Before I delve too deeply into this, I want to remind you that I do love you. It is because I love you that I am writing this letter.
It's true that in typical teenage fashion, I replaced the sadness of my mother's absence with resentment for your presence. Still, you've never done anything to make me feel less than, and that's helped me to value your place in our family more and more over the years.
But lately I've changed, in ways I'm not sure you're aware of. My political ideologies are quite often categorized by my peers as quasi-militant and fully radical. I don't reject that classification. But since I've been receiving a fair amount of backlash for my views and have been accused by many of my public critics of being racist, it's important, now more than ever, for you to know that I don't hate you for your ethnicity. And for you to understand that what may come off as extreme or angry is actually just my caring about the things that I'm newly passionate about.
I want you to know that I am assuredly your stepson and always will be. I am not your black stepson, however, because I no longer identify with being just black. "Black" is merely a color that provides no information about a person's land of origin. "Black" provides no information about the ethnicity or cultural identity of the person who wears this derisive identifier.
Moreover, I am not your African-American stepson. I was at one point, but today I do in part reject that label in the same spirit that I reject being merely "black." In my humble opinion, many so-called African Americans have more in common with the typical European American, and I am purposely transforming into someone who is different from that. Not necessarily someone better, per se, but just different.
I am not your African-American stepson. I was at one point, but today I do in part reject that label in the same spirit that I reject being merely ‘black.’
I now say unapologetically that I am focused on the advancement of the Afrikan Diaspora in general and the Diaspora's contingent in America in particular.
Thus, you'll notice that I am actively trying to distance myself from what I deem to be the typical African-American and European-American worldview—not because I believe it to be inherently negative but because I do not believe it will serve my sociopolitical agenda.
You see, what the Afro-American and Euro-American worldviews have in common is that they are both American. In America, individualism is paramount. Americans are encouraged to think only of themselves and this nation—at the omission of the rest of the globe. "We" are encouraged to work hard and advance ourselves, community be damned.
For me this is very, very, very problematic. We are told that everyone has the same opportunity. We are told that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; however, what I see contradicts this notion.
I find it problematic, too, because I am confronted by hypocritical contradiction on a daily basis. For example, why can a wealthy European American kill two people while driving drunk and escape imprisonment, while a young Afrikan from Texas can be arrested for having overdue library books? Or an Afrikan from New Jersey for having parking tickets? And why are African Americans disproportionately slain in extrajudicial killings year after year?
The self-centered way of looking at the world is diametrically opposed to the Afrikan worldview that I now embrace. You see, the traditional Afrikan worldview regards the community's welfare as greater than the welfare of any individual. It is this core distinction that I am actively striving to embody.
I'm doing this because I feel I have to. You see, the Afrikan in America is disenfranchised and highly marginalized. We do not have an abundance of community-based institutions that protect so many of our most vulnerable from having our human rights violated. It is for this reason that in many urban settings, Afrikan people have been viciously targeted for economic exploitation. And I don't mean subtle economic exploitation; I mean overt and inarguable economic exploitation.
Under my worldview, I am committed to thinking of "we" before me. My friend is not my friend; he is my brother—and I am my brother's keeper.
And speaking of Afrika, you are probably wondering why I have been spelling it with a "k" and not a "c." Simply put, I believe the name "Africa" is an affront to the indigenous people of Alkebulan (the region of the world now commonly referred to as "Africa"). The word "Africa" comes from the name of a Roman general named Scipio Africanus. I refuse to knowingly adhere to this colonial relabeling.
History has shown that pro-Afro sentiment is often skewed and presented as anti-white.
To some, this thinking is controversial. As I mentioned before, I have been receiving backlash for some of the information I post in our blog and social media forums. I've even been called racist. That's to be expected. History has shown that pro-Afro sentiment is often skewed and presented as anti-white. It's a tool of the right and those who would oppose equality and "justice for all." You have never implied that I am a bigot, but I don't want you to worry that I am.
For me, self-determination is truly living with the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—not just nominally. I will work for this and I will live for this. My efforts will help further a world that does not perceive Afrika as a resource to be exploited, a world that does not see young men of color as potential slaves for the prison industrial complex, and a world where the transmission of Afrocentric ideas and blogs is not stifled by the fear of compromising one's employability. As your stepson, I want you understand, and I hope I can count on your support.
Hannibal Pace blogs at Free Breakfast Apparel, where the original version of this piece appeared.
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