B is for Black

Make it Plain is exploring Black Radicalism with Kehinde Andrews exploring a new letter each day. All of these are sourced from Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century, proceeds of which go to the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity There are some limited suggested resources below but please send in suggestions for more, these are just a few to start with

If you’re Black, you should be thinking Black. And if you’re Black and your not thinking Black at this late date, well, I’m sorry for you’ Malcolm X

Black. Black Power. Black Pride. Black is beautiful. Black Feminism. Black Studies. Black Lives Matter. All Black everything. If Africa is the heart and the home, then Black is the mind of Black Radicalism. Embracing the link to Africa, the physical marks of our roots in the continent provides a potentially radical consciousness. Whilst Europeans tried to turn us into the beasts of burden they needed to produce the modern world, we used our Blackness as a constant reminder of our humanity. No amount of violence and brutality could destroy our connection to each other and the continent. We were taught to hate the source of our Blackness, Africa, but we resisted by claiming our colour as that which unites us. We were not made Black by Europeans and to claim Blackness is not to accept inhuman ideas of race, which were created to justify our oppression. The Negro was the lie of Europeans, who convinced themselves that we had no history, culture or civilisation. We call ourselves Black in recognition of our shared African heritage and commitment to each other.

That shared commitment holds the radical possibility of Blackness. Calls for Black Power were a reminder that united we have always had agency, that we do not have to rely on the charity or acceptance of anyone for liberation. Whether it be on the African continent or anywhere across the Diaspora there is strength in our numbers. Our Blackness also connects us across our different circumstances. Even though we may have made some token progress we will never be fully accepted in the West. Our Blackness also directly connects us to Africa and other parts of the Diaspora who experience conditions that we can only imagine. By its very nature Blackness necessitates a radical commitment to overturning global poverty by connecting our struggles to those at the bottom of the global racial order.

Blackness also offers radical possibilities because when our connection to each other is the basis of our politics it means that to erect barriers or hierarchies based on gender, sexual orientation or anything else undermines all of the work. I say possibilities because unfortunately patriarchal visions of Blackness have too long a history and are ever present. But achieving the radical promise of Black consciousness is essential to building a revolutionary politics. Embracing Blackness is to understand that we are, as Malcolm puts it, ‘all in the same boat’ and that it will take all of us to achieve liberation.

Resources

Amy Jacques Garvey Garvey and Garveyism

Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought

Joyce Ladner (ed) The Death of White Sociology

Malcolm  X The Ballot or the Bullet

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