What is an Amerikan? by Abdul Malik Kamau
This question continues to come up in conversations with various brothas so… I thought I’d put down a few thoughts…
Being as my ancestors were forcibly brought to this English colony in 1619… (separated from their families, homeland, languages, and religions!) and converted to “Amerikans" by lash, lynching, and murder! I find it impossible to identify as an “Amerikan.” It’d be akin to spitting in the faces of my ancestors! Subconsciously acquiescing to sociocultural oppression & Afrikanist expression denial(s)! whilst accepting the sociocultural & political norms of their captors. A form of selling out, in my view. I resist said designation…
Some brothas say that, ‘By virtue of being born in Amerika, one is ‘Amerikan?!’ to this I say, “At the creation of the 13 colonies of the U.S. of A… the founding men, (whom majority owned Afrikans BTW) crafted a constitution! As only Europeans participated in the creation process, no consideration(s) were given to/for enslaved hue-mans. Leading to legalized enslavement of captured Afrikans! And theft & genocide of Indigenous peoples! And an accepted doctrine of white skin supremacy/dark hued people(s) inferiority! Only due to a civil war and a need! for the “North” (i.e. non-slave captors) to undermine “Southern” foes! were enslaved Afrikans freed from bondage.
And even then, the strategy was only to utilize newly freed captives to defeat seceding army! Not to give them equality or justice. The only difference(s) between north caucasians and south caucasians were; A) one wanted to continue to sustain its economy via free (slave) labor & the other wanted access to same, so as to exploit them socioeconomically, within their factories up north! And B) one was overtly racist & the other covertly racist! The proof of this is found in the fact that the newly freed Afrikans had to wait: 3 years after the so-called Emancipation Proclamation to be recognized as U.S. citizens! 5 years after emancipation, to be given the right to vote! Facts!
The Pledge of Allegiance reads, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The aforementioned truths expose this pledge as either: an outright lie?! Exclusive to caucasians?! Or delusional?! To go even further…
Throughout the next hundred yrs. (1865-1965), the U.S. Kovt. (K = KKK) turnt a blind eye as emancipated captives were threatened, beaten, raped, firebombed out of both home(s) and church(s). Finally… be lynched by the thousands! In addition, those attempting to exert their ‘so-called’ voting rights! were assaulted & intimidated out of voting?! The state(s) created various barriers, to discourage these newly emancipated captives from voting! Barriers such as: literacy tests, identification mandates, etc! This is unconscionable, in that most emancipated folk could not read! Write! Yet, were expected to overnite pass literacy tests?! They were “free,” in name only it appears?! “Citizens” of this country, no less!
It was only after publicized killings… of both Caucasian civil rights workers (MS), four beautiful Black children in a church, culminating with televised images of Alabama kkkops turning fire hoses onto peacefully protesting U.S. citizens! Various civil rights legislation was passed! Thousands of lives lost… thousands of folk forcibly displaced! All U.S. citizens, by the way!
In the 54 yrs. since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many things have occurred?! The U.S. of A. has experienced: the Industrial Revolution, various laws protecting gays, fetuses, and prisoners! Two World Wars… 9-11 terrorist murder(s)… wars initiated, in which thousands of U.S. soldiers have been killed and/or wounded! Many of whom were folk of color! Seen as “patriots” when in uniform & waving ‘Old Glory!’ And yet, once back in the U.S. of A. the reality of “nigger” comes into view?! (Note: World Wars occurred prior to 1965).
The reality of ‘nigger’ is a [coarse] way of saying “institutionalized racism”?! For the majority of Afrikan descendants living in the U.S.A., being not caucasian translates into a very unpredictable and potentially dangerous existence(s)?! From discriminatory housing, job opportunities, and policing! The descendants of enslaved Afrikans are acutely aware of the penalty(s) of being colored?! The reality of being followed by security at all stores! Denied jobs because of one’s Afrocentric hairstyle(s)/or names(s)! Profiled by kkkops, conditioned by Anti-Afrikan socialization! They're pulled over, interrogated, intimidated! When they ask why they were pulled over? They’re told standard kkkop speak, “You were driving erratically! You changed lanes without signaling! You acted suspicious!” Etc. etc.… As if one’s innate fear(s) of kkkops, brought on by a lifetime of abuse and/or death at the hands of kkkops, was not enough to put a Black man/woman in abject fear of imminent harm?!
The dramatic increase(s) in shooting deaths by kops upon oftentimes unarmed men/women of color! clearly demonstrates the fact that they/we are not deemed citizens?! Simply put… ‘Black Afrikans born in the U.S. lives’ do not matter!’ How can I, or any person of Afrikan ancestry for that matter, ignore the consistent examples of bias(es), hatred, and genocide perpetuated against our brothas/sistas?! In so doing, continuing to either claim, or willingly accept being designated as an “American?” I am no Amerikan! I am, as brotha Malcom (nee El Hajj Malik [El]-Shabazz) said, “a victim of Americanism.”
I identify as “New Afrikan!” Which is, “a proud descendant of Afrikans, enslaved, & forcibly brought to the English colony! The “New Afrikan” promotes unity within his/her ethnic community. But also – a desire for solidarity to/with, other ethnic communities, based on class! (i.e. poor working-class) and objective(s)! ‘New Afrikan’ ideology is rooted in struggle… an acute overstanding of the historical miscarriage(s) which caused us to be enslaved (colonialist expansion & a need for free labor!) and in turn, exploited socioeconomically from 1865 – today! Until we as a disfavored minority, are truly the recipients of freedom, justice, and equality! I am not able to, nor am I willing to accept any ‘Amerikan’ designation(s)!
In the spirits of: George L. Jackson, Fred Hampton, James ‘Doc’ Holiday, and all of the unnamed he/she-roes of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM)… I stand firm!
Abdul Malik Kamau s/n [redacted]
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