What Does Being A Black ‘American’ Really Mean?

By Larry Pinkney

“No, I think the strongest suggestion is that they are working for the government, the new house-niggers. And what better way is there for them to sell themselves to us than to scream Black, Black, Black, Black…”

-Jonathan Jackson

“We find ourselves forced into a reexamination of the whole nature of black revolutionary consciousness and its relative standing within a class society steeped in a form of racism so sensitized that it extends itself even to the slightest variation of skin tone.”

-George L. Jackson

What does being a Black ‘American’ really mean? More to the point, what does it mean today in terms of political consciousness, and most especially black revolutionary political consciousness? A “reexamination” of where Black America collectively stands today in this regard is very much in order.

Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) poignantly noted that, “Of all our studies, history is the best qualified to reward all research.” When we examine the collective history of Black America it is evident that Frederick Douglass was correct when he said, in relevant portion, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”

Like the Indigenous Native peoples of this land (well before the thirteen colonies declared their independence from the yoke of the British Crown), Black people collectively possessed a belief in the dignity of human beings, and had a loathing for the oppression of any peoples of any and all colors. Our collective history in this nation had taught us, first-hand, the objectionable nature and utter futility of greed and domination. We longed to be free from the brutal physical bondage of slavery.

As a result of enormous hardships, trials, and tribulations Black America developed a unique consciousness, and in many respects became the conscience of this nation. Nevertheless, as time progressed there were also those Booker T. Washington-type accomodationists and systemic collaborator elements within our ranks, as so well delineated in many of the collected writings of the late, great W.E.B. Du Bois.

In point of fact, much of Black America, by the early 20th century, had moved from blatant physical bondage to an insidious form of mental bondage. Many years earlier, when Harriet Tubman stated she that “had freed a thousand slaves” and “could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves;” she was referring not only to physical slavery – but also to mental slavery.

Nonetheless, Black America continued to produce many women and men of principle and stamina, including Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. By the mid to late 20th century, after the corporate U.S. government-sponsored assassinations of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., it had become obvious to the power brokers of the U.S. political system that people of all colors in this nation, and particularly Black America, were demanding real change and had to be “neutralized” [i.e. rendered politically null and void]. In the words of Jonathan Jackson, the low level “new house niggers” had not been able to effectively stem the rising revolutionary political consciousness of Black America. Thus, a different, more insidious strategy was developed, nurtured, and deployed in order to dumb-down the rising consciousness of everyday people, with a special emphasis upon neutralizing the political revolutionary consciousness of Black America. That strategy was developed, nurtured, and deployed, by the early part of the 21st century, in the person of the smooth-tongued, war mongering, Africa-bombing, NDAA-signing, ‘Kill List,’ nominally black, U.S. president, Barack Obama. By 2009, the revolutionary political consciousness of Black America, had in large measure, been neutralized by the corporate-controlled U.S. government, thanks to the past and ongoing chicanery of Mr. ‘Yes we can’, ‘Hope and change’ Barack Obama, and his unprincipled systemic minions.

So what is the state of Black America’s revolutionary consciousness today? It is nowhere near where it should, could, and needs to be. What does being a Black American really mean? It means that it is time to rejoin the developing revolution with our Brown, White, Red, and Yellow sisters and brothers in this nation and throughout Mother Earth.

What does it really mean to be a Black American? Beyond mere color, being Black is first and foremost a conscious political, social, and economic commitment to the struggle for the collective betterment of the descendants of the Black slavery holocaust in what has now become the United States of America, in conjunction with other people of color and humanity as a whole.

It is time to collectively regain our revolutionary political consciousness and act accordingly.

Remember: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward!

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