Black History Month: Its Significance and relevance today.
Oppression of Africans by Europeans have according to freedom fighters like Steve Biko, the late South African black conscious leader, Malcolm X, and Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, led to much self-hatred within the African community with detrimental social, economic and political consequences. On this phenomenon, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante said
“we are victimized in the West by systems of thinking, structures of knowledge, ways of being, that take our Africanity as an indication of inferiority, something to be overcome.”
Malcolm X, in a more graphic manner in his speech on “Anti-African Imagery" made on his return from Africa in 1964, said:
“We hated the African characteristics. We hated our hair…We hated our nose, the shape of our nose, and the shape of our lips, the color of our skin.”
He went on to say:
“Because we hated our African blood, we felt inadequate, we felt inferior, we felt helpless. And in our state of helplessness, we wouldn’t work for ourselves.”
Black history month, first introduced in 1925 as Negro History Week, was an attempt to raise awareness on the contributions of African Americans in American and global affairs and developments, and thus help to change negative stereotypes and perceptions about them.
On relations between Africans Americans and Africa, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante further wrote:
“Whether we are on this side or the other side of the Atlantic we are an African people. There is no real reason to posit some hypothetical Black Atlantic. The Atlantic is neither black nor white, it is a deep blue. It is an ocean, and an ocean is neither a barrier to human interaction nor is it necessarily a consolidator of the human experience. We remain African though we become Jamaicans, African British, Haitians, African Americans or African Costa Ricans.”
However, the “Atlantic”, so to speak, has led to some isolation and separation between many African Americans and Africa today - with Africans on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean knowing less about each other, their experiences and challenges.
We look into these issues this year, which is also the 49th year since the assassination of Malcolm X. Our conversation is on the impact of Black History Month, its relevance today, and the role of Malcolm X played in the pursuit of its objectives.
- Abdullah Abdur Razzaq (formerly James 67X Shabazz of the Nation of Islam). Mr. Abdullah Abdur Razzaq was Malcolm X's personal Assistant at the time of his assasination.
- Ade Adeniji, a screenwriter and freelance writer who specializes in historical films, from Los Angeles.
- Divine Muragijimana, president and co-founder of Council of Young African Leaders (NYC).