I offer this Afrikan-centered analysis of the above phrase by some of our young and older historically naïve Afrikans, principally in urban USA.
My research shows the phrase has been in the public sphere since at least 2016, as a possible reaction to Cult45 (Donald Trump) ascendance to the Amerikkkan Presidency. The utterance or display of such a phrase erroneously concludes that our Afrikan ancestors were homogenous or preponderantly inactive or totally embracing and dolefully accepting their racial oppression, economic and sexual exploitation as conditions of their existence in any land. This conclusion rest on the premise of a Eurocentric revisionist historical perspective, which at its core, is anti-Afrikan.
Let us Afrikans tell Ourstory and not his-story. Afrikans, at home and abroad, demonstrated both resistance and acceptance of most of their existence under Eurocentric domination through oppression and exploitation. Both of these responses can be viewed as the duality of our existence under these oppressive and exploitative conditions, both in Afrika and the Afrikan diaspora.
Young and adult Afrikans or Afrikan descendants expounding this revisionist, anti-Afrikan phrasing, disgraces most of our ancestors. In the USA alone, there is documented evidence of over 300 recorded, organized rebellions by enslaved Afrikans. Organized and individual resistance to our enslavement has also been documented throughout the western Afrikan diaspora. Ask Harriet Tubman (USA), Nanny of the Maroons (Jamaica), Marcus Garvey (Afrikan diaspora), Marie Jeanne (Ayiti), Bayano (Panama), Afrikans who participated in over 20 rebellions against slavery in Puerto Rico, Zumbi (Brazil), Afrikans in 1811 German Coast uprising outside New Orleans as the largest rebellion of enslaved Afrikans in USA, Benkos Bioho (Colombia), Yanga (Mexico), the Black Panther Party a/k/a The Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) of Lowdes County, Alabama, Afrikans who rebelled in 1879 in Hacienda San Jose in Peru, the rebellions of Garifunas of St. Vincent and Belize, SNCC members organized and mobilized in the deep south of the USA, Afrikans practiced self-defense of their Black Wall Street/Greenwood neighborhood in 1921 Tulsa (Oklahoma); Jean Jacque Dessalines of Hispaniola in early 1800’s war for liberation against France and Spain, Kwame Turé (a/k/a Stokely Carmichael who organized and mobilized Afrikans at home and abroad, Queen Mother Moore who organized and mobilized her people in the southern and northern USA, for Marcus Garvey, Carlota Lucumi a/k/a La Negra Carlota (Cuba), the resilience of the Little Rock nine students (Arkansas), and Nat Turner slave rebellion in the USA. The above examples of Afrikan ancestors clearly contradict ancestors who did not acquiesce to their oppression and exploitation. Neither did they forsake or reject their ancestors when they challenged the oppressive and exploitative system they were living under. I offer that the conditions of the above Afrikan ancestors, both defacto and dejure were more oppressive and exploitative than ours today.
This revisionist and anti-Afrikan ancestorship concept phrase denies the resilience and fearlessness of many of our ancestors lived. Social media writer Arah Lloabugichukwu a/k/a ArahTheQuill recently stated that our ancestor’s fearlessness “… has fought more physical battles than our social media feeds ever cold… we owe them our respect, and we owe them our honesty…”
The very notion of rejecting your ancestors or Grandparents completely, by adhering to “I am not my ancestors” or “ I am not my grandparents” is devaluing the Afrikan world-view, and embracing the Eurocentric individual cultural and historical perspective, which is revisionist at best. Such a wholesale rejection of your own and hasty generalization ignores the duality of our responses to oppression and exploitation, at home and abroad. It is also a product of our training and socialization to be in support and perpetuation of our oppression and exploitation; and from the trauma of our on-going war against racist oppression, sexual and economic exploitation. Omowale Luthuli-Allen reminds us “…Trauma can’t be repressed or suppressed forever. Billy Reece struck a chord and a nerve when he said at the MLK workshop that nothing is so dangerous as unresolved trauma. This trauma started before 1619, … we have been involved in a war, sometimes high intensity, sometimes low intensity…”
It is historically accurate that Afrikan collaborators, overseers, traitors, opportunists and treacherous individuals existed among us- starting in Afrika and continuing in the Afrikan Diasporas, to date, but they were not the majority, not the predominant nor the only response for us as Afrikans at home and abroad.
The phrase also can be interpreted psychologically to separate us from our ancestors. It disconnects our existence from the collective to the individual, which is a premise of the Eurocentric world-view that we as Afrikans have too long valued over our own Afrikan world-view. As Marimba Ani informs us: “A people ‘s world-view effects and tends to determine their behavior… It effects our perceptions of nature, of ourselves and human beings, of each other and our relationship to all being. World-view helps to inject “meaning” into life.” (Let the Circle be Unbroken. p.4)
We need our young people to continue our struggle for liberation from oppression and exploitation; however, they must also study, investigate and analyze and develop plans that provide a clear path to victory. The following Nigerian proverb is relevant: If children do not feel the warmth of the village, they will destroy the village seeking the warmth that they were denied.
We need our young to continue to be “…the solution and not the problem… and we can do it better together…” (Omowale Luthuli-Allen. Aframnews. 6.21.2020.
We have even spread this revisionist and anti-Afrikan concept phrase to our grandparents, wholesale. Two examples:
First, in 2016 t-shirts were displayed for sale, following the Electoral College election of Cult45, disrespecting our Afrikan ancestors.
Secondly, Amazon.com currently has a t-shirts for $19.99 stating: “We are not our ancestors. We are demanding our respect. We are the generation of change”. A non-black company called Sisterhood Society sells it, but I do not know who designed it. Nevertheless this phrase, again, would not apply to or be historically accurate regarding Afrikan descendants, especially in the US. Signs and t-shirts or verbal pronouncements are modern fads, as falsification and distortion of Afrikan history, and has prompted Ivory A. Toldson to write an Op-ed on the NBCBLK Channel, that such signs “…reflects flaws in the way Black people are taught about themselves. Mainstream education subconsciously and deliberately omits aspects of Black history…” I would add that we are trained, not educated.
I offer the seven values/principles of MAAT (Justice, Harmony, Integrity/Propriety, Order, Reciprocity, Balance and Truthfulness), as an Afrikan centering perspective, to combat and defeat this revisionist practice against our Afrikan ancestors and us. MAAT is an ancient Kmt (Egyptian) value system, older than all the major religions and spiritual practices outside Afrika. We need our younger brothers and sisters as warriors, who will continue the resistance and destruction of racism, sexism and economic exploitation, to be centered in this value system. Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti offers that our ancestors have given us warrior rules “ … through their words and examples, (and) rich tradition of warriorhood”. Moreover, we need our Afrikan warriors, with IWA- “… virtuous qualities and an enduring straight of mind which reflect good character at the deepest psychological and spiritual levels.” IWA: A Warrior’s Character. Bomani Baruti.
I encourage and support our consistently challenging and educating us about promoting or accepting this phrase, since we are susceptible to repeating it as though it is historical truth. It does not belong in our pronouncements or practices as good examples. It devalues our Afrikan world-view and our ancestors, and therefore places us closer to accepting and practicing the Eurocentric world-view. Let us Afrikans tell Ourstory and not his-story.
In the tradition of practicing MAAT, I offer these thoughts for our upliftment, and liberation from oppression and exploitation, and welcome your feedback.
“Revolutions are brought about by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought”. Kwame Nkrumah. Consciencism p. 23