A-Z of Black Radicalism

I is for Independence

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

This word separation has been misused, a better word is independence Malcolm X

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in understanding radical politics is to confuse separation and independence. We can be separate and still be dependent on the system that oppresses us. Segregation is a from a separateness imposed by those in power like what was seen in the US South, under the pretence of “separate but equal”. Even apartheid South Africa tried to but a positive spin on segregation by creating Bantustans or “homelands” for native Africans with a symbolic degree of power. Calls for independence from Black movements go beyond segregation and wish to remove ourselves from systems of oppression. The desire is not to be away from white people, the aim is to be free.

Self-help has been a major part of Black politics in the West. The aim to build Black independent institutions, like schools, remains one of the practical projects we can be involved in. To create radical curricula and spaces to educate young people absent of the poison from mainstream schooling is certainly a radical aim. The substance of Black radicalism is to build a collective independence so that we are not constrained by the boundaries of the system. Pooling our resources, supporting each other and building our own institutions is a key tool to be able to use our power.

The problem is that freedom can only be achieved when we are independent from the system that oppresses us. As much as we have to build institutions in the West, we also must recognise that they are not really independent. They rely on money, access and resources that are part of the same system and therefore the problem. When we scale up the issue of independence to a global scale we very clearly see the size of the problem.

Every year we celebrate the so called independence of one former colony or the other. The supposed liberation of African and Caribbean countries are examples of separation from the mother country, rather than independence. The Caribbean are net importers of fish and Africa sells off its resources and buys finished products from the rest of the world. Africa should be the richest continent in the world but is steeped in debt and reliant on outside support for even the most basic necessities like food. It is because the continent is still kept dependent on the West (and increasingly the East) that there can be no freedom. The only way to fulfil the Black radical vision of independence is to create a to create new political economy. A truly independent Africa, with a planned economy and shared resources offer out this hope for those of us ‘at home and abroad’. The challenge for Black radicalism is how to build the collective necessary for real independence.

Queen Mother Audley Moore

Self Help in Britain

Walter Rodney How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Malcolm X By Any Means Necessary

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