The term “Black Consciousness” is one that is prevalent among men and women that travel in Afrocentric circles. But what is Black Consciousness and the Black Consciousness Movement? Where did the term come from? And what does the term mean for today’s Black Women and Men in America? Those are the questions that we will answer here.
The Origins of Black Consciousness
“…infuse the black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life.” – Stephen Biko
The term “Black Consciousness” was first used by the legendary South African anti-apartheid leader Stephen Biko in 1971. Biko, inspired by the ideas of Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, and the Black Panther Party, founded a South African Student’s Association closely linked to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, and in that organization he outlined plans for a new movement to be known as the Black Consciousness Movement.
“Black Consciousness is in essence the realization by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression” Biko wrote in a paper produced for a SASO Leadership Training Course. He goes on to write “[Black Consciousness] seeks to demonstrate the lie that black is an aberration from the ‘normal’ which is white. We have defined blacks as those who are by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realization of their aspirations.
Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.
The Migration of the Black Conscious Movement
It is no surprise that South Africa’s anti-Black establishment wasn’t feeling Biko’s message, and wanted the movement brought to a halt before it spread amongst the ignorant and unconscious masses. Between 1973 and 1974, 90 SASO activists were either banned from the country or arrested without trial. Most were tortured, and Biko was killed while in police custody after being held without due process of law for 164 days.
But instead of crushing Biko’s movement, several smaller movements that carried Black Conscious principles sprang up. These movements included the Congress of South African Students (COSAS), the Azanian Student Organization (AZASO) and the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organization (PEBCO). Beyond Africa, the Black Consciousness Media Workers Associations in London and the U.S. also spread Biko’s message.
Black scholars and contemporary heroes like Nelson Mandela, Assata Shakur, Kaba Hiawatha Kamene (Dr. Booker T. Coleman), and Dr. Chancellor Williams coupled with the dawn of the information age (self-publishing, Internet based radio, and information sharing portals) have revived and spread Black Consciousness. Every day, more Black Men and Women are re-learning what was forgotten about our race, our history, and our belief systems prior to the intervention of alien races.
The Importance of Black Consciousness Today
Biko saw the struggle to restore African consciousness as having two stages:
Biko believed that before there can be a United Black anything, Blacks must first be psychologically liberated, and only then could we be physically liberated. Specifically, there are two forms of psychological bondage that that Blacks specifically face:
Black Consciousness is currently a mental disposition that offers today’s Black Man and Woman a way to correct the psychological mis-orientation and Mentacide. Examples of psychological mis-orientation include adopting any religion not of African origin, preferring sexual partners, cultures, and/or philosophies of races other than the African race, and accepting the philosophical stances of alien races over that of one’s own African race.
Examples of Mentacide include a “whitewashing” of the history taught to students and adults of African origin, the suppression or alteration of Black culture in favor of the culture of other races, or the negative portrayal of the Black race so as to propagate those negative characteristics (i.e. telling blacks they are inferior, hyper-sexualized, or of lower intelligence than other races in hopes that they will believe and spread the idea).
By coming to sites like this one, joining movements that promote knowledge of self and Black history based on primary research you are living the ideals of Black Consciousness and waking up to the truth of your blood inheritance. Help spread consciousness by promoting us using the bar to your right.
Together, we can re-awaken the sleeping giant that is our race!