Race and History Discussions
Q & A (1 to 3) from a radio interview in 1998.
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Q: How important is race today and why?
HOTEP: Race issues are very important today. World powers have never addressed the perceptions of people after the direct colonial experience and its legacy, 'the colonization of information and the education system'. One group of people is constantly being portrayed as better than anyone else and another group feels that they have cornered the world market on sympathy, (I will talk about this another day.)
Race issues are important as it relates to how people view and treat people based on skin color.
The colonization of education and the general media have left most people falsely stereotypical and with other negative attitudes that need addressing with a proper presentation of facts. Most people do not realize they harbor very distorted views and beliefs about themselves and other people. Many Black people have an unwarranted admiration for people of lighter shades.
People do not readily admit this. They do not even think of it. Their attitudes and beliefs have become so ingrained that their behavior is now automatic.
In Trinidad, people do not object to programs of an "Indian" nature or even the regular European programming. However when one speaks of including programs of an "African nature" in the mainstream media, there is hostility. Many people proclaim it's not necessary with the dishonest statement, "we must forget the past".
White people do not openly protest against these programs. They are more covert. The protest normally comes from African, Indian, and mixed race people. A minority of people from the various racial groups understand the problem but they are too few and insecure so they remain silent.
Ignorance is truly an equal opportunity sickness. The underlying cause of all anti-social behaviors is ignorance. The pathways used to maintain this ignorance are quite numerous, so I'll just name a few.
In this country a large portion of the African population, still call themselves NEGROES, without understanding of the use of the word, be it good or bad.
These Negroes go along accepting labels and negative stereotyping without questioning them, and this is reflected in their general attitude and behavior.
They see little value in personal reflection and as such they block themselves from progressing by repeating errors. Their mental enslavement is of a unique nature. They have been conditioned into the, "THANK GOD THEY BROUGHT US OUT OF AFRICA" syndrome.
These people have not been properly exposed to world history, especially African history. All media houses that only provide programs from within the distorted European and Indian World view keep this situation intact.
Black sports figures are presented as role models and most Blacks already know they would never become 'Like Mike'. Indian idols are promoted but both Africans and Indians cannot identify with them. They are mostly bombarded with white European material achievers whom they try to emulate.
This attitude of low personal worth is kept intact by the popular so-called religions with their White idols. People are not being exposed to 'divine' heroes who look like them.
Once these people are not exposed to a different world-view, one that elevates their own situation, they pass these poor values to their children. We are speaking here of the nurturing of low self-esteem being passed from one generation to the next.
The disgust many feel when we are having discussions from an African view is symptomatic of how things African were presented for generations. They do not see people who treat with these cultural issues in economically prosperous positions.
This attitude is underlined by the nurtured materialistic concept the quality of a person can be measured by their material possessions. "IGNORANCE AND ITS FIRST COUSIN GREED; THAT'S OUR TRUE ENEMY."
In Trinidad, Indian hostilities to the idea of information from an African perspective being introduced in public schools and the media, is directly related to their past anti-social experiences.
Most Indians came to Trinidad as indentured servants. They were trying to escape the oppressive caste system that existed in India. In India most were exposed to a materialistic concept of Religion where one's closeness to the Hindu concept of a god was/is based on skin color or wealth.
Gymnastics are being performed today with their concept of religion as pundits search for new meanings for some of their teachings.
Like most other systems, black people were relegated to the status of nobodies, untouchables, and people to be despised and frowned upon. These anti-social beliefs are still part of the mainstream so-called religions, that keeps class, racial, and gender discrimination alive.
More scholars need to study the classification of people in India, where people are killed annually for stepping out of their caste. India is the best case study of the effects of institutionalized racism.
The two major racial groups here are Africans and Indians with mixed races in between. Many of those of mixed races are quite comfortable feeling themselves in a better position to "Africans".
They are normally the ones who get media attention and are the most vocal opposition to discussions on these social issues. Sometimes they conveniently flip from side to side, until they get into a prominent position. The popular platitude is then repeated; "we are all one under God and discussing race issues is of no importance."
They also say the color of 'Christ' is of no importance.
Two years ago someone painted a statue of a White Christ with black paint and this was big news. They called this "defaming the statue." Need I say more?
The Whites in our society feel themselves insulated from these discussions because of their wealth and token charitable contributions. Their contributions are in reality business promotions. They do not speak-out against these issues, they simply employ people in their media houses to carry out their bidding.
There are pockets of people within all ethnic groups who are striving for better, but these people are in the minority. They do not own media houses or have any major say in the education system.
GREED IS THE MAJOR OBSTACLE TO ENLIGHTNMENT.
This issue of race is important because, racial discrimination is the underlying factor that supports the greedy anti-social system.
People MURDER, LIE, STEAL, and waste resources while we have so many social problems. They feel comfortable living that way because they view other people as lesser than themselves. Poor people believe the elite is entitled to excesses and that they should only dream of basic comforts. They have low self worth.
Once this view is shattered people will have nothing to hide behind, their naked corruption would be obvious, and they will be forced to change.
Q: Why is history important, and what should this History entail?
HOTEP: Your history is the same as your genesis that explains to you, how you came to be, WHO you are and WHY you are WHERE you are today.
Proper historical reflection shows the REASON you developed your particular view of the world. It allows you to appreciate your own views and the views of others that may seem different to your own.
Knowing your history alongside developing your character brings your personality into alignment with your self. This way you become more confident in expressing your own views and ideas and you are receptive to learning from others.
You are less likely to repeat past errors having cultivated the healthy attitude of reflection. Let me give you a little story I always tell people who ask this question.
There was once a couple who quarreled every Christmas about baking the ham.
The wife would cut off the ends of the ham before baking. Her husband found this strange. She kept saying that it was the way she learned to bake ham at home. She saw her mother doing it that way every Christmas.
One Christmas Eve she was at her mother's house and asked her why cut off the ends of the ham.
Her mother replied, "child your father used to buy these big hams every Christmas but he never bought a big enough oven so I cut the ham to get it to fit."
If you do not get it, write to me again.
Q : How did different skin colors come about?
HOTEP: Humans developed in Africa then spread to all other parts of the world.
Developing in equatorial Africa meant that they would have been exposed to heavy ultra violet radiation. Their melanocytes (cells that produce the skin darkening pigment melanin) compensated by producing extra pigment to block the ultra violet rays.
Early humans absorbed vitamin D through the skin from the sunlight, the absence of which causes the bone bending disease called rickets.
When people settled permanently in regions with less sunlight they did not get enough vitamin D. In this case a dark skin pigmentation was no longer a protection but a drawback.
The clothes worn during the cold climate exacerbated the problem. The well-fitted hides worn as protection from the cold decreased the amount of sunlight that could fall upon the skin. Lighter skin evolved to allow for a greater degree of radiation to reach the skin and absorb more vitamin D.
As people migrated to different regions, their genes mutated to adapt to the climate and vegetation. People mating with other people who were different, produced even more variations.
You can read up more on this in THE AFRICAN BACKGROUND TO MEDICAL SCIENCE by Charles S. Finch.
Q: What do you think of the TV Series "Wonders of the African World" by Henry Louis Gates.
( Nov. 99 )
HOTEP: My opinion about Prof. Henry Louis Gates and the bit I saw of the TV series "Wonders of the African World" is that he is immature in the subject of History and Life. He did more of a disservice to himself and to other people who are not well informed.
I felt disgusted by his simpleminded approach, which seemed to be more about his personal quest for fame and fortune and the public acceptance of his White wife.
He could simply accept the fact that we all, 'including his wife,' came from Africa and he has a right to marry as he sees fit and stop looking for our approval.
He was trying to appease two groups of people while making that documentary. He was trying to appease ignorant whites, and a type of elitist Blacks who are looking for white social acceptance.
Presenting distorted historical information has always been the way opportunists try to legitimize their simpleminded greed and quest for fame.
He is also struggling for acceptance and legitimacy amongst powerful Black historians like Dr. Chancellor Williams, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, and Dr. Yosef A. A. ben - Jochannan (three giants). He will have to learn that the respect we have for great historians is earned and cannot be bought.
Even Basil Davidson's documentary series, (AFRICA the story of a Continent), is far more enlightening.
I did not have to see the whole of Gates' documentary to know his slant, or lack thereof. I also saw a documentary he did with the BBC, which was a "hatchet job" on African history and I predicted he would have done the same again.
He has some money and did not have the respect or foresight to invite and include serious African scholars in that project. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel he should have been building on the best of what went before. That is the SPIRIT of history.
I really do not think that his pitiful response filled with personal aggrandizement and academic boasting deserved reprinting. Go to africana.com and look it up.
Do you know what is worst than a white person misrepresenting African history? An African person with the means to do better misrepresenting African history.
Many years ago Prof. Ali A. Mazrui produced a series, "The Africans: A Triple Heritage," and although it was lacking as he gave the documentary a Muslim slant, it is still very informative. Prof. Ali A. Mazrui did not come over with the type of arrogance displayed by Mr. Gates.
Check Prof. Ali A. Mazrui criticism of the series. - (Password required)
Q: What do you think of Ghandi?
This article carries most of my views.
Gandhi was loyal to imperialism
By Velu Annamalai, Ph.D.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might have heard the word of non-violence from Gandhi, but it is certain that Dr. King did not know the true colors of Mr. Gandhi.
From the beginning to the end, M.K. Gandhi was loyal to imperialism. The Western news media and their Indian allies by a massive propaganda exercise created the illusion of sainthood around Gandhi and made people believe that he fought Apartheid in South Africa, and in the process of doing so developed a new method of non-violent struggle called satyagraha.
Nothing is farther from the truth. Gandhi, for the major part of his life, worshipped British imperialism and too often proudly proclaimed himself a lover of the Empire. He was Kipling's Gunga Din in flesh and blood.
To understand Gandhi's politics in South Africa, it is essential to note the three fundamental trends which all along persisted underneath all his activities. They were:
(1) his loyalty to the British Empire,
Gandhi was once thrown out of a train compartment which was reserved exclusively for the Whites. It was not that Gandhi was fighting on behalf of the local Africans that he broke the rule in getting into a Whites' compartment. No! that was not the reason. Gandhi was so furious that he and his merchant caste Indians (Banias) were treated on par with the local Africans. This is the real reason for his fighting race discrimination in South Africa, and he had absolutely no concern about the pitiable way the Africans were treated by the Whites.
(2) his apathy with regard to the Indian "lower castes", India's indigenous population, and
(3) his virulent anti-African racism.
On June 2, 1906 he commented in the Indian Opinion that "Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians (meaning upper caste Hindu Indians) or colored people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trains."
During the `Kaffir Wars' in South Africa he was a regular Gunga Din, who volunteered to organize a brigade of Indians to put down the Zulu uprising and was decorated himself for valor under fire.
Gandhi said on September 26, 1896 about the African people:
"Ours is one continued struggle sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness."
Again in an editorial on the Natal Municipal Corporation Bill, in the Indian Opinion of March 18, 1905, Gandhi wrote: "Clause 200 makes provision for registration of persons belonging to uncivilized races (meaning the local Africans), resident and employed within the Borough. One can understand the necessity of registration of Kaffirs who will not work, but why should registration be required for indentured Indians...?"
Again on September 9, 1905, Gandhi wrote about the local Africans as: "in the majority of cases it compels the native to work for at least a few days a year" (meaning that the locals are lazy).
Nothing could be farther from the truth that Gandhi fought against Apartheid, which many propagandists in later years wanted people to believe. He was all in favor of continuation of White domination and the oppression of Blacks in South Africa.
In the Indian Opinion of March 25, 1905, Gandhi wrote on a Bill regulating firearms: "In the instance of firearms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there the slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indians?"
Gandhi always advised Indians not to align with other political groups in either colored or African communities. He was strongly opposed to the commingling of races. In the Indian Opinion of September 4, 1904, Gandhi wrote: "Under my suggestion, the Town Council (of Johannesburg) must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. It think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen."
In the Indian Opinion of September 24, 1903, Gandhi said: "We believe as much in the purity of races as we think they (the Whites) do...by advocating the purity of all races."
Again on December 24, 1903, in the Indian Opinion Gandhi stated that: "so far as British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is purity of type."
When he was fighting on behalf of Indians, he was not fighting for all the Indians, but only for his rich merchant class upper caste Hindus!
In the Anglo-Boer War of 1899, Gandhi, in spite of his own belief that truth was on the side of the Boers, formed an ambulance unit in support of the British forces. He was very earnest about taking up arms and laying down his life for his beloved Queen. He led his men on to the battlefield and received a War Medal.
Gandhi joined in the orgy of Zulu slaughter when the Bambata Rebellion broke out. One needs to read the entire history of Bambata Rebellion to place Gandhi's nazi war crimes in its proper perspective.
Velu Annamalai, Ph.D., a native of Tamil
Nadu, India, is the President of the International Dalit Support
Group and the author of Sergeant-Major M.K. Gandhi published
by the Dalit Sahitya Akademy in Bangalore, India in 1995. He
currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- A SELECTED LIST OF
WORKS ABOUT MOHANDAS K. GANDHI
- Ambedkar, B.R. What Congress
and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables. Bombay: Thacker, 1945.
- Annamalai, Velu. Sergeant-Major
M.K. Gandhi. Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akadiy, 1995.
- Assisi, Francis. "Gandhi's
Links with South Africa Examined." India West, 28 Sep 1990:
- Assisi, Francis. "Mahatma
Gandhi's Links with SA Blacks Questioned." News India, 28
Sep 1990: 1.
- Assisi, Francis. "Two New
Books on Gandhiji." India West, 28 Sep 1990: 45.
- Das, Nani Gopal. Was Gandhiji
a Mahatma? Calcutta: Dipali Book House, 1988.
- Edwards, Michael. The Myth of
the Mahatma. London: Constable, 1986.
- Gandhi, Mohandas K. Untouchability.
Edited by Bharatan Kumarappa. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing
- Grenier, Richard. The Gandhi
Nobody Knows. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.
- Grenier, Richard. "The
Gandhi Nobody Knows." Commentary (Mar 1983): 59-72.
- Huq, Fazlul. Gandhi: Saint or
Sinner? Foreword by V.T. Rajshekar. Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya
- Kapur, Sudarshan. Raising Up
a Prophet: The African-American Encounter with Gandhi. Boston:
Beacon Press, 1992.
- Rajshekar, V.T. Hinduism, Fascism
and Gandhism: A Guide to Every Intelligent Indian. Bangalore:
Dalit Sahitya Akadiy, 1984.
- Rajshekar, V.T. Why Godse Killed
Gandhi? Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akadiy, 1986.
- Rajshekar, V.T. Clash of Two
Values: Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar (The Verdict of
History). Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akadiy, 1989.
This article was published courtesy of Velu Annamalai, Ph.D
Copyright © 2001 Velu Annamalai, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Q: What do you think of Martin Luther King?
HOTEP: He did a fair job in keeping some ideals of our ancestors alive, but he did not realize that our Black ancestors first realized these ideals. For not knowing enough of our history, Mr. King validated people like Ghandi, who in my view were frauds.
Mr. King was an opportunist who was given more media attention to pacify Blacks. Preaching nonviolence in the face of outright physical aggression, in itself, is not noble. People should forcefully resist physical aggression and not be cowards about it. Once physical violence is being used against anyone, retaliation with physical force in defense of one's life is acceptable. Not retaliating from a position of fear is worse than physical death.
Nonviolence is only noble from a position of strength, either material or spiritual, which brings about a greater knowledge of order and methods for effecting change.
Those who are aware of our social problems should not casually try to emulate Mr. King as that type of pacifist attitude encourages sufferers to tolerate oppression for too long.
Education is the key to bringing about nonviolent change. Not what passes for education today but the broader social awareness that brings people to knowledge of themselves.
Martin Luther King's legacy is a false standard for behavior and social awareness. He and Ghandi are being used to keep the African population distracted in the absence of equal opportunity. Of course, racist people would like all people they oppress to remain passive whilst they operate with brute force.
People will really have to learn their history to grow past people like King and Ghandi and realize that although using violence is not the ideal, not responding based on fear is not a virtue and can be far worse.
They would have never promoted King if they were not afraid of what the Black Panthers and Malcolm X could have stimulated, at least before Malcolm X went to Mecca and bought another illusion.
King's fans will have to understand this.
Hotep, I have been noticing that you all in the Caribbean are having problems with your cricket. I think Lara has failed the team. What are your views on this?
HOTEP: Every time they choose to discuss West Indies Cricket, the talk focuses on Brian Lara. They are unable to appreciate that the team has other players, managers, and psychologists.
The problem is they do not understand what motivates people to be at their best. The problem is the general ignorance of history that shows the reason why the former West Indies teams were successful.
What was motivating these players coming out of slavery was the desire to show the colonial powers that they were quite able to beat them on a level playing field. The experiences of slavery and colonial domination were the main psychological motivation behind their better performances.
Money is not a good motivator for sustaining high performance.
The team, like all people, needs to revisit its history to realize the self-motivation that is necessary to sustain great performances. The West Indies Cricket team was born out of a history and a relationship between the colonial powers and the Slaves/Ex-slaves in the West Indies.
Colonized people have embraced these countries like England, Australia, and South Africa without remembering the historical relationships. While the attitudes of these countries that control the sports have not changed, the West Indian players have forgotten. They still perceive these players as second-class humans only to be exploited for their financial gains. All they have to do in order to understand their psychological make-up is to look at the social systems in these dominating nations to see how they relate to black people. They should do this first then play the sport with that in mind to set a better example for the oppressed people of these nations.
I am suggesting that a place to start is motivating the players above money while raising their social awareness. If they are increasing their awareness, they are winners.
This is what is lacking in the lives of most people and certainly this holds true for Cricketers. More can be said on this but I am just suggesting a place to start because the way to compete with people who have the technological advantage is to have improved social and mental abilities. To be socially motivated is the key.
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