The Isis Papers

Isis PapersThe Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors
by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

As an African American woman who has been raised and inundated with the “historical facts” presented by my White Brothers and Sisters, I can empathize with those who are Eurocentric enough to want to believe that everyone and everything of importance emanated from the White race. Even conjecture that people of color might have had a larger role in the development of our world cultures, seems to be abhorrent. For African Americans who unquestioningly buy into the Eurocentric views of history, I am sure narratives such as this one are ludicrous.

However, women have been standing up to the version of “his”tory that exists, because women are either ignored or subjugated in one form or another. It seems reasonable to me that if White male historians omitted or subjugated women in their version of “his”tory, why would it be so unseemly that those same White men would omit and subjugate the role of Africans in the origins and development of the world. Especially since one major blemish on Eurocentrism is the deplorable practice of slavery. In order to keep Africans and African-descended peoples in their places (beneath the place of “decent White people”), I presume it would be necessary to blindly perpetuate the vulgar myth that Africans are ignorant, backward and worthy of enslavement; or at least, that they cannot possibly have been the original peoples of Egypt (Egypt is NOT an extension of the Middle East and was originally inhabited by dark-skinned people, just like the other indigenous peoples of Africa prior to the extensive European colonization that took place over the centuries.

I truly believe that if the tables were turned, more individuals would be willing to ignore the status quo and the accepted myths of our current culture, and would be interested in learning whether or not accepted “his”tory is really plausible. If Eurocentric people were conditioned to believe that they were not as important as African-descendants and that all of literature, education, art, language, religion, science, history and civilization in general was acquired through the brilliance of the Africans and that Whites were only good for being chattel, there would likely be serious investigations into the “truth.”

Bear in mind that even in Eurocentric “his”tory, when one culture conquered another, most of the remnants of the previous culture were destroyed. To me, it makes sense that when the Greeks decided to conquer Egypt, they would especially want to destroy anything that would attribute brilliance or intelligence to such “dark savages.” And, thus, just as Eurocentric people who believed in justice, freedom and uniting for the common good, those very people nearly exterminated the Native peoples of what we call the United States. Native peoples were driven from their own lands and their holy places were desecrated and used for Eurocentric purposes (for instance, Mt. Rushmore). To me, this is an example of how Eurocentrism operates and I don’t believe it started first in the New World. I believe that same fear, dread and dislike of others who are different has prevailed over centuries and cost Native Americans, Mayans, Africans, and other cultures much pain and degradation.

Rather than following in the footsteps of those “who protest too much” as the great writer suggested, why not be mature enough to consider the mindsets of those who came before: people who were fearful of being over-run, people who were attempting to build their own self-esteem by putting down others who didn’t look enough like them. Prejudice and racism will ALWAYS exist as long as White is Right and everyone else is wrong! Rather than focusing on how you can “tolerate” others who don’t look exactly like you, why not consider that maybe White people don’t know everything! Maybe the self-esteem of my White Brothers and Sisters doesn’t have to be built upon negating, denigrating and exterminating people of color, and in this instance, Africans and African descendants. Especially because we are not the ignorant, talentless, chattel the Eurocentric believe us to be.

How can I possibly be sure of this? Look at how Africans were stolen from their homeland, sent to various parts of the world, stacked like sardines in a can in the bowels of ships where they involuntarily urinated and defecated upon those below them, tossed overboard if diseased, sick or “defective” in any way, separated from fellow tribesmen, fellow villagers, family members, and those with a common language, sold on auction blocks (whether men, women, or children}, raped, forced to “mate” with strangers so that they would produce brawny slave stock, denied decent food, wages, respect and even common decency, were beaten, tortured, murdered, burned with huge audiences as though it was a picnic (there are postcards that prove this!), denied the benefits of the majority culture in this country, segregated into unfunded schools, neighborhoods, denied jobs, clean water fountains, hospitals and public restrooms, lynched, burned on crosses, terrorized, secretly experimented upon, you name it.

More recently, the racism is more underground and shows up in movie stereotypes, the disproportional number of Black men in prison and on death row, denial of decent jobs, harassment at work and by the police, denial of appropriate housing and medical care. Yet, like Maya Angelou says in her poem, “Yet, still I rise.” We must be a very special people to be able to withstand such torment. We do have our own fair share of problems, some of which involve institutional racism: deny us jobs, force us to live in squalor, and then, call us “dirty” and “smelly.” Denying us medical care is akin to slow extermination.

I urge you to keep reading and challenge the status quo. You may find that there may be more truth to this book and many others that American culture is blind to. Take college courses, talk to African Americans and Africans, read between the lines when you read a news story about African Americans, you might just be amazed and fascinated by the caliber of this strong, spiritual people. I know I am and I am proud and grateful that Black scholars and, gratefully, Eurocentric scholars are beginning to discover things that have been kept hidden for many, many ages. Think outside the box and have an open mind: you might be surprised by what you learn.

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