1 Corinthians 1 ... *puts on "Ooh Child" by Five Stairsteps*
The prerequisite for being progressive in thought, action or anything else as regards the forward movement of people of African descent is a deep love for the people. My father met Kwame Ture once and was given an autograph that read "For our people we must have undying love." According to him, this became a guiding principle in his life (and he recently received an award for his community work). But whether it is stated explicitly or implicitly, the feeling Ture referred to is a necessary component of a black life lived productively.
What does it mean to truly love the people? Let's do a short thought experiment. Think of something that some people do that annoys the heck out of you, something that you absolutely hate. For example, maybe you can't stand people who spit on the sidewalk. Now imagine that by some incredibly weird fluke of nature, every black person in the world started spitting 24/7, inside or outside, horking and stuff. If at that point, you could truthfully say "I love black people" then you're at the point I'm saying we all need to be at. It's not that loving black people means an anything-goes cultural pride that entails loving anything that is commonly done. It is not contradictory to love black people even if all black people are living lives completely contradictory to what you stand for. And you retain the love while equally retaining your principled opposition to spitting.
But truthfully, if you love the people and you think all the people are messing up, it will be a pained love. There will be an element of despair in your love. Let's bring the discussion back to reality. There is no good reason to feel that we're all just messing up. There's actually tons to be proud of, and I won't justify that statement since someone who would feel it needs justification is really quite far behind in getting where they need to be (slowing us up). But the love I have described is a love that sees true potential. A love that sees true potential is struck with some of that despair when faced with the state of black unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, co-operative economics, and purpose. Of course, the word "potential" indicates that the love is characterized by faith that we can build from where we are toward higher heights.
Is self-criticism good? Recently, after having been disrespected by a brother who was overreacting to something he felt she did, someone I know muttered "Black people..." I was like, what's that about? Why are you connecting the fact that he acted ignorantly to his being black? She had an explanation for what made her say that, but my inital reaction was linked to every and anytime I've heard someone say "See, that's why black people don't have nothing..." or "You know what's wrong with black people?" And yet, I'm in no way against self-criticism. I practice it and I think it is necessary. A lack of self-criticism often indicates tailoring your comments for the eyes of others instead of speaking directly to black people when talking about black people.
But self-criticism must be rooted in love for the people. It is simple as that. Actually, in practice, it's not that simple - the line between self-hate and self-criticism can be thin and hard to discern. But begin with yourself. Explore whether you ever are down on black people because of the way the doctrine of white supremacy has infected us all, each and every one. Then apply an analytical eye to self-criticism by other black people... does it display a desire to see us do better grounded in belief that we can? Is it constructive or destructive?
Racism - and I mean the sneaky unconscious kind - necessitates that the individual battle for self-esteem and love of self encouraged by psychologists is replicated on a people-wide level by people of African descent.
You might ask, what about the principle of loving all people regardless of race, creed, colour and all that?
Good principle - but before you learn to love someone else as much as you love yourself...