The roots of the Neo-Black culture that has emerged in the 21st century can be traced all the way back to the black liberation movement (the original BLM) of the 1960s. It is a product of a systematic assault
on that movement, and upon the black community, by the white power structure from the ‘70s onward.
It certainly was not just military, by which I assume Baraka means murder and violence by police and FBI. It was full spectrum weaponization of government institutions against its black constituents. There was legislation designed to harm poor people in order to harm blacks; eliminating and defunding programs that would benefit them, as Bill Clinton did with Welfare. The reasoning behind this ‘war on the poor’ was that because most blacks were poor it would affect them most. Poor white Americans, even though they outnumbered blacks (who were only about 10 percent of the population), were merely collateral damage of this anti-black agenda. It was a sacrifice the government was willing to make.
Of course the main assault was the mass incarceration system. The object was, with invidious application of the laws, to lock up as many black folk as possible. To this end the War on Drugs was devised. Again, some whites would be swept up in it, but these unfortunate souls were collateral damage, a sacrifice the elite was willing to make. The War on Drugs was primarily aimed at blacks. Jay-Z explains :
I’m surprised this video only has 135 “likes” on YouTube. So much historical truth is spoken here. The veracity of Jay Z’s remarks is underscored by the confession of President Nixon’s henchman, John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy chief.
“You want to know what this was really all about,” Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, said, referring to Nixon’s declaration of war on drugs. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Aside from violence and weaponized legislation, there was another more insidious tool the power structure used against black Americans, a tool that could be called cognitive subversion. This more subtle assault was designed to change the way black Americans think; to change the way they defined themselves. The goal was:
–the elimination of the “us,”
an emerging “people” committed to radical transformational politics with a healthy psychological and emotional distance from “them,” the U.S. state, its racist and colonialist/imperialist history (Baraka
This cultural assimilation and manipulation was facilitated by the use of language.
Changes in the way black Americans defined themselves happened organically at first, in accordance with the political awakening of the Civil Rights era. The terms “colored” and “Negro”, widely used before the movement, fell into disuse as self descriptors among blacks. The preferred terms of the ’70s were “black” and “Afro-American”. The cognitive subversion seems to have begun in the 1980s when it was determined that these terms were not sufficient. By whom, I do not know. Presumably it was the black intelligentsia -at least, those recognized as such- that decided to change the syntactical form (if that is the right word) of the terminology used to designate black Americans. The term “Afro-American” was deemed obsolete presumably because it did not sufficiently connect black Americans to their African heritage. A mere abbreviated prefix was not enough. It was deemed necessary to spell the word “African” out completely. There are certain problems with this new way of designating black Americans. “African American” is ambiguous and can be applied to both “Africans” born in America (which is how black Americans were being encouraged to see themselves) and it can be applied to naturalized Africans and African immigrants. The term was a programming term, I saw that right away. Ostensibly the programming is positive, encouraging black Americans to define themselves as African. On the other hand it reduced the status of the “American” half of our dual identity; making that part of our history of lesser value. As Farrakhan says
, that history is the history of a slave and not worthy of recognition in the larger, African, scheme of things. I emphatically disagree. The history of the American slave, as Farrakhan calls it, is important. We have a right and a duty to know the American part of our history.
The other cognitive change imposed on us from on high was that the word “black” should be capitalized when referring to black Americans. I assume it was in order to make the word an ethnic descriptor equivalent with and a replacement for the out of favor term “Negro”. I, and I see that others as well, rejected this new form. I see the term “black” as a political, social, and cultural disposition, not an ethnic group. But a new generation began to emerge in the 1980s and they did and do see “black” as referring to an ethnic group and by that reason insist that it should be capitalized. These are (for the most part) the Neo-Blacks. And according to the way they define themselves, I capitalize the word “black” when I speak of them.
Speaking of the term “black”, the dictionary defines it as
a member of a dark-skinned people, especially one of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry but does not capitalize it. I use it this way as well. It is ironic that, in the United States, some members of this dark skinned people are light skinned and often indistinguishable from whites. This is where my notion of black as a social, cultural and political disposition applies. These white skinned Negroes are black by disposition. Many of us are not visually dark at all. Most of us are brown.