The topic of black identity in the West is something that has been furiously discussed for decades though not in the mainstream media. Nonetheless the literature is there, it points in numerous directions but leads to one certainty. The identity of Africans in the old new world is so diluted, artficial and ridiculed that many blacks or anyone else for that matter can’t define what it means to be black.
To be of African heritage in the West means you define self through a historical context not written by your own hence self image and perception by others lie in the historical work of racially charged and turbulent history under Western regimes.
The point a lot of people miss is that opinions often are not simply based on how you just get up one day feeling. No instead it is as a result of series of observations and readings which have lead you to believe in particular ideas from which you craft your own reality.
Now imagine the reality of a people oppressed and starved of vital intellectual and cultural capital for 500 years.
Now acknowledge the fact that all the writers of history in this society were thought to be racist and behaved as such.
Think about the fact that in the midst of all of this the printing press came into full force to deliver poisonous vitriol to all corners of the Earth and the readers teaching their descendants these same foolishness.
Even more scary is the fact that an enslaved bloc of people who have no sense of self reserve these feelings towards their children and themselves. Just think how twisted the psyche of these people were, in fact recognize the fact that many still hold these beliefs today, even black people.
This is where understanding of Africa, Ancient Egypt and Ethiopia helps tremendously to fill the void in black people in the West.
The reading and understanding of African history written by Africans can serve as a tremendously empowering experience, so much so that some of the people of Jamaica and now the world have come to a point where they seek fulfillment and knowledge by exploring a cultural space once though lost.
In Rastafari the understanding of history “through ones own spectacles” manifest in the ideas, identity and lineage of His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. The rastaman uses Haile Selassie as the nucleus of their existence; in doing so they can redefine themselves as Africans independent of the colonial experience. This is paramount in the Rastafarian frame and is worlds away from the strange misunderstandings that many people hold of rasta as only pot heads.
The same reinvented thinking can be applied to Ancient Egypt which serves as an in your face testament to the fact that Africa was never a poverty filled wasteland; not then and certainly not now. Not only in Ancient Egypt but all throughout Africa where in the 1500′s European sailors commented that African iron smelting was on par with and in some instances ahead of the practices in Europe. In Uganda many were surprised to the fact that naked Africans were performing what would come to be known as the Caesarean section. During the procedure the woman was wide awake and felt no pain thanks to the powers of traditional herbs.
The examples are all over Afrika like in the Sudan or the Land of Kush where smaller scaled pyramids stretched across the land. The issue with the fact that Africans for the most part were scantily clad makes no sense and is nothing but mere manifestations of ethnocentric views; if the sun is so hot what the hell would you be doing in a three piece suit?
All of these facts can aid the cultivation of lush thinking in the otherwise empty spaces of black people and everyone for that matter with respect to real black history. From what I’ve seen from the text books. Black children from the Caribbean, North and South America are taught that their history begins with slavery which can be overwhelming damaging to the self esteem of these children who already feel insecure about the fact that they are societies literal, “black sheep”.
Regardless we press on arming ourselves with knowledge on the way.
Buju Banton – Til I’m Laid To Rest Lyrics
‘Til I’m laid to rest, yes
Always be depressed
There’s no life in the West
I know the East is the best
All the propaganda they spread
Tongues will have to confess
I’m in bondage living is a mess
I’ve got to rise up alleviate the stress
No longer will I expose my weakness
He who seeks knowledge begins with humbleness