Who is the New Afrikan?
by Zolo Agona Azania
(published May 1988)
copyright Zolo Agona Azania
Slavery, oppression and injustice are not good. The true meaning and purpose of life is to struggle against that which is not good. Terrible damage is done in words and in deeds to a human being on the basis of race. But words live only by physical action. The slave masters knew this very well when they began labeling Afrikan slaves with the most negative degrading words. When the Afrikan slaves accepted those negative degrading words as their own they began to think and act negative, which made matters worse. The psychological (mental) enslavement of people with deceptive words and false labels is an old game of the world. This is the point of the preface. If We are ever to be free again We must struggle against this old game, by any means necessary, and win. A people ignorant of self, or miseducated with false knowledge about self does not see the significance, nor understand the importance of this struggle, and the righteousness of striving in the cause for nothing less than self-determination. It is incumbent (resting) upon the New Afrikan intellectuals to re-write comprehensive dictionaries and encyclopedias that adequately re-define the words and terminologies describing Our own race and culture in all spheres of life. These books are to be used constructively at home, in Our liberation schools, and everywhere there are people. The re-education (and re-training) of Our beloved people will bring us into unity. This little pamphlet was written by the author as an effort to make a humble contribution to this worthy cause.
29th of April, 1988
Who is the New Afrikan?
The New Afrikan is a Black person whose ancestors were kidnapped from many different Afrikan tribes (mainly from West and South coast of Afrika) and brought to Amerikkka in the holds of slave ships. They were stripped of name, languages, identity, religion, culture, country and family ties.
For about the first 200 years after people of the Afrikan race were brought to Amerikkka as slaves and prisoners of war they continued to identify themselves as “Afrikan.” Then [New Afrikan] and Negro. These latter words were rejected for a while, but accepted in hostile reaction to, among other things, the option of some Afrikans living in quasi-free states going back to Afrika leaving loved ones behind in slavery. The organization which spearheaded this back to Afrika movement was called the “American Colonization Society.” But many influential anti-slavery abolitionists were in opposition to this particular movement. For example, Dr. Benjamin Quarles wrote:
“The colonization scheme had a unifying effect on Negroes in the North, bringing them together in a common bond of opposition. Within a two-year span in the early 1830’s Negroes in twenty-two cities held formal meetings of protest. Their resolutions might vary in form one group might declare themselves the legitimate sons of America, with no desire to leave their native land, and another group might report that they regarded the colonization society in the same light that lambs regarded wolves. But there was no mistaking their common attitude. Indeed, this hostility to the American Colonization Society led the delegates to a national Negro convention meeting in Philadelphia in 1835, to adopt unanimously a resolution “to remove the title of Afrikan from their institutions.”
But, one of the most damaging criminal offenses that contributed to destruction of the cultural unity and identity of the Afrikan was done by labeling and classifying Afrikan people according to the shade of their skin. How did that happen?
Afrikan women and girls were raped by the Caucasian enslavers. As a result of this, and other factors, millions of Afrikan people today have starkly different shades of skin complexion ranging from very dark to very light.
It is worthy to note however, that prior to the conquest of Afrikan land and the enslavement of its people, all Afrikans did not have one exact shade of skin complexion. Why?
Those living along the North, Northeast, and Northwest coastal area of the Mediterranean and Red Seas had been in close contact with Asian, Arabs, and Caucasian tribes for thousands of years. Intermarriage with members of another group, family, tribe or nation, and miscegenation (interbreeding and marriage between white and non-white person), wars and other social relationships resulted in race mixing. The skin coloration of the children born of those relationships was an array of ochres to burnt sienas (light yellowish, reddish brown, and shades in between). We also take into consideration the hot tropical climate which made some light-skinned Afrikans look like Caucasians or Arabs with a deep sun-tan.
Afrikans living deeper in the interior (central Afrika), and those living along the West, South and Southeast coastal areas was a natural array of raw umbers to strong ebony (very dark brownish-[New Afrikan]) were less effected by race mixing. Be that as it may, each tribe or nation had their own individual characteristics and customs that identified or distinguished one person, ethnic group, tribe or nation from another, their blood, however, remained essentially pure and dominant during that epoch (a particular period, point, or time in history) than those in the North, Northeast and Northwest Afrika.
So, the hue, coloration, or complexion of Afrikan people’s skin, contingent or dependent upon the region in which they lived and other circumstances involved, was an array or variety of shades prior to their arrival to what later became known as Amerikkka. In spite of those facts however, the variation of Afrikan people’s skin complexion was not as widespread as it is currently (now).
The term New Afrikan is not a fly-by-night in thing or fad premised (introduction or proposition upon which an argument is based) upon regional and geographical consideration. Nor is it only a mere physical reality. It is a re-awakened people, a spiritual force, part of the human family creating within themselves a socio-national conscience of paramount importance to one’s dignity, integrity, strength, freedom, security and stability.
In light of those sentiments We enter into further discussion: who is the New Afrikan?
The Caucasian used deceitful words and scathing (harmful and abusive) labels designed to divide the unity of the Afrikan race according to the shade of their skin complexion. This was done by classifying the Afrikan as: “mulatto”, “quadroon”, “octoroon”, “sambo”, “coons”, “colored”, “nigger”, “negro”, “black”, and whatever else.
Mulatto is a person having one Caucasian and one Afrikan parent. Quadroon is a person having one quarter (1/4) Afrikan blood and the rest Caucasian. Octoroon is one who has one eighth (1/8) Afrikan blood, the offspring of a Caucasian person and a quadroon. Sambo is a word used by the Caucasian to define Afrikan men as humble pets, apes, beasts, stupid, dumb creatures and rapists white women. Coon is a slang derogatory term short for “raccoon” used offensively against Afrikan people describing them as watermelon eating thieves. The watermelon is native to Afrika. Colored is a person having mixed Afrikan, Indian, and Caucasian blood, or a dark-skinned people of Afrikan descent. Nigger is Latin for blacken, darken, dirty, denigrate, disgraceful, belittle or defame. Negro is Spanish for [New Afrikan], dark, dirty, or someone that is no good. Black is English for dirty, shameful, ugly, evil, sadness and everything negative.
The aim of the Caucasian was not only to enslave Afrikan people physically, but, also to enslave them psychologically. The Afrikan was forced by violence to denounce their heritage. Afrikan babies were brainwashed from the cradle to believe they were members of the so-called colored, nigger, or negro race. They grew up not knowing their true ethnic identity, or nationality.
Even had this not been so, the fact that We were kidnapped and dispersed throughout various parts of the Earth, enslaved and colonized held in isolation cut off from Our ancestral homeland and subjected to the most barbaric treatment imaginable, contributed to the dissolution of Our direct relationship with Afrikan culture. This also led to the destruction of the normal Afrikan mind-set (mentality).
It’s very important for one to be conscious of one’s own ethnic identity [which] indicates belonging to a particular nation by origin or birth. For example, some light-skinned Afrikan slaves were so mentally confused that if one had asked what was their ethnic identity the reply would often be, “mulatto”, “quadroon”, “octoroon”, “colored”, or something of the sort. Light or high yellow complexion was considered a status symbol. Dr. Kenneth M. Stampp wrote:
“But the most piteous device for seeking status in the slave community was that of boasting about white ancestors or taking pride in a light complexion.”
After a period of time went by they accepted the label “Negro,” and would feel angry, hurt or both if one would call him or her Black. They hated the descriptive word Black being attached to them because they hated their own self. Many mistakenly thought being associated with Black was shameful and ugly.
Another period of time arrived when the consciousness of Afrikan people increased again. They gradually returned to identifying themselves as BLACK people. One by one they threw off the deceitful words and false, abusive labels put on them by the Caucasian. Some Afrikans continued to identify themselves as nigger and negro because they had been brainwashed to believe that lie all their life; and were fixed in their old ways and conceptions. Others simply refused to change the negative way they thought about self in fear for their lives.
People go through psychological crisis when sudden changes occur in their lives. Like being shocked or awakened from a deep sleep all of a sudden. That is what happened to those Afrikans whom suddenly became conscious of their true identity (nationality). The sudden impact of reality left them mentally confused and disoriented. For this reason many had resisted change, no matter how positive it was and is.
Deceitful words and false, abusive labels used for over 400 years to describe members of the Afrikan race are no longer accepted. The term “negro” has fallen into disuse. Afrikans now gleefully accept being called BLACK. It added positive meaning to their lives. For instance, the Afrikan definition of Black is not the same as the Caucasians definition. Indicative of this is the expression: BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL. One drop of Afrikan blood in their body is enough to make them Black. it doesn’t make any difference what shade of color their skin is. The word Black, as used in this context, is a state of mind (Black-consciousness).
The word “Afrikan” had also been used synonymously with backwards, shameful and unintelligent. This word or term infuriated those Afrikans who hated self more than any other because, most considered it a vicious insult to remind them of their true identity. But now they’re happy to be called “Afrikan”, “Afrikan-American,” or “Afro-American.” That is the NEW AFRIKAN mind-set (mentality).
On the other hand however, there were many beloved New Afrikan sisters and brothers like Sojourner Truth, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, David Walker, Nat Turner, Dr. Martin R. Delaney, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Marcus M. Garvey, Paul Robeson, Elijah Muhammad, Harry Haywood, Ella Jo “Fundi” Baker, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Zayd Malik Shakur, George Jackson, Kuwasi Balagoon, Mtayari Shabaka Sundiata, Bobby Hutton, and Jonathan Jackson, only to name a few, who always acknowledged their Afrikan heritage, even under pain of death.
The rise in the level of New Afrikan consciousness is the flowering of the human mind. It took a long time before the term “New Afrikan” gained wide acceptance by the masses of Our people. Indicative of this is the desire and progressive action of the descendants of the Afrikan slaves to define the words or terms to identify and describe Our own race. It was a continuous process of spirited struggle, of defiance, and of self-sacrifice to re-claim Our humanity; to re-define Our own identity; to re-shape Our own destiny (self-determination).
The New Afrikan represents unity of mind and body of the highest order. Yet on this point there need not be any doubt who is the New Afrikan. Our history brings Us together. The bottom line is that, in slavery We came to Amerikkka from many different Afrikan Nations sometimes called tribes. Here We became one people, a New Afrikan people, and a New Afrikan Nation.
(copyright 2000 by Zolo Agona Azania)
- What tha 4 meanz to me az a Nu-Afrikan (moorbey.wordpress.com)
- Assata Shakur case is a attack on all Nu-Afrikan Woman (black) (moorbey.wordpress.com)
- Afrikans it is time to tell your story (voicewriteafricastory.wordpress.com)
- Our New Afrikan origins (moorbey.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Comrade Rashid: On the Present State of New Afrikan/Black Crisis in America; Revolutionary Art; the United Panther Movement; and Communism vs. Anarchism (moorbey.wordpress.com)