strive to practice right thought and right behavior. This is a differentiating mark. I am dedicated to uplifting my community in order to uplift myself. This is a differentiating mark. My worldview is holistic and highlights Maat; truth, justice, righteousness, harmony, balance, order, compassion and reciprocity for all. This is a differentiating mark. I listen in order to practice African deep thought. This is a differentiating mark. I am committed to preserving my family and therefore my culture by setting a positive example for others to follow. This is a differentiating mark. I am dedicated to honoring and learning from my ancestors. This is a differentiating mark.
So, because I realize that my essence, that which makes me uniquely African, despite all the subliminal and overt attempts to co-opt my spirit, still exists and can never be extinguished I have new hope. Because I realize that humanity needs our African spirit to balance its course, I have new hope. Because I know my differentiating marks, I go forward, expressing my differences, uplifting my culture and move closer to the Creator’s perfection.