This is a conversation that our black leader refuse to have, notice this time I did not use any quote marks. What you are about to view in the video and the write up below the video is one that is extremely uncomfortable for I am going right at the very notion of identity which, for too long, has confined us to the definition imposed upon us. But I beseech you to watch the video and read the article and you will see that I am submitting before you a message of love not a message of self-hate that many will wrongly assume this must be about. Liberation starts when we free ourselves from the hateful labels given to us by others.
This is what bankrupt educators, useless pundits, and craven politicians who depend on grievance and us viewing ourselves as victims don’t want. You see, free people don’t need leaders for they lead themselves. Think about that and when you finish this article and the video, go right over the heads of the overseer and gatekeepers who want to confine us to the ghettos of ignorance and show them what happens when free people freely think for ourselves. Use hashtag #WeAreNotBlack to make this article go viral and reach the masses.
What you are going to read in the next couple of minutes is a disavowal of a word that has been used to literally tar and besmirch people from a continent we now refer to as Africa. This word I’m alluding to is “black”, a word that was never, ever ours to begin with and a label foisted upon a once free people. What I am attempting to do is to wash away a stain that has been put on a whole class of people by pernicious dark souls in the past in order to enslave them by ways of words and dehumanize by means of insults. But there is a wider message that applies to all of humanity for what has been done to people from the continent of inception is something that has been done to people throughout the globe in order to colonize one nation after another.
Let us start off though at the crux of this article. Now before I proceed, understand that I too for too long accepted the word black and referred to myself as such. Though in all honesty, there was always a part of me that felt repulsed whenever I used the word black to refer to myself or others. But repeated dogma can inculcate into the mind a submissive acceptance that overrides the common sense. I mean think about it for a second, if you heard a random “white person” on TV refer to someone as “the blacks”, all of us would be taken aback. Yet we refer to ourselves as black without really thinking of the meaning of the word, the etymology of black, and why we were called black to begin with.
So let’s trace back through history for a second and inspect the word black. No need for me to use my own words, let me instead copy and paste the meaning of the word black according to good old Webster:
1) dirty, soiled <hands black with grime> 2) characterized by the absence of light <a black night>b : reflecting or transmitting little or no light <black water>c : served without milk or cream <black coffee> 3) thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked <a black deed>b : indicative of condemnation or discredit <got a black mark for being late> 4) connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil <black magic> <the black arts> 5) very sad, gloomy, or calamitous <black despair>b : marked by the occurrence of disaster <black Friday> 6) characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen <black resentment filled his heart> 7) characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire <black humor>
The word black is derived from Latin and the original meaning was that which did not have light. I want you to reflect on that for a minute, that which does not have light for I will circle back to that phrase soon enough. The word black and nigger have the same roots and the same meaning, both flow from the word nigrum which is where the word negro, negra, nigger, and black came from. Nigrum is defined as “black, dark, sable, dusky, and figuratively gloomy, unlucky, bad, wicked.” If we reject the word nigger, it’s for a good reason, the word has always been a means to libel us and in the process to make us lesser than. It was an attempt to literally paint us into a corner and to make us the “others”. This is how divide and conquer works, by balkanizing humanity and making us see divisive labels instead of seeing fellow humans.
So we rightly reject the word nigger even though too many of us think it is somehow OK to call each other nigga as if putting an “a” at the end of a word makes it less malevolent. Those who strive for enlightenment and refuse the grip of stasis know and understand the power of words and the mature and prudent lot say “brother” or “sister” instead of using the despicable “N word” to address their friends and strangers alike. Ah, but then the rub, if we reject the word nigger how are we then accepting the word black when both words mean the same thing? This is like getting upset if someone calls you a snake but then you choose to go around saying you are a serpent. The truth is that both black and nigger are rooted in the word nigrum and both are insulting to the core.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the reason why they call us black is because they are saying we don’t have light in us. That is what black means, the absence of light. Moreover there is a reason why they referred to themselves as “white”, go ahead and look up the word white on Webster as well, no seriously look it up, this article won’t go anywhere…. welcome back, did you see how “white” is defined as “the full presence of light”. This was an attempt by pricks to say they had the full presence of light and we had no light at all. Go back and reread the definition of black again and you will see just how insidious this word is. In Genesis, God created this universe by first creating light in the midst of darkness. The full presence of light is God presence and the absence of light is thus evil. Really reflect on this for a minute, by saying that we have no light in us, we are being told that we don’t have God’s light in us and by extension that they have the full presence of God in them.
Let me clarify something for a second, whey I say “they” I am not referring to the totality of our brethren and sistren who are two to five shades lighter than us—no I do not call them “white” for the same reason I do not refer to myself as black. When I say “they” I am referring with specificity to the noxious devils who invented these malicious words in order to dehumanize us. People like Scipio Africanus, Willie Lynch and the rest of their demonic denizens who understood all too well the power of words and that there exists in words the power of life and death. The most powerful weapon that we humans have are not guns or even the atomic bomb, the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal as humans are words. Word can either bury us or elevate us, what and who we say we have immeasurable impacts on our lives.
Before I go too far, let’s take a group project. This excise you can partake in regardless of your skin tone. See the picture to the right? If you identify yourself as “black” go ahead and put your skin up to the black section of the picture. Does your skin tone match that color? Of course not, moreover have you met ANYONE whose skin complexion was that color? Even the darkest human being in the world is really just extra brown, want to know what the color black looks like? Close your eyes for a second. See that color that you could not see because all went dark? That is the true black, when light is not evident and black is omnipresent. Now are you beginning to see why they called us black? They are saying we do not exist. And if you refer to yourself as “white”, the same result took place when you matched up your skin to the white part of this picture right?Have you ever met ANYONE who is that complexion? Not even someone who is albino is that color. Want to see the color white? It does not exist because true white is light.
So we got the eye test out of the way and proved to those who are able to reason that nobody in this world is black or white. Now understand one thing, before people from the continent of what we now refer to as “Africa” were captured and sold off into slavery, they did not refer to themselves as black. They couldn’t have for the word black is Latin; they referred to themselves by the names kinfolk gave them and by the names of their community they grew up in. The word black was imposed upon these once free men by despicable interlopers who invaded the continent of humanity’s birth like cancers attacking life. These vile traders of men understood the power of words; they renamed people as a means of turning humans into property. Put it this way, when you adopt a pet you name him right? These contemptible monsters, who set about trading free men as chattel, were renaming people as a means of owning them.
Our names are powerful, I wrote in the past that our names are really our destinies. Think about it for a second and reflect on the meaning of your name and why your parents called you that. Most of you will realize that your names had a tremendous influence on your lives as there is a certain aspect of you that fits the meaning that your parents gave you. But the same way a blessed name can lead you to blessings, a cursed word can also lead you to a cursed existence. The word black was exactly a curse, a curse meant to belittle us and to define us as property of others. The first couple of generations of political prisoners refused to be renamed, they resisted enslavement for a man is not a slave as long as he does not accept the imposition of mental chains. But over time, political dissidents turned into slaves. Not because they had chains on their feet or because of the whips. It was the lashes of words repeated over and over again that turned a once free people into the assets of malignant slave owners.
In time, what was once rooted in insults became a source of pride. This is what happens when we accept the indoctrination of others instead of questioning the stooges who educate us. It was a group of “black intellectuals” in France around the turn of the 19th century who popularized the word black—they referred to it as “negritude”. It was a means of taking power away from a malicious word and owning a word that was always meant to do harm. Sound familiar? This is exactly how we rationalize using the word “nigga” as we go around calling ourselves a people without God’s light without understanding how malicious these words are. We keep trying to find pride in words that were given to us by outsiders yet we keep devolving into the chains of self-hatred. The history of trying to find our names and empower ourselves is as such: from nigger to negro to colored to Afro to African to now African-American. It’s like we are in a Chinese finger trap that has razors in it; the more we try to pull out, the more the blades of these virulent words bleed us into submission.
If you are in college, present this article to your “African-American history” professor and just ask him/her one thing: why do we call ourselves black. The problem is we let educators mis-educate us and lead us right back into the arms of enslavement. Teachers who teach about ‘black history” are either unwitting tools who repeat dogma unquestioningly or knowing fools who value paychecks over telling truths. Add to these “educators” the pundit class who profit from the status quo and politicians who whisper grievance and victimization in our ears in order to make us dependent and enslave us to their benevolence and the recipe is in place for perpetual bondage. For hundreds of years we have been accepting the definition of others and in the process accepting defamation as the source of our pride and this is one of the reasons the masses are mired in hopelessness—we celebrate a fraction who “make it” while majority are stuck in enduring tribulation.
No, we are not black. We can’t claim pride in a word that was never ours to begin with and was always a pejorative. How can we not have light in us when both science and faith affirm that life started in the continent we presently call Africa? Now here is where I bend your mind; remember how I said that Africa was named after Scipio Africanus? Scipio Africanus was a Roman general who defeated Hannibal in the Punic Wars and in the process subdued the continent using brutality that even Hitler would blanch at. Imagine that. Do you think Jews would ever call themselves Hitlerlian? Of course not! That would be the height of absurdity, yet we call ourselves Africans to honor this monster Scipio. The truth is that the entire continent was called Ethiopia and so was the Atlantic Ocean. Do you know that Ethiopia is named in the bible more than any nation? Do you see now why some like to rename people and places? It is a blatant attempt to erase our significance.
What these ogres attempted in the past to reduce our significance, we have taken the baton and nullified our significance into nothingness. We keep calling ourselves black not understanding the power of these words. Maybe we should be doing less protests and instead free ourselves first. Let us stop defining ourselves through the malicious word black and the endless labels we have been given in order to be divided from the rest of humanity. Ideally, all of humanity would just call ourselves human and put the noun of humanity above the endless adjectives we keep calling ourselves. But if that is not the case my fellow Ethiopian-Americans, can we at least not define ourselves as being absent of light and stop honoring Scipio’s deeds by calling ourselves African?
Like Bob Marley sang once in Redemption Song, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”. Harriet Tubman once noted that she freed a thousand slaves in her lifetime but that she could have saved a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. It is high time for us to liberate ourselves from these corrosive and depraved words and instead take our rightful names. Centuries of doing the same thing over and over again is only leading us further and further into bondage. Instead of protesting outward and waiting for liberation from without, let us look within and free ourselves from the chains of the words we keep calling ourselves. There will not be a Moses coming to free us; we will have to free ourselves. Perhaps we can take modest steps towards redemption by first extricating ourselves from the word black.
These things I write of are not trivial nor are they inconsequential. As we at once proclaim pride in this word black that we are not, we are concurrently being bombarded with the endless negative connotation of the very same word. Not too long ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner and someone raised a pot that was dirty and said “look how black and dirty this pot it, we need to throw it away it’s useless”. This is the subliminal buzz saw we are being treated to on a regular basis, the entirety of society associating black with death, debauchery and wickedness as we are wearing this same word as a badge of honor. I know that some will say “you are purveying a ‘Eurocentric conception of the word black’. This retort I find bemusing, the word “black” is Eurocentric to begin with. But it’s not really bemusing, it’s more like deflating because we are raising our children to accept this treacherous word and in the process internalize this malicious label.
In order to prove that “separate but equal” was detrimental to “black children”, Thurgood Marshall and his team conducted a test to between “white” and “black” children using “black” and “white” dolls. To no surprise, the “black” children again and again chose the “white” dolls over the ones that looked like them. This field study that the Marshall team conducted was presented as prime evidence of the pernicious aspects of segregation and was instrumental in overturning Jim Crow. Except we never escaped the specter of Jim Crow because we keep holding on to odious words others gave us to marginalize us. The same study that Marshall conducted was undertaken a few years ago. Surprise surprise! The same results were manifested as “black” children still gravitated to the “white” dolls as they disregarded their own. Is it any wonder; our children are being bombarded with infinite negative connotations of “black” so they end up internalizing the germ of that hateful word within their spirits. If the root of a tree is poisonous, no matter how we try to pretty up the leaves the leaves are toxic nonetheless. The same logic applies to the word black, the root is venomous so no matter how we try to sweeten the leaves, the word black ends up injuring us when we ingest it.
Be careful what you call yourself, you become by default—words are potent and all powerful. Now go back and look up the meaning above for the word black. Is death, insignificance and inferiority what we wish upon ourselves? Endless folk going around preaching about “white superiority” without understanding that they are at once debasing themselves with the world “black” while elevating others with by calling them “white”. Our ancestors fought enslavement and suffered ceaseless pains to ward off and fight enslavement. I say “our ancestors” because the totality of people from the continent of Ethiopia are my people as well—our connection does not end based on artificial borders drawn by colonial goblins. What our ancestors fought against we now accept without nary a thought or a reflection on these words we call ourselves. I am asking you to pause and reflect and then start the process of healing from the wounds and scars which have been programmed and seeded deep into our psyches over generations. Black no more; we are a blessed people, start thinking, acting, and living as one.
Next time someone asks”are you black”, respond back “no we are not black” and in the process fight ignorance through knowledge instead of fighting ignorance with ignorance. I know what you read will take some time to process, it’s like opening your eyes after being stuck in the basement for years without light. I am not claiming the moral ground here my fellow Ethiopian-Americans, I am on the same journey of self-discovery and just imparting the lessons that I learn to those who are walking towards the same journey of actualization and redemption. So let us stop calling ourselves “black” and find pride in WHO we are not what others say we are. Defiance is not accepting the dogma of others; defiance is questioning conventional wisdom and refusing to accept indoctrination. Peace and egzyaber yemarachew (may God favor you) my fellow Ethiopians.
Pass this article on to others and use social media to speak truth to power even if you don’t agree with 100% of what you read and get the dialogue started. And no, February is not “black history month” for 365 days out of the year is our history since our story is the story of humanity. Get the conversation started and let us take part in questioning the libelous lies that envelops us in darkness. In honor of Harriet Tubman—who was the closest iteration of Moses for us—use #TubmansShotgun and fire a defiant shot in the air for freedom and liberation.
Liberation starts the minute we stop understanding ourselves through the definition of outsiders and learn the truth of our history from own.
Make sure to check out the newest broadcast of Ghion Cast where I go into more detail about this topic of identity and talk about other aspects of this insidious words we keep calling ourselves. Click on this link HERE to hear Ghion Cast. Peace::
Teodrose was born in Ethiopia the same year Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by the communist Derg junta. The great grandson five generations removed of Atse (emperor) Tewodros Kassa II, the greatest king of Ethiopia, Teodrose is clearly influenced by the history and his connection to Ethiopia. Through his experiences growing up as first generation refugee in America, Teodrose writes poignantly about the universal experiences of joys, pains and a hope for a better tomorrow that binds all of humanity.
Teodrose has written extensively about the intersection of politics, economic policies, identity, and history. He is the author of "Serendipity's Trace" and newly released "Soul to Soil", two works that inspect the ways we are dissected as a people and shows how we can overcome injustice through the inclusive vision of togetherness.
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