This is the first of a three part series outlining a plan for
the future - a political strategy for African Americans and
Progressives to move forward in America.
1 - Spiritual/Psychological Dimensions of Our Struggle
as I am about the possibilities of electing an African-American
as President, I also recognize that the primary question for
us is what are WE going to do after the election. Even,
if Barack’s call for “Change” were based on a foundation of
progressive policies (which it isn’t from my perspective), we
would still need a strategy to move us forward. Given
the psychological and material effects of slavery and neo slavery,
progressive government policies and programs should not be viewed
as the complete answer to our problems.
me be more specific. We have spent two hundred years in
slavery and experienced another two hundred years of hostile
toleration and a brutality bordering on terrorism. Obviously,
such an experience has had devastating effects—psychological
and material. Thus, while challenging the white society
to acknowledge and change the oppressive policies and practices
that keep racism and its partner, economic exploitation, alive
and well, we also have to develop a strategy to cope with the
internalized oppression, anxiety, and depression that result
from a four hundred year denial of our humanity.
up opportunities has been the paramount objective of our struggle,
particularly during the last 50 years of our struggle.
However, if we believe consciously or subconsciously that we
are valueless; if we believe that our problems primarily stem
from our own deficiencies; if we believe that the white society
is all powerful; if we in effect accept the negative definition
of us held by society, then it is unrealistic for us to expect
to have the energy necessary to create the internal and external
change that must take place in order for the dreams of our ancestors
to become a reality.
what follows, I will outline a framework of thought regarding
a strategy for liberation from our internal and external oppression.
I will begin by examining the psychological/spiritual aspects
of our struggle for liberation; I will then focus on organizing
strategies; and finally focus on a political agenda for change
at the federal level, drawing on the ideas that provided the
focus for Dr. King’s Poor People’s March. I put this forward
Not as the blueprint for our future struggle but as A framework
for thinking about what we need to do and how to do it.
Dimensions of Our Struggle For Liberation:
view of the confusion regarding psychology and spirituality,
trying to define an approach to these issues for us as a people
is a daunting if not foolhardy task. However, it is essential
given the psychological/spiritual malaise, which I believe envelops
us as a cloud - especially our younger people. To begin
the discussion, I think we all would agree that a person’s view
of herself or himself as well as the person’s vision of her/his
relationship with others guide the choices that we make. I think
that we also would agree that popular culture’s definition of
us and our relationship to others play a significant role in
the way we view ourselves.
as African-Americans, we have a serious psychological dilemma
to resolve if we are to overcome the effects of our experience
in what Elijah called, “The wilderness of North America”. Simply
stated, the dilemma is how to transcend the paralyzing psychological,
mental, and spiritual impacts of the doctrine of WHITE MALE
SUPREMACY. No one can question the pervasiveness of this doctrine
not only in this country but also across the world. In fact,
from my perspective, the Christian culture (particularly the
right wing variety), social Darwinism, and even Marxism reinforce
the doctrine of White Male Supremacy.
me explain what I mean. As a child, I had great trouble
understanding how white people could teat us the way they did,
given their claims to be Christians. As I grew older,
I learned that the story of Ham being cursed because he looked
on the nakedness of his father Noah was the rationale given
by Christians to explain our enslavement. If you want to test
my theory regarding the story of Ham, take a minute and Google
Ham and Slavery and see what you get. As ridiculous as it seems,
I think we are treading on thin ice to disregard the impact,
conscious and subconscious, of this mythology.
me cite an even clearer example of Christianity’s reinforcement
of White Male Supremacy. Compare biblical descriptions of Jesus
as having hair as wool and feet of burnished brass to western
pictorial representations and then answer whether you believe
Christianity has whitewashed Jesus. If Jesus Christ, our Savior
is white, what does that say about our relationship as black
people to white people in general and white males in particular?
Darwin’s theories on evolution flowed from his research on plant
and animal life. Through his studies, he developed the theory
that there is a struggle that goes on in nature that leads to
a process of natural selection where the fittest survive.
While Darwin focused on biological evolution in the plant and
animal world, others such as Spencer and Malthus used his theories
and their research to develop the concept of social Darwinism.
is, social Darwinism was the projection onto the human species
of the survival of the fittest theories developed through Darwin’s
investigations of the plant and animal world. Thus, scientific
theories of evolution joins fundamentalist Christian belief
and popular Christian imagery
in affirming the thought that the Doctrine of White Male Supremacy
is rooted in the nature of life and its processes. From
this perspective I find the fight between “evolution’ and “intelligent
design” fascinating given that the similarity between the racial
perspectives that flow from both. That is, while science
and religion may disagree about the origin of life, they both
project the idea of the innate supremacy of White Men and the
innate inferiority of Black people.
will reject my claim that Marxist ideology reinforces the doctrine
of White Male Supremacy. They will point to Marx’s utopian
writings. They will point to the countries of color where
the leadership follows Marxist doctrine (despite the accusation
of racism in the Cuban government). They will note the focus
on Marxist theory of the dialectical process in nature that
impels an evolutionary struggle by the oppressed against the
I don’t deny the above or other arguments that might be made,
Marx also envisioned a leadership class, enlightened by struggle,
which would use their totalitarian power to lead people to a
utopian society. Marx’s denial of Acton’s dictum that
“…absolute power corrupts absolutely” not only led to the development
of a world movement controlled by whiter men who viewed their
adoption of Marxian philosophy as justification for behavior
at least as brutal as their capitalist foes but also to a subtle
reinforcement from the left of the doctrine of “White Male Supremacy”.
it doesn’t matter whether you look to the right with its religious
overtones, to the center with its scientific certitude, or to
the left with its utopian vision, they all reaffirm the modern
version of the concept of the divine right of kings—White Male
Supremacy. The purpose in the above analysis is to help
us understand that it is not only white popular culture—music,
movies, etc. that reinforce the concept of White Male Supremacy
but also the religious, scientific, and both right wing and
left wing political perspectives. That is, you can run
but you can’t hide from the concept—it surrounds us like air.
create new realities that continuously challenge our historical
subservience to oppression rooted in the doctrine of White Male
Supremacy, we must as a people break the psychological and mental
hold of this pernicious doctrine. It is an ideology designed
to convince us that we have no other choice than to accept our
natural inferiority as well as our dependence and subservience
on a society controlled by a people who continuously displays
its disdain for us.
question is how to achieve liberation from this destructive
ideology. Some may argue that religion is the key.
However, as pointed
out, Christian religion and as well as the institutional Black
church historically have reinforced the doctrine of the supremacy
of the white culture and urged submission to the authority of
oppressors as part of the Christina message. Many black
ministers viewed even Dr. King as a renegade. Thus Christianity
and the institutional Black church are often at war with the
self-affirming messages emanating form our internal centers
of spiritual energy.
may argue that education is the key. Yet, how do children,
inundated by messages of inferiority even within the educational
institutions and their pedagogies, summon the spiritual, intellectual,
and psychological energy necessary for transforming information
into knowledge? Since educational systems are designed
to initiate the children into the knowledge and value system
of the society, it is clear that at this stage of development
of this country, it is unrealistic to look to the educational
system, public and private as the seedbed of our internal liberation.
As I will discuss later, we need our own education centers that
will help us rediscover ourselves.
on my own research over the last forty years, I suggest
that there is a rich store of information in print, which supports
a view of reality that is significantly different than the ones
described above. Simply put this “Gnosis”—this body of
knowledge—asserts that as human beings we are evolving.
However, while Darwin’s research focused primarily on the biological
aspects of evolution, Gnosticism focuses on the evolution of
consciousness as well as biological evolution.
fact, from a Gnostic perspective, the purpose of life is to
enable the life forms on earth, and the solar system as a whole,
to expand our consciousness. By consciousness, I mean
our awareness of the multilayer energy dimensions of our environment,
our interactions with these many dimensions, the development
of the ability to create within these dimensions, and finally
to retain memory of our interactions and our reaction to them
that enable us to be creators within the various energy dimensions.
our present stage of development, from a Gnostic perspective,
we as human beings have developed a consciousness of the world
of physical energy and how to use it to create new realities.
In addition, we are in the process of building a consciousness
of the worlds of emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.
In other words, Gnostic doctrine agrees with the principles
of modern physics, which assert that we are part of a system
of moving energy of varying densities. From a Gnostic
perspective, the purpose of human life as well as that of all
other life forms is to move from consciousness of the physical
world and how to use physical energy creatively to a consciousness
of all other levels of energy—etheric, psychological, mental,
and spiritual—and develop the capacity to use these energies
share the above not with the thought that my readers will say
“That’s Right”. In fact, given the lack of familiarity
with the Gnostic perspective I can understand the emotional
and intellectual resistance to the above. However, I believe
that we all can agree that our present system of education,
public and private, was developed on and continues to rely on
the foundation of the ideology of White Male Supremacy.
Therefore, as we struggle to achieve “freedom” from the effects
of slavery and neo slavery, it makes sense that we explore worldviews
other than those that have supported our oppression as well
as the oppressions of others.
2 (Organizing Objectives) of this 3 part series will appear
next week (June 12, 2008).
Editorial Board member,Chuck Turner is a Boston
City Council member and founder of the Fund the Dream campaign.
He is the Chair of the Council’s Human Rights Committee, and
Vice Chair of the Hunger and Homelessness Committee. Click
here to contact Councilmember Turner.