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Negritude; The Parent of So-called “Anti- Blackness”

The concept of Anti- Blackness is an invention of the African petit-bourgeois

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Throughout African (Black) activist and social media circles today the concept of “anti-Blackness” is constantly presented as an explanation behind the suffering African people experience within this backward society.  The logic of this thinking is summarized within the belief that our 529 years of suffering results from European-dominated culture disliking and disrespecting us due primarily to the fact we are different from them.  Inherent in this thinking, whether expressed overtly or not, is the belief that Europeans possess some innate gene that pushes them to have this hatred of us.  Also within this thought process (equally as overt and/or covert) is the belief among African people that there is really no escape from this sorry reality.

Just as my grandmother always told me that “there is nothing new under the sun” we respond to this phenomenon by expressing that today’s so-called “anti-Blackness” is nothing except the newest version of Negritude.  Sékou Touré, that great revolutionary Pan-Africanist theorist and organizer from Guinea, West Africa, provided us a clear and consistent definition of Negritude.  He asserted that Negritude was the belief that there is a Blackness we must assert as African people but he clarifies that the necessity for this action results from the institutionalization of colonialism, which used the narrative of white supremacy (that we are inferior to European people) to justify several centuries of political, economic, psychological, and physical domination of the African masses.  As a result of this oppression, Touré argued that up through the 1940s, the assertion of our Blackness (as Franz Fanon agreed) was necessary psychological freedom.  A way for us to understand, despite centuries of colonial-inspired racist narratives against us, there is nothing wrong with us and we are fine just as we are. 

Touré goes further to articulate that the African movements for justice in the 1950s evolved our struggle beyond that of just asserting our humanity against racist white supremacy.  The independence movements in Africa, and the resulting civil rights and Black power movements throughout Europe and the Americas in the 50s and 60s, were advances in our struggles that began to solidify our understanding that our struggles are really not just about affirming our humanity but are really about fighting for power.  Or, as Kwame Ture (formally Stokely Carmichael) stated in a 1989 television interview when asked why he had evolved from identifying himself as Black to African; “in the 1960s, when we called for Black power, we did that because we believed our struggle was one against racism.  Consequently, we identified Negritude and asserting as Black as a primary weapon in fighting against racism, but human progress doesn’t standstill.  It moves.  So, today, we recognize that our struggle is a struggle for power and power means controlling land and resources.  For African people, the only land we have the right to is Africa (the Americas belong justly to the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere), so we acknowledge that we are Africans today.  And, we know that the highest expression of the Black power we called for in the 1960s is Pan-Africanism i.e. the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism!”

So, as Sékou Touré told us in his essay on Negritude, and as he clearly articulated (despite mass opposition from the neo-colonials) at the 6th Pan-African Congress in Tanzania in 1974, our struggle properly defined is the struggle against the international capitalist and imperialist system that has subjugated Africa, African people, and all of humanity for over 500 years, not just against European people because they don’t like who we are.  There isn’t an argument against Touré’s logic.  Revolutionary Pan-Africanism addresses all of the needs African people have.  It provides power for the African masses through self-determination.  It provides us the respect we crave so much, yet lack today.  And it’s that missing respect that resolves this issue of skin color which has never and will never really be the core reason why we suffer the way we do. 

In other words, find us an African within the U.S. who believes in anti-Blackness and we will show you an African who has limited to no understanding about our connection (politically, economically, and socially) to Africa.  No people seeking liberation and self-determination are attempting to achieve it while being disconnected from their homeland and culture.  The strength and dignity of Palestinian resistance against zionist oppression is their strong resistance to the theft of their land – Palestine.  And, one only needs to look at the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere to see a shining example of a people who consistently reject offers of millions of dollars in exchange for the theft of their land because as the warrior stated during the Standing Rock demonstrations “the land means everything to us!”

The African masses within the U.S. are the only people who seem to believe that we can achieve freedom and liberation while disconnected from our mother – Africa.  None of this is our fault.  As previously mentioned, our enemies have consistently crafted a strong anti-Africa campaign that has stretched for centuries.  We have been taught that the U.S. is the winner.  Capitalism is the winner and Africa is the loser and no one wants to identify with what they perceive to be the loser.  So, instead of us embracing our mother, we permit our enemies to disconnect us from her and we accept narratives of our conditions that are devoid of the nation, class, gender analysis that we desperately need.  Meanwhile, while we are struggling for crumbs on the U.S. plantation with our eyes advancing no farther than the borders our master has created for us, the capitalists continue to stay rich exploiting the African resources they know they must keep us from connecting with them to stay on top. 

If someone broke into where you live and robbed you of everything you had, while consistently telling you that the reason you have nothing (after they robbed you) is that you are stupid and lazy, if your response to that was to say that the cause of your situation is the people who robbed you just don’t like you because of who you are, you would be missing the mark.  The cause for your condition is that you had valuables that the thief saw the necessity to steal from you.  The focus on you was simply the justification for the crime, but as long as you focus on that, you will never rise up and recognize the real solution to this dilemma.  That real solution is for us to get ourselves organized so that we can take back what was stolen from us (Africa) and once we do that, we then have the power we currently lack.  And, once we have that, it will be a miracle how quickly we realize how insignificant what others think about us is. 


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

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