Who are We?
Whether you find your roots in northern, western, southern or eastern Africa – if you trace your roots back far enough – you will end up there. When the United States was created, it was created for the benefit of Europeans coming from various other countries to escape tyranny. Years later those Europeans coming to America were termed immigrants. African people in America are the only people of the E Pluribus Unem that are not and were not considered immigrants. It was not until 1619 when the first captive Africans (commonly called slaves) where brought to North American shores. The interesting thing about the last statement is that African people had already traveled to North America thousands of years earlier (see They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima), but that we’ll save for another discussion.
It matters not your patriotic esteem, or lack of acknowledgement of ones root, if you are of African descent in America, Africa is the home of your ancestors – regardless of your citizenship. Actually, the last statement applies to all of humankind. For years African-Americans (formerly known as black Americans, black, Negroes, niggers and other racially insensitive epithets) were stripped of knowledge of self. The laws that were passed in the United States did not allow Africans in America to read, share specific history or even maintain culture. This cut Africans off from regal truth. It was a “seasoning” process of the mind and spirit that eradicated our current respect for our homeland. Most, if not all African Americans have issues within their respective families about relating to being African. Many members in the family or even friends of African descent say I’m not into that African stuff. How could a person from a particular culture not be into who they are? Recognizing ones culture should be as effortless as breathing. However, our schizophrenic evolution to today continues to wreck havoc on our ability (collectively) to move as one. Franz Fanon had it right in his seminal work Black Face White mask (I urge all to read this book). We have African skin, but our minds have forgotten who we truly are. Dr. Bobby Wright truly had his theory correct when he coined the term “Mentacide”. “Mentacide”, and I’m paraphrasing Dr. Wright, is "the planned and systematic destruction of a group's mentality aimed at the destruction of the group." This planned systematic destruction has caused the inability of African people in America to recognize who they truly are, regardless of the truth shared. Further, if Willie Lynch in his “The Making of a Slave” really existed, the plan to keep African people separated from one another has truly worked - globally. The question becomes when will people of the African Diaspora come together in the acceptance of our collective selves?
As the world becomes and is already global let’s look at the difference other peoples have in relation to their knowledge of self. When looking at what Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans and other immigrant peoples have done since coming to America – it’s nothing short of incredible. These communities have strived and flourished in America. Moreover, their collective identity has not been stripped and there is a respect that permeates their respective cultural relationships. The homogeneity of these cultures has allowed them to maintain close family ties, language, culture, and build networks that go back to their respective homelands. Their remembrance of who they are serves as the foundation of their day to day living. While strides have been made in African-American cultural life, the cohesiveness of culture is still hanging by a thread.
The experience of African Americans is totally different from the American "immigrant" experience. Our knowledge of self, since coming to America, started with an erasing and desensitizing of our collective self. The Greek or what the educators at the time called “the classics” was the basis for our “education”. Knowledge of the great West African cultures that dominated various spice and gold trades were erased. Knowledge of the great Ashanti warriors and Fulani were erased. Names such as Mansa Musa and Amadu Bamba were written out of the history books, if they were ever there. Amadou Bamba wrote over eight tons of literature, how could a man of such talent be written off the face of the earth? Knowledge that the founding dynasties of Kemet (Egypt) and those before it (Ethiopia, The Congo et al.) were of African origin – erased from the collective memory bank. This eradication of our self worth, self knowledge, and communal understanding undermined, and continues to undermine, our ability to maintain a cultural cohesiveness. Not that we cannot have an appreciation for other cultures, but knowledge of self is the first axiom. Moreover, Hannibal, Jesus (Joshua ben-Pendira), Mary, Imhotep, the first Chinese dynasty – The Shang, are all built on African foundations. Yet, in many instances the African coloring has been purposefully left off of these great persons of historical significance. Why is it that when we see Hannibal in paintings he is white? Why are Jesus and Mary still seen as white? All cultures have creation stories and spiritual truths and fables that reflect their cultural proclivity. Why has the African been left out? African people have been left out due to cultural desensitizing, and an embracing of that which is culturally false.
The saying goes, “He who controls the diameter of your thoughts, controls the circumference of your thinking” – Free your mind. The falsifyingof African history has caused a rift between people, and has led to a psychological imbalance within African Americans, as well as other cultures. At a time when information is free standing and supposedly available to all, knowledge of self within the African-American community is still evolving.
So who are we, and where do we come from? It was the scribe Hunefer from ancient Kemet who said, “We come from the foothills of the mountains of the moon, where the God Hapi dwells.” This knowledge can be seen on the papyrus of Hunefer in the British Museum in London England. The scribe Hunefer was reminding us of our origins, not just African people, but of all humanity. Humankind first came on the scene in the area described above. This is the area in which Dignesh, commonly called Lucy, was found. It has now been proven that Africa (Alkebulahn) is the birthplace of woman and mankind. Through DNA testing and the careful location of certain X and Y chromosome markers, Africans have been proven to be the archetypes for humankind. You now know who you are and where you come from.