“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.” Annie Ritchie
Our growth in this country will ultimately come down to how independent we become (do for self). Specifically how much we work together to at a minimum, feed, clothe and shelter ourselves and most importantly “think” for ourselves. In order to do for self, we must think for our self. We must liberate (free) our minds and ultimately we will liberate (free) ourselves. We must adopt “Black Race First.” This concept is not a Black rally slogan or some Black social chant – this is about a way of life and an attitude that we must have about ourselves. This isn’t about rhetoric. It is about whom amongst us will take on the responsibility to defend the Black community, and to voice its displeasure against the oppressive relationship that we have had in this country for nearly 500 years.
What’s at stake is the survival of Black people in America, and “do for self” requires that we change our behavior of acceptance and hopelessness to being an agent of change. We will never be able to achieve self-determination without a critical mass of Black people that have the belief that our race matters, and we as a people are responsible for the outcomes. We must examine the mind that keeps us paralyzed, and unable to mount any campaign. We will come to realize that we are operating under a current philosophy of self-inferiority that prevents us from ownership of our own destiny. Do for self is much more than a slogan or chant. Do for a self is the difference between dependence and independence – either you have it (you fight to keep it) or don’t have it (you fight to achieve it).
“’Having had the wrong education as a start in his racial career, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy. Most of the trouble I have had in advancing the cause of the race has come from Negroes.’ Booker T. Washington aptly described the tribulation of the Black race in one of his lectures by stating that we were like crabs in a barrel, that none would allow the other to climb over, but on any such attempt all would continue to pull back into the barrel the one crab that would make the effort to climb out. Yet, those of us with vision cannot desert the race, leaving it to suffer and die,” Marcus Garvey said.
Brothers and Sisters and especially our leaders, we are at a crossroads must decide,for ourselves the future of our children and the Black race as a nation – we must decide whether we are going to turn to ourselves and begin to compete. This means that we must break the cycle of disunity by any means to come back to the philosophical “center” where the majority of us reside. The Black community must decide NOW, if we are prepared to fight to be worthy- to be recognized as equal human beings. Yes, we must fight for recognition as human beings because the label that has been placed on us has made the whole world believe that we are less than human by any measure that we want to use.
The Black community must either fight for its survival or submit to White supremacy and Black inferiority by JUST GIVING UP. The other day, my son and I, while driving through the neighborhood, started to count the number Black corner stores. After nearly one hour of driving, we didn’t find any, not a single one. In fact, what we found was very demoralizing because every store we located in a nearly 100% Black community was owned by a Latino or Asian. We stop counting after 50 because the point was firmly made. I asked my son to share his thoughts and he said, “It looks like the Black community had given up.”
My son was correct, what we saw was an absolute surrender of the core and central characteristic of self-determination and gauging a people’s ability to do for self. We must view each one of those stores as “silent” daily depositories of our most scarce economic resource. Every day that we contribute to these depositories we weaken our ability to defend ourselves economically. No one is going to give this defense to us, and we must earn it. What does “do for self” look like, and who is going to do it; who is going to lead us? The answer – it’s going to take a group of us working together under the banner of “Black Race” first; not our religious philosophy or our political persuasion. The central organizing theme must be what is in the best interest of the Black race.
Given the massive guilt trip that has been placed on Black people, as victims we have been brainwashed to believe that the oppression that we’ve experience in this country is our fault. Therefore, when we begin to “think” for ourselves with some level of independence, there are some who will get nervous – their fears of not getting approval from their rulers (White majority leaders) will cause them serious concerns and threaten their participation. Some will spin the Black race first narrative as anti-white but nothing could be further from the truth. You tell me what group in the world doesn’t practice the “group” first approach and, in fact, those who do it the best are the most successful as a group.
Do you think that the Asians and the Latinos that have invested in our community have the capacity to “think” for us? Absolutely not. Imagine the reverse situation. Do you think a retail store owned by Black people would survive in a neighborhood of nearly 100% Asian or Latino? Just put on your mental hat and visualize that scenario. You and I both know that this would never happen and if it did- it wouldn’t take long before the Black owned business was no longer in business. The Black owned business would cease to exist because the members of the Asian community and/or the Latino community wouldn’t sit back for long without getting into the business and competing with the Black owned store. The underlying “do for self” that both groups have would create an economic boycott of the Black store – so if this fairy tale was ever to happen, it wouldn’t be long before reality would catch up.
My question then, is why is this behavior appropriate for other groups and not for Black people – the answer must lie in our historical position in this country and the external and internal perception that others and we have of Black people. How else do we explain something so visually clear? This is not an abstract debate. The drive that my son and I had is commonplace throughout America and has been for nearly 50 years, since the so-called victory of “integration.” Since the so-called victory of integration it seems that whatever economic gains we had achieved were eclipsed in a matter of years. Black owned businesses of all types, including corner stores, were eliminated one-by-one. Our leadership needed to understand what was about to happen and mount a fierce fight to defend our community – this ferocious defense did not happen and as a result we have what we see today.
I’m not anti-White but we must be pro-Black if we’re to gain independence and move towards doing for self. There is a myth that is especially alive amongst White people, that Black people thrive on handouts; and Black people want to be given welfare. While you will always have people that have that type of mind set, in my opinion, the majority of our people don’t want any handout. Our history in this Nation since our emancipation is simply that Black people just want the opportunity to do for themselves, and if White America can just “get out the way” Black people can and will do just that. Black people need and require that the playing field be leveled, this has been our struggle since we’ve been in this country and it continues today. Whether described as civil or human rights, the struggle is to be treated fairly in America so like all other groups we can excel under the concept of Race first – a concept that was in full display with Marcus Garvey.
I consider myself a “Garvey-ite” because Marcus Garvey was a master of this philosophy. In early 1900s Marcus Garvey was a leader of the largest Black movement in our history and his legacy has been treated as buffoonery or a joke. How did he do it given the unbelievable opposition that he faced during that period? His accomplishments are a testimony to Black greatness and Black power. Marcus Garvey looked at the Black man, degraded, dehumanized and debased as Africa lay prostrate resulting from the slave trade and rampant European imperialism and colonialism, at the turn of the 20th Century. In response he said: “Black man, where are your men of big affairs?” Looking around, he could not find any.
Marcus Garvey then created organizations such as: The Universal Negro Improvement Association, The African Communities League, The Black Cross Nurses, Black Madonna and Child, and The Black Star Line, as well as the Red, Black and Green flag. Red is for the Blood, Black is for the color of the people and Green is for the land. Marcus Garvey insisted that we lay the foundation for Black men and women to stride towards advancement, and uplifting progress. Garvey coined the phrase “Black is Beautiful.” He said Black people were “a gifted race with a proud past and a great future.” He founded his own media to get his message to the people. The Negro World published his message on a weekly basis. He also had a daily newspaper called The Negro Times.
In an age of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and others, Marcus Garvey was looked upon as a “foreigner,” even though he is now considered a pillar in the foundation of Pan-Africanism. Just as DuBois challenged Washington he challenged Garvey. During the era of “Jim Crowism,” lynching’s, fear and intimidation of black people, the leaders accused each other. DuBois accused Washington of serving the white man’s interests, saying only his own “Talented tenth” idea was most practicable. Garvey accused DuBois of being a “Traitor to the race” and a “white Man’s Nigger.” DuBois on the other hand, said Garvey was “insane” and “without a doubt, the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America, and the world. He is either a traitor or a lunatic.” How harsh were they to each other? This is the behavior that we must change going forward.