To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!
To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.”- “Dream Variations” Langston Hughes
Dreams matter. Dreams are precursors of a day to which we have not yet awakened, they are the final word upon every yesterday. As a student of history, I often dream backwards, gazing into the past to understand the present. In this gazing I reflect often upon my ancestors. I reflect on a quarter millennium of slavery. I imagine what it was like. I do not always imagine the crack of the whip, though that loathsome sound is never far. I do not always imagine the murders, tortures and rapes, though their horror colors the scenes I imagine and lurks ever aback them. I think of a normal day on the plantation, a day without any spectacular violence, only the violence inherent to the place. I think what it would’ve meant for the sun to rise on an enslaved life. An enslaved African’s life contained no meaningful hope. Sure, there were small spaces where the enslaved might aspire. “Maybe I’ll meet my quota today and avoid a whipping.” “Maybe there will be some music tonight.” “Maybe I can get some whiskey before bed to sooth my muscles.” “Maybe that gal I’ve been courtin’ will spend the night with me.” “Maybe my garden will grow bountiful this year and I can buy some things for myself.” Among the most fortunate: “Maybe I’ll win the lottery, buy myself and be free.” There has never been a human circumstance so narrow that hope could not find some place to dwell and slavery is no exception. But these hopes only came in the brutal context of the hardest labor, crushing and interminable. To be an enslaved African, meant never being able to personally aspire to any of those heights which cause a human soul to soar. What we take for granted, at least in our individual careers, that we might engineer an upward trajectory to our lives, was almost universally denied 12 generations of our ancestors. For the enslaved African there was one dream, freedom. Freedom did not just mean coming and going as you pleased; though it surely meant that. It did not just mean being able to work for yourself and keep the fruit of that labor, though it surely meant that. It did not even just mean the right to vote, to serve in office, even the presidency; though surely, it did mean that. Freedom, meant something so big, so sublime, so masterful that our ancestors created an entire cultural universe to try and name it.
Our ancestors, in the beginning, dreamed specifically of the African world from which they had been stolen. There are many, old, folk tales about enslaved Africans escaping their torment, borne away into the sky by some mysterious ancestral force. The most famous one, recorded by the Federal Writers Project is called “All God’s Children Had Wings.” It tells the story of a group of native born Africans that had fallen into the clutches of a particularly cruel master. Among these was a woman who had just given birth and even by the meager standards of slavery should not have been working. She took her suckling infant into the fields and did her best to labor, but she quickly fell. The overseer struck her with the whip until she rose again. She spoke to an old man, a fellow African, in a tongue the overseer did not understand, a West African tongue, and the old man’s response was: “Not yet daughter.” Again she set to work and again she fell, again she was beaten and again she spoke to the old man, again she was told: “Not yet.” Then, on the third falling, she spoke to the old man who responded: “You daughter, go!” At this, she leapt into the air and was carried aloft and away. The overseer in confused rage set upon another captive, then another, all heard the old man’s word and flew away from the overseer’s clutches forever. Then finally, the overseer, his minions, and even the slave owner himself turned on the old man, charging him with whips and sticks. The old man laughed raucously then spoke some words so loudly in his native tongue that everyone in the field heard them. The slaves stood up “remembered what they had known,” and with loud shouts and clapping, rose into the sky:
“The men went clapping their hands, the women went singing, and the children laughed and were not afraid. The master, the overseer, and all the men looked after them as they flew, but they were helpless to do anything. Those men, women, and children flew beyond the wood, beyond the river, miles and miles, until they passed beyond the last rim of the world and disappeared into the sky like a handful of leaves. They were never seen by the master again.”
The supernatural occurrence at the center of this story is archetypal in Black American folklore, and anthropologists now believe that to “fly away” is a metaphor for suicide. Many enslaved Africans preferred death to slavery, so much so that slave owners avoided purchasing certain ethnic groups, such as the Igbo, for their supposed propensity for bodily sacrifice. Igbo Landing in the Georgia Sea Islands bore witness to one such true life occurrence. A boat full of Igbo men, women and children, bound for sale on Simmons Island, took control of the vessel on which they were being conveyed and ran it aground in a creek. Then, according to witnesses, they disembarked and walked arm in arm, singing, into the deep marsh which surrounded them. There is a belief, in several West African ethnic groups, that when you die in a foreign land, your soul leaps from your body, sometimes being transformed into a buzzard, and flies back home to dwell with your ancestors. In America, the unknown Negro spiritualist proclaimed: “One o’ these mornin’s bright an’ fair, Gonna hitch on my wings an’ try the air.” Much has been written about the symbology of home in the Black American tradition. “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.” “I’ve got a new home, over in Zion” “Deep river, my home is over Jordan” one thing all iterations of this archetype have in common, is a soul deep conviction that home is not “here.” Of course, these are religious songs, and home most explicitly means “heaven” “paradise” or “glory.” But of course, in a typical Christian reading, heaven is not “home,” it is a reward for bypassing the wide road to perdition. It is not so hard to see how the native African’s longing to return to her earthly home in Africa, across the great Atlantic, mingled with her children’s new Christian faith across the generations, becoming that familiar longing to cross the mighty Jordan and live forever in glory on Zion hill. “The Jordan river is deep and wide, I’ll see my mother on the other side.” The iconography of water is also essential and well documented. Of course, we came here across the waters, but in several West African systems, water mediates the barrier between this world and the world of the ancestors. “God’s gonna trouble, the water” “Jordan river, Black and cold, chilled my body, but not my soul.” So, there is a double significance to the deaths at Igbo Landing, in refusing to live for slavery; in death, they forcibly took back control of their lives, then walked joyously home through the front door: Singing in the key of action their own version of: “O freedom, O freedom, O freedom over me, before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave and go home, to my God, and be free.”
I say all this to demonstrate, that the Black Christian dream of walking the streets of paradise is a creolization of the dream which welled up in the eyes of the first enslaved African when she glanced across the ocean and dreamed, not of a heavenly home, but of her actual home. This is an African dream. It is not hard to see how this dream imposed itself upon the biblical story. Consider the exiled Hebrew’s lament: “By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.” “How shall we sing the lord’s song in a strange land?” The point of all this is to say; that before we dreamed of acceptance, before we limited our aspirations to an endless litany of “Black firsts,” before a Black president was the pinnacle of our hopes, we dreamed of something infinitely bigger, our own world. The one we’d left behind and to which we meant to return, even if only in death’s unceasing slumber. “I’ve got a mother in that land, where I’m bound,”: A mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a language, a country, a history; freedom. We have since those long ago days become a domesticated people. We dream no longer of escaping our captors, but becoming them, of being equal with them on their terms. We have traded in the African dream and received in return, the American dream. The exchange is monstrous.
But let us examine this American dream which we have been offered. Consider America, beginning not with the baseless assumption that this country is some infinitely perfectible experiment in human freedom, instead, begin with what we know of where we started and where we’ve gone. We came to this country as a captive West African labor force. For 250 years, the far greater part of the African people in this land were real estate, “Beings of an inferior order with no rights a white man was bound to respect,” as the Supreme Court once so brutally put it. We stopped being real estate as the result of a great and bloody war which almost tore the American body politic apart, and not long after the long awaited day of Jubilee, our former captors conspired successfully to keep as many of us as close to slavery as possible. Over the course of 50 years, 6 million of us moved north and west. There, we found opportunity, but also that America remained America throughout. Jim Crow gave way to horrifying slums and the stifled, choking un-life of the American ghetto. In another glorious moment, nearly a century of valiant struggle gave rise to a remarkable crop of leaders, and together we finally slew Jim Crow.
Some 50 years later, 30% of Black children live in poverty, the Black maternal death rate is three time higher than average, America holds 25% of the world’s prisoners despite being 5% of the world’s population and 40% of them are Black. Blacks are systematically excluded from juries all over this land. Black children have the highest rate of blood lead of any ethnic group’s children by far. At every level of society, Black Americans suffer from massive discrimination. And perhaps, most cruelly of all, 400 years of mental conditioning and spiritual assault conspire with media images to make us hate ourselves. Silent millions of us look in horror upon our Black skin, Black hair, Black noses, Black lips; the material substance of our Black selves. When we dream, we dream of Whiteness. We dream of proving ourselves to those whose entire self conception depends on seeing us as lesser beings. We dream, that in our children we may escape the curse of Ham, the curse of Blackness. We lust after light skin, eyes of light brown, mingled blue and green, hair loosely curled or straight; that nothing of our mother, Africa, shall be seen to dwell in us or our descendants. But alas, we quest for Whiteness not only foolishly, but in vain. For when we return to the mirror, arrayed in hard won finery, if we can afford it; men and women of Gucci, Polo, Jordan, etc., what stares back at us is what we think to be a nigger, and we ask in the deep, quiet, solitude of our souls: “Does a nigger deserve better?” As Brother Malcolm put it: “They put your mind in a bag and take it wherever they want.” True, we have due to our own undying will achieved massive “progress,” even, comparatively speaking, on the matter of mental emancipation. Yet, the question is: How far can this progress go? I posit, that as long as anti-Blackness is at the center of America’s ideological structure, it does not matter what concessions we wring from the White supremacist power structure, so long as the basic substance of American reality has its root in the idea that Blacks are inferior and expendable, ways will be found to keep Blacks at the tail end of American life. You may choose to be an optimist on America, I choose to expend my optimism plotting a way out. Neither I, nor the American optimist can see the future, we draw from the same record, the same history and reach different conclusions. I see no reason at all why the cultural forces that stymie our progress should suddenly evaporate.
Consider the 2007 financial crisis, a major cause was Black homeowners defaulting on subprime loans which banks were more likely to give Black people irrespective of their actual financial status. The average White family lost 16% of their wealth, versus 48% for the average Black family, decades of “doing the right thing” wiped out in a terribly typical American instant. Consider Donald Trump. Think of the Nazis in the street, reflect on the polling which shows that despite the little, precariously hard-won “progress” we have made, a majority of White people, including millennials, think that racism is no longer a valid explanation for social inequality along racial lines. (What does that leave as an explanation other than Black inferiority?) Moreover, researchers have found that White racial resentment metrics at present are equal to what was measured at the beginning of the Reagan era, the zenith of the post civil rights backlash. In fact, from 2008 to 2014 there was an uptick in White racial resentment overall. And lest we assume that this is simply the last gasp of older White generations, White millennials actually show less of a departure from their parents’ racial views than did baby boomers. In 2008, 54% of White millennials voted for Barack Obama, by 2012, most gave their votes to Romney and in 2016, despite his thinly veiled racial dog whistling (Or perhaps because of it) 47% of White millennials voted for Donald Trump vs. 43% for Clinton.
These numbers bespeak a striking but not surprising continuity. It is easy to observe, and the data supports, the fact that White millennials, like their parents, have little problem identifying overt, violent racism as undesirable while being fundamentally and even violently unwilling to accept that they benefit from a culture of White supremacy. But why should this be surprising? The very idea of Whiteness is premised on the notion that White people deserve their power. Slaveholders, unable to admit that their power was rooted in amoral brutality decided that Black Africans were animals. When abolitionism sprung up in the north and began to gain political power, it was not, as often assumed, rooted in any notion of absolute racial equality, or in the idea that Black life was something worthy of protection. For evidence of this we can look to Abraham Lincoln. In 1858 Lincoln observed “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” Pithy though it is, it is a rather uncommitted statement. In an 1862 letter to Horace Greeley the firebrand editor of The New York Tribune, Lincoln proclaimed:
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union;
Though Lincoln’s public expression did evolve, to the point that by his second inaugural he was positing the war’s enormous bloodshed as divine retribution for the sin of slavery, perhaps we cannot read too much into this evolution. After all, Thomas Jefferson himself, while holding some 200 people in bondage declaimed on the matter: “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Clearly, White America, as represented through its leaders, fears lost profits more than divine wrath. Occam’s razor bespeaks that it was not personal feeling which led Lincoln to support the abolition of slavery, but, the glaring fact of 250,000 armed Black men, 96,000 of whom were former slaves, who had put on Union blue and charged headfirst into slavery’s empire and could not be expected to lay down quietly as King Cotton re-placed his throne upon their backs.
In any event, it matters not so much what Lincoln thought, but what the country did once his life and the war were over. Whatever thoughts the White nation may have had concerning the welfare of its former chattel, after ten years of a “reconstructed” South backed up by federal might, this same White nation was willing, even anxious, to see a new theater of outright warfare opened against their four million new Black *fellow* citizens. At the first electoral crisis, the deadlocked election of 1876, Black human rights were placed on the bargaining table and smashed to oblivion to give Rutherford Hayes the presidency. Through almost 100 years of a flaunted rule of law, the White nation outside the South stood by in studied unconcern as democratically elected governments based in the “proposition that all men are created equal” were ripped from their high places through fraud backed by nothing but mob violence; lynchings, burnings, shootings, massacres and military coups restored full and unchecked White supremacy in the South. How could people who had shed so much blood to free the slave allow their former enemies to wipe away the freedman’s hard won gains in a brazen tide of blood? Simple, the White South assured them that the would-be Black citizens, in essence, bore nothing more of humanity than a rough physical resemblance. Blacks were animals who had been sprung from our cages by overzealous fools and our masters must be allowed to reclaim our wayward bodies by any means necessary. When White Southerners told stories of crime and corruption the tales were earnestly believed because they matched what the White nation as a whole *knew* about Black people. Fast forward 100 years from 1876 to 1976 and we find the Southern strategy in full swing as the party of Lincoln became the party of Nixon and Reagan. Again, unchecked benevolence extended to non-humans had led to utter bedlam in the cities, armed niggers presumed to march about in black berets brandishing black steel and, again, it fell to the White nation to bring the upstart apes to heel; and it did so, not this time in a tide of blood, the world had advanced much in a century, but through the almighty ringing of prison doors. Mass incarceration, the police state, the slashing of social services, most of which Blacks had just barely gotten access to, firmly put the White nation’s collective property back in check.
This is the history which gave rise to our present. Again, I cannot see the future, I cannot say that some massive change will not come over The White nation to allow the ancient dream of integration to come true. I can ask, what justifies optimism? The answers I get to this question tend to rely upon past “progress.” “Look how far we’ve come, from slavery to now, how can you doubt that if we keep pushing we will finally achieve full equality.” No doubt, if your yardstick runs from slavery to the present, the distance is truly great. Whatever fair analogies we can draw between our present condition and slavery, no one among us living is so degraded as one who does not own themselves. The question is, can this yardstick measure forward? To put the matter simply, using analogy: Does the fact that you have traveled 10,000 miles upon a single road necessarily mean that 10,000 miles lie ahead? Suppose you have gotten to a cliff, and the road drops off, but in the distance off to the side lies another road, a mess of weeds and a great field of massive boulders, but it is there, and at the end of said road is a bridge across a great chasm; should you, out of loyalty to the road which has brought you this far, ignore the road, ignore the bridge and stand forever in hopeful expectation that a bridge will materialize ahead of you, or, should you take the road which leads to the bridge?
This, my people, is where we find ourselves this very moment. History has been mis-written in our minds to make it seem that full integration is the only road open to us, to make it seem like this is the only road we have taken; that this is the only road we know how to take. This is not true. From the dawn of organized Black life in the United States, Blacks have sought collective as well as personal independence. The oldest Black settlement in what would become the United States was established by a group of fugitive Africans, at Fort Mose, Florida, just north of St. Augustine in 1726. At the first National Negro Convention in Philadelphia in 1831, the delegates voted to establish the: “American Society of Free Persons of Colour, for Improving their Condition in the United States; for Purchasing Lands; and for the Establishing of a Settlement in Upper Canada,” with auxiliaries in Black communities throughout the country. In 1854, Martin Delany called a “National Emigration Convention” to discuss the possibility of negotiating with West African leaders for land on which Black Americans could settle on our own terms. After slavery ended, there was debate over whether Blacks should seek assimilation into the society which had enslaved us for a quarter millennium or whether we should seek independence either within the bounds of the United States or outside of it.
In Mississippi, Isaiah T. Montgomery, a former bondsman of Jefferson Davis’s brother, created an all-Black town in Mississippi called Mound Bayou. Throughout the long years of horror in Jim Crow Mississippi, as most Southern Blacks lived by the sufferance of White terrorists, Blacks in Mound Bayou maintained an enclave of Black Power decades before it was a slogan. The power of this separate Black city came to a head in 1955 after the brutal murder of Chicago teenager, Emmett Till. When Mamie Till came South to attend the trial of the terrorists who murdered her son, she was housed in the well defended compound belonging to Mound Bayou resident Dr. T.R.M. Howard. Howard was a prosperous surgeon, entrepreneur and landowner who shuttled the grieving mother back and forth in an armed caravan to protect her from the gangs of hostile Whites who surrounded the courthouse eager to ridicule a mother seeking justice for her butchered child. T.R.M. Howard, independently wealthy and with an independent base of political power in a Black city, was free to travel the country speaking out about Till’s murder. Rosa Parks would later say that it was one of his rousing, un-compromised speeches that inspired her to take a heroic stand on December 1, 1955.
Eight years to the day after Till’s death, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would be held in Washington D.C., Roy Wilkins, the chairman of the NAACP came to the rostrum and announced that Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois had died in Ghana at the age of 95. Wilkins had gone into the NAACP right as Du Bois was going out.
Though Du Bois’s increasingly leftist views and insistence on continued control of the NAACP’s official organ, Crisis, are the most commonly cited causes of his departure, what directly led to Du Bois’s departure was a series of articles written in 1934 which actively promoted Black self-determination and Pan-Africanism. These included defenses of Black colleges, not as temporary expediencies which must be borne until the glorious day of integration, but as a necessary bulwark against the White Nation whose citizens, including teachers, would stay bound to a doctrine of White supremacy for the forseeable future, saying:
“… a separate Negro school where children are treated like human beings, trained by teachers of their own race, who know what it means to be black in the year of salvation 1935, is infinitely better than making our boys and girls doormats to be spit and trampled upon and lied to by ignorant social climbers, whose sole claim to superiority is ability to kick “niggers” when they are down.”
Such assertions embarrassed an organization which for over a quarter century had been arguing for the Black man’s central American-ness and the aspiration toward a race blind republic. Though Du Bois did not advocate a separate Black nation (to my knowledge) his views reflected an understanding which he had been developing since (at least) 1920 when he published “The Souls of White Folk” the grand sire of what is now called “Whiteness studies.” Du Bois realized that White supremacy was not an incidental prejudice, nor was it a mass neurosis which could be blithely driven away by fact, this he knew by bitter experience as all his brilliant work constantly fell dead with little effect; proving, he believed, it was not the facts that mattered. Whiteness was something which White people needed, it was the ordering doctrine of their world, the felt substance of themselves. Confederate Mississippi had it wrong, Whiteness, not slavery, was the “Greatest material interest of the world.” And as hard as slavery had been to kill, Whiteness seemed and seems nowhere near about to die.
It was a pure, clear assessment of obvious facts which led Du Bois to consider and espouse the merits of a degree of racial separatism. He did not need to believe that European blood carried with it any inducement to unspeakable evil. He did not need to give up the idea that humanity fundamentally is one. What separated Du Bois from most of his contemporaries in the Civil Rights power structure was his willingness to accept that ideology matters, that certain ideologies are deeper than others and that what has taken 500 years to build and maintain will not be torn down in a few decades, maybe even in a few centuries, if it ever can be torn down. Du Bois accepted that White supremacy would be a feature of his life however much longer he lived. “I shall die in my bonds” But, he knew that we had no right to tether our children, much less our grandchildren, to a model which has run its course. Does the fact that Du Bois wrote in 1935 some 19 years before a wildly successful “Civil Rights Revolution” render his understanding moot? I argue, no. I have taken this foray through history to complicate the narrative we think we know. I am convinced that the absence of separatist thinking from current Black political discourse reflects the unwarranted hegemony of the integrationist-assimilationist model. This hegemony is rooted in the perception that it is fundamentally successful and that separatist thinking has simply been a fanciful notion occasionally broached by kooks and cranks. What we think the past has been fundamentally orders what we think the future can be, to demonstrate this, below I have broken down the integrationist-assimilationist model into fourteen unspoken theses. Ideologies are most powerful when they move us in silence. Ideologies are hegemonic when they are so basically assumed that it does not occur to us that they need to be defended. Integrationist-assimilationism is such an ideology. I therefore offer these theses so that we can scrutinize our own thinking and critically engage integrationism as an idea among ideas, instead of as some divine road map from which we dare not deviate.
Thesis 1: The highest level of personal prestige which can be attained by an individual member of our community reflects our collective status.
Thesis 2: The ability of White people, individually or collectively, to interact with Black people in professional or social settings is a direct reflection of the extent to which they harbor racist indoctrination.
Thesis 3: The degree to which Whites consciously think Blacks are inferior is directly reflected in their willingness to support policies which are necessary to secure racial equality
Thesis 4: In order for Blacks to gain access to spaces and positions, Whites must experience a corresponding reduction in their collective racism, which means, that if a Black person has gained access to space X it must be because Whites have experienced a corresponding and proportionate reduction in their racism.
Thesis 5: The ability of Blacks and Whites to form social connections with each other reflects the ability of Whites, collectively, to see Blacks, collectively, as human, therefore, the more Blacks and Whites interact, the more favorably Whites will view Black liberation.
Thesis 6: Racism is based on Whites being misinformed collectively or individually about Black people
Thesis 7: The misinformation which racism is supposedly based on can be remedied through Whites becoming aware of Black achievement.
Thesis 8: Anti-Black stereotypes are fed by Black behavior and can be substantially undermined by Blacks acting contrary to the stereotypes.
Thesis 9: There is a necessary correspondence between explicit or implicit racism and White collective or individual willingness to support policies which will lead to racial equality.
Thesis 10: As Whites become more frequently exposed to Black individuals who present themselves in a way which Whites may view favorably, they will collectively and/or individually begin to change their minds about Blacks collectively, in a way which will make them view Black liberation and the policies required to actualize it, favorably.
Thesis 11: Progress towards Black liberation is inevitable. (Black liberation is here defined as that point at which being of African descent does not correlate with negative social indicators. Poverty, incarceration etc.)
Thesis 12: Positive indicators indicate absolute progress.
Thesis 13: Because progress is inevitable and positive indicators indicate progress, it is therefore logical to treat positive indicators as the true reflection of Black prospects in this country while negative indicators are to be treated as aberrations which will eventually be remedied through the inevitability of progress
Thesis 14: If a particular model (Such as integrationist-assimilationism) has yielded any tangible benefits whatsoever, this is sufficient to indicate that it is the best possible model.
It should be obvious enough that the assumptions behind these theses are far from self-evident. The utter paucity of original, generative thinking on Black liberation under the integrationist-assimilationist model at this late date should be ample indication that, whatever tangible results it has achieved in the past, it has run its course because it is incapable of dealing with White supremacy as a fundamental component of Whiteness, and with Whiteness as a fundamental American political reality. Just look at this report which shows that 50 years after the traditional end of the mid-century civil rights movement, “progress” on economic and social indicators continues to be anemic. It should be clear that integrationist-assimilationism is not nearly equipped to deal with a society where both racism and the policies which would end institutional racism are thought of as unmitigated evils by the dominant population. If you think this impasse can be remedied through demographic change, I refer you to this article which I wrote a few years ago. It shows that the dream of a “majority-minority” America where White supremacy is finally defeated in the maternity ward is just another myth.
Where then does this leave us? I have tried to show you why I am a Black separatist, but what now? I propose that we replace the integrationist-assimilationist model which we have all been taught to venerate with a new model which can actually generate creative solutions, not only to the long-term problem of where we go from here, but, to immediate problems for which integrationist-assimilationism can offer no answers.
I propose the creation of a Black nation-state in the American southeast. Four years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates published “The Case for Reparations” wherein he used simple, clear facts to demonstrate the need for reparations for slavery and Jim Crow. This article is what opened the door to Black separatism in my mind. I realized that whatever form reparations would take, be it personal compensation, free college, a Marshall plan for Black America, massive payments to Black run organizations like civil rights groups and Black colleges, tax-exemption for the next 250 years etc., so long as the White nation retained its control over us, whatever it gave to us would be taken back. Any model of Black liberation which depends on the sincere good-will of a society which has always been White supremacist will always be still-born. Were we to be given reparations in any form, this would inevitably lead, as superficial “progress” always has, to a White backlash, perhaps murderously silent; which would leave us in fundamentally the same position, only now, another rhetorical jab will be open to White supremacists “See, we gave them reparations and they still couldn’t get themselves together.”
I therefore seek reparation in the form of 600,000 square miles in the American Southeast. I seek the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi for this purpose. I have settled on this quantity because with a population of 40-60 million, this would give us a population density commensurate with the US. I also demand 20 trillion dollars, payable in 1 trillion dollar increments as financial restitution, which would allow us to maintain and fund for 20 years a government with per capita outlays equivalent to the US government without having to tax our citizens. I do not propose an ethno-state, I believe it is crucial that such a state be established on anti-racist/ant-racialist grounds, which means we need not exclude those who are not Black, rather, while its founding population will be predominantly Black American, it will go forward as an open society rooted in the basic belief that absent a political culture rooted in subjugation, racism and racial capitalism; and with the presence of an ideology rooted in the dignity of the human personality, there is no reason that people of all colors cannot live together. I intend to lay out these principles further in a subsequent essay which is coming soon. I should make something else clear, this is not a short term solution, we will not see this in our lifetimes or in our children’s’ lifetimes. It will probably take at least 100 years to achieve this. This is no demerit, it took 100 years to slay Jim Crow and 250 years to end slavery, but, throughout that time, we had a goal which organized our efforts in creative, compelling ways. The purpose of this series of essays is to lay out how we can give ourselves a new purpose. In my second essay I will layout how we can make this homeland a reality, in my third and final one I will offer a political manifesto explaining on what intellectual principles such a state should be founded. (If you follow me on wordpress you’ll get an email when I publish them.)
As for now, let the words of our ancestors suffice for a closing: “Walk together children, don’t you get weary. There’s a great camp meeting in the promised land.”
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