This article speaks to the concept of multiple Fergusons that have happened over the past 250 years. Ferguson, Missouri is a symptom of an already explosive reality regarding race during the 21st century. The problem identified herein is much older than Ferguson but events like Ferguson demonstrate unchanged and unaddressed behaviors that are centuries old. Two hundred and fifty years is a relative short period, but the rate in which civilization has sped up puts an intensified pressure upon most events in today’s world. Ferguson is no different, and the battle that is confronting Blacks in societies around the globe is no different than what Blacks have had to deal with over the past 250 years.
The solutions, however, require a different kind of sacrifice, such as being willing to freely give personal time, unwavering dedication and development of a cadre of leadership with the courage of the 19th and early 20th century African Americans. Africentricity (formerly Afrocentricity) is the ideology and way of life that the new and upcoming cadre of leadership must be devoted in order to remain singly focused with an agency for the people of Africa. These people are Africans, African Americans, Blacks, and Mulattoes. An African agency does not seek to dominate or hold power over but to actualize liberation without grafting itself into a European ideology.
There are numerous public policies, events, and atrocities to point out what the white establishment has done and is not doing that have worsened the African Americans’ plight in the United States. Among them, none are as great as the need for African Americans to fully realize the need to pull up no matter how great the resistance is from the outside or how traumatic the pains are buried on the inside. In order to do so, a cadre of African American leadership must lead the way, and here is also where the greatest lack currently exists with the African American culture. what leadership that does exist is divided and that too is a problem in resolving racism in America.
African American leadership over the past several decades has taken on a new look. The type of leader ascending from the bottom—at the grassroots level—is no more. Leaders today are following the model of the dominant culture and are missing the mark as to how to lead with an agency that focuses solely upon the African American. Today’s leadership is watered down and has become sidetracked with an agenda that has all but forgotten an agency for African Americans.
The two primary camps of Black leadership are the Africentrist and Multiculturalist. The primary issue between them is assimilation versus separation unto others like self. Realistically, the Africentrists know there can be no such thing as complete separation in this country. A Black nationalist, for example, would consider a modified separation plausible in the areas of economics, education, spirituality, technology science, and medicine.
While the Multicluturalist desires to assimilate by acculturation into the dominant society, which has rigidly opposed that assimilation, acculturation nor equality will exist between African American and the European American, the Africentrist seeks impendence from such awkward and unworkable alliances.
The way of thinking for Africentrists and the Multiculturalist is very different although the antagonist of each has been and remains the same. According to Africentrists the multiculturalist does not understand nor accept their plight in knowing that the antagonist is the same for both groups. African Americans are living under forced integration, which basically began for most Africans upon their initial arrival and the same forced integration has remained in place. Public segregation had become an institution in the north and south but not without economic dependence upon cheap labor which justified the tolerance for a manipulated integration. The Africentrist is not asking for manipulated integration, assimilation or acculturation, but to not be blocked in the pursual of acquiring educational, political and spiritual freedom for the African Diaspora. Whereas the Multiculturalist desires to integrate into a system that continues to disempower the student. The Multiculturalist is committed to seeking acceptance into a political system that refuses to change. Furthermore, the Multiculturalist continues to worship a type of spiritual practice that inherently regards both groups as infidels.
African American leadership is caught in a bind for two reasons: first, the financial backing offered and provided is primarily for those who are not defiant and who show compliance with the way things are currently being done. The Africentrist’s agenda requires that the African American learn about who they are as well as who is in control of the system in which they live. Although today there are more African Americans learning about their history—which began thousands of years before the arrival of the first slave ships—unfortunately there also remains a miscarriage of knowledge in the Black community. The miscarriage has created a failure to awaken the Black mind into the 21st century by failing to have its mind learn how to heal the Black collective.
The necessary healing has not been accomplished by traditional religion, therefore, the solution to healing must be found outside of traditional avenues just as the remedy to combat the public display of racism through police violence must also be attacked by venues outside of marching and demonstrating. It is no mystery that the United States prides itself upon it capitalistic ways and honors money more than human life. The Montgomery Bus Boycott accomplished what the Million Man March could not do—it affected the pocket books of the white infrastructure. Anything less than a direct assault on white economics is useless. Solidarity without economic pressure is not respected in this country by the powers that be. Whites can march and protest all they want with Blacks but what affects people’s lives is not protesting but economic strategies.
Without such economic strategies African Americans will do no more than observe ourselves on television singing old outdated slogans. Another approach is to ally with those who are suffering the same type of injustices. Whites are not being slaughtered on the streets by policemen. The Hispanic and Latino coalition is ripe and a place to focus for a meaningful ally. Multiculturalists are assimilating instead of fighting and yet there is a war going on and those who are not White are at risk. Finally, the spiritual approach must not include a doctrine which founded this country as it murdered, slaughtered and took the lands away from a peaceful people all in the name of Jesus.
Addressing the lack of an economic strategy that will affect the overall economy and the absence of a coalition whose alignment is deeper than just one group, and developing a focus upon a spirituality that does not rely upon a doctrine of enslavement is crucial for a new cadre of leadership to offer to the African American. Christmas is such a boycott of spending that would have affected the economy at large. How and where Blacks spend their money must take on a new type of consciousness. The agenda of a new cadre of leadership must change to become more like the leadership that existed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This would include, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Martin Delaney, Marcus Garvey and others who were willing to put everything on the line.
African Americans have failed to build a bridge with Blacks in other regions outside of the United States. Our own arrogance is biting us in the foot. We have abandoned everyone else just as we too felt abandoned by our motherland. We must build bridges with the Black collective because we are all in this mess together and to change it will require a very strong coalition. Changing what happened in Ferguson requires the changing of many minds, educational system, economic system and spiritual practices. These things can change overnight if there is the foundation to support the change. Currently, there is no such foundation in place. Hence, today’s Black leaders have missed the opportunity to focus on genuine agency for the African American.
Wilson Jordan, formerly a teacher in Washington State, currently teaches in Connecticut.