“No spring changes the desert. The desert remains; the spring runs dry. Not one spring, not a thousand springs will change the desert.” ~Ayi Aweh Armah
I love Kwame Ture. In fact, I have this secret joy that I was born on his birthday. I’ve read some very negative things about Ture. I have even heard, from the mouth of an esteemed scholar, negative things about Ture. Yet, my love for Ture remains constant like the searing heat of the desert. I have this same abiding love for Marcus Garvey, John Henrik Clarke, Ivan Van Sertima, J.A. Rogers, Malcolm X, Ottobah Cugoano, Amos Wilson, Oba T. Shaka, and Walter Rodney. Just to see an image of them brings a glowing smile to my face. These men are “HERU” in my imagination. They are the “Sons of the Reflected Light.”
It is not a womanly kind of sentimental love. It’s the kind of love a sister has for her brother. Her brother’s bad behavior can cause her all kinds of anger, disappointment, and hurt but the love remains because they shared the same womb and drank from the same amniotic waters. Therefore, the negativity I’ve read and heard about Ture is like a spring trying to quell the heat of the Sahara. Ture remains a hero and sits on a pedestal in my mind. He was a black diamond and his mind was a thing of splendor. He shall never be removed.
Kwame Ture is considered a militant Black leader who advocated violence. However, if you read Stokely Speak, published in 1971, you would learn that Ture considers himself not a militant but a Pan-African revolutionary. Ture, who held the rank of Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party (Philadelphia chapter), was considered a “Black Messiah” by COINTELPRO (the FBI Counterintelligence Program) and targeted. In his foreword to Stokely Speak, Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote: “I am blown away by his brilliance, his insights, his sharpness, his profound love of African people and lastly, his humility.” Like Mumia, I was blown away! You will too. Stokely Speaks is Ture’s “gift to Africa and oppressed youth worldwide.” It is a call to be “Ready for the Revolution” whenever and wherever you are.
The 7 Things You Would You Have Learned if you read Stokely Speak, are his ideas on racism, integration, Black power, violence, western civilization, pan-Africanism, as well as his favorite quote (and quotes)… What I provide below are excerpts from his book. Read and be made ready for the revolution.
Racism is like “an octopus of exploitation; its tentacles stretching from Mississippi and Harlem to South American, the Middle East, southern Africa, and Vietnam; the form of exploitation varies from area to area but the essential result has been the same — a powerful few have been maintained and enriched at the expense of the poor and voiceless colored masses. Euro-Americans need to stop crying out against black supremacy, black nationalism, racism in reverse, and begin facing reality. The reality is that this nation is racist; that racism is not primarily a problem of “human relations” but of an exploitation maintained either actively or through silence by society as a whole. The resistance to doing anything meaningful about institutionalized racism stems from the fact that Western society enjoys its luxury from institutionalized racism, and therefore, were it to end institutionalized racism, it would in fact destroy itself.
2. What is integration?
Integration speaks not at all to the problem of poverty, only to the problem of blackness. Integration means the man who “makes it,” leaving his Black brothers behind in the ghetto. It has no relevance to the Harlem wino or to the cotton picker making three dollars a day. Integration, moreover, speaks to the problem of blackness in a despicable way. As a goal, it has been based on complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, Blacks must move into a whyte neighborhood or send their children to a whyte school. This reinforces, among both black and whyte, the idea that “whyte” is automatically better and “black” is by definition inferior. This is why integration is a subterfuge for the maintenance of whyte supremacy. Integration had to be based on the assumption that there was nothing of value in the black community, so the thing to do was to siphon off the acceptable “Blacks” into the surrounding middle-class whyte community. The civil rights movement saw its role as a kind of liaison between the powerful whyte community and the dependent black one. The dependent status of the black community apparently was not important since if the movement was successful it was going to blend into the whyte community anyway. The goal was to make the whyte community accessible to “qualified” Blacks and presumably each year few more Blacks armed with their passport — a couple of university degrees — would escape into middle-class America and adopt the attitudes and lifestyles of that group; and one day the Harlems and the Watts would stand empty, a tribute to the success of integration. Integration is not about developing the black community as a functional and honorable segment of the total society, with its own cultural identity, life patterns, and institutions, but to abolish it — the final solution to the Negro problem. Every civil rights bill in this country was passed for whyte people, not for black people. This is the essential difference between integration and Black Power.
3. Black Power?
Black people are defined by two forces: their blackness and their powerlessness. There have been traditionally, two communities in America: the whyte community, which controlled and defined the forms that all institutions within the society would take, and the black community, which has been excluded from participation in the power decisions that shaped the society and has traditionally been dependent upon and subservient to the whyte community. Black Power is a positive and redemptive force in a society degenerating into a form of totalitarianism. Black Power addresses the necessity for us to reclaim our history and our identity from the cultural terrorism and depredation of self-justifying whyte guilt. To most whytes, Black Power seems to mean that Mau Mau are coming to the suburbs at night. The Mau Mau are coming, and whytes must stop them. Articles appear about plots to “get Whytey” creating an atmosphere in which “law and order must be maintained.” Once again, responsibility is shifted from the oppressor to the oppressed. Euro-America will not face the problem of color, the reality of it. The well-intended say: “We’re all human, everybody is really decent, we must forget color.” But color cannot be forgotten until its weight is recognized and dealt with. No one ever talks about Whyte Power because power in this country (USA) is whyte. Black people do not want to “take over” this country. They don’t want to “get Whytey”; they just want to get him off their backs, as the saying goes. Black Power is about exposing the extent of the racism and exploitation that permeates all the institutions in the [West].
The whyte West are the most violent people on the face of the earth. They have used violence to get everything they have. And yet they are the first to talk about violence. Violence can take the form of physical warfare or it can take the form of a slow death. The Jews in the Warsaw ghettos were suffering from violence. Wherever you go in Africa today, the Africans are suffering from violence inflicted on them by the whyte West, be it that they are stripped of their culture, of their human dignity, or of the resources of their very land. “Politics is war without violence. War is politics with violence. “ The Europeans took America through violence and through violence they established the most powerful country in the world. Through violence they maintain the most powerful country in the world. It is absolutely absurd for one to say that violence never accomplishes anything. Today, power is defined by the amount of violence one can bring against one’s enemy — that is how you decide how powerful a country is. Power is defined not by the number of people living in a country, it is not based on the amount of resources to be found in that country, it is not based upon the goodwill of the leaders or the majority of that people. When one talks about a powerful country, one is talking precisely about the amount of violence that that country can heap upon its enemy. Russia is a powerful country, not because there are so many millions of Russians but because Russia has great atomic strength, great atomic power. America can unleash an infinite amount of violence, and that is the only way one considers America powerful. Most societies in the West are not opposed to violence. The oppressor is only opposed to violence when the oppressed talks about using violence against the oppressor. Then the question of violence is raised as the incorrect means to attain one’s ends. The way the oppressor tries to stop the oppressed from using violence as a means to attain liberation is to raise the ethical or moral question about violence. I want to state emphatically here that violence in any society is neither moral nor is it ethical. It is neither right nor is it wrong. It is just simply a question of who has the power to legalize violence.
5. Western “civilization”
History books tell you that nothing happens until a whyte man comes along. “Who discovered America?” “Christopher Columbus.” “Who discovered China?” “Marco Polo.” Let us examine the racism in that statement. Columbus did not discover America. Columbus may be the first recorded whyte man to set foot on America, that is all. There were people there before Columbus. But whyte Western society never recognize the existence of non-whyte people, either consciously or subconsciously, so all around the world [no one] ever did anything until some whyte man came along. All through history classes, we are studying “Western civilization” and that meant that all else was uncivilized. One of the biggest lies that Western society could have done was to name itself Western civilization. Thus, whyte children who read that today never recognize that they’re being told that they are superior to everybody else because they have produce civilization. At best, it’s a misnomer; at worst, and more correctly, it’s a damn lie. Western “civilization” has been, as a matter of fact, most barbaric. We are told that Western civilization begins with the Greeks and the epitome of that civilization is Alexander the Great. The only thing I remember about Alexander the Great was that at age twenty-six he wept because there were no more people to murder and rob. That is the epitome of Western civilization. And if you’re not satisfied with that, you could always take the Roman Empire: their favorite pastimes were watching men kill each other or lions eating men — they were a civilized people. The fact is that their civilization, as they called it, stemmed from their oppression of other peoples, which allowed them a certain luxury, at the expense of those other people. That exploitation for luxury has been interpreted as “civilization” for the West, and that exploitation for luxury is precisely what it has done. The West said, “Our culture is better, we are civilized.” And because of whytes’ power, the non-whyte countries began to try to imitate Europe and to imitate its ways, and then some began to believe the whytes, because no one want be uncivilized. Our ancestors knew what civilization was, long before European even got out of their caves…
6. Pan Africanism
Black Nationalism which is really African Nationalism finds its highest aspiration in Pan-Africanism. So Black Power really mean African Power. Pan-Africanism finds its highest political expression in Nkrumahism, which holds as its basic tent “the total liberation and unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government.” In order to achieve Pan-Africanism, Africa must be strong. [Africa] for the last five hundred years has known neither peace nor justice. Its wealth and human labor has built Western Europe and America. When these forces are harnessed for our benefit, the reconstruction of Mother Africa will be worthy of her glorious past. Pan-Africanism is grounded in the belief that Africa is one. African peoples, wherever we may be, are one. Africans today, irrespective of geographic location face a common problem. We are the victims of imperialism, racism, and we are landless people. Our dispersal was the result of European imperialism and racism. Imperialism is the highest state of capitalism. Pan-Africanism is grounded in socialism which has its roots in communalism. Pan-Africanism makes Africa our number one priority because if Africa were unified, it would be the most powerful continent in the world. It would then be able to give protection to all its descendants, wherever they may be.
7. Quotes from Stokely Speak.
Kwame Tures’ stated that his favorite quote was, “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am for myself alone, who am I? If not now, when? And if not you, who?” The quotes share below are his own words.
“The Black community is the only American community where men call each other “brother” when they meet.”
“We cannot have the oppressors telling the oppressed how to rid themselves of the oppressor.”
“This country is a nation of thieves. It stole everything it has, beginning with Black people.”
“We have found all the myths of the country to be nothing but downright lies. We were told that if we worked hard we would succeed, and if that were true we would own this country lock, stock and barrel. We are the hardest workers and the lowest paid.”
“Individualism is a luxury that black students can no longer afford.”
“There have been a lot of changes but no progress.”
“We are Africans. Africa is our home. Even if a man cannot return home it is his dying wish. Africa is the richest and most beautiful continent in the world.”
“Of all the people on the face of this earth, we are the most just.”
“In order to dull the political consciousness of a people, drugs are sent into the community.”
1st image: Illustration used for Racism retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-history-hinders-black-americans-20140908-story.html
2nd image:”Get Out” art retrieved from https://www.writtenby.com/webexclusives/now-youre-in-the-sunken-place
3rd image: Idris Elba
4th image: Retrieved from https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/americas-founding-myths/
5th image: Retrieved from http://fibcbulk.com/grim-reaper-art-gallery/875-best-death-e-grim-reaper-images-on-pinterest-grim-reaper-art-grim-reaper-art-gallery/
6th image: The Pan-African flag
7th image: Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) by Chuck Tingley