The single most monumental event to occur in my lifetime was without a doubt, the Million Man March (MMM) called for by Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation Of Islam on October 16, 1995 in Washington, DC. Over 2.5 million Black men from throughout America and the Caribbean attended. I have often said of the gathering that “the feeling of brotherly love was so thick, it seemed one could slice it off with a knife as one would when eating an apple!” Stories abound about the courtesy and respect shown all day long among strangers who were literally “packed like sardines” the entire length and breadth of the Washington Mall. Black men did themselves, their families, and their Race proud on that great occasion! There was not a single ‘nigger’ in the crowd that day! The Million Man March re-ignited the spirit of Black being beautiful, and Blacks being proud of being Black, which were the dominant themes among our people during the decade of the 1960s and into the 1970s. The intent of this paper is to explore what happened to that spirit, how and why it happened, and what replaced it as the dominant influence on the behavior and conduct of people of African descent in America to this day.
What Happened to the Spirit of Brotherly Love and Unity?
Those of us who attended the MMM embraced the sense of brotherhood, strength, and unity that permeated that gathering. We all felt — some for the first time — that someone “had our backs” as we say in our culture; that there was nothing we could not do if we decided to do it! Those positive and constructive sentiments were a far cry from what had insinuated itself into the collective psyche of African-Americans since the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. In the mid-1970s black communities across the country were inundated with life-destroying drugs. An entire generation was all but destroyed, either by the effects of using the substances, or arrest, criminalization, and incarceration resulting from selling them to the unwitting. I contend that all that was by design. What Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing refers to as the “system of racism/white-supremacy” could not sit idly by as it’s most despised sub-group regained its humanity and asserted new-found self-respect. While white supremacists and racists do not ‘fear’ African-Americans, they are fully aware of the heights to which we could ascend if we were left alone to our own devices, and there is no extreme to which they have not been willing to go in order to deny us any opportunity to compete on an even footing. After all, they have invested too heavily in depicting us as a “child-like” Race, incapable of functioning without direction from whites who we needed to do our thinking for us.
“All hell broke loose” in black communities throughout America, starting in the largest cities, and eventually extending to even the most rural areas where we lived. The result: there are no longer any ‘safe-havens’ for black people anywhere in this country. Areas where black folks reside descended from being ‘communities,’ to ‘territories’ over which drug dealers fought to claim and hold ‘turf’ on which to engage their evil trade. Law-abiding residents were without protection as a symbiotic relationship evolved between the heavily-armed drug dealers who intimidated them, and the equally heavily-armed police who often used drug operatives — sellers and users — as “confidential informants” (CIs). It was no longer safe for black people to ‘trust’ anyone, black or white, with the possible exception of one’s closest family, and that did not always hold true!
Children born in the 1960s were not old enough to fully understand and embrace the beauty of blackness as it existed then, and when they became adolescents during the 1970s the “sea-change” in our culture had already taken root. When they became adults in the 1980s, the black familyhood and brotherhood of the 1960s were at best a faint, distant memory, and one’s survival prospects required that he or she be perceived as “hard.” Any behavior seen as “soft” was considered a sign of weakness, to be exploited and taken advantage of by stronger, tougher, ‘harder’ individuals. Where in the 1960s and 1970s Black men routinely referred to one another as “My Brother,” in the post-drug-infusion 1980s the common reference became “my nigger;” thus was the “niggerization” of black folks brought about! Whereas from the 1950s through the 1970s black men sang love songs to black women, and singing groups competed with each other in efforts to impress the ‘ladies’ with our sweet, mellow harmonies, the 1980s brought in the “rap” sound with its misogynistic lyrics. Instead of black females being symbols of love and affection, they became “bitches and ho’s!” Instead of loving them, men were supposed to “dog” them.
How and Why Did the Niggerization of Black People Happen?
How? Agents of the system of racism/white supremacy, white and black, changed our people from “Blacks” to “niggers” by introducing widespread use of illegal drugs and self-deprecating rap music and lyrics into our culture during the 1980s. Prior to the 1980s black people for the most part saw ourselves as a ‘collective,‘ a group, an “extended family” if you will; that is why we referred to one another as ‘brother‘ and ‘sister.’ We were all in this thing together, and we needed one another to survive and prosper. All that changed in the 1980s. We became a collection of selfish individualists for sale to the highest bidder, and the white racist system controlled all the money, so they and their agents were always the highest bidders. “Gettin’ paid” became all the rage, and the accepted justification for doing anything and everything! Money became the only thing we held sacred. The system’s agents saw to it that only negroes who were willing to serve the interests of white supremacy and it vanguard, racism, would be allowed to gain the kind of material riches that would have the desired effect on impressionable young black minds. Black youth of both genders succumbed to the allure of short-cuts to fame and fortune, and were easily drawn into the web of deceit and depravity designed to reduce us to the depths where we as a people find ourselves today. To solidify their achievement, purveyors of our degradation added glamorous images of decadent behavior via movies, television, and videos. What Geraldo Rivera, Jerry Springer, and Maury Povich were not able to do to our image, “reality TV” did to the max! Behavior-unbecoming has come to be the norm among our people, with our children looking on, seeing and hearing everything being done and said. Our next generation will have No memory of a time when ‘niggerism’ was not in vogue, unless someone among us comes to our senses and offers viable alternatives to certain self-destruction.
Why? If the white supremacist system did not want us in the degraded position we are in, they would not have put us there, so it stands to reason they do not want any change to take place that will upset their ‘apple-cart.’ It is understandable therefore, that they will do anything in their power to maintain the current “status-quo.” But they can only do that with cooperation from within our ranks, and unfortunately, they have no shortage of negroes willing to help them keep the rank-and-file of our people in the places designated for us by the dominant Race and its culture, and that is at the bottom of the barrel of American society. By getting black people to live down to the images they have set for us, we provide the justification for their presumably having to keep us in our place as a means of protecting the rest of society from our misbehavior. So they turn us into criminals, then build jails and prisons to house us so we cannot prey on decent, law-abiding white and other non-black folks. The objective is to put us back into a form of bondage (slavery), which incidentally, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution conveniently allowed in anticipation that the system would someday need to use that tool.
Vulgar individualism and selfishness have replaced the “sense of family” that was the dominant influence on the behavior and conduct of African-Americans prior to the 1980s. Black folks need to be reminded that no “God” ordained that replacement to occur; humans were responsible, and whatever humans do, humans can undo! The question before us is: WHO among us is willing to take on the responsibility for undoing
the grievous harm that has been done to us as a people collectively?
As the program wound down towards closure on that memorable day October 16, 1995, Minister Farrakhan challenged all 2.5 million of us gathered there to “…go back to our respective homes and places, and join some organization that is working for the uplift and advancement of Black people; and if there were no such deserving organization already in existence where we live, that it was our duty to start one!” That challenge holds true today; any adult person of African descent in America who is not a member of some organized effort to uplift and advance Black people, is being derelict in his or her duty to our Race. That failure cannot be blamed on white folks! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had made the same point when he stated that: “Anyone who has not found a cause or purpose for which he or she is willing to die, does not deserve to live!” That is a powerful statement folks; how does it apply to you?
The Million Man March revived for a period of months at least — perhaps a few years in some cases, the spirit of “Black is Beautiful,” and “I’m Black and I’m Proud” that resonated throughout the 1960s and 1970s. However, the steady and persistent drumbeat of “gangsta-rap” and its violent, self-destructive messages, backed by unprecedented infusions of white supremacist/racist financing, won out over the MMM-inspired, but un-funded revival of Black consciousness, and we find ourselves in the deplorable condition we are in today, killing one another with utter recklessness, and inviting the law enforcement establishment to get in on the act of killing black people, and using “black-on-black-crime” as one of their excuses for doing so! What hope is there, and is there anything WE can do to save and uplift OURSELVES? I thought you’d never ask!
For those of you who are already members of an organization working for the uplift and advancement of our people, or an organized effort to do such, I urge you to “double-down” on your participation in and support for that mechanism. For those of you who do not already have such an organizational affiliation, I invite you to consider becoming active with our “One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors” (OMCBV&C) campaign. You can do so by visiting our web site: www.iamoneofthemillion.com. Read and study the articles and papers you will find there; watch the videos you will see, and if you feel that this is the movement you would like to contribute your efforts through, then register to become “One of the Million”, order your promotional t-shirt and wear it proudly before family, friends and others you come in contact with. Help us to build a force to be reckoned with, one that is destined to change the power-relationship between Black people and the system of white supremacy and racism in this country and the world!
VICTORY belongs to those who are determined to WIN!
‘Baba’ Amefika D. Geuka