Editors Note: This article was originally written by United Black America member Ama Dede. Ama Dede aka Deidre CreativeSoul is a Saturday-born poet, photographer and philosopher. Digital storyteller. Talkative introvert. Lover of the music of the African diaspora, traveling and learning about our beautiful and diverse cultures.
“The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.”
It was more than 90 years ago that a Ghanaian educator named James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey spoke these words. He understood way back then how important a role women play as mothers and teachers of future generations. Today, as women’s history month comes to an end, I want to give thanks for three women who have worked hard to nurture us intellectually and free our minds of miseducation and self-destructive ideas about who we are and our place in the world.
Frances Cress Welsing: Uncovering the Motive for Racism White Supremacy
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is a legend in the Afrocentric movement who almost needs no introduction. She is trained psychiatrist and author of The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors. Her interest in the psychology behind white supremacy began after she read Neely Fuller’s Textbook for Victims of White Supremacy, in which he explains how racism operates in nine different areas of human activity. She wanted to know why it operated to begin with, and in 1970, she answered her own question with the Cress Theory for Color Confrontation.
Unsurprisingly, her theory has generated a lot of controversy over the years. The basic gist is that once Europeans learned to sail around the world, they “discovered” that they were outnumbered by “people of color” who had a range of melanin concentrations that led to black, brown, red, and yellow skin. They also realized that sexually reproducing with any person of color would produce more “colored” people, which could eventually spell the end of white-skinned people on the planet.
Thus, Dr. Welsing argues that whites are fighting for genetic survival, and racism white supremacy is their main weapon. She presents numerous examples of how this motive fuels the various forms of racial aggression and discrimination. She also analyzes popular games, holidays and other cultural aspects of western society to show how they subconsciously remind whites of the genetic threat that African men in particular pose to their existence.
Over the years, Dr. Welsing has been accused of reverse racism and homophobia, and her theory has been dismissed as pseudoscience. But the proof is in the writings of men like Lothrop Stoddard, a 20th century eugenicist, who wrote an entire book explaining to whites the threat that other races posed to the Nordic race and how they should go about maintaining world domination.
Even today, we are seeing a resurgence in open racial aggression by whites even as word gets out that within the next few decades, the United States will become “majority minority.”
Marimba Ani: African Paradigms for Understanding European Aggression
Marimba Ani holds a doctoral degree in anthropology, and she uses this perspective to explain the cultural values that drove Europeans to conquer and impose their way of life upon all the other peoples they met. An important difference between her scholarship and traditional Western anthropology is the way she uses language and myth to support an African world view instead of reinforcing the same system of education that has tried to brainwash us into thinking like the oppressor.
She has written two books. In the first one, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, she identifies elements of African spirituality that have survived the middle passage and found expression in the religious beliefs of our ancestors on American soil. These fragments kept their spirits from being utterly annihilated by what she labels the maafa, which means “great calamity” or “disaster” in the Kiswahili language of eastern Africa.
The use of African languages to conceptualize and describe reality as experienced by Africans in America is an important part of Ani’s work. While there are more than 2000 languages and dialects spoken on the African continent, Kiswahili is one of a handful that is widely spoken and studied in multiple African countries as well as in the diaspora. Since she gave a name to the dehumanizing oppression and violence our ancestors suffered during and after the transatlantic slave trade, cultural groups in New York, Louisiana, Texas, and California have organized annual commemorations to help us remember and heal.
Her second book, Yurugu (click here to purchase) continues this use of language but goes a step further to resist the tendency to view Greek and Roman myths as the go-to stories from the ancient world. Instead, she retells a creation myth told by the Dogon people of Mali, and uses the rebellious fox called Yurugu as a metaphor to explain the antisocial, inhumane values that Europeans have displayed in their clash with the other civilizations on earth.
In the following video lecture, she states:
“The reason we have to move outside of the confines of European thought in order to effectively critique Europe is that you cannot defeat an enemy if you allow him to make the rules, if you allow him to even define the arena within which you go to battle.”
Asante Sana, Dr. Ani, for giving us new tools to fight.
Joy DeGruy Leary: Acknowledging and Healing the Impact of Traumatic Oppression
Dr. De Gruy Leary brings a social work lens to connect the dots between the maafa that racism white supremacy has left in its wake, and the current state of confusion and pain so apparent among the masses of New World Africans.
Unlike Dr. Ani, her focus is not so much on the characteristics of the oppressor, but the reactions of oppressed people.
The outcome of centuries of collective and individual trauma – chronic trauma that one was born into and died out of, as did ones parents, grandparents, other relatives, and neighbors – is not unlike the psychological effects seen in the victims and witnesses of rape, torture, violence (including war) or graphic tragedy. She calls it Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which is also the name of her book.
- Joy a Degruy
- Publisher: Joy Degruy Publications Inc
- Edition no. 0 (09/11/2017)
Her theory stands in direct opposition to the often-heard claim that since none of us directly experienced slavery, we should “get over it” and not blame slavery for our individual and collective failures or challenges. She points to examples of vacant self-esteem and hypervigilance to demonstrate how untreated trauma does not simply go away, but shows up in later generations.
Each of these brilliant scholars have shown us how to define our experience in terms that help us to accurately identify the challenges we face. In addition, each of them provides us with a set of tools to begin to repair the damage caused by the the maafa and post traumatic stress syndrome, and to neutralize the current and future ability of racism white supremacy to keep inflicting damage on us.
Our enemy is very intelligent and continues to adapt as we find new ways to resist and recreate ourselves. So it is our right and duty to engage with these powerful women’s ideas, to think critically about them and their potential applications as we go about the work of African liberation.