With the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, I think now is as good a time than ever to continue the on-going discussion about 'pro-Blackness' and my definition of it (which I'm sure is similar to many others). Modern-day pro-Blackness is a group phenomenon that comes about directly as a result of the organized oppression of those in power who are predominantly white. It does not mean all White people are viewed a certain way or that pro-Black men and women view White people a certain way. It is purely a cultural rebuttal to centuries of ethnic propaganda that reinforced the supposed inferiority of Blacks while enforcing the supposed superiority of Whites. So in many ways being pro-Black is a defense mechanism born out of a nation which has spent most of its history attacking Black and Brown people and profiting off of it.
There are few athletes that personify pro-Blackness better than Muhammad Ali. In 1968, Ali used wit to explain why Blacks need knowledge of self. He talked about how anything white is usually depicted positively, while things that are black are lowered in status and depicted negatively. Ali said specifically, "everything bad is black, so [Blacks] have been brainwashed." In another interview Ali once again shows us his wit and talks about how when he was a kid he asked his mother why all of the depictions of angels are White. He said jokingly that he speculated that the Black angels must be in the kitchen preparing the milk and honey. He brings up later the hilarious notion of Tarzan (a White man) being the king of the jungle...in Africa. All one has to do is pick up a history book and they'd know why pro-Blackness exists. We live in a country that historically has valued the lives of White people over Black people. Whether or not you personally agree with people being pro-Black is a decision you will have to make yourself...however the fact that there are will continue to be the case until the day anti-Black bias and animus no longer exists in America.
Now there are those who will have you believe that Black people reacting this way to systematic and systemic white supremacy is somehow "anti-White" and racist. Let us be clear first and foremost, Black people cannot be racist. It just isn't possible given the fact that Blacks cannot under any circumstances inflict Whites with racial discrimination through employment, housing, the environment, education, criminal justice and the other multi-faceted ways Blacks are hurt by the aforementioned forms of discrimination. That is the heart of what racism really is all about. Most of the time, when White people claim Black people are being racist about something it's disingenuous. It's usually more about simply being able to lay the same blame on Blacks that is leveled onto them. The problem with this is the complete lack of understanding about what racism really is. Whether conservatives are intentionally attempting to muddy the waters of the definition of racism or whether many truly are clueless about racism is irrelevant. Black "racism" doesn't go beyond name-calling, real racism is felt over multiple generations. So being pro-Black has absolutely nothing to do with being anti-White. That baseless accusation is simply being put out there by those in the dominant society (and some of their Black puppet henchmen too) who want to use Black pride against Black people because deep down inside many people don't want Black people getting on the same page and doing for self.
There are even more specific reasons for the existence of pro-Blackness that go beyond what Muhammad Ali mentioned in the video above. For instance you have the hypocrisy that is the Confederate flag. A symbol to many Blacks not of the South, but of slavery, Jim Crow apartheid and white supremacy. Regardless of the arguments that conservatives use to justify their celebration for a flag of treason, the damage done under that banner cannot be denied. The Confederate flag has always been tied to hate and "Southern Pride" which was basically the Southern pride of owning slaves and being on the side of the Confederate States of America which as I already mentioned committed an act of treason when they went to war with the democratically-elected American government. How that flag is allowed to fly given what it represents shows you the extent to which white privilege permeates American society. It also shows you why pro-Blackness exists. In the face of such anti-Black energy, why WOULDN'T pro-Blackness exist?
Another reason for the existence of pro-Blackness comes from decades of state-sponsored race theory that used science and religion to justify the assault on Black communities. One of my earliest blog entries was entitled 'Were Ancient Egyptians Black? The Obsession with White-Washing Ancient Kemet' and briefly discussed the origins of race theory and how it was used to justify slavery and racism in general. While it's easy to write much of the past off as being in the past and less relevant today...clearly the original sin of America lives on to this day. So what happened in the past is extremely relevant to today in my opinion. Historical ignorance is in fact one of the biggest problems with America right now and that breeds a lack of context when discussing the race issue.
Pro-Blackness comes directly out of race theory which Black people did not create or ever benefit from. It was a system of control that sought to legitimize white supremacy in the minds of Whites so that they wouldn't feel as bad about what was going on in their country right up under their noses. It was also convenient for rich Whites who benefited in numerous ways from racism. Without the racism of race theory, pro-Blackness would not exist. It is the logical counter-balance to scientific and religious racism. It has taken different forms and many different groups and schools of thought have grown within the pro-Black sphere. The only way you can be against the concept of pro-Blackness is if you somehow believe that centuries of chattel slavery and dehumanization would somehow disappear simply because America passed a few laws.
This trauma is in the genes of Black people now as recent genetics research has shown that stressful events can be (epi)genetically transmitted from one generation to the next. Nathan Kellerman, out of Israel, studied inter-generational gene transmission within the lineage of Holocaust survivors and their children in a 2013 issue of 'The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences.' Epigenetics is a field of genetics that studies not only hereditary inheritance of traits, but also the role that the environment plays in inheritance. Kellerman came to the conclusion that verifiable data of trauma transmission would be a grounds for reparations due to the infliction of epigenetically inflicted wounds. Epigenetics is a controversial field of genetics because its potential implications are huge. It means the trauma of slavery has almost definitely been passed down from generation to generation in Black America. The PTSD of slavery is now in our genes has can be activated or silenced depending on the environment we are in.
Ali was right, there is a brainwashing that has hurt the Black community. This brainwashing comes from generations of propaganda that served as a conditioning mechanism for the enslaved Black mind. It is this conditioning process that Claude Anderson writes about in his monumental book, 'Black Labor, White Wealth.' Anderson describes the conditioning process slaves went through that bled over into the world of the "Free Blacks" too. On Table 10 on page 164 he lists the goals of the conditioning of Blacks and the techniques Blacks were subjected to to ensure those goals were met. So for instance Anderson lists one of the conditioning goals as 'Know Your Place' in which case the technique to teach that goal was the Color Line and Jim Crow. Another goal was to teach Blacks to 'Be fearful of Master,' which employed the technique of physical and psychological deprivation. This was basically the goal that taught Blacks to be fearful of White disapproval in whatever form that may come. The penalty for that could be either bodily or mental harm...often time both. Another major goal was to teach enslaved and free Blacks to 'Be totally dependent' on White people for survival. The technique that goes along with that one is impoverishment. I should probably add forced impoverishment that goes hand-in-hand with many of the economic problems within the Black community.
Claude Anderson lays out 10 goals of the conditioning of the enslaved and free Black man and woman that our community has never recovered from and is the source of much of the dysfunction in Black America. The forced impoverishment of the Black community for decades that reveals itself in many forms is just one instance. Whether you want to talk about employment discrimination or the destruction of Black Wallstreet, there has been an effort to keep Black America at a certain level in society economically. Yet people wonder why pro-Blackness exists? Really? Then you can add in the potential epigenetic damage that has been done to Blacks as mentioned above. Is there REALLY a discussion about pro-Blackness? Heck, pro-Blackness might be genetic for all we know at this point.
The real fear of pro-Blackness is melanoid empowerment. It's the fear of Blacks getting on the same page politically, economically and spiritually. It's why the dominant society goes out of their way to sow division in the Black community. Black people have to be the biggest targets of propaganda in this country...outside of maybe Muslims. There is more anti-Black rhetoric spewed on the cable news than most other groups in America. Claude Anderson had several suggestions for the building of Black wealth that I will elaborate on in a future blog entry about building Black wealth. He said that Blacks should practice group economics and buy Black, but also that local municipal governments at the city and township level should establish trade policies between Black and White communities. That the flow of goods shouldn't just be going from white to black, but black to white and even black to black. This is where getting on the same page politically comes into the equation. We're going to need people in office who will support these policy agendas...so we can't detach ourselves from politics and hope to make progress in certain areas.
In conclusion, as I've stated already...pro-Black is not anti-White and never was. Pro-Blackness is about Black people figuring out how we're going to survive in a system rigged against us since the founding of America. It is defiant, it is full of strength and willpower and involves some of the most beautiful men and women on the planet who have made it through too much to give up now.