THE BLACK PSYCHE:
by Rasta Keith
Let’s face it, the economic condition of Black People in the world today, comparatively speaking, is just as bleak as it has ever been since the abolition of slavery almost two centuries ago.
Such was the essence of a presentation made by Mr. Raymond Dugue, the High Chancellor and Treasurer of Division #432 of the Universal Negro Improvement Association based in Queens and Harlem in the United States.
With the aid of state of the art video equipment, and ably assisted by the Assistant Secretary General of the division, Ms. Roschell Wright, Mr. Dugue demonstrated in no uncertain terms that he possesses a depth of knowledge on the subject of Garveyism and Economics unlike anything heard before by anyone in the audience.
Relying on his training in Mathematics, the presenter showed that Black People remain marginalized and impoverished in just about every country in the world. Such is the case in the U.S.A. where African Americans constitute just about 13% of the overall population but 37% of the prison population. He further lamented that Although Canada projects an image of fairness to all of its citizens, the statistics reveal a picture not quite unlike that of the U.S.
He continued that although 95% of Haitians are Black, 99% of all businesses are owned by Whites, Indians and Mulattoes. Mr. Dugue emphasized that the situation is just as dire in the islands of the Caribbean, in South America, and in most African countries. He explained that the most woeful living conditions for people of African ancestry were to be found in Brazil where at least five of our brothers and sisters are slaughtered by the police on a daily basis.
Speaking with an oratorical eloquence and zeal reminiscent of the founder of the U.N.I.A., the Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Mr. Dugue promulgated the view that the only reason White People, Brown People and Yellow People are economically and technologically ahead of Black People is that those other races are invariably committed to a doctrine of “Race First”.
He insisted, therefore, that it was incumbent upon Black People to openly embrace a similar philosophy just as Mr. Garvey had taught almost a hundred years ago. During Mr. Garvey’s time, the average daily wage was just between US$1 to US$3. And yet by organising and mobilising the resources of his people, Mr. Garvey was able to raise what in today’s dollars would amount to US$155 million.
Mr. Dugue thinks that Black People could do the same or even better things today and own their own shipping lines, airlines, factories and other companies just as Mr. Garvey had done. And he has a plan to do just that.
The plan would begin with the capitalization of a black-owned company called the Federation of African, Caribbean and American Restaurant Corporation so as to tap into the lucrative food distribution industry in New York City. With well over US$52 million circulating in that sector, the market is controlled by non-blacks catering to a Black clientele.
Not quite surprisingly, however, while Mr. Dugue’s message is as relevant today as it ever was during Mr. Garvey’s time, the audience comprised a mere six men and women; all in their upper sixties.
Not even one young person thought it fitting to show up for such an intellectual treat: leaving one to think that there must be a kernel of truth in the notion that the only thing Black people find time to do is to fete and attend church. And the only book they read is the bible.
Sad though the case may be, many experts in a broad array of disciplines have proffered a variety of explanations for the apparent of paucity of Black people’s interest in intellectual matters. In her book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Dr. Joy DeGruy argues that Black People’s attitude has been conditioned by their subjugation to colonialism and slavery and that it would take many generations for a complete prognosis.
Be that as it may, Dr. DeGruy seems to have completely overlooked the role of the Christian faith in perpetuating Black People’s acceptance of the Hobbesian view that life is necessarily meant to be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” And so Black people continue to cling to the belief that if they dutifully attend church and pay their tithe, their reward in heaven would more than make up for anything that they might have missed here on earth.
Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with anyone being concerned about spiritual matters. Africans have a proud tradition of probing into the realm of the supernatural and the metaphysical.
The problem with Black People and Christianity is that that religious institution, like the other established religions, has never been truly concerned about the history and experience of the African race. Moreover, most of the established religions have played a crucial role in the subjugation of Africans.
When the Roman Catholic Bishop, Bartholomew de Las Casas recommended the enslavement of Black People to Pope Charles V, he and his supporters based the justification for their decision primarily on the teachings of the Bible.
As far as Las Casas and the likes of Cecil Rhodes were concerned the bible was an even more powerful weapon than the musket in assimilating the African “savages”. Since then Black People have been completely brainwashed into believing all of the hogwash they are taught about the bible and other Christian doctrines.
And so, given the fact that the “noble savages” must be present for their indoctrination sessions at least every Sunday (and sometimes during the rest of the week), they find precious little time for anything else even though none of the stories in the Bible have any direct relation to their earthly sojourn as a people.
Come to think of it, there is a wealth of events from which black people as a collectivity could draw inspiration and muster the collective courage to face the obstacles confronting them. Just as people of the Jewish faith draw courage from the story of the Red Sea crossing, Black people should draw courage from the story of the corralling of millions of Africans across the Atlantic Ocean; knowing that we have survived such inhumanity and that the Cosmic One has not forsaken us.
And just as people of the Jewish faith tell the stories of the deliverance of Daniel from the lion’s den, and of the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace, Black people should constantly remind themselves of the massacre of the Soweto children in 1976, and of the bombing of households of Rastafarians in Philadelphia, U.S.A. in 1983, and of the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela for 27 years, and of his miraculous rise to the Presidency of South Africa in 1994.
And just as people of the Jewish faith have set aside at least eight days a year to celebrate some of their cultural events; and just as Christians set aside Christmas, Easter and other holidays to commemorate certain significant events in the history of their religion, so too Black people should set aside an equal number of days to remind themselves of some of their many heroes like His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie (H.I.M.) who miraculously withstood the military might of the Europeans, and of Dr. Martin Luther King who gave his life for the redemption of the human race.
For it is only through such practices that great cultures are nourished. And it is only when a people can proudly identify with their cultural heritage that they develop the kind of consciousness which equips them to contribute meaningfully to the wellbeing of society. The Chinese know that only too well. Indians are also cognizant of this truth. And so too are the Japanese and the Arabs.
In other words, while Mr. Garvey and Mr. Dugue are in fact correct in their view that economic power is a necessary facet in the effort to gain true freedom for Black People, no number of black millionaires or billionaires could ever be relied upon in the struggle for Black Redemption. For no sooner that the likes of Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Bill Cosby, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and others acquire their wealth, they jump ship; leaving their race even more impoverished than before.
Whether Black People would like to admit it or not, the only real path or primary mechanism for Black Liberation is a conscious effort on their part toward the collective upliftment of all Africans. And the only way in which such an ideal could ever be realised is through a comprehensive reconfiguration of the psyche (mindset) of Black People.
Accordingly, the only authentic vehicle currently in the making for articulating the Black experience is the Rastafarian Movement. Grounded in the lives and teachings of H.I.M., the Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and other enlightened Black personages like Prophets Nesta and Cliff, whose lyrical utterances rank closely with anything offered by the Psalmists David and Solomon, Rastafari is not without its flaws.
Even so, those sceptics who are determined to rush to judgement about the Movement’s transformative capacity and to spitefully pigeonhole the Movement into this or that denominational category are in for a rude awakening. With a current following of well over five million adherents around the globe since its inception in 1930, no other religion has experienced such phenomenal growth.
It goes without saying, therefore, that in the race of the Races, Black People must either prosper together or perish together. And yet, reverberations of H.I.M.’s words could still be heard even in the furthest corners of the earth: “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is permanently and finally abandoned and discredited… We Africans will fight if necessary, and we know we will win….”