Afrikan-Centered Consciousness Versus The New World Order: Garveyism in the Age of Globalism
By Dr. Amos N. Wilson (1999)
(Excerpt: From a lecture delivered by Amos N. Wilson at the Marcus Garvey Senior Citizen Center, Brooklyn, NY in 1985; Transcribed by Sababu Plata)
We don’t have time today to review the history of Marcus Garvey. Rather that try to recap this history, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with anyway, I’ll just take a brief look at some things I think Marcus Garvey left us as an individual, as an organizational person and as a leader of Afrikan people.
PERCEPTION. One of the major things in the Marcus Garvey legacy was that of his perception of reality. I often talk about reality in my classes and general lectures so that attendees would recognize that at the center of one’s adjustment to the world, at the center of one’s ability to deal with the world, to change the world to suit one’s advantage, is a knowledge of reality. The very essence of pathology, whether political, ideological, economic, social, or psychological, is a lack of knowledge of reality. How can one deal with reality if one does not know what it is? How can you deal with reality if you’re blind to it or if it is distorted?
It is somewhat interesting that the brain is locked up in the darkness of the skull, yet the brain is the central unit that guides our behavior. It guides that behavior based on the information it receives from our senses. Therefore, our senses must relay to the brain an accurate knowledge of reality. This is the only knowledge, ultimately, that the brain gets from the outside world. The brain, using its innate capacities, such as reasoning capacities, comparative capacities, basic knowledge, memory and experience, uses the information given to it by the senses to determine how the person is going to deal and cope with reality, how the individual is going to shape reality to its own purposes. Therefore, if that information is distorted, then the brain determines behavior on that distorted information and the individual is maladjusted. This is the case then with a people.
It is necessary for a people, if they are coping with reality, if they are trying to advance themselves, to know that reality. They need sensors and people who can tell what that reality is, who can inform that as to the nature of that reality such that the decisions the group must make in determining how it will behave, how it will shape its destiny, can be based on the real, not on the unreal.
In Marcus Garvey, I see this great sensor, this great seer who informed us of the real world in which we existed. Not of a dream world, not of a world of wishful thinking, not a world distorted by hope, but a world that was seen as it is, a world that was sometimes brutally projected to us as a people so that we could use that knowledge to advance our interests as such. This is a legacy from Garvey that we must continue. Regardless of our pain, regardless of our discouragement, regardless as to what may be going on, we must be determined to look reality in the face and to use that reality as a base and foundation of our behavior.
PERCEPTION AND SELF-KNOWLEDGE. I also see in the legacy of Marcus Garvey the legacy of self-knowledge. Teachers, wise men and women from eons past have indicated that the foundations of sanity and wisdom rest on a knowledge of self: knowing self. We know that at the very center of
Egyptian philosophy was the admonition, Know Thyself. That is the essence of wisdom.
Garvey thus recognized that a lack of knowledge, an amnesia about who and what we are, is pathological. We recognize today in psychology that amnesia is a pathological state of mind; that a people who suffer from a lack of knowledge of themselves and of their history, a lack of knowledge of their creation, are a people who suffer from a loss of identity. We recognize, as Garvey recognized, that this lack of self-knowledge was deliberately induced into the mind and psyche of black people.
We could not be Afrikans and slaves at the same time; we could not hold onto our Afrikan identity, our Afrikan selves, knowledge of our Afrikan culture, and only when that knowledge is removed, erased, degraded, stolen, taken and distorted that we lose our identity. It is then that an identity is placed upon us by another people and by external forces. Therefore, a lack of selfknowledge is a lack of self-awareness. A lack of selfawareness is an insensitivity to the self. But an insensitivity in the self is also an insensitivity to reality and to the outside world. Without the sensitivity of the outside world and the self, we are left to blindly stumble from one point to another.
Ultimately, self-knowledge in its deepest sense is a knowledge of others. We cannot really get to know ourselves deeply without in essence knowing our enemies and friends and without ultimately knowing the Creator, in whatever form or fashion. It reasons that to know the self ultimately involves moving beyond the self and seeing the world from the vantage point of universalism.
Consequently we see in Marcus Garvey, in his efforts to rescue us from the pathology of racism, the putting of major emphasis on self-knowledge and self-knowing. We must recognize today that if we are to regain our Afrikan selves, we must then deeply engage in self-knowledge and self-knowing.
PERCEPTION AND; LACK OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. In psychology, we also recognize that at the center of pathology is the individual’s inability to control the self. One of the amazing things about the human mind when one looks at it from the point of view of the so-called unconscious, is that the individual who does not know himself and does not know reality, is the individual who escapes from self-knowledge, is an individual who does not know the roots and bases of his actions.
He is an individual who seems to be determined by external forces (or by internal forces) of which he has little or no knowledge. He is often constantly puzzled by his own behavior. He is often a wonderment to himself. He struggles against impulses, desires and wishes over which he has little or no control because he has, in his escape from self-knowing and reality, conceded his self-control and given it over to someone else. In releasing his identity and permitting another to place an identity within his psyche, he has at the same time placed in the hands of that other the ability to control his behavior.
We see in Marcus Garvey’s legacy that if we are to control our destiny, we then must control ourselves. We must enter into phase where the control of our behavior comes under the domination of our will. The essence in many psychotherapeutic approaches is to make the individual aware of the unconscious forces, wishes and impulses that are determining his behavior against his will. And in making these forces conscious, the individual can bring them under conscious control; the individual can bring his behavior under the dominant control of reason and logic.
He, then, is not a victim of his emotions. He is not swept by emotions and feelings only, but his emotions serve his interest. His emotions are his handmaidens and he is not just one who is swept along helter-skelter by feelings and impulses.
We see in Marcus Garvey the ultimate psychotherapist, one who is revealing and who reveals the unconscious controls, the controls that were implanted outside of our consciousness by our enemies and oppressors. Yet, despite those controls being outside of our our own disadvantage. In bringing those unconscious forces into consciousness, he made it possible for us to bring those forces under our control, rule, logic, rationality, and under the control of the ideology of nationalism.
Often we see in the neurotic and pathological individual, one who has little self-esteem and self-acceptance. The acceptance of reality, which I referred to in the beginning, ultimately must be the acceptance of one’s self. The acceptance of reality, as Marcus Garvey recognized and projected, ultimately must mean the acceptance of our Afrikanicity, the acceptance of the fact that we are an Afrikan people.
It seems a bit simple when we state it. It seems a bit obvious. However, when we engage in psychotherapy, we recognize that sometimes we have the patient who comes into the office who is intellectually aware and can quite often lecture the therapist in terms of theoretical ideas and the theoretical grounds for his therapeutic work, but who has not recognized and confronted himself emotionally, who has not really in his heart accepted what he knows.
What I am stating here is that while we may recognize superficially and intellectually that it is important we accept the reality of our Afrikan history, we must recognize deeply in our hearts, in the very bottoms of our psyches, our Afrikanicity.
Much of the pathology of Afrikan people today is this vain hope that somehow we will be able to escape our Afrikan heritage, that somehow the white man will become color blind and will not see us for whom and what we are, that somehow we will be looked upon as some kind of abstraction and as just a man. Not as an Afrikan man, not as a black man, but as a man, a human being only; without culture, without recognition, without identity. Too many of us want to shed our Afrikanicity for this kind of bogus, abstract existence, which is no existence at all, and which is the ultimate acceptance of invisibility. We must recognize that we are an Afrikan people and we will be Afrikan people to the end of time and we must accept all that goes with that.
We must accept the good, the bad, and all of the possibilities that go with being Afrikan. We must accept the fact that this white man is never going to accept us totally, and get used to the idea. Hope is a wonderful thing in some senses, but it can be pathological in others. The neurotic individual uses hope in a pathological way. He lives in hope and does not know when to give it up. There’s a time that hope has to be given up; when one looks at reality and recognizes reality for what it is, and one accepts certain aspects of that reality and moves on it.
The hope that this white man is going to accept you as one of his own, is one of those hopes that you must give up. The hope and the dream that you’re going to be holding hands with little white boys and girls; that the white man is going to feed your children before he feeds his own; that he’s going to clothe you before he clothes his own; that he’s going to give up his ill-gotten gains and wealth in the name of some kind of bogus brotherhood or classless society, is a vain hope. Give it up! Turn it loose!
When you turn it loose you will see a growth and development of self. It would mean then an acceptance of self. We see this in Marcus Garvey as he got us to accept and tried to get us to accept the reality of ourselves and the reality of our Afrikanicity.
He recognized, as we must recognize today, that we cannot get self-acceptance through another people’s acceptance of us as one of them. Self-acceptance can only be achieved through the self. We must not wait for our enemies to approve of us and to so-call accept us as a way of accepting ourselves. Because, ladies and gentlemen, our enemies, their very lives and very way of life depend upon our non self-acceptance. If the foundation of their very culture and the foundation of their economic, political and social system is one that is founded upon the subordination of black people, then you must recognize that they are not going to give that up.
For it would be like giving up their very lives and their very existence itself. Therefore, for us to wait around in the vain hope that through their acceptance we will come to accept ourselves, is to wait for nothing, because we will gain nothing as a result of this kind of illusion.
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Source: RBG Communiversity – RBG Blakademics