Nina Simone sings Ellington, courtesy © 1962 Colpix

15. What can you do (if you are Afro-descendant)

Towards a Black Consciousness: Second Conclusion

If you are reading this and you are Black or Afro-descendant, it means you are either looking for some information or you were lost in the Internet. Either way, it is good news to find something by accident. Additionally, if you've been reading these essays for a few minutes, better. If you are not Afro-descendan try to read the biography and life of artists like Nina Simone or Max Roach. They exude particular concepts and feelings in such a way that will make you understand certain specific facts; basically, what our community went through particularly in the Americas; we suggest you to read the previous chapter. If you are younger than fifty you might not even know in detail what we are discussing here, even if you are Black.

We analysed with some detail the historical situation in Europe and Africa, in relation with racism, prior the discovery of America, and subsequent decades.

One of the most relevant issues of the 21st. century is the virtual world. Digitalisation has transformed human communication and media in a critical way; from a technical point of view, it is extraordinary. But from a social one, it is distorting our cultures, all cultures, because virtuality is based on de-contextual texts and images projected into our imagination with no much process, therefore it easily establishes myths, which are created in our mind without reasoning. "Marshall McLuhan anticipated that the speed of electronic information was catapulting perception, conscience and knowledge. Virtual reality is affecting children's reading, writing and interpreting capabilities (which are non-biological). The so called "Search Engines", that produced hyper capacity for fast perceptive reaction and image association similar to video-games, are obliterating students' logical and analytical capabilities. Social networks kidnapped their mind. Our conscience understands what we see on screen as real, when we actually process mirrored images. For our subconscious, however, what we see in the Internet (as this) is unreliable, because it is unreal: there is no paper, no materiality, things we will never touch. Somehow we got trapped in between, confined in mimic information." *

It is important to analyse facts within a reasonable context, but we are often forced to recreate that context out of fragments. Indeed, first we must read books from established authors (neither texts, nor fragments, but books) , learning what happened at the time they were written, and acknowledging from where they were written: continents, countries, regions, cities, individuals, they all differ enormously. If you are Black or Afro-descendant you probably faced many times the same frustrating situation: most history books seems to be written by White experts; therefore, Black history is seen from a different angle. There are two comments. First, if the object of analysis has been put to some distance and the research tends to be as much objective as possible, it is irrelevant who was the scholar, what is his or her background. Enough verified facts, selected information and a reasonable good repertoire of reasoning will not only guarantee a minimal base of certainty, but, more important, an approach that will offer analysis tools. Second, the relevant issue will never be if this or that author is closer to the truth, but to look as many points of view as possible, even written by those who had little in common from (what we think) is our point of view in history. If we manage to approach Negritude with certain distance we will realize that there are so many uncontrolled factors, historical facts that follow random decisions, the idea of accidental history, that any generalization about particular cultures has no real sustent; we might well end up nowhere. Racism and slavery, two different things, as described in chapters three and four, belong to primitive humanity, but not necessarily inherent. To know the reasons that could explain, beyond any justification, why something happened, is the real challenge. If we do not approach history this way, we will become dogmatic, enclosing our thoughts into a dead-end, using self-affirmative concepts and false premises.

Digital communication is not helping in that direction, but the opposite, it is saturating our minds with unnecessary, uncensored, unclassified information. To read quick messages of any event along one shocking image is dangerous. We hardly know what is going on around us... can we be so sure of what happened four centuries ago in a particular event? The only certainty is that millions of people were enslaved, that there was an orchestration of many different cultures and personages, including Europeans, Arabs, and the same Black Africans that helped slavers, that the economic and technological advantage of White man was determinant to reach that goal, and that slave labour was admitted by the majority of Americans (North, Central and South) for four centuries. We have to thank European culture for its relentless will of keeping records and documents of everything. Slavery happened before, and in larger scales (think of the Gizah Pyramids), but there are no documents, because history had not been neither imagine nor constructed. We must be grateful that the Roman-Hellenistic civilization vaccinated us with the vector of written history. The fact that during the Roman Empire, Middle Ages and Renaissance there were Blacks integrated in Europe has been one of the core issues of chapter three, and it is central to understand that reality can play tricks: human rights can go backwards at any time, including in the closer future. There were wars, not just the US Civil War, that opened the gateways of freedom and we are today in a much better situation than fifty or even hundred years ago, and we must be alert to continuing pursuing both history research in order not to fall in the same dramatic historical pit. To our view, there is no other way to reach a better future. This concept is applicable to any culture clash involving racism. These days civilization means to own an passport, to be able to travel freely to any territory or country, and to be received in a more or less friendly way: at least we are not killed with a stone while entering the airport. Till recently life was much wilder than today. The fact that there are still wars and crime should not change our strong certainty that modern society tends to guarantee our free circulation and Freedom almost all over the globe. That is new type of Mankind society, and it is happening.

Blacks have changed the 20th century appreciation of the arts through Jazz, Modern art, literature, and popular music, including globalization of frantic dancing, which is something essentially Black, but more important, through fighting for Human Rights with non-violent resources. It is true that the world is getting trans-cultural, inter-race boundaries are weaker and richer, but it is also true that, out of all races and cultural groups, ours was the one that shifted proxemics and perceptions of social life. It is not possible to imagine the world without the talent, grace and spontaneity of the Black peoples. Like Léopold Sédar Senghor pointed, Africans are seasoning humanity.

Find in our website specialized bibliography. Alternately, you can look for Online Resources: Public Libraries, books, research organizations, art, exhibitions, magazines and newspapers' articles. Find Black African Films, here, in general, exquisite pieces of filming narration.

* Patricio Pouchulu, Habitat Change essay, 2015.

Read the next chapter, Bibliography, here


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