(BALTIMORE – February 10, 2023) – Simply put, history is a story, record, and interpretation of the past. John Hendrik Clarke, the historian extraordinaire, highlights its importance in his remarks, “The events which transpired five thousand years ago, five years ago or five minutes ago have determined what will happen five minutes from now, five years from now or five thousand years from now. ALL HISTORY IS CURRENT EVENTS.”
He who rules has control over the historical record which includes interpretation of that record and thus, all others are forced to view the world through the eyes of the dominant class.
In America, the “Black Studies” phenomena of the late 1960s and early 1970s gained its significance from “Freedom Fighters” who no longer accepted interpretations of the dominant class and saw the need to revise the historical record to reflect an alternative view of events. This could not be accomplished without struggle as those who rule will make every effort to justify their rule and domination. Friedrich Nietzsche puts it this way, “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”
Carter G. Woodson, the founder of African American History Month, reveals the findings in his research and challenges the thinking of subjugated people: “If you can control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think, you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
The first step to freedom is psychological liberation which is derived from one’s own truth. Thus, as Jimmy Cliff suggests in his songs, “take the shackles off the mind,” is nothing more than a “wake-up” call for yesterday. Or put another way, mental servitude requires an upheaval of the thought processes which instills a sense of victimization and creates a dependency and need to validate one’s existence. This leads the oppressed, whether real or imagined, to blame others for the predicament of their circumstances wherein the only relevance is a system of rewards and punishments controlled by the master class.
The question, then, is “Are we masters of our own destiny?” or “Are we victims?”
Gail Marie Maclean says, “We are not victims by nature. We are programmed to be victims…for good reason if we truly embraced our power we would never be controlled.” She then advises us to “LIVE WISE!” A corollary to Ms. Maclean is James E. Faust advice that “In this life, we have to make choices. Some are very important choices. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine to a large extent our happiness or unhappiness because we have to live with the consequences of our choices.”
Black History Month, over the years, has become a celebration of selected hero-worshiping or messiah-seeking exercises that perpetuates the control of the overseers. Put another way, Black History Month justifies those who pretend to be “what they are not.” Unfortunately, the lack of a historical perspective leaves our young people with nothing to build upon resulting in choices based on ignorance. Thus, the vicious cycle of slave mentality persists and the prognosis for the future is self-hatred and misguided energies.
When looking back to one’s ancestors, one should see oneself and all that is dear – the love and trust one experiences ought to be the foundation of who that person is and that person will never sway from that truth – regardless of the consequences. THE TRUTH “SHALL SET YOU FREE!”
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