Who are We? A Question of Identity

I’d like to think that my essays/articles have meaning or resonate with a wide circle of reasonable people. However, my unashamed focus is always on helping Black people in particular to “Wake up, Clean up, and Stand up!” 

Throughout my life, I’ve addressed in one way or another- via activism or scholarship – the issues of economics, politics, incarceration, police brutality, fratricide, Black Nationalism, corporate exploitation, nation building and other pertinent issues to the Black community.

It is truly difficult to rank such issues in order of significance. And yet the issue of who we are as a people and how we identify ourselves, is surely one of the most important, given that it directly impacts all of the others.

On Monday April 11, 2016 Harlem Liberation School will host a panel discussion to address this issue of group identity. Our three panelists have distinguished themselves as resources on this topic, through intense study, writing, presenting and lived experience, or any combination of the above. While all three were/are “God Body,” or adherents of the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, each panelist brings a slightly different perspective to the identity discussion.

Brother Laheen Allah, learned much of his information while enduring more than a decade of captivity in the U.S. prison system. While others spent vasts amounts of time in other pursuits, Laheen educated himself in the library, and gained an impressive knowledge of sociology, law,  history and psychology. He is now working to finish a book on criminology in which he offers his own theories about why Black people commit crime, along with methods to rehabilitate them. 

Born M. Allah, a highly respected community organizer and educator, teaches biology from a Black consciousness perspective, owns a music entertainment group, and approaches the question of identity from a historical and  scientific perspective. 

 

sharif debateBrother Sharif Anael Bey, a member of Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science Temple of America, is a longtime martial arts practitioner/instructor, and founder of “Ali’s Men,” a group of lecturers, researchers and writers around the country that specialize in Moorish Science history. More recently, Sharif has distinguished himself as a much sought after debater on the topics of history and identity. One day before the panel discussion at Harlem Liberation School, Sharif will debate the popular Afrocentric street scholar Brother Reggie, at the National Black Theater in Harlem.

Clearly, we cannot underestimate the importance of group identity. For this reason, and because we want to avoid the insults and combativeness that often occur in the street debate culture, Harlem Liberation School is proud to host a conversation on April 11, 2016 focusing on identity.

We expect all panelists to present their perspectives on the subject, support their perspective with facts and reason, and do so in the spirit of respect and community learning.

I should emphasize that our objective is to challenge and broaden our community understanding about how we identify ourselves, the factors that constitute individual and group identity, and ways to identify ourselves that are empowering and self-determining. I do hope you will consider attending this free event.

My own thoughts on this subject are as follows:

1. Identity is an issue of self-determination. This means we have the power to choose how we identify ourselves. Regardless of how well we argue our point, or our own beliefs, the bottom line is that everyone has the power to choose how they define themselves.

2. Ideally, our choice concerning identity should be informed and empowering. We can certainly choose to identify ourselves as “Thots,” “Gangsters,” “Bitches,” or “Niggas.” The questions then become: Are these identities empowering? Do they liberate us or contribute to enslaving us? Do they represent the best of ourselves, or the ugliest factions of our character? Do they produce and encourage confidence and love, or humiliation and self-hate? These questions and their implications are amplified for we Black descendants of Africa who’ve been systematically taught that we are nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing. I believe that we should identify ourselves in ways that unite us, benefit us and empower us. Identify is a matter of choice, and is relative, but it is by no means neutral. When we identify ourselves, we consciously or unconsciously align ourselves with some things, and detach ourselves from others. It is in fact, a political choice.

3. Several factors impact how we identify ourselves. We can choose to identify ourselves based on geography/place of origin, language, race, gender, religion, and political ideology to name a few. The issue of identity is not simplistic, but complicated. This also implies that identity is not fixed but fluid, which goes back to the first point. This is why we are advised not to impose our views of identity, but to educate people on the issue so they can make informed and empowered choices.

4. We should be careful about adopting the identities of those who subjugate us. At the risk of insulting some brothers and sisters (which is not my intention), I don’t understand why we identify ourselves as Muslim, Christian, American, French, or any other designation of our enemies who imposed these identities upon us. These identities are not neutral; they come with values, and a imperialist history replete with colonization, forced conversion, and persecution. In the case of religion for example, we must stop erasing historical record. These major religions some of us subscribe to, in fact, stole much of their mythology and doctrine from African civilizations then distorted them. These religions also work to serve and benefit white supremacy. These religions were not indigenous to ancient Africa; They were imposed upon us, often at the penalty of death. 

5. I interchangeably identify myself as “African” and/or “Black.” “People of Color” is a vague term born from the politics of multiculturalism. It does not unite people around a common experience. “African-American” is a compromised term that attempts to fuse our African origin with an American nationality. But I do not view myself as “American.” That red, white, and blue flag and those representing it, did everything imaginable to mistreat, exploit and murder us. Africa is our motherland from which we were snatched and dispersed all over the world. It connects us to a rich land base and even richer history and culture of values and practices. “Black” refers to our phenotype, color or race. It is the essence from which all other hues come. It is genetically dominant, and an all-encompassing term we can use to unify our people around the world. However, despite what I believe, I still recognize that our people have to choose identity for themselves.

6. We may never be able to determine a historical identity with precision. Are we Moors, Kemites, Hebrews, Asiatics, Muslims? The answer is not definitive. Because of lost or destroyed historical records, and contemporary limitations of archaeology, it may be impossible to say with precision who we are historically. We can say with authority that we are the original people of the Earth that created civilizations which have benefitted all of humanity. We can say that our people have been among the world’s most creative, influential and underappreciated. We can say that we are some of the world’s most resilient people, having survived and overcome the most horrific and enduring forms of oppression. Perhaps those realizations might suffice for now. Whatever identity we claim should make us loving toward each other, unified, productive and confident, and help us to be purposeful, forward-thinking and powerful. 

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment. He is the founder and coordinator of Harlem Liberation School.

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

What’s the Big Deal about “Knowledge of Self?”

It is a phrase many Black activists and Hip Hop artists use with almost obsessive regularity. Indeed, the phrase “Knowledge of Self,” joins other terms in the pantheon of Black expressions that have become cliche.

But exactly what is knowledge of self, what does it refer to, and why is it so important that we Black folk acquire it?

We should begin by noting that the knowledge of self idea is not new. In ancient Kemet (Egypt), initiates in the “mystery schools” learned the phrase “Man know thyself and you will know the universe.” Early Black Nationalist pioneers like Noble Drew Ali and Marcus Garvey urged Black folk to know our history as early as 1913. Groups like the Nation of Islam (via Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and Khalid Muhammad) and its offshoot, the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths (via Clarence 13x), popularized this idea in the mid-20th century.

The $1 million questions at this point are: “What exactly is knowledge of self,” and “What do we gain by having it?”

“Knowledge of self” refers primarily to empowering information about our past. This includes: our geographic origins, our ancient values and culture, our accomplishments, and even our defeats and miscalculations.

More specifically, a Black person demonstrates knowledge of self when he/she:

  • Acknowledges Africa as the cradle of world civilization.
  • Acknowledges the pivotal role Africa played in the development of spirituality, law, music, astronomy, mathematics, education, technology, architecture, agriculture, etc. Furthermore, people with knowledge of self understand that European development in all its forms, was facilitated, borrowed or stolen from African ingenuity, knowledge or labor.
  • Realizes that African civilization/contibutions to humanity, were deliberately attacked, omitted and trivialized by Euopeans.
  • Understands how and why  Black ancestors were enslaved, assaulted and discriminated against by whites all over the world.
  • Develops pride and meaning from the past accomplishments, struggles and treatment of their ancestors.
  • Is familiar with, references and respects Black leaders and organizations of the past who fought to advance and protect Black people and interests.

It is important to note that one’s “knowledge of self” is relative to each individual. Some know more than others, can articulate this knowledge better than others, or embrace and manifest this knowledge more than others. Thus we must realize that this term means and manifests itself in different ways to different people.

Now we must grapple with the question of “Why is it so important that Black people have knowledge of self?” Those familiar with my “Wizard of Oz” framework, understand that the characters (Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man), represent archetypes of people who are lost, believe themselves unintelligent, fearful, and ruthless/inhumane). Don’t you know brothers and sisters who seem lost and disconnected, feel themselves incompetent and “dumb,” act like cold-hearted thugs, or who refuse to exert leadership and authority? Of course you do!

Knowledge of one’s Black self has the potential to heal those in our community who have been taught (and who believe) they are nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing. Having a strong grasp of our history is both a shield against such propaganda, and a weapon we can use to challenge and dismantle it.

Lastly, knowing one’s history is not just a matter of developing pride or of healing damaged psyches; It also equips us to accurately understand our problems, identify their causes, and develop blueprints and remedies to liberate ourselves. For this reason, knowledge actually is NOT power; It is POTENTIAL POWER. Knowledge of self is only relevant if it empowers an individual and leads that individual to empower and liberate others.

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment. He is the founder and coordinator of Harlem Liberation School and National Director of Education for Souljahs of the People.

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Understanding Black Consciousness

consciousness1

I have presented at several panel discussions around the topic of “Black Consciousness.” The term – like many – has become cliche and oversimplified.

Naturally, any term we use with such regularity has great meaning for us. The key is to decipher that meaning clearly.

Simply put, “Consciousness” refers to being alert and aware. When Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao in their fourth fight, Pacquiao was un-conscious. At that moment and for a few moments later, the Filipino boxer was unresponsive, his senses shut down and he could not accurately sense his environment.

When a person is in a comatose state, he or she is in a prolonged and indefinite state of unconsciousness. The person is unaware of outside events and cannot respond to their external environment. You can tickle a knockout victim or comatose person and he/she will not move, giggle or say “Stop.” Nor do either of these persons know where they are, what time it is, or their own name and address.

Conversely, Black consciousness describes a state of awareness and vitality among Black people. Those with it know their name and address: who they are and where they come from (identity). They are aware of their surroundings also. They know they live in a world, nation or city that is racist and that mistreats and devalues people like themselves. They also know that the laws or expectations held for others don’t apply to them equally.

For this reason, they are skeptical of the nation’s laws and of law enforcement officers. They are aware that they may likely face discrimination in the workforce, at the supermarket, and in various areas of human activity.

To some degree, conscious folk become reborn or “unplugged” from the propaganda, illusions and false education forced upon them since birth. View the clip from the Matrix below:

But consciousness is not simply about being alert; one is also responsive. Grope (hypothetically of course) an unconscious woman you are not intimately involved with, and she will offer no resistance and no response. Do the same to a woman who is conscious, and be prepared to duck or run!

Therefore, the second criteria of being conscious is that we respond or react to our environment appropriately or in our own best interests.

Knowing that the system of white supremacy miseducates, degrades, mistreats, imprisons, deprives and kills us, Black people with consciousness respond appropriately. We educate ourselves, develop pride in our culture and history, protect ourselves via legal or other means, and rally, protest, organize, build independent institutions and generally resist our mistreatment.

In other words, conscious Black people speak up, analyze and attempt to solve their problems, value their experiences and perspectives and give serious thought to the political and economic world around them. They are active agents of their liberation and empowerment!

Even in situations where outside oppression does not exist, conscious people still respond intelligently to their environment based on their proactive needs and interests.

Let us imagine that the U.S. system of public education did not have an agenda to dumb down our children, make them ultra-patriotic and sympathetic to imperialist policies, have them defend the empire through joining its military branches, or teach them to be compliant semi-skilled workers for corporations (you require a grand imagination indeed). If a disproportionate number of Black students failed to complete high school or were severely deficient in reading for example, conscious Black parents, educators and community leaders would determine this situation damaging to the future lives of Black children. Moreover, they would likely conduct their own investigations to determine why so many Black children were failing academically, and develop a number of interventions or remedies for this these problems.

How does a person become “conscious?

Everyone’s path to consciouness is unique; some experience and are personally affected by injustice or discrimination. Others become conscious as a result of his/ her studies. Many reach a level of consciousness from a combination of these factors or by observing/participating in an incident that profoundly moves them.

Consciousness has analytical and corrective dimensions

A brother or sister that has become conscious in a particular arena will by definition become analytical of people and developments in that arena, and ultimately, become involved in improving conditions, articulating the problem, exposing those

Malcolm X- A staunch proponent of Black Consciousness, he challenged Blacks to reexamine their standards of beauty and truth.

responsible for oppression, or organizing the oppressed.

There are many roles to play, and room enough to accommodate people with different skill sets, interests and opinions. Everyone is empowered to become involved as they deem fit and to become agents of change in his/her community.

We must also recognize that all theories are not accurate, all strategies are not effective, and all conscious people or projects are not genuine!!

A good way to think of consciousness is to think of it as a keen vision or ability to see power and oppression clearly and the willingness to become active in movements, projects or organizations to produce constructive change and social justice.

The movie “They Live” provides an excellent metaphor for becoming conscious. The main character finds a pair of shades, which change his vision, causing him to literally “see things differently” and more accurately than most people around him.

When he wears the glasses, he can see the truth behind things everyone else takes for granted. This is similar to how one feels as he/she develops consciousness and begins to see with new eyes….. In similar fashion, true consciousness leads people to transform their thinking, habits, and values for the betterment of themselves, their families, and their communities. If you are not transformed and renewed for the better, you may be informed, but you are most definitely not conscious.

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment.

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Conversation Between the Devil and His Advocates

One day, not long ago,  the devil had an executive board meeting  with his devil’s advocates (those agencies/institutions that enforce and implement the wicked plan of deception, exploitation, confusion, injustice and death).

Though generally pleased with their work on his behalf, he wasn’t satisfied, and wanted an opportunity to chastise, reprimand and re-motivate his advocates. Hollywood, Education, Law Enforcement, Religion, the Political Establishment, Prison Industrial Complex, Media, Music Industry, and Negro Leadership were all in attendance (The Devil allowed the Financial and Medical Industries to miss the meeting since he believed that those advocates performed their duties flawlessly.) The conversation went something like this:

The Devil :The Black masses are waking up again, speaking out, learning who they are and resisting MY agenda. This is unacceptable! Their knowledge and resistance is costing me MONEY and CONTROL!! I have appointed all of you as my advocates and I expect you to maintain my dominion over the people or ELSE! Have your forgotten your objectives? Each of you reaffirm your allegiance to me by stating your assigned roles….NOW!

Entertainment Industry: “We keep them sedated and distracted so they don’t focus on their mistreatment, and persuade them to live vicariously through fictional characters.”

Education: “We teach them to obey and defend your authority without resisting it, accept their place as inferior workers in your system, and submit to you for the attainment of power, happiness and prosperity. We also encourage them to disconnect from their history and culture and seek answers and direction from you.”

Law Enforcement: “We monitor them, whip their ass, imprison them, intimidate them, and occasionally murder them, to keep them from resisting you.”

The Religious establishment: “We keep them wandering in mythology, looking for an external God rather than tapping into the God-force in themselves, and keep them focused on the afterlife rather than life on Earth.We persuade them to do your will while thinking they are doing THE ALL’S will. We make them your self-righteous, mindless and contradictory servants.

Political establishment: “We create international conflicts, unjust laws and restrictive rules to keep them fearful, impoverished, powerless, and fragmented. We also give them the illusion that they have input in decision-making, and confuse them into thinking that some of us care about their issues and interests.”

Prison Industrial Complex: “We re-enslave them courtesy of the 13th Amendment,  exploit their labor like we did that of their ancestors, and make them more effective and powerful community predators.”

Media: “We tell the lies you give us in order to help you manipulate people’s decisions and behavior through fear and ignorance. We will also determine who/what their enemies are, and teach them to live vicariously through the powerful rather than to become powerful themselves. We will do all in our power to make people with actual solutions and accurate analysis seem foolish and/dangerous. We heighten division and make sure that the habit of independent and critical thinking  never gains acceptance or popularity among the masses.”

Military: “We teach them to love/serve you, and resent those attempting to organize and liberate them. We use them to help us implement and enforce your global imperialist agenda. We help to destabilize countries and neutralize international leaders or groups that resist your will. We use them to do your dirty work AND kill many of them in the process.”

Music industry: “We use the powerful energies of sound and suggestion to fill the people with bitterness, self-directed violence, counterproductive priorities, and criminal desires, all while making money from them doing so. We call this “Operation Pied Piper.”

Negro Leadership: “We betray their liberation interests while making them think we are fighting for them. We encourage them to vent without effecting challenging and overcoming your rule. We give them the feeling of making progress and resisting your authority, without actually doing so.”

The Devil : “Yes….and don’t you EVER forget it! I need more slaves, confused and crushed spirits, mindless robots, bitter and apathetic followers, and submissive workers.  I need them to submit to me and reject THE ALL…..They must NEVER know their power or become Souljahs of the People! Now get back to work, NOW!!

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment. He is the National Director of Education for the organization, “Souljahs of the People.”

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Why The Negroes Suffer

black fist

This blog does not contain much writing. Today I’m using poetry to get points across. Some of you may know I’ve been an educator, author and activist, but many don’t know that I grew up in Harlem as an aspiring Hip Hop emcee. I wrote rhymes, practiced all the time, and really took it seriously. Most of my high school buddies thought I would eventually become a famous rap artist. In fact, two of my high school classmates and friends did become well-known artists. You know them as “Fatman Scoop” and “Diamond D.” But as I became older and more disenchanted with the violent and minstrel-like direction of Hip Hop, I moved away from being an emcee and evolved into more of a spoken word poet.

Please watch the video below to hear me perform my poem entitled, “This is My Thesis” or “Why the Negroes Suffer.” It provides a summarized and abbreviated sense of my political views. It is more dynamic of course, when I perform in before a crowd either at a poetry open-mic night or as an opening to a speech. Therefore, this rendition is not as dynamic or energetic, but content wise, it stills gets the points across.

In a larger sense, the poem provides a simplified but (in my opinion) valid critique of white supremacy while offering a sociological analysis of why and how Black people are oppressed, in addition to how we Black people unfortunately internal the negative messages about ourselves and contribute to our own victimization.

There are some minor uses of profanity, and I sometimes use the N word to convey meaning. Please be mindful of this if viewing at work, in a formal environment, and around young people.

I encourage you to share this on your social media networks, classroom discussions and sessions designed to develop political consciousness among young people. I also encourage you to post responses to the poem whatever they are as long as you do so respectfully, and to click the “like” button if you are so inclined. Black Consciousness and Black Power! Enjoy….

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 Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote “The Blueprint: A Black Student Union Handbook.” In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

The Black Code?

So many groups seem to have a code or set of ethics that guide their actions. All gangs have a code, much to our detriment, police departments have codes. Sports teams and even the criminal street elements in our communities have codes as well (the most popular being “Snitches get stitches”). Schoolteachers, members of the clergy and parents  have codes. Indeed codes seem to exist and co-exist all around us.

This realization got me thinking about a basic code of ethics for Black people in general. I know this is impractical given the great diversity of beliefs and values among our people. But wouldn’t it be something if Black people established a code that guided our values and actions? If you’re not afraid to fantasize or dream big, join me in redefining the term “Black code.” Imagine the possibilities for growth and development if we agreed on the following:

  • Education in the form of life management skills, cultural appreciation and character development, and academic skills is second in importance only to breathing and eating. Therefore
  • We will not support -financially or otherwise- any individual, group, or institution that consistently demeans, exploits, or mistreats Black people.
  • We will  date, marry, or become intimate with people
  • In cases where
  • We will not go by hearsay or third=party sources when

 

BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS 101 (using movie clips)

I recently posted an article explaining the concept of political“consciousness.”   In this article, I provide basic concepts of Black conscious thinking with the aid of movie and television clips. …

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1. The Matrix: Understanding the ideological nature of our oppression, why some of our own people constitute “the enemy” is and why it is so difficult to overcome our oppression

2. The Lion King: How the oppressors use propaganda to make  those they oppress adopt a passive, non-confrontational and apathetic attitude (a.k.a.’hakuna matata’).

3. Star Wars: The need for us to be spiritually connected, unafraid, and faithful.

4. Shawshank Redemption: Illustrates that we must work, plan, and sacrifice for our freedom and empowerment. We will have to abandon our comfort zones. Simply praying, waiting or dreaming is not sufficient.

5. They Live: Demonstrates the process of becoming “conscious,” especially how we begin to “see” things differently and become critical of our surroundings.Also it highlights the attempt by societal agents to control our thought process.

6.The Wizard of Oz: Warns us against serving or worshiping “false gods” and so-called authorities who possess no real power, but that of trickery and illusion.

7.Boondocks: In a masterful use of satire, this clip explores the failure of this generation to adequately capitalize on the struggles of our predecessors. it also pokes fun at our sometimes questionable definition of “progress.”

8. Boondocks: Describes in exaggerated fashion the depth of self-hatred,ignorance and opposition we face from some of the very  people we seek to assist. Also illustrates how effective our enemies are at using propaganda to create feelings of inferiority and submissiveness within us.

9. The Wizard of Oz:  Exposes how  this society sends us through “poppyfields” (drugs, diversions, and obstacles to prevent us from becoming free and empowered

10. The Matrix: Reminds us that we have the power to choose whether we’ll become active agents of our own liberation or willfully remain ignorant and passive.

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Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker providing political advice and direction for Black college student organizations, community activist groups, and nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.