Black Nationalism is the name given to empower movements among black Americans, emphasizing their African origins and identity, their pride in being black, their desire to control their own communities, and sometimes the desire to establish a black nation in Africa or some part of the United States. An examination of the roots of these movements and of the beliefs, strategies, and goals of each will show how they were connected and how they influence the appearance, behavior, and attitudes of Dee/Wangero.
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, black people were faced with the very grim prospect of social, economic and political oppression in society. It is at this point that the issues of Black Nationalism arise. Wilson Moses states that the concept of Black Nationalism in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were based first on a “subject” people under political, social and cultural domination. It also represent the desire to unite disunited people, attempt to unify politically all of those people whether they are residents of African territories or descendants of those Africans who were disposed by the slave trade.
(Moses, 1978:17). In the mid-1960’s, the optimism of the Southern civil rights movements collapsed in the face of white indifference. It was the decade many African Americans remember most for the dramatic changes following the Civil Rights Movement that brought opportunities and growth both individually and collectively. At that time Dee/Wangero was but a child and knew not of Lindsay 2 what was going on. She would later know the significance of her role in life. Even as a child Dee/Wangero knew there is more to life than living in a shack of a house where there’s no moral, racial consciousness, sense of being or racial pride.
The term “black nationalism” quickly made its way into the American teaching but unlike the earlier land-based nationalism, the term spread into literature, music and the arts. At the same time, African Americans as a group were still entrapped in a system that recognized individual rights as opposed to group or collective rights. Dee/Wangero grew up at a time when there was continuing patterns of racial inequality and oppression and estrangement from white society. You could only speak a certain way and you were not allowed to vote, make changes, or voice your opinion.
It was a time when the least you know the less trouble you would be in and Dee/Wangero had a lot to say. She believed there had to be a better world waiting out there, where civilization and freedom exist. The ability to reconstruct her image is essential to her understanding of who she is. Without self-expression is destined to be defined in opposition of “white” standards. Since all she knows is based upon what she sees around her, any so-called revolutionary action is bound to repeat those of the oppressor.
McCartney suggests that a Black’s desire for emigration was to gain political freedom and independence not possible for Blacks as a minority group. Everyone should be the originators of the events that lead to their destiny and Dee/Wangero was tired and fed up with the life she was living with her mother and sister and she became disgusted with their social conditions that had spawned weak racial pride and illiteracy. She wanted to seek out and find a better foundation to develop independence and enlightenment ideas.
To make a change, she had to reconstruct not only the image of, but her relationship with, the creator, humanity, and the natural and material worlds. (Essien-Udom, 1962: 28). Lindsay 3 His emphasis on racial pride, political and economic self-determination proved to be a powerful message for African Americans during the early twentieth century. Dee/Wangero would move away from home in the hopes of developing her own society, ethical values, racial consciousness and self-reliance as well as freedom from white American authority. She knew there was more to life than what she currently knew and would yearn to seek that knowledge.
She wanted to learn about her culture, history, where she was originated from and how it can change her life. She was determined to make a change and when she returned home she was confident and uplifting. Dee/Wangero was convinced that she had to make everyone including her mother and sister, aware of the need for Black Nationalism, because Black Nationalism can be compared to breathing and eating. Natural acts that is critical that nature will not allow persons to ignore them.
(Malcolm X, 1992:1-3) No other race leader had inspired such hope in the hearts of the people since the orations of Frederick Douglas, and incorporated these inspirations (their aspirations) into practical adult education programs. She was taught cultural pride, social separation and economic empowerment and she was baffled that her mother and sister had not change in any way and they were still living in the era of slavery, abolishment and non-engagement. They need to make a change, make something of themselves, things and times have changed and they are being left behind. Any change or new education seem “ridiculous” to them.
Dee/Wangero mother had a quilt for years that she sew together and Dee/Wangero wanted it because she knew the significance and meaning of the quilt, she had studied, practiced and live the life of an influenced, internationalized advocate who appreciated the early exposure to Black Nationalism. Lindsay 4 The mere thought of leaving the quilt with her sister seemed wasteful and unappreciated because her sister would and could not appreciate the significance of the quilt and her sister and mother did not know that this quilt meant a lot to her new found life, culture and teaching.
(Colin, 1996: 56) Black Nationalism as an alternate to integration goes back over one hundred years, as black leaders’ explored alternative political and social ideology to address discrimination in the United Stated. Dee/Wangero made the change, her attitude, appearance and behavior spoke cultural change, cultural knowledge and true freedom. She appreciated different images, understand different ideologies and feel different power sensations. She had nurture a taste of real freedom and real self determination and she rediscovered love for blackness, true blue blackness.
The way she dressed and the way she spoke said that she had overcome all the “backward” philosophy that was placed upon her and her people and she is finally able to show this “new” Dee/Wangero without feeling oppressed. She was happy on the inside and on the outside and this may seem “weird” to her mother and sister because she had grown spiritually, culturally and had come to believe in herself and her race. She was feeling good and would not change her ways and style and she wanted them to “make something of themselves” and make a change for the better like she had. (1320).
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