By Tiffany Hightower
In 2018, the Black Panther movie socially reigned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and re-introduced the world to the “colonizer” terminology. It also re-introduced the viewers to a slim understanding of the richness of a country that could have existed and flourished without colonization.
To set the stage, we must define colonization. Oxford languages defines colonization as, “the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area and the action of appropriating a place or domain for one’s own use.” Interestingly, one of the examples utilized by Oxford Languages regarding colonization is: “Africa boasts a tradition of higher education institutions that predate Western colonization.”
Prior to the release the release of this movie, it must be noted that Black America had been under emotional and physical attack. There was this notion introduced where white America could through self-identification purport themselves to be black without the lived experience. The “I can’t breathe” of Eric Gardner, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and so many more. Amidst all this tumult, there was racially-motivated mass shooting in Charlottesville that led to a clear need to denounce white supremacy. In response, the leader of the free world stated, there were “very fine people on both sides”. All these instances, the reality of black brothers and sisters being slaughtered at the hands of racists with wounds being exacerbated by a slew of systemic injustices that emphasized that we were still separate and unequal. So, both our history, and our present, have functionally required Black America to be “woke.”
Subsequently, after the release of Black Panther which unapologetically highlights the majestic beauty of undiluted blackness and culture, the realization of parity and equity was still fleeting. This country saw an increase in the need for police accountability and criminal justice reform needs; with the murders of Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry, Daunte Wright… Leaders rose again to the forefront to scream out the inequities. Intriguingly while this global upheaval was happening and truths were being spoken-Black America was being confronted with such rhetoric – “Well, we helped elect the 1st Black President”, “We love that Black Women everywhere there is an election of consequence”. Deflection in midst of offering minimal help. The extraordinary abundance of taking credit for the wins of Black people although owning any losses. Black America remains articulating a list of needs/demands to ensure the quality of life for future generations, i.e., voting rights. Yet, for every table where our people are demanding justice, there are just as many contrarians, claiming themselves to be allies, telling us to “be patient” and to “look at all the progress that has been made.” That is the colonization of our wokeness.
However, this should be a surprise to no one. The Sacred Woman (Queen Afua), states an original name of Africa was actually “Af-ra-ka” which means flesh and soul of the hidden Sun. She goes on to say that Africa comes from the Arabic word “firk” or “frik” meaning separate, divide, or conquer. Further research would reveal that another initial name for the continent was actually; Alkebu-lan which means “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden” (Kemetic History of Afrika-Dr. Cheikh Anah Diop). When you control how knowledge is written and disseminated, you can wield a lens that dictates how a population views themselves and operates in a supposedly free world. Another reason that the arguments regarding critical race theory arrive as another way to usurp a people from veracity. From this, a hypothesis can be concluded that the colonization of our wokeness directly correlates to the minimalization of our greatness.
Whether traveling back through reconstruction, the civil rights movement, Jim crow, the new Jim crow there persisted an underlying value that spoke to White America-while still undermining the full requests of those in that moment; economic equity anyone? It was implied that Black America was complaining and should be happy with “just enough.” Even the Emancipation Proclamation while freeing the “slaves” its underbelly explicitly spoke to a better business deal with the creation of the cotton gin (the argument of where the idea originated from still ensues today). Since Black people were property, they were not allowed to pursue a patent. For example, pontificating on the ingenuity of the lightbulb understand as Thomas Edison’s name is uttered with admiration, there would be no illumination without Lewis H. Latimer.
In tandem, our understanding of Uncle Tom versus Sambo. Uncle Tom worked tirelessly to help the enslaved while Sambo is the one who betrayed his fellow enslaved people to help white slaveowners. Even the downplaying and vilifying of African Tradition Religion is a usurpation of the knowledge and culture for the descendants of the enslaved, for those Holy Odus predate the bible. And you can find strong similarities from that writing in Christianity. Still, today an athlete that has exemplified magnificence for America is demonized for her wokeness and then must be compared to a white peer from years prior to justify her stance. Furthermore, her talent because it surpassed her peers resulted in her being penalized unfairly and her greatness minimalized. History dictates when others that are not melanated excel in their fields they are rewarded. Understanding, that colonization is rooted in stolen language and altered knowledge the wokeness of Black people has been encroached upon from the beginning.
If Black History cannot be taught in its most honest form, in hopes that the culmination of “truth to power” can echo in our school systems this is in and of itself an additional injustice. If accurate information is not considered-the criteria for valid educational policy, we are guaranteed to repeat the missteps of the past. Perhaps we need to employ Aunt Viv from the Fresh Prince to teach Black History, since it is apparent that the cancerous actions of nation are being blatantly whitewashed. The sheer fact that a state (Tennessee) would look to impose a 1-5 million dollar fine to school districts if systemic racism, white privilege, and sexism is discussed as reported in Education Weekly (Eesha Pendharkar-August 2021) is ludicrous. The fragility of ego should not be used as a defense to provide faulty and incomplete education to our children. In hindsight, the eradication of the ills of our forefathers might have ushered in an existence where #WAKANDAFOREVER was not a simple tagline but was the libation and acknowledgment of our ancestors. Let us be clear, Black America is awakened, aroused, stirred-we downright have insomnia! This movement cannot and will not be pirated nor amended, regardless of having the designation of 3/5th of a human being-this story must be edified in its glorious entirety.