WE ARE A PEOPLE
As an African American, it is painful to observe that even though the problems facing America’s “Black Communities” have been studied by innumerable scholars for decades, and various solutions have been proposed, funded and carried through to deal with some of those problems, little has changed within the “Black “ communities over the past thirty-five years. Although countless federal, state and local government dollars, as well as private funds, have been spent to prop up the image of social well-being, through makeshift social programs, they have only maintained the status quo. These programs now appear to have only lasted long enough to get young African American citizens hooked on them. This truth was revealed when many young African American adults left their neighborhoods and attempted to live on their own in the vast social organism that is America. They soon realized that, lacking a formal education, they had become too dependent on the framework of social service support to survive on their own. All the ground rules that led to social acceptance, popularity, and success in the old neighborhoods, that were propped up with social service dollars, were of little help to them in the larger world of complex cultural, social, and commercial competition. Without a social support structure to fall back on when the social service resources ran out and lacking a formal education, these young African Americans soon found themselves returning to the old neighborhoods.
Back home, without an economic base of support to help them start over, or a life preserving “Philosophy of Being” that provides focus, renewal, purpose, and a strong will-power that never quits, to fall back on, they soon become victims of the vicious cycle of poverty. This is a cycle that is perpetuated by flimsy ideological myths that capture and rob young minds of their dignity, and self-respect; locking them into a world of social, cultural, and psychological anemia. As their options become fewer and fewer, their attempts to escape their condition becomes more and more desperate. Surely there is more to life than the bittersweet harvest for our lost African American children in their search for purpose and meaning, as well as truths about themselves as a people with a past and a future in this nation.
There is a wealth of information just waiting to be given to our African American children about their place in the future of America, and about the world of ideas and dreams that constantly add more to that future. It is their inherited ideas and dreams that should be their first world of discovery before they are sent out to test themselves among other cultural ideas and dreams. One must know the history of thought of the world into which he or she has been born, and the history of thought of one’s own ancestors to fully function as a person in America. However, as may be found in any group in this country, there are harmful misteachings to African Americans about themselves, their oneness with each other, and their identity with the rest of this country. Harmful unnecessary self-inflicted insecurities must be uprooted so that all African American children’s ideas and dreams can be recognized, expanded upon, and reinforced with concepts that give the faith and courage to compete with any other individuals, on any level, in this nation.
To fulfill our group destiny as African Americans within “we the people”, I also feel that what we need is a solid foundation upon which to build for the future – a solid foundation that clearly reflects the positive ways we see each other, and the way we want others to see us as a group. But before we move away from the problems that lock us into today’s reality, we must again take a look at ourselves and examine where we have failed in our responsibilities to each other and to our children. We must always remember that we are a people with responsibilities that we cannot abandon if we want to remain “a people”.
Ask any African American child to identify his heritage and he will likely answer, “I’m Black”. Thus, out of the mouths of our children spring the first evidence and truth about our narrow vision of ourselves. The children of no other group in America will give an answer based on the color of their skin to the question of heritage. Every other group will refer to a heritage based upon religious, linguistic or ancestral history, national or geographic origins; and if they do identify their color as their heritage, we would immediately label them as racist. So, as we continue to point the finger at others, calling them racist, the truth demands that we clearly see and understand that until we seek and find another way to identify ourselves, we must share the blame for perpetuating racism in this country.
How can we expect the rest of the people of this nation to move beyond racist dialogue and rhetoric when we continually remind them of our presence in racial terms? We must see the world beyond images of color and retool the language we use in our own households. We talk to each other in terms of race. We identify our friends, acquaintances, and co-workers in terms of race rather than by personality, character traits, or cultural origin. We lock ourselves into a world of black and white, and then pass that imprisonment on to our children when we teach them to use the labels:
… This white or black guy… that black or white girl… my white or black friends, and …black or white people; this and that…
We perpetuate negative myths about ourselves by constantly bad mouthing black this and black that. And the worst is when we use the “N” word on each other. When our children hear negative expressions used against their identified heritage, they grow up with a schizophrenia towards their own identity; wanting to be proud of themselves, yet hating the ugly images of blackness and black people propped up like a ”boogey man scare crow” by all of the negative words they’ve heard against black people within their own household. Thus, we perpetuate hatred of and among ourselves. It’s ironic that even as we accuse others of racism, the core of our self-expression in this nation revolves around our racial appearance.
We can’t cure racism when we’ve turned the term into a weapon that has trapped us as well. Every time we frivolously use the term racism as a weapon to send our opponents falling back in frustration there evolves a false sense of accomplishment that robs us of the incentive to strengthen legitimate weaknesses in cultural, social and academic development necessary to build a solid foundation for future generations of African Americans. We have become trapped by our own hypocrisy by operating under a double standard of the terms use and utility.
In the absence of training at home to prepare us for the world, we feel on our own, flying by the seat of our pants, trying to navigate through a cultural environment we were not adequately trained to deal with. Surely, we may get a few pointers in school, but too many of us absorb more television than we ever absorb educational disciplines, then expect quick fix solutions to come to us as easily as they do to fantasy characters on the TV tube. Life is not as quick fixable or as easily manageable as the tube implies. Television is designed only to sell soap and not to tell the truth Life moves at a much slower pace, and patience applied towards educational discipline eventually provide more substance to life than quick remedies to boredom.
Home is where the truth is or ought to be. It is where most cultures make it or are broken apart. If all we hear at home about “black” ability are poison words and the expressed belief that others won’t allow blacks to achieve anything anyway, self-esteem withers away. When all references about people are along the color line and in racial terms, how will racism ever end? When we practice a form of racism at home, we cannot point the finger at others and tell them that it is they who must fix the culture that we all live in. We also make input into the cultural matrix that is America. The only substance we have to offer, to add to that matrix, is what we have brewed at home. The general culture will not change its attitude towards us until we have changed our attitude towards ourselves. When we called ourselves Colored, so did the general culture. When we called ourselves Negro, so did the general culture. And when we stop using racial terms to identify ourselves, and racial philosophy to instruct our children, so will the general culture.
We must identify ourselves with a concept that does not speak in racial terms or exclusively in terms of color. Yet it must be a concept that does not attempt to deny our African heritage. It must be a balanced concept that is broad based enough to include us all, and speaks from an historical perspective that tells the world who we are and how we believe in ourselves. It must be flexible enough to withstand scrutiny by all the academic doctrines and principles of “ology” and “ism” without losing its descriptive texture. And, if it is within the context of a term or a word that we have already become comfortable with but have not used to its full potential, then we can trust in its loyalty to serve our purpose and give it new life to work its magic for us.
It is a truism that states, “to find the truth one has to go the source”. This is evident in the fact that most cultural, social and religious structures are founded upon a behavioral tradition, or source myth, that their members can pay homage to; or a place of origin that their members can make pilgrimages to. Thus, they can touch physically, psychologically and emotionally the articles of faith or location that symbolized the unity of their numbers. It is the idea or the place of a home base, the homestead, the womb of a people.
Upon what do we base our true origins? Where is our philosopher stone, our idea or place of origin to pilgrimage home to, our sacred womb of comfort and shelter against adversity? How many of the old sacred myths have we retained to pass down to future generations? All we have to do is scratch gently beneath the surface of our contemporary Judeo–Christian exterior and we will find the treasures of home. If we would only listen to and cherish the words of the oldest among us, and tap into what remains of our oral tradition, we will discover many great treasures of home. After generations of living with fear and intimidation, desiring acceptance and assimilation, being ostracized and rejected, and taking out our anger at the world on each other in what amounts to racial suicide, the suppressed traits of home have been buried so deep within our broken hearts that it will take an enormous re-awakening of mind and rekindling of faith to renew our shattered dreams and rebuild our sundered world. Through it all, we have attempted to retain our spirit, our soul, our ability to put forth a broken smile as we pursue the quest for oneness amidst a growing dark and dangerous underground lifestyle and economy that is swallowing up our youth. Therefore, it is time to open our hearts to each other and discover the significance of the ideas and traits that govern the true nature of our talents and abilities. These can benefit us all, rather than leak forward in one individual after another to be grabbed up and imitated to the benefit of others while we remain divided.
There is something very profound in our nature that has given many of us the strength to persevere against the odds when the world seems closed to the majority of us. There are those among us who, early in life, need just an extra amount of nurturing and encouragement from the single person in our life who knows our potential from birth, in an almost mystical sense, to succeed. These individuals receive what they need from the only person who can add to their lives, with loving insight, the gifts needed to build an unshakable faith and an ability to handle adversity; this gift is the primary factor that strengthens them. The truth is that the secret of their strength, and ultimate success if the world, is based on the power of “a mother’s love”. As citizens of this nation, we have inherited the concepts of western culture that dictate the social interrelationships of its people to each other. Our concept of life is generally based upon the same philosophical foundation that the dominant culture has structured for itself from ideas derived from its ancestral home base. We have accepted the concept of the patriarchal authority as the guiding force that permeates the philosophical cornerstone of our lives, just like the dominant culture. But there are those among us who, sensing the absence of a matriarchal equivalent to balance out their lives, have allowed the elements of our ancestral wisdom to preserve matriarchal authority in their lives with the concept of “Mother-Love”; sometimes on a subconscious level. These invulnerable individuals have somehow been provided with the tools needed to build an unshakable faith in themselves and are able to stand up strongly against adversity because they typify the true beneficiaries of a balanced matriarchal/patriarchal set of principles, philosophies, and disciplines; the first real Quatrenal individuals in America.
Even though we as a “people” may not fully understand the significance of this discovery, what it fully reveals to those with the wisdom to see, is the hand of Creation at work in this nation. Having completely suppressed all open vestiges or matriarchal authority within his own culture, “western man” has gradually been seduced by the elements of matriarchal influences in the style and character of African culture in America.
We, who barely know ourselves, have had a profound influence on the cultural, spiritual and historical dynamics of this nation… who are we? We have been called the force that directs the “conscience of this nation”. What is it that we need to know about ourselves to fully understand our true influence, our true purpose in this country, so that we can make a conscious effort to benefit ourselves as well as the entire nation?
Today we follow the mother principle in our spiritual expression, in our social and cultural expressions, and in our psychological expression, all the way down to the subconscious level. We instinctively started this behavior when we were exposed to the fact that in this country male authority offered by the father principle was forbidden to our fathers. When our fathers were unable to protect their wives, sons and daughters from abuse, we turned to our mothers. We had little choice because our father principle was brutally torn from us. But, for those who steadfastly maintain a self-imposed article of faith regarding both matriarchal and patriarchal disciplines, prosperity appears to come easier. An example is the Oriental cultures. The problem arises when we try to deny our inner thoughts and take on a prescribed manner of concepts and ideas that we know little about or cannot fully comprehend. We can relate to and identify with that which incorporates all that is familiar to us, both consciously and subconsciously; and as much as we love and identify with our fathers, our mothers are our guiding light.
The nature of our truth appears to be that after the essence of African American male power and authority was brutally and systematically suppressed to the level of juvenile dependence (with the brutalization of our strong patriarchs, and the elimination their ways of worship), our matriarchs were sanctioned to ascend and fill the power vacuum of adult authority left vacant within African American culture. Therefore, America has unconsciously created its very own matriarchal culture (we are that culture) within the dominant patriarchal society.
But the question remains, who were we before we came to this country, and who are we destined to become? Guided by a new faith in ourselves and a new philosophy of being that gives us balance in the midst of all the chaos that shapes our world today, we must grow to the level of Quatrenal beings and openly work with Creation to merge the best qualities of the uniquely African American matriarchal culture with the best qualities of the prevailing patriarchal culture to consciously revolutionize and steady the course of America’s future. This will bring about a true “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. This is our destiny!
On the banks of the river Niger, there grows a tree. To the African Priest/Priestess, this tree represents the “Tree of Life”. The choicest wood from these trees is deep dark, very heavy, and hard and comes from the heartwood only. Wood from these trees was used by the Ancient Egyptians to pay a tribute to the Persian Empire every three years because it was considered divine and sacred. As sacred wood it was used by Kings around the world to make thrones, scepters and images of themselves and their deities. And, because it was believed to neutralize poison, this wood was also used for drinking cups. Thus, as a sacred symbol, the “Tree of Life” came to represent the life of a people, our ancestors, the “Nubian” people. From “Nubian” to “Nebone”, to “Ebone”, and today “Ebony”, all of these names relate to us and to the tree that symbolized the faith of our ancestors.
The “Ebony Tree” has been the symbol of a sacred covenant between our ancestors and their deity <God>, both male and female manifestations, since the beginning of civilization. This tree represented the old and ever-present “Life Force of God” in something that outlived generations of men and women. It stood by vigilantly as generations passed beneath it, and it contributed greatly to the wealth and welfare of generations when sacrificed for their benefit. Our ancestors believed in a symbiotic relationship between themselves and the Life Force of the Ebony Tree. And, perhaps it is not just a curious coincidence of nature that has placed the tree in areas of the world predominately inhabited by dark skin people.
There are several varieties of Ebony Trees throughout Africa, particularly West Africa. There are two varieties of American Ebony; one is found in the West Indies and is also called the Jamaican Ebony; the other is called the American Persimmon Tree, found predominately in the Southeastern United States. The question is, were these western trees there before our ancestors arrived or did they bring the seeds over as a way to perpetuate their culture under slavery conditions?
The “Tree of Life” – the Ebony Tree – could once again become the cultural symbol that it once was to us, and act as a psychological focal point for us to identify with. Because, like the tree, we were uprooted and sold as a commercial commodity, then replanted in a foreign land to be shaped, tooled, and cut into cultural conveniences. We are the “Ebony People”. We are the “Ebonese”, the “Ebonite”, the “Ebonal”. We believe in “Ebonism”, and “Ebonalism”, and we should research and teach the study of “Ebonology”.
From the African perspective, religion (Ebonism or Ebonalism) is centered more in mankind than God or nature. Man has within his own power all the means for a happy and significant life. We cannot beseech the Creator to miraculously provide for our flippant and frivolous appetites that change according to popular notions. As the “Children of God” we must turn to each other, seeking to recognize the inherent particle of divine nature within each of us, so that we may work to discover the best way to enhance our growth and maturity as individuals and within relationships.
From Newell S Booth Jr.’s book, An Approach to African Religions (African Religions, A Symposium, “Africa’s gift to the world culture”, according to Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, “must be in the realm of human relationships... we in Africa have always had a gift for enjoying Man for himself. It is at the heart of our traditional culture… the universe is basically good… great forces are at work striving to bring together a greater unity of all living things… through cooperation with these forces, man will achieve all of which he is capable.”
Newell Booth’s book goes on to say, “In Africa, God or the gods, seem to exist ‘for man’… not in an individualistic humanistic sense, but in a communal (community or group) humanism. The whole is that which is considered ‘holy’. The problems of the community occur when and where there are breakdowns in relationships, and the ‘well-being’ of the community depends on the ‘well-being’ of each individual and the preservation or restoration of individual relationships”.
In a world dominated by debate between liberal and conservative, the Ebonese Concept represents the “Third Way”. As a social philosophy, it offers a reappraisal of individual verses group responsibility and places responsibility on both “equally”. As a political philosophy, responsibility for individual human security is seen as a step by step process beginning with the individual’s efforts to prepare for adult responsibilities at early adolescence through personal achievement towards a “rite of passage” from superficial activities and interests to exceptional common sense wisdom and logic. As a religious philosophy, the Ebonese concept represents the “here and now” because it does not focus on other worldly pursuits, but deals first with the human condition on earth. However, in the new 21st Century “Quatrenal” reality, the Trinity is expanded by one dimension to include humankind. Therefore, the new Quatrenal religious reality is expressed through the Father, the Mother, the Holy Spirit, and the Children of God; we are the children. Rather than viewing the Quatrenal as a distant theological concept of faith, the Ebonese Concept of Quatrenal religion places us directly inside one of the cornerstones of the foundation of God’s Work as expressed through Creation here on earth. We become “at one” with the “Life Force” and become a living symbol of faith in Creation itself. By doing so, we then can no longer escape the responsibilities that go with the territory. Our lives will then become directed towards doing honor to our true “Holy Parents” in the work that we do here on earth, and at the same time, we honor ourselves and each other by working to honor Creation instead of doing work based on guilt provocation.
As the “Children of God”, we celebrate life as a gift of love and act in accordance with that gift in all things we do. By sharing that gift with others, we become responsible for the wellbeing of the community and for the wellbeing of the nation. Yet we need not give up our individual freedom to secure the interests of the whole. We must see that we give equal care to self as to others. The ideal of mutual benefit is the key to the success of the Ebonese Concept, as well as active mutual responsibility. As the Children within Quatrenality we can clearly see that the purpose of our being is more than transitory in nature, and that there is no limit to the full scope of our ultimate potential. We represent the Life Force that has existed since the beginning of time. We are the reflective element of the Life Force, empowered by God to call out His/Her name to give focus and direction to His/Her love.
Today we use only about 10% of our brain’s capacity. How and for what are we to use the other 90% of our brain. The fact that we still have 90% more brain capacity than we are currently using should prove the point that Creation expects a whole lot more from us than we are currently giving back.
Each of us, according to the deeds that we do, has the potential to come of age and go into conscious service to our "Holy Parents" as mature souls capable of fulfilling the needs of Creation. We begin this journey by reclaiming our identity through the Ebonese Concept, and when we pray, we can conclude our prayers individually in the name of:
African Americans in the 21st Century
We are A People
The Pot and the Kettle
The Nature of Our Truth
The Ebonese Concept
AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
THE NATURE OF OUR TRUTH
THE POT AND THE KETTLE
THE EBONESE CONCEPT
Part I: Amerca, Who Are We?
Part II: An Answer
... The Father/Mother... The Son... The Holy Spirit... and the children of God, of which I am one... Amen.
TO BE CONTINUED
We are a people, a people whose lives are so indelibly woven into the fabric of this nation that we must recognize the fact that we are a necessary ingredient for the success of this nation’s pledge, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. God works in His/Her own mysterious way and the fact remains that we are here. We may despise the way in which most of our ancestors arrived in this country, but given the history of the times, the odds for us arriving in such large numbers in any other way were rather slim. Since before Biblical time slavery has been an overt world phenomena whereby men could legally own other humans who were of different stock than themselves, especially if the difference was along the color line. The horror and brutality of those times still extend their residue into our lives today in subtler forms of racism, exerted upon us from without as well as from within our own members. But the truth of our presence lies deep. It goes deeper than the surface perception of our lives today. We serve as more than just a constant reminder of this nation’s past sins and future obligations. Only by looking through the long range vision of the eyes of time itself can we see that we were chosen by our Creator to participate in His/Her plan for the future of this nation, and its ultimate influence upon this world and heavens around us.
We are the living Ark – the people of these United States of America, a collection of people and cultures from around the world. The merging of our minds and of our dreams and even the stock of our genetic inheritance from around the world into one nation is part of the unique blessing upon this nation state that we too often overlook and take for granted. But we can make no mistake about it when we clearly see this nation for what it was created for. We are all here because we all belong here, and it is time to fashion a new understanding of our presence and of our obligation to ourselves, each other, and to this country that we all call home.
Therefore, as Black Americans, it is time for each of us to examine our present lives individually, and see ourselves through the clear eyes that only a wise man or woman is capable of looking through. We must look beyond all the barriers to ultimate truth and free thought, and especially beyond the prejudices that have been inserted layer upon layer into our minds so carefully since childhood by the formal and informal institutional dogmas that govern our lives today. We have grown beyond the frightened infant, beyond the dependent child, beyond the angry-rebellious adolescent, and especially beyond the rationalizing adult. We must look beyond and through the very thought that governs the pain that is uniquely our own and search for higher truths that allow for a new understanding of our existence in this nation no matter how difficult or distasteful this concept may appear to us, because by doing so we will then experience a catharsis for our consciousness as a people. Thus we open up our minds for a profound new meaning and understanding to emerge. By doing so, we will finally give an exalted response to the millions of tears shed by all our ancestors when they cried out…“help me Lord, help me understand this pain”… while enduring great pain and suffering for the gain of their children and future unborn generations. We are the living beneficiaries of their sacrifices, and we must act to insure that their sacrifices were not in vain. By doing so, we then create a new conscious cohesion and a new cultural unity among ourselves that seeds the beginning of the true search for the mystery that is ourselves, based on today’s potential rather than on yesterday’s disinformation about what we aren’t supposed to be able to accomplish as individuals and as a people. The search into that mystery, although quite controversial, could potentially become the most enlightening episode of our history – with the manifestation of more truths about us than we’ve ever imagined or attempted to bring into our lives. A good and healthy family debate about the true nature of our role in the future of this nation as it relates to the rest of the world of nations and our identity among ourselves and others within that role is a necessary process. And in that process, we needn’t practice any method of disinformation about others as we pursue the truth about who we are and who we are prepared to become.
It is never easy to seek out truths, because real truths do not come easy, and great truths are not revealed by reason alone. God – given truths are never given, they are “won” by those who are daring and courageous enough to seek them.