A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. – W.E.B. DuBois
This will be a little bit of an incoherent rant on my part, but I think there are jewels to be gleaned from it nonetheless.
United Black America has received an increasing amount of attention lately (thanks in no small part ot our Social Media Manager, Rhetoric, and our Tech Support guy, Manu). With all this newfound attention has come some brand new criticism, and doubts about whether a United Black America is even possible.
From Facebook, we get the following comment:
“How the hell can you talk about Black people coming together across the world when we cant even get along with the people we live next door to?!”
From Twitter, we get
“Economic empowerment for Blacks never has and never will exist. There’s no such thing as economic empowerment”
and when I turn on my favorite podcast, I hear
“Be very suspicious of these so-called Black organizations out there. Most of them are shady as hell. Dont trust em and be suspicious of them Hotep niggas”
Are there people out there who are so-called Conscious and abusive/shady/antagonistic? Definitely! Should that mean that we as a people who should be focused on our progress on the stage of civilization should be done with the whole thing? Absolutely not!
While I can empathize with the above comments in some sense, I cant help but feel like the efforts that so many warriors and scholars have put up are being disrespected by ignorant comments like these. In a sense, we are playing right up to the Willie Lynch, crabs-in-a-bucket archetype. There have always been a segment of Black men and women who have stood out as true activists, true fighters, and true workers for the uplift of our people. They have taken on more than their fair share of the workload, and those for whom they work stand on the sidelines and criticize, hem and haw, and dismiss their efforts.
Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present
A United Black America and subsequent Pan-African Renaissance is very possible, but it can only come about through individual leadership and collaborative organization. Let me explain:
Leadership By Example
There is an old military idiom that I believed in and lived by while I was in service to this country, and that is “leadership by example”. Pride prevents many of us from joining organizations that would further our cause – no one wants to be subordinate to anyone else’s leadership, and I feel that. But when I talk about joining organizations, I am not proposing that one become a follower of some obscure dogma or some Bobby Hemmitt type prophet.
We dont need a nation of followers marching behind one man. We need a nation of leaders.
In its truest sense, leadership is not a title or a position, or even a single person who wields authority. Leadership is the ability to influence others, period. There are individuals who hold titles, but have no followers and no influence. There are also individuals with no titles and no formal position whose opinions and criticisms are respected by all. Bloggers, the elderly mother in the church congregation, a charismatic member of the Parent-Teacher Association, these are all examples of leadership from within. These are men and women who have gained the respect of their peers through the example they have set, and that is the lynchpin of this entire article; If there is to be a Pan-African Rennaisance, then it must begin with he example that you set.
Whenever I am met with criticism from an armchair revolutionary, I ask them what example they have set?
If you “cant stand” your neighbors, what have you done to be a better neighbor?
If your community is crime ridden and destitute, what have you done to revitalize it?
If you dont like or trust “Black Organizations/other Black People/Black media”, what have you done to improve them or yourself?
Continuing delicately and non-confrontationally, I ask those individuals to brainstorm some ideas with me. From there, I propose a plan of action – and here is where all hemming and hawing comes to an end. A man or woman will either take action to resolve the issue – even if that action is something as small as mediation, or will revert back to apathy. It is at that crucial moment that his or her indifference must be challenged and made apparent. You must hold them accountable for holding themselves accountable. The Nation of Islam has demonstrated time and again that it takes accountability to keep a man.
The day and age of charismatic leadership has come to an end. There will be no Marcus Garvey’s or Malcolm X’s as we know them. Instead, organizations and movements of today and tomorrow will be collaborative. That means they must encompass people outside the organization as readily as they do people inside the four walls. In the past, if you were not a formal member of the Nation of Islam, they didnt really have an impact on you. They were just a spectacle passing by in bow ties. If you didnt declare yourself a follower of Noble Drew Ali, you were an “outsider”. If you werent a card carrying member of the Black Panther party, same thing.
Some would argue that President Obama would be an exception to the rule, but politics is local and his election was the result of hundreds of grass roots organizations working toward the singular objective of getting him in office.
In todays world, forcing someone to adopt a doctrine and a leader is not only unrealistic, its dangerous. What happens when said leader shows himself to be unscrupulous (Hitler)? Boundarylessness, or the inclusion of ANYONE that is relevant in operational processes, keeps despots in check, qualifies (or disqualifies) theories, and adopts best practices. Multi Enterprise Collaboration will the become the norm in days to come. This site, in collaboration with The Fresh Xpress, Afro Daddy, The African History Network, and other Black organizations is an example of cross-boundary collaboration. There is no one dictator over this alliance, but a network of men and women working across boundaries for the singular purpose of bringing about a Pan-African Renaissance.
We have made great strides in the five centuries of our residence here in Amerikka. These efforts have been fragmented, frustrated, and sporadic, but they all have laid an excellent foundation for us. It is our responsibility to build on it and realize this Pan-African Renaissance, leading the way as a United Black America.
Not only is this possible, its becoming a necessary matter of life and death.