From “us” to “WE”

Listening to conscious black talk radio programs as I often do, I am struck by the frequency with which callers, and occasionally even the guests, make statements about what “we” need to do about some issue of concern to black people. Invariably, actions they call for would require that “we” be organized as a prerequisite to any potential success; thus my question: How do “we” expect to accomplish anything that requires “us” to become “WE,” without ORGANIZING ourselves into the “WE” that would be required to pull it off? I urge the reader to start by asking that question of him/herself by personalizing it as follows: How can I expect “us” to accomplish anything that would require “us” to become “WE,” unless I am willing to JOIN an organized effort designed to pull it off?

Most callers to conscious black talk radio shows are “regulars,” and many appear to use “code” names to remain anonymous. Almost none of them ever make reference to any organization they may belong to, yet all call for black folks to take actions that can only be accomplished by organized, disciplined, trained forces, with a definitive “battle plan.” In other words, such individuals, in the immortal words of Frederick Douglas: “…are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” The Right Most Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey put it this way: “The greatest weapon used against the Negro is disorganization;” and Minister Louis Farrakhan called upon the 2.5 million of us who attended the original Million Man March on October 16, 1995 to: “Go back to your respective homes and places and join some organization that is working for the uplift and advancement of black people, and if no such organization exists where you live, it is your duty to start one!” It is clear then that all three of these brilliant and supremely dedicated giants recognized the necessity for black people to organize ourselves if we are serious about lifting ourselves out of the condition into which our oppressor has placed us.

I would love to see every host of a conscious black talk program set aside one of their editions for the express purpose of having folks call in and tell which organization they belong to, and the caller’s role with and contribution to, that organization. Then the hosts could follow up by inviting leaders or other representatives of each organization to be his or her guest on the program to tell the audience what the organization is doing to uplift our people, and how serious persons could get involved. This approach could go a long way towards separating the “do’ers” from the talkers, and facilitate bringing together action-oriented individuals into formations that can bring about solutions, rather than continue to regurgitate “litanies of lost battles” as Maulana Karenga states it in “Kawaida Theory.”

The above-referenced speech by Frederick Douglas began with the words: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress;” by inference he had to relate “struggle” to action; to effort; to work. He challenged us to do something to help alleviate our undesirable state, and not be satisfied to merely pay lip-service to the need for something to be done. We should be the message, not simply the messenger. The speech in question, his “West India Emancipation” oration given at Canandaigua, New York on August 3, 1857, went on to include these powerful words: “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you will have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I challenge the reader to ask himself or herself the question: How much more are you willing to quietly or noisily submit to; and how much more injustice and wrong are you willing to have imposed upon you and your people before you decide to resist? How much endurance do you have left for the abuses the tyrants continue to impose upon us? If not you, who? If not now, when?

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