ON this Martin Luther King Jr weekend, I am moved to reflect on my Blackness. I come from a tradition that is not afraid to speak about race and blackness. While I am fully aware of the risks therein, I have long decided that those would not deter me from incorporating such discourse into my overall praxis.
I am firm in the belief that no son or daughter of enslaved Africans should not in this time or anytime stand in defence of the dignity of the group. To do otherwise amounts to a serious dereliction of duty.
And when on this King weekend, the Black World must again grapple with institutional questioning of our humanity in the form of Mr. Donald Trump’s vile characterisation of Black countries and their peoples, I know that I cannot stop being Black. The best way to beat back anti-black racism is to be positively Black.
One of our Blackest Guyanese, Dr. Walter Rodney, put it best in his seminal Groundings with my Brothers: “Colour had become important because the white man found it convenient to use racialism to exploit the black peoples of the world. As Africans, we will use the question of race to unify ourselves, and to escape from the oppression of white men and their black lackeys. So long as there are people who deny our humanity as blacks, then for so long must we proclaim our humanity as blacks.”
I want to highlight my blackness today—let me be Black today. As Rodney indicated, it wasn’t Black people who invented Blackness. Blackness and Whiteness were constructed to justify Black enslavement and its attendant Black inferiority. For me, Blackness is not about their Black inferiority– it is about our Black humanity and Black Dignity and Black Love. And because I know that despite constitutional and formal equality, the collective consciousness of the world still questions our humanity — I am going stay Black.
I am other things—male, Guyanese, Caribbean and of some social class or the other. But the world judges me mostly by my skin-colour and the meanings they attach to it. Some detractors say that I see race in everything. I laugh at them. You see, the scars of racial bondage are still fresh on my being, so how could I ignore race. Of course, I see class and gender, ethnicity and nationality and embrace them, but those forms of identity are not substitutes for my racial identity.I know that there would never be any post-race moment. It would never come; it’s an impossibility. The privileges that individuals and countries and continents enjoy are wrapped up in race. Capitalism evolved in race—the product of forced, uncompensated Black labour. Socialism theoretically silenced race—reduced Black dehumanisation to simply social-class greed. Globalisation and Neoliberalism are grounded in the same old racial notions of human worth.
People of other races and ethnicities tell me to see past race and embrace only my other identities. They do not know that they are telling me to ignore most of my history of the last 400 years. I don’t think that to be Black is to be tainted. I don’t care what they call me—Black Nationalist, Black Powerist, Black Racist. I always try to reach for the best in humanity, but I don’t have to stop being Black to be credible.
I defend Indian-Guyanese or Amerindian dignity, because I feel deeply about Black dignity. I want to be very Black today. That’s how I will survive Trump’s vile comment. It’s not my gender or social class that he assaults—it’s my Blackness.
We Black people have our faults. We self-hate. We have at times been unkind to other groups. We have governed ourselves badly. We bleach our skins. We have done some ugly things. But we are not what Trump thinks of us. We are Black and Beautiful like all God’s children.
I hope those of our young Black people who have surrendered their blackness rethink their folly. You could be modern and post-modern and still be Black and Beautiful. You could love others without unloving your Blackness.
I end with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King who also said he was Black and Beautiful—little known words:
“I come here tonight to plead with you. Believe in yourself and believe that you are somebody. I said to a group last night: Nobody else can do this for us. No document can do this for us. No Lincolnian emancipation proclamation can do this for us. No Johnsonian civil rights bill can do this for us.
“If the Negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen and ink of self-assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation. Don’t let anybody take your manhood. Be proud of our heritage…we don’t have anything to be ashamed of.
“Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight.
“I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!”
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org