Pseudo Black Nationalism; Toxic Masculinity & Homophobia

Black Nationalism at face value has its honored place in history.  Despite the efforts by racist Europeans and accommodating negroes to denounce it for centuries, the concept of Black Nationalism has always been a survival tool for the African masses.  As Sekou Ture eloquently points out in his classic and widely missed analysis of “Negritude,” Black Nationalism was African people’s response to colonialism and slavery.  Since a major component of institutionalizing those racist systems was for the bourgeois to develop and nurture the concept of white supremacy, Black Nationalism has always been our way of deconstructing racist ideology and proclaiming that we will claim our history, culture, and dignity in the face of efforts to systemically dehumanize us. Now that we have pushed past the period of colonialism and slavery, the efforts to frame our struggle strictly around our (constructed) racial identity presents serious limitations and weaknesses.  Echoing Kwame Ture’s (aka Stokely Carmichael)’s efforts to build on Sekou Ture, “in the 60s, we identified as Black because we understood our struggle as a struggle against racism, but since our consciousness continued to evolve, we learned that our struggle was actually a struggle for power.  Power means land, and our land is Africa, so we no longer identify as a race, but as an African nation of people fighting for one unified socialist Africa.”  

It wasn’t just the question of land that exposed the limitations of the racial identification.  It was also the lack of any type of class analysis within that identification.  The promoters of this philosophy had most of the traction for a while, focusing on the “great civilizations of Africa,”but we began to realize that the African slaves who built the pyramids in Kemit (Egypt) weren’t buried with gold and riches like King Tut.  We began to realize that there have always been Africans who consciously sided with the African masses’ enemies for their own personal gain.  We began to have class consciousness.  We also began to develop an understanding of patriarchy and how that system that oppresses women and all non-men works hand in hand with feudalism (then) and capitalism (today) to perpetuate class and gender oppression.  We realized that having an African king doesn’t and didn’t equate to justice for our people.  At least some of us began to realize this.

There are plenty of us around the world who continue to cling to the most reactionary elements of Black Nationalist thought that anything Black is good for African people.  Capitalism in black face is good for African people.  Patriarchy and the continued subjugation of African women and non-men are good for African people.  That bourgeois Africans, who openly demonstrate their loyalty to the capitalist ruling class e.g. the Obamas and all the neo-colonial leaders in Africa, the Caribbean, etc., as opposed to representing the interests of the masses of African people, are all good for African people.  Not a single sane person can dispute our 50-year claim within the All African People’s Revolutionary Party that in order to be free, we should work to organize every single African everywhere into our struggle.  That we should respect the dignity of every African and every person on the planet in our struggle.  No one can dispute that logic by arguing that we would be better served by excluding this group of Africans or that group from our freedom struggle.  Yet, these backward ideas continue to exist.  And support for this reactionary agenda has been building for quite some time.

In 1974, the 6th Pan-African Congress (PAC) convened in Tanzania, East Africa. Pan-African Congresses were meetings initiated by W.E.B. DuBois, Anna Julia Cooper, Henry Slyvester Williams, and others in 1900.  These sessions were also influenced by the mass movement of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Marcus Garvey, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Amy Jacque Garvey, etc.).  The first four congresses were primarily intellectual exercises, but the 5th PAC was the coming-out party for the modern Pan-African movement.  It was at this historic meeting that Africans born outside of the U.S., mostly from Africa, claimed this movement as their own, and it was where the correct objective of one unified socialist Africa was born.  Although this is never discussed outside of the revolutionary Pan-Africanist movement today, it was 5th PAC that heavily influenced the African independence movement, and it was that independence movement that certainly breathed fire into the U.S. civil rights movements and Black power movements all over the world.  The activities of these mass movements was the reason the 6th PAC didn’t take place until almost 30 years later after 5th PAC, but with his acute sense of African history, Sekou Ture recognized the need to ensure that the 6th PAC continued the militant and revolutionary direction that was laid out in the 5th PAC.  Having been a labor organizer delegate at 5th PAC, Ture used his opportunity as revolutionary president of Guinea, West Africa, to challenge the delegates of the 6th PAC to adopt a broader, revolutionary consciousness around African liberation..  If you review Ture’s speech, you will see that he used it as an opportunity to attack Negritude e.g. the narrow focus on black skin nationalism, as reactionary.  He warned the participants to understand the class dynamics of our struggle and the need for us to unite as class warriors against expanding capitalist intervention in Africa.   Ture’s speech was widely criticized by many of the leading Black Nationalist delegates at 6th PAC like Senegalese President Leopold Senghor; a prominent Negritude “Black and proud” proponent.  Another arch critic of Ture was Mobutu Sese Seto, the neo-colonialist puppet “leader” in the Congo.  Mobutu’s Congo changed the name of the country from Congo to Zaire, while he also changed his personal name from Joseph Mobutu to Sese Seto.  His reasoning for this?  An African country needed an African name.  This is that same type of superficial logic that the reactionary Black Nationalist movement operates from; make everything appear to be “Black.”  Meanwhile, Mobutu, Senghor, and the massive Black Nationalist dominated delegation from the U.S. who were in attendance at 6th PAC (and opposed Ture’s historic speech) were and are all in bed with capitalism and imperialism.  Mobutu may have changed the names of everything in Congo to African names, but while he was doing that, he consciously put the pieces in place to give imperialists free and cheap access to all of the Congo’s vast mineral resources.  He was a major pawn in helping the U.S. led imperialist powers in sabotaging and assassinating Patrice Lumumba, who opposed imperialism so that those pieces could be put in place.  Today, Mobutu’s legacy is a Congo that is the supplier of cheap Coltan to every multi-national company on earth.  Every country in the world and all the people on Earth rely on Congolese coltan for all our devices that give and receive signals.  Meanwhile, a Congolese woman is raped every 40 seconds in the Congo, and coltan miners die by age 40, with the Congo remaining one of the world’s most mineral rich countries while its people are some of the world’s poorest, but everything has an African name.

Clearly, Sekou Ture was right in his speech at 6th PAC in 1974.  Clearly, a consciousness-based solely on “blackness” without an analysis of imperialism is worthless to us as a people.  What that shallow consciousness has created is current-day conditions where “militant Black power advocates” can be openly oppressive to African women, even abusive towards them and all They can be openly antagonistic against our LGBTQ family members, and all of this is somehow sanctioned as protecting African people.”  Protecting us from what?  What we need protection from is these black power pimps who use our people’s suffering as a shield to justify their continued manipulation under the guise of helping our people.  We need protection from the toxic masculinity that permits these men to run around abusing our people with no accountability, while even many of our confused womenare perpetuating this poison among our young men as they grow up. 

​These pseduo’s don’t even possess the political sophistication to realize that they are being manipulated by our enemies to sabotage our people’s efforts towards unity.  Show me any homophobic effort in African communities today (anywhere on Earth), and I’ll show you how white supremacists are the forces providing the messaging behind it.  Groups like Samaritan Power, an organization ran by racist evangelist Franklin Graham (the son of that dead devil Billy Graham), are primary examples of this.  Graham’s organization has pumped millions of dollars into work in African communities from Uganda to New York, promoting homophobic agendas.  If you don’t believe that, just engage in a cursory study of Samaritan Power’s talking points and then look at the homophobic work taking place in Africa, the Americas, etc., and you will hear the exact same talking points.  And most of our people repeating these talking points don’t even know where they originate.  They are just reacting to what these people say the problems are and regurgitating those points.  Ironic, isn’t it?  The very folks who claim to want everything Black are the same folks who are taking their direction from white supremacists.  They even adopt their so-called “economic power” models from white supremacists.  “Buy black,” although well meant, beyond helping us survive on a basic level, doesn’t provide any type of real economic blueprint for advancing our people on a collective level because capitalism doesn’t give space for that.  If an African starts a business under this system, the best they can do is what all capitalists do; pay our people low wages and exploit our conditions.  The largest African company in the world, Dangote, is clear, ill-refutable proof of how the exploitative capitalist model will definitely create individual millionaires, even billionaires, but it cannot and will not empower the masses of our people. Still, we have to be astute enough to realize that to most of these pseudo nationalists; individualistic advancement is really all they are after in the first place.  Please realize that we are not saying any African who starts a small business wishes to exploit our people.  What we are saying is that doing so under this capitalist system, which is built upon our exploitation as a people, makes even the best-intended efforts nothing more than service to the continuance of our own oppression.  We are certainly wildly in favor of our business creativity being activated within a socialist, but that is another discussion that we are always willing to have.

Regarding our , if you tune into youtube, you can see them everywhere promoting their products (of course) while advocating policies that turn us against one another.  These people have absolutely no interest in liberating the masses of African people.  Most of them don’t even have  That should serve as clear proof to you that they aren’t interested in seriously fighting for our people, but many of  miss that because you also are not in organizations.   It’s time for African people, particularly African men, to be on the front-line of calling out this fallacy.  Black Nationalism is fine, but in order to serve the African masses, it must come with a class, gender, nation.  If it doesn’t have that,  just apitalism in blackface.  In fact, Black Nationalism with the nation, class, gender, analysis is actually revolutionary Pan-Africanism. It’s the Nkrumahist/Tureist ideology of the African revolution. It’s a philosophical foundation that recognizes that the best way to protect our families is to get our families involved in organizational work to liberate our people.  Its building bridges with all segments of our people; Christian, Muslim, LGBTQ, non-men, born and living in Africa, Europe, and everywhere in the Western Hemisphere.  Its acknowledging that capitalism is, as Malcolm called it, a “bloodsucker” system that will never offer salvation for our people or anyone in the world.  Its affirming that one unified socialist Africa is the key to forward progress and dignity for Africans living everywhere and is our contribution to all of humanity.  

We challenge every African man to confront this pseudo “Black Nationalist” that is dividing our people.  We challenge you to recognize that this front is only there to permit the leeches within our communities to profit off our people’s suffering while offering nothing tangible that will help alleviate that oppression.  That pseudo nationalism is what’s hurting our people, not our women or our LGBTQ community members. It’s time for us to stand against the backwardness. If we truly care about our people and humanity.  And, for those who refuse, we should at least be organized enough among ourselves to expose them for the roaches that they are.

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Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People's Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.