There is a difference between an Elder and the older in the Black Conscious Community. An individual who is ‘older’ is not automatically qualified to be an Elder.
This is an important distinction that must be made if our intention is to rebuild the inclusive and progressive societies that we once lived in – and will live in again.
Older ≠ Elder
Many of our people have fallen victim to and endured the weapons of white supremacy for their entire lives. Rather than developing strategies to overcome these weapons, these Brothers and Sisters have given in to their condition.
Having failed to obey the natural laws of Black Conscious dieting, some have smoked, eaten, and drank themselves into poor health. Having ignored Marcus Garvey’s philosophy of do for self, some have worked their entire lives for a white owned business and retired with no wealth to pass on to the next generation. Having heard the call of Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan, many of the older members of the community decided to ignore his teachings and cling to a bastardized form of Christianity.
With nothing to pass on to the next generation but complaints and regrets, older Brothers and Sisters contribute nothing to the forward progress of our collective.
Elders on the other hand have devoted their entire lives to the liberation and salvation of the Black nation. They have sat at the feet of the most important warriors and scholars in Pan-Africanism. In their youth, Elders had the courage to stand up to white supremacy in all its facets and as a result developed strategies for fighting against it. Because of their knowledge and courage, our collective condition is improved.
Elders like Queen Afua reap the rewards of a lifetime of dedication to health and healing.
Elders like Dr. Molefe Asante have permanently changed the intellectual landscape of Black Conscious thought by putting in more than 60 years of work on the academic battlefield and writing more than 40 books.
Elders like Chairman Omali Yeshitela – founder of two global organizations – have shown us by their examples how to create mass movements that unify our people.
The Role of the Elder
The role of the elder is three-fold. Every elder within United Black America is expected to:
- Pass on lessons learned from the past to the next age-group
- Establish a legacy in their area of focus
- Influence and develop their peers
To Pass On Lessons Learned
Dr. Naim Akbar teaches us:
“Each generation has the responsibility of maintaining the level of consciousness attained by the previous generations, and of advancing the community to even higher levels by the development of their own consciousness. Every civilized group of people establishes the mechanisms by which this process of transmission is ensured. The term that has come to be used to characterize this process is “education”.
One of the critical purposes of education is to pass on lessons learned so that ones students, children, and descendants dont fall into the same traps that previous generations fell into. New generations should not be forced to re-learn what was forgotten or re-invent the wheels of knowledge. If our elders fulfill their purpose of passing on the lessons they have learned over the course of their lives, they set future generations up for success and innovation.
Establish A Legacy
It is the duty of our elders to leave a legacy behind. A legacy can be a business that they have built over the course of their lifetime, a piece of paid off land or property, or a trust.
A trust is a legal relationship where by the Settlor (person funding the trust) transfers ownership of property to a Board of Trustees ( a group of people managing the trust), who then distributes that property to beneficiaries.
A will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will is a document that directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. A trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterwards. In other words, a will benefits those you leave behind once. A trust benefits those who survive you forever.
Influence and Develop Their Peers
Older members of the community can be reluctant to receive feedback and advice from younger, but more advanced, members of the Conscious Community. Therefore, the role of Elders must be to strengthen their counterparts. Rather than waiting to transition, older members of the community must understand that it is never too late to come into Consciousness and leave behind a world better than the one they came into.
If we are to lead our people into a Renaissance of Black Civilization and global leadership, it will take every man, woman, and child knowing their role, growing into their role, and leading one another towards a collective goal.
From the Cradle to the Grave.