If you are new to the Black conscious community and are wondering where you should start in your journey to acquire knowledge of self, this article was written for you. struggling with which books to read to raise ones Black consciousness and acquire knowledge of self. There are many sites online that regurgitate Black history, or express the viewpoints of the writer, but fail to offer a starting point for gaining consciousness. That is going to be our focus here at United Black America as we transition into 2013.
There are three very simple but very profound steps to gaining knowledge of self, but before I explain these steps, understand that “Black Consciousness” is not necessarily a destination – it’s an ongoing journey that will last your entire life. If you were to live ten lifetimes, you would still not be able to acquire and use all of the information that exists within the Black diaspora. Black consciousness is a lifestyle, a thought process, and a means of interaction with yourself, your fellow Africans, and the Universe and all that it entails.
The three simple steps to gaining consciousness are learning, creating a lifestyle that addresses the 5 spheres of ones life from an Afrocentric frame of mind, and leading by example.
The term “Black consciousness” was first used by a South African freedom fighter named Stephen Biko. Biko believed that the battle for total freedom and liberation can only come after one has been psychologically liberated. We all know someone who has been to prison many times. Once they are set free, they fail to develop themselves beyond the circumstances that made them easy prey for the so-called “criminal justice” system. History has also given us the example of slaves who, shortly after being emancipated, were manipulated to return to the plantation work. Such are examples of the importance of freeing one’s mind first. Free your mind, and your body will follow.
Right knowledge corrects wrong behavior. – Michael Imhotep. African History Network Show
Gaining right knowledge is the only way to free your mind from the psychological slavery that this system of white global supremacy has inflicted upon you. In our article entitled “The Definition of Black Consciousness”, we discuss the two specific psychological illnesses that we have been infected with. These are psychological disorientation and mentacide.
Psychological Disorientation can be defined as a mental condition in which any African (yes, that includes you, whether you live in Africa or not!) proceeds from or negotiates the environment with a conceptual base in which African-centered psychological and behavioral elements are not the operative ones. An African so afflicted manifests an orientation to reality that does not promote the maintenance of his or her race, but instead promotes the maintenance of the non-African group.
Examples include bleaching ones skin to look lighter, a preference for working with whites, doing business with whites, a preference for those outside of your own race, and an addiction to white culture. Understand – America, and most other Western Nations, were built by the sweat and blood of the 300 million Black men and women who were brought to them as slaves. These systems continue to operate on the exploitation of the Black man and woman.
You might think that you have a part to play in these Western societies, but ultimately, these are white societies, governed by white interests .Yes, even with a Black president. You have been duped into believing that your role in white countries is participatory – its not. Black men and women are pawns and cannon fodder for a global system of white supremacy.
Mentacide is the second psychological illness that we have been infected with. Mentacide is like a cancer that eats away at an African’s self-consciousness or prevents it’s development, thus alienating the African from his or her correct psychological disposition.
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).
So how do we correct psychological misorientation and mentacide? Again, with right knowledge.
Our people suffer from a lack of knowledge, and you cannot effectively address that problem if you have no knowledge of your own to address it with. Pan Africanism demands that one must study!
Study source documents. Dont read what I write about Kwame Nkrumah, READ WHAT HE WROTE HIMSELF! Thats a source document! Dont read what I write about Malcolm X, READ HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY! Learn to read the medu neter! If you arent familiar with the medu neter, do a search. We live in an age of unprecedented amounts of information. Use that to your advantage.
Study the words and the ways of Kwame Ture. Study the histories of Axum, Timbuctoo, Alexandria, Ghana, Songhai, Zulu, Mali, and Zanzibar. Studying the massive accomplishments of your people will automatically build within you pride and self-esteem, and combat white ignorance when they or their societies tell you that you haven’t built anything. Start with these 4 books and these 2 DVDs. They will give you the foundations of knowledge that you will need to pursue higher levels of study.
Review our list of 100 greatest African History books and DVDs , as well. Most of these books cost less than the door fee at a night club, and yet the knowledge that they impart can build and destroy civilizations.
The more you know about who you are and where you truly came from, the better prepared you will be to influence your future. Buy one of these books, and start today. If you dont have the ability to purchase books, go to the library. Regardless, read, take notes, and commit to memory as much as you can. Below, I present you with a diagram of the areas of knowledge that one should focus on to develop their intellect. In future posts, we will focus on each of these areas of knowledge in relationship to gaining knowledge of self and Black consciousness.
Live Pan Africanism
“Be Black, Buy Black, Think Black, and let all else take care of itself!” – Marcus Garvey
There is an old African saying that goes “to know and not to do is to not yet know”. You may read every book ever written on African history and Black thought, but if you fail to put the things that you learn into action, you haven’t finished learning. There are things a person can only learn by doing (ever try reading some assembly instructions, and then actually assembling the item?)
Likewise, we have been given instructions on how to achieve knowledge of self, on how to approach the world with an Afrocentric mindset, and how to solve many of the problems that we face. The answers are there! We have solutions! But these solutions must be lived – not discussed!
I write about the solutions that my organization has implemented in the form of Accountability Groups, study groups, and Black business collectives. These are my solutions offered to you and to us. Adopt them, or form your own.
There are 5 spheres of life that encompass the whole of your existence on this Earth. These are:
- Metaphysical (spiritual)
- Career and Academic
- Relationships (Social and Family)
- Finances and Resources
- The body is both a reflection and an expression of the mind and soul. Therefore, the body is to be used to both develop ones soul and mind until ultimately the body dissolves into complete energy, awareness, and congruence with the mind and the soul. Meditation is a means of transforming the mind with the use of the body with breathing techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional stability, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. Exercise is meant to channel ones energy and intent while forcing the body to perform beyond its natural limitations. Diet is employed to increase longevity and support ones intent with natural supplementation.
- The spirit is NOT religion, but the non-physical seat of ones character, emotion, and intent. The spirit of a peoples are manifested by their policies and politics, by their empathy – or lack thereof , by their relationship to one another, and is reflected in their music, art, and and writings. Without the unification of the spirit of our peoples, we cannot have an effective physical unification.
- The intellect, and the application of ones intellect within ones career must be built upon a foundation of Afrocentric thought. The Afrocentric school of thought is the first contemporary intellectual movement initiated by African scholars that has currency on a broad scale for renewal and renaissance. It did not emerge inside the traditional white academic centers but In the cultural context of the African community seeking to assert itself.
- The family unit is as important to the Black nation as the unity of cells within the human body. Each unit must be bonded in mutual support, defense, and care of one another. The family extends beyond the four walls of ones household, and encompasses the whole of the Pan-African diaspora.
- Finances and resources can mean hard currency, land, tools, human capital (as in ones network), transportation, and methodologies (as in corporations and collectives). When ones finances and resources are marshalled to both meet the needs and demands of ones self, ones family, and ones people, and these resources belong to the individual, and are created by the individual, then one can be called conscious. Failure to meet ones own needs, or the needs of ones family and ones nation leads to destruction. Poverty is, as Marcus Garvey explains, “a hellish state to be in… It is a crime. To be poor, is to be hungry without possible hope of food; to be sick without hope of medicine; to be tired and sleepy without a place to lay one’s head; to be naked without the hope of clothing; to be despised and comfortless. To be poor is to be a fit subject for crime and hell…. to him there is no other course but sin and death.”
Lead by Your Example
A leader leads by example not by Force. ~Sun Tzu
Once you have developed a sufficient level of knowledge of self and Black consciousness it is your responsibility to pass that knowledge on to those who have not yet acquired it. In effect, you become a leader in your own right, and as a leader, you must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Actions speak louder than words. If your actions do not back up your Afrocentricity or your Pan Africanism, you risk losing credibility with yourself and with others.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke said the following concerning leadership:
“I think every person that calls themselves a leader, a preacher, a policy maker of any kind should ask and answer the question in his own life time, how will my people stay on this earth? How will they be educated? How will they be schooled? How will they be housed? And how will they be defended? The answer to these questions will create the concept of enduring nationhood because it creates the concept of enduring responsibility. I am saying what ever the solution is, either we are in charge of our own destiny or we are not in charge. On that point we got to be clear, you either free or you a slave.”
Some would argue that the Black community does not need a leader, or they would say that there are “too many chiefs, and not enough Indians”.
I would disagree.
We need a NATION of Malcolm Xs’!
We need armies of Marcus Garvey’s, Patrice Lumumba’s, Steve Biko’s, and Martin Delany’s! We need each and every Black man and woman to become leaders in their own right. We should also be training and arming with knowledge the next generation of Black leaders, so that if we all fall in the fight, then our Black youth will stand and carry the banner of the red, black, and green on to the hilltops of Africa.
This post is the very first in our series on examining what it means to be Black and conscious. Please use the form below to subscribe, and contribute to our collective knowledge by leaving a comment below!