Black people in the United States are a colonized people. In colonialism, the oppressed group is placed in a position of underprivilege and shame for its culture and is forced to view the colonizer’s culture as their only means for acceptance in society. Once colonized, the affected peoples’ culture, traditions, spirituality, language, and the meanings of that language’s words are all defined by the colonizing nation or group. In the case of Black people in the Western Hemisphere, we are colonized by the prince of European imperialism, the United States of America. I make the argument therefore that all of our problems today and historically since our coming in contact with the architects of capitalism are results of this colonization. Using the same logic, I argue that the solutions to our problems are directly linked to how well we separate ourselves from this colonial system; not how well we integrate and “change” the system from the inside.
To be “free” means to be in a state of existence without prerequisites. In other words, a person who is free shouldn’t have to do anything to continue to be free; they just are. Here in the United States this is not the case. In the United States of America one must have money, be in the right network of people, or have the proper credentials for free participation in society. Access to all of these things are dependent on the person’s social status in society, which is directly associated with the person’s race. From the Black, or African descendant perspective, our access to these three prerequisites for participation in society depend on how well we demonstrate our colonization or, in other words, how well we demonstrate our capacity to advance the system we wish to “integrate.” In reality, unlike the Civil Rights Movement highlight reel we’re given in school taught us, the result of our ancestor’s struggle was the opportunity to assimilate, not integration.
Integration would have meant that American businesses, educational institutions, and the like would have recognized cultural practices, traditions, methods of education, and so on that had been brought here and developed further by Black people in our communities. I would be able to apply for a well-paying job at Any-Business-USA and not have to prove my value and worth by presenting a degree/credential from this or that University. Had integration occurred, my mother would not have to use “the voice” at job interviews or burn her scalp, killing the natural protein gradient of her hair in order to “fit in” at her job. What we instead are experiencing is the reality of assimilation aka conditional acceptance into society; if we meet the conditions placed in front of us then we will have the opportunities to get jobs to make money, attend schools to get the credential, or attend that banquet where we’ll meet “the right people.”
Now here we are, the children and grandchildren of those ancestors who lost life just to allow us the opportunity to be someone else. Now I can take my talents out of my community (in other words I can make it out the hood) and work for that big engineering firm that gets governmental contracts and I’m successful. I’m making a near 6-figure salary, driving a good car, living in a nice house far away from where I grew up and, forget the cookout, I’m invited to the picnic! But at that same time the technology I developed for that firm now goes to the US military and is employed when they want to invade Grenada again, or maybe Haiti, or perhaps Libya as they did in 2011. Now people who look like me, who I should be identifying with, are in danger because of me. However, due to colonialism, I don’t identify with them anymore; I’m American. This is merely one example to demonstrate how colonialism affects us today without us even knowing it. The question then remains, what do we do?
Well then answer isn’t going to sound good to those of us who are in too deep so-to-speak and have mortgages, car notes, private school tuitions, and the like dependent on participation in this trap. The answer is a gradual decrease in our participation in the society. The answer is saying no to the paychecks, saying no to the degree, saying no to participation in the advancement of American imperialism and exceptionalism. The answer is a small group of would-be engineers taking their natural god-given talents and putting them to use independently to develop technologies that will advance a purpose that we define for ourselves. Someone like me, a scientist, must leave his laboratory job where any discovery he makes will simply pad the pockets of a pharmaceutical corporation to treat issues I thought I was working to cure. Teachers must leave established systems of education and begin to reimagine education. They must go to projects and apartment complexes and employ family based education in the environments of their would-be students. Doctors must train people in the community who will never have the opportunity to go to Harvard medical school how to manage hypertension, diabetes, and other health issues. Aspiring politicians must abandon American politics and create governing systems of our own that function beneath the surface of mainstream American society. They must go door to door and form relationships with people in our communities. They must survey these people and from them set goals to accomplish based off of these surveys and then hold independent voting to determine the path they will go down to achieve those goals.
SEE ALSO: Why We Must Return To Our Communities
To sum this all in a nutshell, the answer to our problems is revolution in its literal translation. The answer is for us to stop trying to keep up with a society that advanced itself by enslaving us. We have to take a few steps back, sacrifice our present day leisure and comfort and take our community back to basics. We can’t spend time worrying about robots and flying cars when we still don’t know how to feed ourselves from seed to dinner table. So yes, this means no six figure salaries, no big mansions, and no fancy award shows and that may be hard for most. That means when a new style of music is created in our community and that major record label discovers it and offers that $5 million dollar check, we must say no. That means that we must begin to create things, make them a part of our new culture, and see to it that no one but us profits from it without us getting a piece. But who has the courage and confidence to start from scratch without a recipe?
Black people throughout the world have historically fought for independence from the colonial powers of France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium. We on the other hand in the United States of America didn’t get this memo. Instead of trying to get back to being ourselves and be independent of our oppressors, we want to be accepted by them. I go even further to say that we wish to be our oppressors and as a result we hold dear to identities such as African-American, an inherent contradiction. The hyphen is the new shackle my friends and if we are to be free, then we must look in the mirror and make the decision, are we going to be African OR American. There is no in-between.
Some of us here in southern California have defined the homeland surrounding us as Nuburkina; a western hemispheric nationality that identifies as African diasporic in origin. Our name is inspired by a West African nation that, in 1983, fought a revolution that liberated themselves from the French and changed their name from Upper Volta (imposed by the French after the Berlin Conference of 1884) to Burkina Faso. In their 2 predominant native languages, Burkina Faso means the Land of Upright People. We took the Mossi language “Burkina” and dubbed ourselves the Nuburki people aka the New Upright People. Nuburkina represents to us a branch in our history when we made this decision to not think as US citizens but colonial subjects who are working toward independence so that we are more than just a flag and a name, but a full-fledged culture. We identify the time of 1492-2016 as our Dark Age, when we were enslaved and subjected to colonial treatment. Whereas during this dark time we were forced to bend over backwards to advance American culture and society, we now stand upright, free in mind and looking towards a new future defined for us by us.
I now close by introducing you to our flag. It was designed to fit in among all African continental flags and flags of nations identifying with the diaspora (Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti, etc) while still being unique. Staying true to the base color scheme of red, yellow, green, and black, our flag symbolizes the history we have created for ourselves. The red represents our history of struggle, success and the blood of our ancestors who went through both. The Black represent the diaspora of all those descendants of the African continent, from here to Haiti, to Brazil, to Ghana, to the Aboriginal peoples in Australia (whose flag ours most closely resembles). The yellow sun in the center represents us, the Black people of what was formerly known as North America. We stand on and rise through the struggle and successes of ancestors and as we recognize our blackness and our place within the diaspora, we begin to truly shine. Lastly, throughout this whole experience, we are surrounded by our motherland Africa, as represented by the green border. This is the flag of our newly established homeland and it represents the end of asking for permission to be free. Now we define freedom in our own terms and will work to build it from scratch until it goes from being a crazy idea to being an unbelievable reality.
Sure, it sounds crazy now but don’t forget that we were once property and this land wasn’t called “the United States of America.” It is now though. What was once crazy was then forced into world history books and now it’s the only world we know. All we’re saying is let’s start our own craziness now and make it our great-great-great grandchildren’s reality later on.