As we pulled this piece together we wondered to ourselves, if the answer to the subject "Is Our History Repeating Itself?" is in any way close to being true, then what would our ancestors have said and/or done? Excuse the length of this piece, but we feel what's being said needs to be said, so we're saying it.
In 1964 Dr. King issued the following statement about Barry Goldwater and his political party. In 1964 Bro. Minister Malcolm X also made a statement about Barry Goldwater and the party he was a member of. After reading each statement, in the context of their applicability to today's socio-political landscape, to say that these esteemed freedom fighters were prophetic is an understatement. They warned us, but did we listen to them and take appropriate action is the type of introspective question we have to ask ourselves? Do we really have to wait for history to tell us if we did? Go back, re-read the statements, but this time, if you didn't already, substitute Barry Goldwater with Donald Trump. Are you picking up yet what it is we're putting down?
Isn't it amazing how when an oppressed people rise up to take ownership of their educational processes they are able to cast aside the false American history narrative leading them to believe and accept that Dr. King and Bro. Minister Malcolm X, two elder statesmen who fought tirelessly to spiritually and socially uplift and liberate Black people, were somehow polar opposites in all that they said and did? Let us understand and think about this intentional miseducation (or under-education) for a few moments because it really sets the tone as we read on.
As it relates to Dr. King, his being non-violent did not mean the good Reverend was passive. No. We submit that Dr. King, while championing non-violence, was far from passive. Just read Dr. King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail. In this letter to Dr. King's "Dear Fellow Clergymen", he says: "In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action." Dr. King couldn't have been the type of person who accepted or allowed what happened or what others did, without active response or resistance, yet engage in direct action against what was happening and being done to his people.
As it relates to Bro. Minister Malcolm X, his self-defense philosophy, and his "by any means necessary" mantra, these did not mean the dear Minister was pro-violence (or the colloquialism of today - "About that life"). To the contrary. We submit that since Bro. Minister Malcolm X is neither known to have ever taken the life of another person nor known for raising his hands against another in his crusade to lead Black people into an understanding of self-reliance and independence for the purpose of our self-agency, we say he was indeed as peaceful in his spirit and deeds against the onslaught of Black bodies and lives as Dr. King. We also contend that since Minister Malcolm X was never known to have been beaten and bloodied while crusading against oppression, his touch me if you dare swag was a very ingenious psychological tool against physical harm.
We offer that in making the people aware of their choices, intimating that we should first seek to use the ballot before resorting to using the bullet in his Ballot or the Bullet speech, Bro. Minister Malcolm X was in fact demonstrating a great amount of self-restraint and control. These personal traits were not known to be associated in his era with someone deserving to have the violent label placed against their character, lifelong work, and legacy. We all know someone who is a constant purveyor of nonsensical violence, and so we should all agree that Malcolm X was, and is, not that someone.
When people behave violently and/or viciously (because you can be vicious in many ways without being violent) against another people, attacking without mercy all aspects of known life, it makes sense for people to eventually fight back. The world-wide Women's March on 21 January 2017 is a testament and example of people fighting back when they have had enough. People fight back against all the very specific ways in which their rights to life have been denied and attacked. If it has to be done through political (power) and economic (money) methods, and a collateral result of people fighting back is they themselves exact some prejudicial treatment and or discriminatory actions against their long time nemeses and oppressors, what rights do the oppressors have to claim the people fighting back against them are now engaging in reverse racism?
To claim that fighting back against persistently pervasive racism is reverse racism is like saying the "alt-right" groups that are conducting overt racist actions across the country are just good wholesome law abiding groups of concerned citizens out to make America great again. Something about that just doesn't sound right, and it doesn't because we know better. It is not reverse racism to treat people how they show you they want to be treated when that treatment is based on how they are, and have been, treating you. It is common sense to treat people how they show you they want to be treated, and there is no greater measurement for that than how they treat others. Our former lovely First Lady likes to say, "When they go low, we go high", but there is a flaw in that thinking. There exists a danger to those abiding in that philosophy.
How do you say to a people (imagine the majority of them are your daughters, granddaughters, grandmothers, mothers, or sisters) in an imbalanced relationship with a nation that's been raping and killing them over centuries, for what seems like the sport of it, to ‘go high’? In the spirit of Dr. King's following quote, "perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, wait", we assert, perhaps it is easier to say, “when they go low, we go high”, for those whose only experience with the oppressive life of the Black majority in America is being followed around in a department store.
However, there are those of us who have seen the vicious killings of our mothers and fathers. Some of us have seen the drowning in despair of our sisters and brothers. Many have heard audio and/or seen video evidence of racist hate-filled police officers cursing, kicking, beating and even killing our black brothers and sisters only to never be charged with or acquitted at trial of any criminal wrong doings. For those who are seeing the vast majority of millions of Black people being smothered in perpetual poverty and indentured slavery through the prison industrial complex, in accordance with the 13th Amendment, all while living in an affluent and influential society, going high is much easier said than it is done. That must be acknowledged.
As it appears that history is not only about to repeat itself, it is coming back with a damning vengeance we may not collectively be prepared for, we need to get to work. We need to know and trust in the wisdom of our ancestors. In January 1965 (just weeks before he was assassinated) Bro. Minister Malcolm X, after witnessing brutal attacks against Dr. King on television, sent a telegram to George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. In his letter Minister Malcolm says: "...if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans...you and your Ku Klux Klan friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation..." Today, as was the case then, we can substitute Alabama for Any Town or State, USA and the comment would still be applicable. But what we don't see are disparate groups in the community coming to each other's assistance as in the day of our ancestors, and this must stop.
Though not directly stated, Dr. King seems to understand the notion of running out of patience when he says: "There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair...Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself...Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?" In May 1967 Dr. King also seemed to realize the naivety of his youth that fueled his fervent adherence to the non-violent approach when he acknowledged during an interview that his dream had become a nightmare.
We accept that words have meanings, and we see that in examining the language used by Dr. King himself "direct action...extremist...for the extension of justice", to include saying "that dream that I had that day has in many points turned into a nightmare" there was a closer kinship between the Good Reverend and the Dear Minister than we have been led to believe. It is this closeness, this intertwined relationship directed at a common threat and enemy, that is the wisdom of our ancestors. It is a close kinship and intertwining relationship that speaks to unity of action, even if their's was unintended and prevented by the powers allowed to be to grow more closely connected.
Unity of action does not mean that opposing viewpoints (to never use violence versus the use of violence when necessary) cannot co-exist, work together, and mutually benefit from one other. Unity of action means to limit one's actions to a single set of incidents that are related to each other as cause and effect, having a beginning, a middle, and an end. No action in the cause of liberating and uplifting Black people should be included in the single set of incidents when the action does not directly advance us towards our cause or goal. Dr. King and Minister Malcolm wanted the same things for us.
Dr. King wasn't about to scrap it up in the streets, and Minister Malcolm, while not about that life, wasn't about to let himself be man-handled, but you can rest assure that the wisdom of these ancestors was in the unintended unity of their actions. Today, in the face of continued aggressive oppression, we stand only to gain as a people if we are wise enough to listen to the words and follow the examples of our ancestors. We are not limiting ourselves to these individuals as examples. There are lessons to be learned and examples to follow in all our ancestors. Some are Dr. Claude Anderson, Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan, Dr. Amos Wilson, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and these 10 shining examples showing us how Black women have always been on the front lines in the fight against racist oppression.
If we don't lean on and learn from the wisdom of ancestors and the unity of their actions in these current times, which are shaping up to be a mirror reflection of the times our ancestors fought in, then instead of gaining what we need we'll get what we deserve.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!