Unfortunately, so many people of African descent have been conditioned to a deep and abiding belief that a Moses is coming to deliver them from an evil pharaoh. For generations, black Christians throughout the Diaspora have sung the words, “Go down Moses, way down in Egypt land. Tell ol’ Pharaoh, to let my people go. . . .”
To many, the civil rights movement was in large part based on that premise. Martin Luther King Jr. was Moses incarnate. The evils of segregation and discrimination authorized by federal and state governments, not only in the U.S. but also throughout western civilization, were the pharaohs.
And so white people simply assassinated “Moses” (King) and that was that. As hard as white folks tried to replace King with Jesse Jackson, a charismatic speaker they control through his own greed, the churchless preacher’s sense of morality has proven banal at best. Al Sharpton is trying to be the second coming of Jesse, albeit with a different cadence.
While it took the majority of black folks some time to warm up to the candidacy of President-elect Barack Obama – so enamored was the black electorate of the Clinton mystique – between the Iowa and South Carolina primaries, they began to see his message of hope and their hope for deliverance as synonymous.
But unless people of African descent actually build on the three transformative ideals drum majored by Obama during his electrifying campaign, there will be no black liberation.
Over and over, Obama repeated, for the world to hear, these three ideas: “Hope,” “Yes we can,” and “organizing must be from the bottom up.”
We all watched “The Man” implement all three principles throughout his successful presidential campaign, which he developed virtually out of the ether. Obama’s message is for everybody, but will black people kick old habits and follow the newly hewn path?
Obama’s presidency does not mean black liberation. There is no Moses. Black people will have to do for themselves! Like black nationalist Marcus Garvey said in the 1920s, “Up you mighty race!”
Civil rights psychology was based on the premise of “freedom.” To arrive at that goal, “freedom,” however, meant that black people would have to receive this great gift from those who oppress them. Why would an oppressor give up such a great advantage? What political and economic sense would that make for the oppressor’s interests? It would make no sense at all.
So the white power structure, negotiating from a position of strength, gave black leaders remedies without cures, such as integration of the Armed Forces, Brown vs. The Board of Education, and public accommodation rights, while strictly maintaining the status quo, i.e., keeping their feet on black people’s necks, politically, economically and culturally.
Liberation, though, is something very different and salient, and it is very specific. It is not something that is asked for and given. It is unconditional and is assumed or taken – simply because it is yours; it belongs to you!
To follow the path with hope for success means understanding that the bottom starts with you, the family member and neighbor, then next door, then all you can get, initially, up and down the block. Hard work and dedication will translate blocks into organized neighborhoods in which multiple talents are discovered and utilized like spokes in a wheel.
Change the institutions in communities with bottom-up organizing. Stop educational tyranny. Make the courts mete out equitable justice, and stop law-enforcement gangsters and killers. Maximize the use of parks and recreational facilities for all community residents, young and old.
Help neighborhood churches develop community programs, including campaigns to cease drug and alcohol dependency. And let the community find social solutions to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and so on.
Obama, the messenger, has told us all what to do. For black liberation, if in fact that is what black people want, you’ve got to hope for it – visualize it – and believe you can do it, and then organize from the bottom up.
Peace and Happy New Year!