The horror! The horror! Those are the exclamations expressed by one of the characters in Joseph Conrad’s novel: The Heart of Darkness.
‘The Heart of Darkness’ is the story of a man who sails the river Congo on a steamboat. He witnesses the demoralized Congolese people.
The Congolese people were enslaved and made to work until they literally dropped dead. All of this occurred on their own land spearheaded by King Leopold of Belgium and corporate plunderers.
‘Horrible’ and ‘savage’ were the colonial descriptions of African people. This denigration happened at a time when the whole of the African continent was up for grabs and taken by those European nations with the biggest guns and most ruthless ambitions.
At the end of Conrad’s novel one of the central and most psychotic characters in the book wrote in a corporate memorandum: ‘Kill all the brutes’ meaning ‘kill all the black people because they’re animals’.
But you may ask, if you are concerned at all: ‘what relevance is a 19th century story to our lives here in the United States today?’
How can our lives as African people in the United States be reasonably compared to the lives of African people living along the winding river Congo in the latter part of the 19th century?
Would it be an unreasonable stretch of analogy to compare our inner city streets to the winding rivers of Congo?
Would it be an unreasonable stretch of analogy to compare our popular costumes to the nakedness of native Africans of that time?
Would it be an unreasonable stretch of analogy to compare black Americans’ estate to the misfortune of African people living within the Belgium colony resting its hand on Congolese land?
Would it be an unreasonable stretch of analogy to imagine passersby as perceiving black people as savages when lined along the inner city street curbs as did the white characters in ‘The Heart of Darkness’?
Would it be an unreasonable stretch of analogy to compare our lifestyles and employments today to the lowly status and slave drudgery of Congolese natives of that time?
Or, would our not being able to see a strong analogy between the Congolese estate at that time and black Americans’ estate at this time be indicative of a kind of psychological denial by African Americans of the fact that we African Americans live a cosmeticized life?
And if so, would we not be missing the ambiguous message of the relation between cosmetic makeup and the face which lies below it?
If so, would we fail to comprehend the simple implied proposition that the two are unequal in relation to one another; that more cosmetic makeup does not equal more time, but rather only more disgrace at the end of one’s time?
The United States is a cosmetic society because it is forever hiding its true face from the world. America does so to get a higher measure of appraisal from other nations and to deceive them. But the appraisal of America’s value from other nations is a misrepresentation of facts. Instead, the truth is that the American appraisal is a fiction.
But instead of seeing the unreasonable relation between America’s true value and its cosmetic makeup, black Americans have rushed into the makeup room and powdered up their faces too and in so doing have brought disgrace upon themselves.
We disgrace ourselves because we too hide the horror which lies beneath the surface of our cosmetic given to us by white supremacists. There are many examples.
For example, professional basketball players have no useful skills in the arts and sciences of survival. Yet, they are projected by media as spokespersons for millions of black people.
Another example is thespians. Actors and actresses have no practical skills. They bring nothing but pantomime to the table. Yet today, they are projected to black America as spokespersons for African Americans.
In the struggle for survival, we do not need functionally illiterate ball dribblers and script readers. We need scholars, scientists, and black people with practical survival skills. Those black people chosen by white supremacists must not be allowed to define the content of black people’s world view.
In America, the black man and woman’s subconscious mind has been made into a chamber of horrors. It is analogous to a medieval dungeon full of self effacing images, mind distorting beliefs, illogical ramblings, loud crowding sounds, and missing time in unknown places. But what shall we do? A thinker once said: “To measure is to know”; we must somehow appraise what ails us.
But to get even an estimate of the vast dimension of subconscious content we must position ourselves to observe the reflection of the subconscious in the mirror of black people’s social life; we can only view it one frame at a time. We cannot get a panoramic view.
Thus, we can never get a full measure of how horrific the experience of the ‘essential self’ of black Americans is. How trapped it is in a timeless and space-less chamber of horrors.
I remember what a sociologist once wrote in his book ‘Who Needs The Negro’ about the process of dehumanization of Native Americans.
He said that once the white people had concluded that Native Americans were no longer of use to them they linguistically demoted them from the ‘Noble Savage’ to ‘Bucks and Squaws’.
Later, they were linguistically demoted to the status of ‘savage animals’; after that the extermination began because white people had internalized the new subconscious images of what whites called the ‘Red Man’. That subconscious content initiated the rationalization for the genocide of them.
There is power in words; the sounds and images they convey to the mind and the behavior which they provoke can cause psychopathology. It is the same psychopathology which happened in the Congo in 1899.
The same psychopathology is happening to black Americans now in the United States.
You can see it on television and on YouTube. You can hear it on radio.
You can hear it in the demeaning words used by black boys and girls to describe each other.
You can hear it in the popular hip-hop lyrics. You can see it in the sexual lifestyle of young black girls and boys who have virtually no sexual self-discipline.
You can see it in the disgraceful behavior of young black adolescents fighting and killing one another and never comprehending that what drives their self hatred was implanted into their subconscious minds by white supremacists. Given that parallel, what should we expect?
The final solution must not be far off or it is happening right before our eyes…just as it was for Native Americans and just as it was suggested for the Congolese people: “Kill the brutes.”
In this historical hinge period, is there anything that we can do to stop it? I believe there is.
We need a day of self focus and self inventory.
We need to take out paper and pencils and with them list in order what we benefit by the current lifestyles we live.
On the other side of that same sheet of paper we need to list all the deficits which our current predicament is costing us.
And then we need to objectively evaluate the bottom line which will spell out in no uncertain terms that our personal and collective deficits far outweigh the benefits we get from the culture we participate. Now we need to take action.
From the east coast to the west coast and from the north to the south, we need to reduce the negatives in our lives by any means necessary. Alternatively, we need to increase the benefits by all means available.
We need to smile at each other in public places; shake hands; say Mr. and Mrs. or Miss. when we greet one another.
We need to be fathers and mothers as best we can and to never be afraid to ask for advice from those wiser than us.
We need to encourage one another in all positive pursuits.
We need to heal the pain we have suffered and which we have caused others to suffer. If you have harmed another brother or sister simply say to them face to face: ‘I am sorry for the harm I have caused you, and I will never do it again.’
We need to redefine moral boundaries. We need to admit that just because the law says we can do an act or just because everyone else seems to be doing an act does not mean we should condone it nor do it. We can say to all: “You go your way and I will go my way.”
We need to do that because there is right and there is wrong. We need to do it because there are life affirming acts and there are life denying acts. We need to affirm the reality of that dichotomy in our minds and change our lifestyles.
We need to affirm that every seed planted in the womb of a black woman is precious. And we need to defend that life with our very lives.
We can be ‘born again’. We can be born again out of the chamber of subconscious horrors into the Light of liberty and equality because that is what our Creator intended for us no less than for any other people on this Earth and in the great chain of life in the Universe.