My identity, Our history & The politics: Part 1.
This post is probably a combination of various thoughts that have been going through my head in the last few months (which haven’t made it onto my blog…sorry!).
As the grand title suggests, there are a few key ‘elements’ that continuously surround our every-day whether we actively recognise these or not. Sometimes, you read something, or something happens and you realise that no matter what you do, some facts can’t be avoided. I don’t believe I deal with this any better than anyone else, on the contrary, I often find myself humbled by what I feel, because it doesn’t necessarily make me feel good about myself.
I’ve decided to break this into a three-part post because I think the themes are linked. I’ll warn you now, there isn’t much of my usual gaiety. I’m tackling some difficult race issues and I hope I can make some sense of what’s being a hot topic for me of late.
Earlier this year, I started reading The Isis Papers by Frances Cress-Welsing. Now, this is not a book for the faint hearted. If you want comfortable reading, you need not apply here. I’ll start with confessing that I have not managed to make it to the end of the book. I look at it, and it looks back at me.
Cress-Welsing is a psychologist. She has spent years working with people, exploring the various psychosis of the mind that plague modern society. The title of the book is named after Isis the Egyptian godess who, upon discovering the murder of her brother/husband Osiris, searched the land for his parts and brought him back to life, thereby restoring him to his rightful place. Isis represents truth, justice, right. With this book, Cress-Welsing wants everyone to recognise the truth of race relations as she sees it.
There are some things in the book which I agree with, many others which I fight with, even more which just leaves me confused and crestfallen. One of these is what Cress-Welsing sees as a simple truth: Racism is borne out of an inherent need for white genetic survival. In other words, in order for whites to survive, black people (i.e. non-whites) must be crushed and their ability to dilute or eradicate the white race must be prevented.
In many ways it makes sense that genetic survival is at the heart of racism, it could explain its simultaneous existence in so many parts of the world. It could explain how the African kingdoms through history allowed themselves to be infiltrated and destroyed; they simply didn’t have the same fear, so they didn’t act accordingly. They saw no threats as they were dominant.
The affect this book has had on my thoughts around identity is interesting. Fundamentally, I cannot rationalise my life, my achievements, my work, my friends (of all races) with the idea that I threaten someone else’s genetic survival, or that I should be acting in a way that allows me to defend the attacks against me as a black person. It’s gone beyond the classic scenario of not being a victim of [overt] racism, to somehow being told that I have to assume that whites need me to not exist or succeed in order for them to exist, whether they realise it or not.
Cress-Welsing’s racism which she explores through the book in amazing, unbelievable, painful, crushing, homophobic and revolutionary ways, boils down to the fact that no matter what kind of person we believe we are, what our identity is, if we deny that racism is an active, proactive and directed assault against black superiority and dominance, we are ourselves complicit in the act of racism.
I don’t believe myself qualified to dissect what she says in the book, but I’m going to do my best to work through it in my own mind. Now don’t get me wrong, this book is not a dictum, you do not have to live your life by it, but it is talking directly to things I both believe and try to promote, at the same time as things I abhor and unsuccessfully ignore.
The role my race plays in my identity is immense, not least because in many ways it is intrisically linked with my nature and my nurture. The influences that act on me are as important as those I strive to embody. If we don’t find a place of harmony, we can’t find a place of defence either.
If I can’t determine whether I like or dislike this book, if it has made me question things I believe, am I strong enough to withstand the manipulations and not so altruistic intentions of those who may come against me? Pretty uncomfortable food for thought.
This isn’t a book just for blacks, its a book about race, as she calls it “The Keys to the Colours”. If you’re brave enough, pick it up.