Context is everything. Context is what makes those lost in the bombing of American cities victims of terrorism while the innocent lost in drone strikes overseas are “necessary casualties.” They who control the context of any event in history ultimately control the public perception of said event both domestically and internationally.
For example, let’s say you showed up 30 minutes late to a movie. You ask me, the person on your left, what’s happened thus far. Realize that now your perception of the remaining hour or so is in my hands. If I don’t like a particular character, I can make you not like them as well. I can make you hate the protagonist for killing his neighbor by simply neglecting to give you the context that the neighbor kidnapped his family. Similarly, I can make you think those Black people talking about revolution and Black Power are unprovoked and ungrateful terrorists.
We must all be aware of the lens through which we view our everyday lives because this give us our perspective. Further, we must also be aware of the lens through which others are viewing us. Not for purposes of conforming to outward perceptions, but for purposes of understanding. For example, I am aware of the outward impression that my appearance gives off without proper context. For people in the research laboratory where I work, they see my afro, the Afrika medallion or ankh around my neck, the Black Power fist in the WFTF logo on my clothing or various items, and this sparks obvious and sincere curiosity.
This was revealed to me most clearly through a conversation with someone who works at my job. She’s a very sweet young woman who has only been here from India for 2 years while in graduate school. We started talking one morning on the way to board the Metro Red Line and she happened to ask me “where are you from?” I said that I was from Inglewood to which she clarified that she meant where in the world I was from. I replied by saying that I was from Afrika but didn’t know where exactly on the continent, which further confused her. It was then that I realized that she sincerely didn’t understand the context of my presence here. Believe it or not, she sincerely thought that all (or most) Afrikan people fled from Afrika here to the United States. I then gave her a brief history lesson on slavery and Jim Crow, which visibly surprised the young woman. Her reply was simply “that sounds like oppression,” to which I replied “exactly.” This short interaction could have potentially corrected a long-term misunderstanding she may have had in regards to a particular group of people, some of which she interacts with every day.
Now what I want you to consider is the fact that this young woman was not un- or undereducated; she could only know what she was taught. This means that she for a long period of time viewed the media here through a broken lens. The so-called “Black on Black crime” sensationalized nonsense on CNN means something different now that a context of oppression has been provided. The high unemployment rate, incarceration rate, and other institutionalized means of Afrikan genocide now fit a different narrative. This is why ignorance is bliss not only for the victim, but for they who keep the people ignorant. These are the people who control the context: The people who write the textbooks, the laws, the news reports, the radio playlists, and so on. The American Revolution is a perfect example of this. Simply see the difference between how it is told in an American textbook versus a British or French textbook. These countries’ news media of the time certainly told opposite stories of these historic events. Another example is the history of slavery. The slave is always going to have a different story than that the master.
Then there’s Martin Luther King Jr, who in a mainstream perspective was the Dream having and nonviolence preaching Black leader who was essentially a reformist. As a reformist he was never a threat to the US government’s existence; he simply wanted to reform the government already in place to equally suit all people. For lack of a better term, Dr. King was “safe” for those who controlled power. However, after the organized assassinations of individuals who preached the necessity for a new government; after what he would himself call “soul searching” and reflections on “agonizing moments” he’d endured; after all of this, Dr. King’s message had begun to evolve into something that was unsafe for the government if it wanted to maintain power over the masses in the US borders. As a result, in a 1999 case King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators, Dr. King’s family won a landmark decision stating that the US government indeed assassinated him (Read Decision HERE).
This assassination however, if looked at through the lens of the government and the “best interest” of the nation, was justified. Here was someone who by definition was indeed a terrorist (See: FBI’s Definition HERE). Malcolm X was a terrorist. Marcus Garvey was a terrorist. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist up until 2008 in the US. They won’t mention this side of King’s or Mandela’s history in any of the post-mortem media stories though, why? Because it would provide a context that would shed negative light on the government and potentially cause agitation amongst the masses. Though these figures were to us our saviors, our warriors, our hope, we have to understand that to others they were the enemy. We have to understand that there is an active effort to create a negative world image of Afrikan people in order to justify our oppressive treatment throughout history. Don’t take my word for it though. Go to the Los Angeles Times on May 18, 1994 and find the article on former President Nixon’s secret memoirs (Read article HERE). Find the quote and audio tape in which he states “…you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” We have to bring this into context in order to understand history from a realistic and unfortunately messed up perspective:
Afrikan people were property when this nation was being built by none other than Afrikan people. This is not a fairy tale concept, it is a historical fact. Why would you build anything when you have a free labor force to do whatever you want? Put that into context when you ask yourself who built the White House? Who built the first universities in the nation? Who built the factories? Pound-for-pound, brick-by-brick, Afrikan people literally built the country for free, allowing for it to develop into a world superpower practically overnight. All of that being said, when the forefathers planned the nation’s future and the government that would reign for generations to come, they did NOT take into consideration Afrikan people ever becoming a part of the nation. We were brought here for a specific purpose as outlined by these historical and founding documents. By definition any deviation from that purpose is criminal. This is why slaves who attempted to escape or not perform their duties were lynched or tortured. Now try to accept this same logic as why Dr. King and others were assassinated.
The last example we would like to use in support of our claim is Dave Chappelle. He had a specific purpose while on Comedy Central: make us laugh. His contract did not include having morals, beliefs, or opinions on negative implications of any sketches he was asked to perform. He would then face a true Bamboozled-esque situation when his morals would be put to the test. With $50 million hanging in the balance, Chappelle had to decide whether to allow his creative vision to be poisoned or to walk away from the money, therefore staying true to his beliefs. He decided to do the unthinkable and walk away and immediately the media is polluted with stories of him being mentally unstable, troubled, and crazy. They also were certain to emphasize that he went to Afrika as if this made him seem crazier. To make matters even worse, WE were some of the main people making jokes, calling him crazy for going to Afrika, and so on. Again, ignorance is bliss because if we knew whose lens we’d been viewing these events through; we’d realize that WE were the crazy ones.
So in conclusion, I send this out as an appeal to the Afrikan people of the world from the United States, to Jamaica, to Haiti, to Eritrea and all of Afrika, to Southern Asia and the Pacific Islands. This is an appeal for us to control the lens through which we view the world and how the world views us. To do this we must stop the futile effort to assimilate into the institutions of our colonizers and begin to establish new, innovative, and culturally independent institutions that will allow us to define our own destinies. We must think as Black People; think as Afrikan people and realize that this does not mean that you are being a separatist. This does not mean that you are being a reverse-racist or any of the other words they use to scare us from embracing cultural independence. It means you acknowledge the historical fact that no group of people has been subjected to atrocities as we have. No other group of people has been considered property. No other group of people has been considered less than human. No other group of people is perceived as criminal upon simple view of a pigment biologically expressed in their skin. Our experience throughout the world is unique and, as a result, unique solutions and organizations that specifically speak to this experience must be formed. To prevent the further perpetuation of the superiority of one race and inferiority of another, these organizations and the change coming from them must share the faces of the oppressed. Of course the distractions will present themselves through accusations of exclusion and the question of the role of our brothers and sisters of other races. To that we ask who is organizing in white communities for example? Who is organizing the people in Beverly Hills and the nation’s affluent neighborhoods to spread awareness of its injustices and inequalities? Who is courageous enough to tell the stories of Darius Simmons and Devin Brown to the communities who invest in the private prisons that built the culture that caused their death. Who is willing to put their savior aspirations aside and work on healing the lesser talked about psychological illness facing American people: the superiority complex. Everyone loves to discuss the impact of slavery and Jim Crow on Black people but we never hear too much of the impact it may have had on whites. The inferiority complex imposed upon Afrikan slaves and their descendants is undeniable, however couldn’t there have likely been an equal and opposite systemic impact on the oppressors and their descendants. But then again I, for the reasons discussed above, understand completely that nobody likes to be under the magnifying glass…
In other words my people, break the chains that prevent you from thinking critically of the world around you. Think critically of what you have just read, do the research yourself if you must, and remember to spread the wisdom. One Love.
-Be Wise, Member
Wisdom From The Field (WFTF)