First, a few housekeeping details:
- Remember that this class doesn’t use Blackboard. Check the course website every week for updates and detailed reading instructions which will appear on this page
- Get a copy of the two required course book if you haven’t done so already. You will need it to do the reading assignments for the rest of the semester. The bookstore claims to now have rental copies in stock: check with them.
- There’s a class WhatsApp group that is helpful–or so I’m told since I’m not on it. Anyhow, check it out if you haven’t yet.
- PDF file of chapter 4 is on the Readings page for those still waiting for the book.
On the weekly Zoom sessions:
- Audio of the weekly classes is on the Zoom archive page. Same password as everything else to access.
- Sign-up info for weekly Zoom sessions is on the Zoom meet info page. I recommend saving the meeting ID and password in your calendar or elsewhere to easily join
Lehman’s pre-graduate advising program offers weekly office hours for the graduate school application process and is having two sessions via Zoom. Wednesday March 11 will cover writing personal statements and Wednesday March 24 addresses admissions interviews. Details and Zoom link at their website.
Quick highlights from fourth class on 3/3
- Website review
- Zoom wait room music: James Brown’s “Get Up, Get Into it, Get involved“
- Musical selection: Quincy Jones’s “Walking in Space”
- Reviewed first half of Chapter 4 from Introduction to Black Studies
- See the Lecture Notes page for a PDF of the slide deck presented in class
- Zoom audio on the archives page
What to do for Week 6–March 10:
- Read: the first half of Chapter 4 (Africans in America) in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies (Sections 4.1-4.9 only; pages 105-147:
- Pay special attention to the subsections on The Holocaust of Enslavement, System of Enslavement, Reconstruction, Booker T. Washington, WEB DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells
- Pay special attention to Critical Thinking questions 1 and 3 on p. 185, especially the comparisons between the people named above
- More focused questions TBA
- Read “African American Historians and the Reclaiming of African History” by Dr. John Henrik Clarke (PDF on the Readings page)
- Read: the second half of Chapter 4 (Africans in America) in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies (Sections 4.11-4.12 only; pages 150-168). (PDF on the Readings page)
- Pay special attention to the following sections: Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Movement, Political Thrust, Cultural Thrust
- Read “Malcolm X: The Genesis of His African Revolution” (pp. 139-158) in Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s Africans at the Crossroads: Notes for an African World Revolution (PDF on the Readings page on Saturday.)
- Think about Clarke’s assessment of Malcolm X. Compare this to what you read last week on Garvey/Washington/DuBois. Make a few brief notes on this–just a few sentences or bullet points is fine.
RESPOND to one idea in the chapter and DISCUSS it with classmates and myself with the comment board at the bottom of this post
ATTEND the weekly Zoom session @ 6 PM EST on Wednesday March 10
General reading strategies:
- Underline/highlight key points in the text
- Use the reading questions at the back of chapters to focus you: read those first
- Try to understand the definitions of the key concepts listed at the back of the chapter
- Make a note to ask the instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand
- Note key issues, approaches, and dilemmas/challenges Dr. Karenga outlines
Chapter 5 in Introduction to Black Studies
Comments on posts:
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To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.
29 thoughts on “Week 6: Africans in America Part 2”
The use of the category “Holocaust of enslavement” rather than “slave trade” is to introduce and stress the moral dimension of the tragedy as distinct from commercial aspect. The use of “slave trade” puts stress on the commercial aspect of enslavement and often denies, ignores or diminishes the moral monstrousness that this massive destruction of human life, human culture and human possibility represents. When we hear Holocaust, we only think of the genocide of European Jews during World War II. We do not think to associate it with the enslavement of Africans that were brought to America in slave ships. I agree with the statement that the use of “slave trade” was to commercialize the aspect of enslavement. Slavery enriched white slave owners and their descendants, and suppressed wealth building for the enslaved. Here we are decades later with no reparations because the United States has yet to compensate descendants of enslaved Black Americans for their labor.
I agree, very well put. Also holocaust derives from an old word meaning burnt offering, or destroyed by fire, and the Greek term “holokauston,” a completely burnt sacrificial offering. The word evidently had the implication of mass murder even centuries ago. It seems like a very appropriate use of the term and correctly recenters our attention on human beings rather than a depersonalized economic function.
One of Dr. Clarke’s assessments of Malcolm X struck me in particular–his efforts to bring global attention to the ongoing struggle for freedom of African Americans within American society. After the partial successes of the Civil Rights movement and the shift toward the ideals of Black Power to advance the goals of full freedom, equal rights, and self-determination, Malcolm X turned his focus from civil rights to human rights and embarked on a series of trips, accepting invitations to visit sixteen African nations. These journeys would build a bridge of relationships linking the American and African continents. Part of his mission, around this time, was to call attention to the parallels between African colonization by European nations, American enslavement and the long struggles that continued in the aftermath of each. The African independence movement gained momentum in 1957, after Ghana declared independence from Britain, and Malcolm implored the independent African states to keep the American “freedom struggle for human dignity” (144) before the eyes of the world, and especially the United Nations. He asserted that the Civil Rights Acts of the early 1960s merely appeared to confer equal rights. Rather, he argued, “the United States Government is morally incapable of protecting the lives and property of 22 million African-Americans” and that the ongoing violence and violations of rights constituted a “threat to world peace” (144).
Dr. Karenga noted that around the same time the U.S. government engaged in “massive suppression and havoc” (165) on Black activists and nationalist efforts, which culminated in the FBI COINTELPRO counterintelligence operations overseen by the agency’s director, J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI used surveillance against Black leaders, interfered with media coverage, and fed the public disinformation about Black organizations. Also, as Dr. Karenga reported, “activists were shot and murdered, put in captivity on trumped-up charges or driving into exile and underground, and families as well as organizations disrupted and destroyed” (165).
As we have discussed in class, we can still see many parallels between the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s with the present time, when an athlete like Colin Kaepernick peacefully protests, loses his professional position, and is forced to endure the very public calumny and verbal violence of the President of the United States. In 2020, the Australian academic, Leila Morsy of Flinders University in Australia, published an opinion piece in the New York Daily News and argued that the treatment of African-American men by agents of United States law enforcement would meet the threshold to qualify for asylum in other countries. For many, in the eyes of the world, American hypocrisy remains clear.
The struggles of Malcolm X (and Dr. King), and the surveillance and involvement of U.S. law enforcement agencies to suppress their messages, retain their relevance today.
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One of the major struggles of the black communities in the United States is the fact that the people of those have no actual power over their own communities often leaven expose system inequalities like police brutality, poor education, economic disparity and other issues. The Black power moment was set to give back black communities control over their communities back. One of the most interesting approach was Malcolm X philosophy on Racial brutality and self-defense. He argued that it was criminal to teach people of color to not defense themselves, he believed that black people needed to speak a language their oppressors understood and that language was violence. “By any means necessary”
I honestly feel last year approach with the BLM movement, was a Malcolm X approach. His philosophy on racial brutality and self defense, paved the way for everyone to come together and take a harder stance against the injustice African Americans receive. After doing it the Dr. King approach at first, with Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Gardner, and Michael Brown, and seeing no to results. The “By any means necessary” approach was taken last year and sparked not just a huge impact in the US but all over the world.
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I have always been In agreement with Malcolm X philosophy, It is dangerous to teach people to not defend themselves, for how much longer are we going to march until we reach change? I have seen many Malcolm X interviews and speeches, in one of them he stated that In order to communicate with someone you need to speak their language and those oppressing us speak violence we need to communicate in their language. Speaking in their language does not mean be violent with people and attempt to oppress them, it means defend yourselves, defend your family, defend your people “by any means necessary”. Sometimes violence is the only language they understand.
I agree with what you said about the Malcolm X line, because blacks needed to defend themselves. Blacks had to find a way to find oppression, so it does make sense that the oppressed speak the language of their oppressors. So, they can get their points across.
@ Angel P.
Indeed Malcolm X felt it was time for Blacks to take a stand and fight back and we will not put
up with the abuse anymore, and if we have to retaliate, then we will fight back if provoked to do so.
Dr. Clark’s writing always contain some type of feeling of strength and ambition. He gives great insight and wisdom about the struggles in the black community. As we all know Malcolm X was the leader of the civil rights movement and fought for the rights of the black community and the racist abuse towards them. He encouraged others about being being nonviolent and having self dense. Dr.Clarke thought of Malcolm X as a man who had great political influence, an influence to help those in the struggle for equality and freedom.
African Americans had to fight long and hard to gain, their independence and develop their self identity. A term that I found interesting was the Culture Resistance, which means: retention, creation and use of culture to inspire and sustain the struggle of freedom and maintain one’s humanity. During the reaffirmation period in the 1960’s many events took place, in order for African Americans to gain respect and power amongst their communities. In this time period groups were created such as: SNCC,CORE, and NAACP, which exposed the white supremacy that was taking place in the United States.
This is not directly related to this week’s readings, but I was assigned to watch this documentary for my Culture and Criticism class and was floored by what I learned about the long, extraordinarily rich, and somewhat obscured (for reasons we have discussed in class) narrative of African-American art as revealed in this film. It’s called “Black Art in the Absence of Light” and surveys about 200 years of Black art and artists in the US, featuring interviews with Black artists, art historians, critics, museum curators, and studio visits with a number of leading Black artists on the philosophies and natures of their work. Directed by Sam Pollard. It is streaming on HBO with no paywall until March 17. Check it out if you are interested: https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/black-art-in-the-absence-of-light
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Also not entirely related but not entirely un-related either, but there’s a great new docu-series on Netflix called “Amend” hosted by Will Smith, with amazing actors (Mahershala Ali, Samuel L. Jackson, Lena Waithe) and many different history scholars that explores the Fourteenth Amendment and they do cover some of what we’ve already gone over, and it’s really well done, I’m enjoying it a lot!
I also saw on Criterion Collection app that the film “Nationtime” by William Greaves (about the National Black Black Political Convention held in 1972, which is discussed in the chapter (pg. 166) is now available to watch so I’m planning to get into that as well!
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Thank you, Julie. I’m going to check out both of those, at your suggestion. Also, I found this interesting article today in Hyperallergic–a small survey of depictions of Kwame Nkrumah (we discussed his important role in Ghanaian independence a couple of weeks ago) in both documentary and narrative films and a reminder of the nefarious role the US played in the coup that overthrew him. https://hyperallergic.com/628353/kwame-nkrumah-legacy-in-film/
This article also reminds me how much energy the US right has spent vilifying the word “socialism.” (Many of the collective principles of Maat would also fall under similar attack.) Some of Prof Williams’ lecture last evening (3/17) touched on excellent and practical Black-initiated projects of the 1960s such as 24-hour child care and children’s breakfast programs. In the context of today’s hyperpartisan politics, those too would likely be lambasted as “socialist,” although even today they would offer great advantages for families, if only we could muster the will to revive them.
I believe that this weeks reading was very interesting and it gave so much information throught history in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. When reading this chapter it explains how the Black Power movement can be devided in four basic tendencies which is the religious trust, the cultural thrust, the political thrust, and the economic thrust. These four categories represent areas of emphasis and are not exclusive of each other.
African’s at a crossroad by Dr. Clarke talks about Malcolm X. in particular Black Revolution, basically
Malcolm X wanted rights for Blacks and that the Blacks should stand up for themselves. Basically the
self- defense strategy. If someone hits you, you must retaliate and fight back.There is a saying enough
is enough meaning what we have endured for so long, we as Blacks will not put up with it anymore
and we will seek revenge etc. so the Black Revolution was designed as a platform to stand up and
be strong and for the Blacks and so.
@ ismall shokeye is good when you don’t use violence like Malcolm X did, but i don’t think that i will resist as much abuse as the one that black people has gone through for so long. as you can see the abuse continues in 2021…
you are right but there are consequences for both actions either way. Martin Luther King believed in
non violence and would protest and make Marches etc. That view some people in the south didn’t like
and view him as a trouble maker and that is why he was locked up because he was parading and marching
without a permit so it was illegal what he was doing. Malcolm X believed in fighting back if provoked, as
a black man in corporate America if a black man fights someone, they are seen as the bad person
and the law would not favor blacks to some extent and would likely be killed or go to jail. Two wrongs
don’t make a right, you have to consider that philosophy.
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I think Malcolm X’s philosophy in that regard was one that many did not want to accept, but had to.
Violence is always unfortunate, but at the same time it is a necessity.
Sometimes violence is the only way to make progress. Malcolm X’s philosophy was different in the sense that his voice did not tell the black community to attack White America offensively, but to instead attack White America defensively, if that makes any sense.
I agree with your post and with the articles of John Henry Clarke, it is important to be able to speak up and stand up for the correct reasons and rights. We are living in a time that we need to teach our children that it is important to stand up for yourself and for what you know its right. No longer to put up with unfairness and mistreatment either physical, emotional or overall any mistreatment. Yet I still find it sad that we continue to see violence against Blacks in the time that we are and even though we are teaching our children that enough is enough we need to continue to fight for it.
I found Dr. Clarke’s write-up of Malcolm X in the reading to be extremely powerful. He expertly captures and touches on the many ways he shaped civil rights, and how his legacy continues to pervade the struggle in its current iteration.
I remember when I was growing up, people were always comparing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X because they were the two best known American figures of the fight for Black equality in that era of the struggle, which is reminiscent of Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. DuBois vs. Garvey in their era. As a White person growing up in Texas, Dr. King was definitely spoken of with a lot more reverence, and Malcolm X was treated with more reservation, painted as more of an anarchist and taken very much out of context. When comparing Dr. King and Minister Malcolm X, the latter of the two was definitely the more incendiary, the more threatening in terms of the White establishment, although they were ultimately both persecuted and assassinated. And they were both equally important, in my view, because they achieved different things, all to the benefit of African Americans. However, without Malcom X, I don’t believe we would be nearly so far as we are today– he made such gigantic strides in a short time, successfully built upon the legacy of Marcus Garvey, whom he emulated in some ways, and had managed to self-educate himself to a point so as to completely intimidate all who would dare debate him. Most notably, he took what the racist White establishment in America saw as a private “home” issue that they dragged their feet to resolve and brought it to a world stage, turning a civil rights issue into a human rights issue, and garnering new and fervent support from outside the United States. He was truly a brilliant strategist with a sincere passion for the cause and it took him and Black America very far, while he was alive and certainly after his murder.
I also think that, without the magnitude and power in Malcolm X’s convictions and his subversive rejection of Whites as opposed to a Washington or Dr. King approach of integrationism and non-violent compromise, White America would have taken much longer to evolve and compromise as much as they ultimately have (though of course there is still so much more to do and achieve). If it were not for figures like Malcolm X, the needle simply doesn’t move as quickly or as far as it needs to for equality to be truly achieved.
Despite the paltry education I was given when it comes to Black Studies before this course, I have learned enough over the years after high school to have gotten a better understanding of Malcolm X as he really was, but the textbook and this reading just give me a renewed respect and awe for the man and his vision, his dedication to this cause, and I think he’s someone for anyone to look to as a role model for human development and growth and the betterment of civilization.
I just find this man very interested John Henrik Clarke
He talks about his own upbringing, and his growing interest in Pan-Africanism, the failures of the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement, his close friendship with Malcolm X, and his critical assessment of Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March. He also gives a primer on the history of African civilization, and argues that no conquering or colonizing power ever “brought civilization” to Africa, but rather these nations destroyed what civilization they didn’t understand, and brought many of Africa’s ideas back to their bases in ancient Greece and Rome..
Also He talks about his own upbringing, and his growing interest in Pan-Africanism, the failures of the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement, his close friendship with Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was a man of respect this philosophy, It to teach people to not defend themselves in aggressive way. Malcolm wanted to fight for the rights of black people because of the racist abuse he and his family had suffered.
He spoke passionately at rallies big gatherings and events and lots of people listened to his messages.’We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.” this is a powerful
Malcolm X, 1963.
I both like and agree what you have to say about Malcom X but I think it is also fair to include that Malcom X at one point he was ok with violence if it was in self defense.
When I started to read this chapter I was lost as to what was happening. After the class I got an insight as to what was really going on. There are a few things that caught my attentio during my reading.:
The Holocaust Of Enslavement: It expressed itself in three basic ways:A morally monstous destruction of human life; A morally monstrous destruction of human culture; The morally monstrous destruction of human posibility’
Genocide: which is the killing of a whole people
Physical Genocide: is defined a s the killing of a people bosily
Cultural Genocide: Is destroying the bases of their life
The Holocaust of enslavement impacted ecomonic activity. It destroy and interrupted industries as well as markets.
Cultural Resistance: the retention, creation and use of culture to inspire and sustain the struggle for freedom and maintain one’s humanity. A wef forms of cultural resistance are cultural retention and synthesis, cultural creation along with maintenance and development of a family against all odds.
I always heard about W.E.B. Dubois but did not really know the history behid him didnt realised he was Washington’s foremost critic. He argued that Washington’s leadership was not so original as it was reflective of the times. He also rejected Washington Washington’s demand that Blacks give up ‘political power, he also insistence on civil rights and higher education. I like that Dubois not only oppose Washington , but he also offered his own form of confrontational and agitational leadership.
My favorite of them all Marcus Garvey: Garvey was a critic of Dubois and they clashed openly in their struggle for leadership . I like that Garvey advocated statehood and state power for blacks while his opponent Dubois stresses political participation within the US system.
My previous comment went under the wrong week no wonder I wasnt seeing it. It should of posted to week 5 instead of 6.
What I want to talk about is both the Holocausts of enslavement and the form of resistance or more of a story I have about resistance. Now the Holocaust of Enslavement is curious not in a good way but in a way that just brought my view to the name. You see when one thinks about the Holocaust they immediately go to world war two. Were we fought with Hitler who was killing of Jews because they were not what he imagined were superior people. That’s also the first thing that shows up when you type Holocaust into google. However after reading this and understanding more or less what was actually happening, it has occurred to me that this does not receive as much light. Maybe its because people want to forget it or maybe it was because there weren’t as many casualties, I don’t know. But destroying people not only physically but both mentally and historically is bad we can all agree with that. I mean these people were destroyed, we barley now about their history now and the way this article is stating what has happened to the history I fell is watered down. We basically made it impossible for them to learn about themselves at one point. If you have noticed I keep saying we, well what I refer to is the whole world because at one point many major countries were using Africans as slaves by kidnapping them from there home. That is also something different from the holocaust. NO one came to help Africans and they were left to defend themselves while we at least helped the Jewish people from Germany. I mean imagine this Holocaust of Enslavement being so bad that you had to fear your saviors. What I am referring to is when slavery was still a thing there was also a way of escape. The underground railroad. Now imagine having to be afraid of them to. Not only for the consequence of being caught but also for being shot by them. I don’t remember were I read this but Harriet Tubman was rumored to carry a gun. Not only for protection but to also shot any slaves that had second thoughts of escaping and going back to there masters. Imagine being afraid of both your saviors and your captors. We put African Americans into a world were all they now is fear and work. This is what I think the Holocaust of Enslavement should be described as.
Hi there! I don’t know who I am replying to based on initials alone but I’d like to address your comment on the Holocaust of Enslavement.
Firstly, I’ve never heard that Harriet Tubman carried a gun, but if she did then that helps highlight the urgency of the situation Africans and African-Americans alike had to navigate through. Slavers tried to brainwash and indoctrinate slaves so much to be subservient that many slaves grew to be fearful of a potential escape; the sheer thought of being caught, and the likely impending consequences.Who could predict the severity of the consequences? Surely they couldn’t be too good.
If Tubman did carry a weapon and would shoot those who showed signs of doubt and second thoughts, I do not think it is something that she should be faulted for. At the end of the day, none of us knows what it was like to be in the shoes of slaves. To have to flee for your life and make life-changing decisions with only minutes and sometimes seconds to decide what to do. That prospect can toughen the heart. Like I said, I am not sure if Tubman did or did not carry a weapon, but I do think that this highlights that slaves and abolitionists had to have iron-wills to do what was necessary to try to save themselves and others if possible.
An iron-will to be mentally prepared and physically prepared for all outcomes, whether positive or negative. In either case, one mistake could prove fatal for slaves attempting to escape. I appreciate the comparison between the WW2 Holocaust and Black Holocaust because they do have similarities to an extent, and the reasoning behind them both was especially similar: contempt, to brainwash/indoctrinate, and to get free labor.
Since Dr. Clarke speaks of Malcolm X, I’d like to chip into my own insights on him.
When we think of the 1950s-60s Civil Rights movements, we think of names such as Dr. King and Malcolm X. These are probably the most notable Civil Rights figures most people will recognize today.
The philosophies between these two are different, however. While they shared the common goal of wanting the advancement of blacks (and all races), their ideas on how we, as a community, should bring about said advancement differed.
For instance, Martin Luther King Jr followed more in the footsteps of figures like Gandhi with the belief in progress through peace. To not stoop down to a level of hate and violence, but to elevate oneself through defying the opposition’s attempts at dropping us down. If we think back to the Civil Rights era, we can recall that even the police, firefighters, and the government were widely not on the side of the pro Civil Rights group. It took perseverance through hardship, through abuse, through time to bring about change.
When I think about a philosophy like progress through peace, I think of it as one in which progress takes time.
Malcolm X’s philosophy was one that many embraced while others shunned. He was a great Civil Rights leader, but also a polarizing one. In many aspects, he was the cold, hard truth. He split beliefs on how to proceed towards black advancement. Should fighting back or taking all the attacks be the way to proceed? Malcolm X kept it real. He did not sugarcoat and he was a tough leader in the sense that he urged us to do what needed to be done and helped expose to more and more people why such action and change was necessary.
In his eyes, defending ourselves as colored people was not just an option, but an obligation. He believed that we have taken too much abuse to continue to just take more so close to the finish line. He believed that it was time to fight back. Not offensively, but defensively. No longer should we just take the abuse, the beatings, the weapons, the conspiracies, etc.
Personally, I agree with this philosophy. It takes toughness to make progress. Sometimes the only way forward is not the easy way to go.
Sometimes violence is the only path to progress. Malcolm X’s philosophy was different in the sense that his voice did not tell the black community to attack White America offensively, but to instead attack White America defensively. He helped highlight to audiences nationwide and perhaps worldwide that a lack of civil rights is an attack to world peace. His message even spread to other nations to implore colored people to take back their lives and advance each other as a people.
The reading by Clarke starts with a very interesting quote that says “what we do for ourselves depends on what we know of ourselves and what we accept about ourselves” which I agree that it relates a lot with the history of African people. The reason being is because for many years their history has been either ignored, re invented or locked away. The article portrays that the way we look at the history of African people is only by the period of slavery which is just a small part of the overall history. The history of African people goes beyond just the period of slavery and people need to start learning about what African people accomplish before they were enslave, since African people indee are the oldest people in the world. In fact since history is being told from their oppressors side there is no way that it’s accurate and that they will be teaching something worth learning and important. Instead the African child is being thought of what they will be or what they think they will be when becoming an adult. Meaning African people will never receive a lead role and that they should stayed on the sidelines. The media has brainwashed so many people especially minorities throughout time that it is important to break away from stereotypes and labels. This is a way to resist and stay away from what the oppressor wants you to learn. Because it is limited to the knowledge they want you to gain. As the article mentions, all education should lead for the student or child to empower themselves and gain power instead of holding him/her back and preventing them from growing. Which will lead to further growth, determination to be wherever you want without any setbacks. But African people already start with a disadvantage because i believe that when history is being told they are being told of their destiny. Therefore history should be told differently without setbacks, without the perspective of the oppressor and with the whole history of African people, including not only their slvery period but their accomplishments, and how important they were by being one of the first people in the whole world.
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