Sunday, January 3, 2016

The System and Black Thought: Bridging the Gaps

Rube Goldberg Machine

The "system" that we live in as a people here in America, how it works, who the system was designed by and who it was designed for, who controls it, what needs to be done about it, and why, are usual points of debate. And there are about 64655465861567 different answers to those questions for every person that cares to put their two cents in. So as an introduction to the Political Education and Conspiracy Theory series that are coming up here at BMD, I'll put my two cents in and point out some of the bullshit that people add to black political thought, by accident or on purpose.

1) Giving white people so much credit
    As a computer scientist by trade and an independent student of politics, history, and philosophy, all of these fields basically built themselves around the study of systems and critical thinking. The basic way a system works is it takes input, does something with that input, and puts out a result, based on how the system was designed. Whether that system works for you or not depends on what you put into it and how you use what it returns, the same with life in general. If you let some people who claim to be "pro-black" tell the story of "the System" they make the "white man" out to look like an unstoppable force driven to destroy the world, and we're waiting on that unstoppable (enter figure, event, or group of  people here) to wake up and stop it - like something out of a comic book. It may SOUND pro-black, but it really gives white people credit where no credit is due. Quit while you're ahead(or behind) because that way of thinking hasn't worked, and it's probably not going to. If a system exists, it can be studied, controlled, changed, or taken apart. Black power is about controlling any system that affects the lives of black people and making it work for us.

2) Black Nationalism and its role in the system
   When you hear the term "pro-black" the meaning changes depending on who it is that's speaking. If you study the movements of Black people in America, you'll find that "Pro-Black" is a pretty broad name for a number of different philosophies, like the Liberal/Moderate/Conservative polarities in mainstream politics. On one end you have Black Nationalism and Black separatism on the other. They all have similar goals, but different views on how those goals should be reached, and who can(and can't) put in the work to make it happen. Instead of recognizing how deep the movement really is, people get fanatic to the point that anyone who disagrees with them is "part of the problem''. Black Nationalism can be broken down into subsets focusing on culture, politics, economics, etc. There are groups that focus on these specific fields, and others that address all of these fields at the same time. At the end of the day, Black Nationalism advocates the advancement of Black People and pursuing those opportunities however and whenever they are available. Advancing in any of these fields, both on the individual, and collective levels, is a step in the right direction towards power and self-determination.

3) By (almost) any means necessary
   The above quote by Malcolm X is probably one of the most popular and mis-represented quotes of this century. The full quote, which many people like to leave out is ''We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this Earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary." Taken on face value, it literally means to do whatever is necessary to make sure that Black people overcome oppression to become self-sufficient and respected as a people. But going back to point #2, that list of "anything" eventually gets cut to a predefined set of options that look and sound “pro-black”.

   This series is designed to bridge those gaps that prevent us from making progress as a people, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of the parts of the machine that we live in, and airing out the bullshit that ends up getting in our way.

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