Discussions about Race and History
The Center of the Earth is not about Geography but about History
I heard that you wrote, commenting on two newspaper articles," UPPER CLASS BLACKS, G.B. BLOCKING PROGRESS OF AFRICANS" and " AFRICANS HAVE PLAYED A PROMINENT ROLE IN INDIA". What were your views on those articles and the song by " Brother Marvin", " Jahajii Bhaii"?
HOTEP: I do not have those original articles, but I can remember the issues.
While the body of information in those articles was correct, the headlines and the articles were quite lacking and delusive. The writers took too much for granted, and Brother Marvins' song "Jahajii Bhaii" is historically misleading.
It is not only the upper class blacks who are blocking the progress of African people, but all people caught up in the cycle of greed are really blocking the progress of each other.
The problem I had with that article is the ongoing presumption that success can be measured by the material possessions of a person or people.
This is the point that I wanted to get across. Once the comments come from that ongoing belief then all that is said after is misleading.
This attitude contributes to the negative discrimination against indigenous people who do not live by this materialistic value system.
These writers must say how they measure success given the fact that I know people who choose not to acquire material riches and are quite successful.
I am also aware of cultures today that still measure success by the character of people, much the same as most indigenous cultures.
What is popularly perceived to be progress in most societies is the hoarding of material riches by the few. This is really a destructive process.
The materially wealthy people consume more resources than they need. They destroy the environment due to their emissions and wastage of resources required to satisfy their greed.
They exploit the people who are the true producers of goods and services. They control the media, and continue to misinform the public.
They are the people who keep the ‘mis-education system’ intact, a system that turns out robot-like people to satisfy their greedy desires. These so-called successful people are not creative and progressive. They are in fact destructive. These people need educating the most, as they are the true obstacles to progress.
Given this I would not like to see more people, including African people, aspire to that kind of success.
When these people understand that success can only be measured by the quality of a Person's character, then and only then do I think they qualify to say who is blocking the progress of whom.
When Marvin sang his song about Africans and East Indians arriving here on the same boat, it was at the time when discussions were taking place on the radio about the arrival of Africans and East Indians to this country.
We had members of the Hindu community trying to sell the idea that, coming here as indentured servants was the same as the African slavery experience.
I hope I do not have to explain the humor in that statement.
Marvin's song coming out at that time claimed that Africans and East Indians came on the same boat. He was attempting to give legitimacy to an untrue position.
Needless to say the Maha Sabha, a popular Hindu organization, temporally embraced him and we all saw how quickly they dropped him.
The other article, AFRICANS HAVE PLAYED A PROMINENT ROLE IN INDIA, mentioned some of the works of Africans in India, but the article did not go far enough to explain that the original people of India are African people. I believe that the author was unaware of this; otherwise he would not have omitted such an important fact. In leaving this out, the author gave the impression that African people were another migratory group passing through India and not the original inhabitants.
Q: What is the definition of a Trinidadian and where and how do mixed people fit in?
HOTEP: I will respond to the last question first. There are other things that should be taken into consideration before the definition of a Trinidadian can make sense. This question normally comes up whenever there are discussions about race. People try to confuse the issue with that of nationality.
One must remember that the word RACE the way it is commonly known is a European concept popularized in the United States. I have always said that all people share a common ancestry and there is sufficient evidence to prove this. How people look and think was derived from their historical experiences including their responses to climate, vegetation, and the colonization of both people and information.
The colonization of information is responsible for the problems people are having untangling themselves from racial and gender prejudices and other fears. Too many people still believe that they can measure the level of development of other peoples, especially indigenous peoples, by their physical appearance and material possessions. This is part of the legacy of colonialism. The majority of people pay more importance to how people look than the quality of their characters.
All people today, need to be well informed about their history. This includes the historical migrations and the colonization of people, which led to the differences in skin color, hair types, languages and attitudes. It is because of these primary differences that most people do not appreciate each other, or take the time to learn from each other.
If people were socially educated, "mixed people" like every one else, would know how they fit in.
Most mixed people today were born out of colonization. They readily accept the side of their heritage that is either "wealthy" or white, preferring both wealthy and white, while denying themselves the opportunity to learn from other important aspects of their heritage.
The question of their fitting in comes up only when there are discussions on issues relating to Africans and their experiences. That is their fearful response to the thought of identifying with poor people or with what is portrayed about Africa and African people.
In Trinidad, before the call for the inclusion of programs from an African cultural and otherwise black point of view, I never heard of "fair skinned mixed" people speaking about their feelings of alienation. The majority was quite comfortable believing itself one step closer to white, "the privileged position."
Where do they fit in? It is really up to them. "Fair skinned mixed" people suffer the same effects of long-term alienation from themselves much like middle-income whites and all wealthy people. They could start informing themselves of all the various cultural viewpoints, and developing a sound moral character so they too can identify with all people regardless of race. All people with the exception of those consciously developing will suffer the effects of alienation.
The answer to the question, where do mixed people fit in, is the same for all other people. They can be EVERYWHERE OR NOWHERE, DEPENDING ON THE CHOICES THEY MAKE. They can develop and become free or remain ignorant and complain like everyone else.
About being Trinidadian. Trinidadian is your nationality, a legal status, which can change. One's national status is useful, insofar as it gives some understanding, of unique experiences that influenced how one perceives oneself and the wider world.
Knowing someone's nationality is also good for locating him or her, SOMETIMES.
"I heard you say time and time again that people need to be educated about each other races. But I do not think that this is necessary. Do you not see how school children of different races play together? Do you not see different races drinking together in the rum shops? I see that as unity. I think that what you are asking for will only cause more problems. We may have some problems around election time but this has always been so, at least people do not kill each other. I feel that you should stop that silly talk about racial education." From Mr. Shaw
HOTEP: It is good that you are courageous enough to challenge what you do not understand. This is how people learn.
Maybe it has not struck you, that the children of different races whom you see playing together, go home to parents who are as divided as the politics of this country. Parents who expound their racial fears to their children instead of educating them about the commonality of all races and what made us different.
I wonder if you ever heard the sayings, "a good one is a dead one, don't trust them people, you could go by them but don't eat the food" etc. Phrases expounded to children because of their parent's cultural ignorance.
Maybe you are not aware that the sentiments expounded by Sat Maharaj, published in Sunday Express January 19, 1997, "Indians tolerated discrimination in post-colonial Trinidad and Tobago," and "he will disown his daughter if she marries an African", are views held by many in the Indian community.
This feeling is responsible for the "it is we turn" attitude and other hostile statements being expressed by some Indians towards the Africans. These people have children who grow up to be just like them. They make decisions based on their racial fears/ignorance. Many anti-African sentiments have been expounded on all the call-in programs. These sentiments are real and true to these people. These are the feelings that were nurtured and stifled for a long time.
African people have also expressed untrue racial views. All of this is understandable given the limited information both races have about themselves and each other. This can change with education. I am telling you there is sufficient information in everyone's cultural view that shows how much we all share in common, and the common ancestry of all people. This type of education will make a difference.
Children do harness the fears of their parents. Many people believe the racial comments made by politicians and other misleaders. This is the reason neither side looks for good servants of the people to be in leadership roles. They dwell on whether these people are of one race or the other. The majority of people in the country easily fall prey to racial propaganda and vote race first. My questions to you are. Do you think that if people were more educated about our true history, people would so easily become victims of racial propaganda? Where do you think the work must start from, if not with education?
I do not think that we should all bury our heads in the sand and deny that disunity exist here. My view is that people should be educated about all the various cultures that make up this society; all the way back to our common ancestry.
You should not take this child's play you observe in schools and rum shops seriously because that coexistence is based on short-term emotional stimulation and not real respect. Have you not noticed how many people kill friends during arguments? People known to the victim commit many rapes and domestic abuses. This shows how fragile emotions are. This type of ignorance profits the politicians and businessmen in the short term but not the people themselves. They corner markets based on this. This type of ignorance is what they depend on for fanatical support. Do you not see the attitudes of these same people around election time when one side feels their political side is threatened?
It is obvious to me, when I look at the way people vote along racial lines, that while the races "lime" together they do not trust each other in leadership roles. This cannot be unity. This is the worst form of tolerance.
I have always said that people should not blindly tolerate each other. People tolerate rats until they get the poison. People tolerate each other in times of common suffering when they feel they cannot advance their personal positions. We see evidence of this in times of natural disasters and throughout the animal world.
The minute they feel relatively comfortable with their needs, the greedy nurturing becomes evident. They then resort to following the propaganda of bigots, and rehashing some misunderstandings that were not addressed in the past, trying to legitimize their greedy ambitions. The infighting, always falls back on race and or religion, the two are connected. A nation cannot develop with these continuing cycles of disruptions.
This cycle can be broken when people are sufficiently aware of the reasons for their historical fear and when they learn how they connect along religious and racial lines. This type of education not only brings the people closer together, but also disarms opportunists. Only then can other social issues be addressed. Only then the people can stay focused on their common objectives. This is how people develop respect for themselves. This is the way to 'national unity'.
( Sept 99 )
HELLO MR HOTEP---I LISTEN TO YOU ON RADIO,AND I AIN'T SEE NOTHING ABOUT INDIAN ON YOUR SITE. I AIN'T SEE NOTHING ABOUT HINDU AND MUSLIM. WE WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT INDIAN TOO.
HOTEP: I understand what you meant to say. All of what I explain is relevant to all people including Hindus and Muslims. I hope you understand that Indians are part of all people. They are all holding on to perceptions of themselves without a proper understanding of what makes them feel and think the way they do. They do not understand their history. They follow, without understanding the reasons for a lot of what they value. Get the book Dalits the Black Untouchables of India by V.T. Rajshekar, and read it.
The types of people Trinidadians are familiar with as Indians are not the only types of Indians there are. There are Indians with the same physical features like traditional African people, and most Indians in this country detest the thought of that. Why? Herein lies the root of their problem. They need to learn about the Dalits of India to get a better understanding of the effects of long-term racism on both the people in India and those who migrated.
The problem with Indians understanding how they fit into the broader scheme of things is the same for most other people.
It is all about perceptions, how you view yourself in relation to the rest of the world. This is the reason a good historical foundation is important. It is called, LEARNING YOUR GENESIS.
Indians can trace their historical migrations all the way back to the ancient land now called AFRICA. Their ancient history points to southern India and not northern India. It is in Southern India they will find descendants of the earliest Black people who first migrated to India from east Africa. Look at some of the pictures and you will see similar features to even the aborigines, which shows the eastern migration of one people all the way to Australia.
If they engage this task they will find out how much of their ideas came from indigenous Africans and what they really mean. They would also find out that most of their popular 'religious' texts are interpolations of older texts and oral teachings realized by and passed on by black people, similar to the black people despised in India today. The modern Indian story contains the best examples of the effects of racial ignorance, and long-term racial discrimination.
It is difficult to have a dialogue with anyone about the culture and beliefs of some Indians, if that person has not done some historical research on the original people of India. People must have a general understanding of the common ancestry we all share, and where this common human ancestry originated. They should understand what these original people looked like, the reason early humans looked and thought the way they did, and how we developed our differences. This is the foundation of true learning.
This helps to remove some major prejudices that impair people's ability to interpret history. This holds equally true for Muslims, Christians, and any other form of what is called religion.
I find most of the outspoken Muslims in Trinidad to be some of the most ignorant people on this planet. They remind me of the old saying, 'being powerfully stupid'.
I remember being threatened by two prominent local Muslims for explaining the history and behavior of some of their leaders. I had to inform them that I am not afraid of threats of violence. A person who chooses these cowardly measures is too immature to develop any true mental and spiritual abilities. Such person should not be feared.
I DO NOT PUT MY PHYSICAL SAFETY ABOVE THE TRUTH.
Worst of all, are some African Muslims who claim to be defending their 'race' and are also trying to defend some of Islam's inhumane teachings and practices. All Muslims should study the history of Arabia all the way back to its Black, and by extension African ancestry, to get a better orientation for themselves.
Southern Arabia around Yemen is where African migrated before reaching India. Try interpreting history with a map of the world and you will find much of what I say is simply common sense. Much of this is in your history books but most people do not interpret history correctly. The behavior of the prominent Muslim states cannot be considered civilized.
You should find out about the physical slavery that still exists in SUDAN.
When I speak of African history I am emphasizing the roots of all people of all races and all cultures. It is an important but neglected part of Indian culture.
E-mail from: H. Brown May 07, 2002
I was reading one of your responses and wondered, what you meant by the statement, 'This includes the historical migrations and the colonization of people which led to the differences in skin color, hair types, languages and attitudes.'
HOTEP: Migrations and adaptation to climate and vegetation were responsible for the major changes/differences in people. However, most people do not consider the changes that were the result of Slavery and colonization. I mentioned 'colonization of people' because of this fact.
Mixed races are the result of the sexual encounters/rape of Slaves alongside other relationships that were formed during and 'following' the colonial experience. New ideas developed and cultural restructuring took place during these years. Most people acquired a different perspective of beauty and its relationship to wealth and poverty. Much of the new styles are the result of deliberate human actions and not the slow processes of nature. This becomes important when discussing conscious development.
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