THE FATALISM OF DICHOTOMIES: The Institution (Academia and the Black Conscious)

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The Fatalism of Dichotomies is a collection of 8 essays written by Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle**, a Motswana writer with roots in South Africa too. The collection of pieces is framed to be objective, in that it endeavours to explore the New Black Conscious through the scrutiny of some of humanity’s most prevailing dilemmas.

I know many people, or rather I have interacted with people on different social media platforms. I can tell you of a lot of encounters which left me rather amused, baffled and utterly distraught of the ideas, ideals and propaganda of what is poised to be if not the New Black Conscious. One encounter, in particular, I visit every once in a while is rather both alarming and needed. I came across a person who argued by virtue of my sexual orientation, that is, my gender, I’m oppressive to him. Now I’m of the belief that all white people are racist unless they prove me wrong and I’m yet to be proven wrong. Hence I would be a hypocrite to argue against this but it is also a stance and argument I did not fully comprehend. As much as white people do not choose to be born nor can I change my sexual orientation. I’m by the words utter person, a straight cis male. And that is true. I, however, was unaware that my sexual orientation interfered with theirs let alone was cause for alarm, especially in particular to them.

When we, precursed by both the sins of the Garden of Eden and being the descendants of Ham, were outside the formalised Caucasian institutions of higher learning were able to form a black conscious separate from their ideals. That is not to say pre-colonial times, we had no school of thought. We had plenty schools of thought and many hailed by the Greeks & Romans and from their own where ideals are borne– from and of Africa. This is attested for and verified by the naming of the stars and gods using the names of ancient African scholars/teachers by these colossal cultures. However, the white man did outsmart us not only in battle but in completely severing our ties to our history therefore taking any conscious thought we had formed. And it is this very act that forced us to create, from nothing, a totally new black conscious. This is the conscious of freedom and liberty. We had to fathom a new black conscious that did not exist in a past but a future, that is, conscious that for the longest dealt with the atrocities of the white man. Now it has shifted to address it’s own cruelty, that of the black against another black. Therefore, by no mere error nor fault, the black man is the now the slave master. And this is to a great extent, a great truth. A truth many black men will not blatantly admit to as the white man desperately attempts to always clarify that he is not his ancestors despite continuing the same injustices they did, but only in a more subtle and less haughty manner. The black man is guilty of the sin of not partnering with but instead subduing the black woman and all those who identified to any other gender than that is non-traditional

With this necessary and crucial admission made, we now must analyse the truth of the black conscious in the 21st century. The disillusion, disenchantment and detachment of what this piece refers to as “the New Black Conscious” from the Black Conscious of its predecessors is its ego. That is to say, its malady is its need for the grandiose. It has become the snake that’s feasting on its own self. It is distracted by the need to be right than the need to learn and overcome it’s oppression. Now that has resulted not only in its self-oppression but a deterioration of its mental wellbeing. It has created an adverse group thinking that cannot be criticized let alone allow individualistic ideals prosper. In other terms, any black person who thinks for themselves and questions the ideas of this “New Black Conscious” is not black. What this then brought up was two consequences; one being a desire to please this “New Black Conscious” and the second being a creation of a radical non-conformist ideal movement. There is a third outcome but it was not necessarily brought upon by “the New Black Conscious“, it did, however, enable and embolden it. That third being the black ‘alt right’. The likes of those who support Donald Trump.

The author will argue that, at least, in part that narration that begins this piece is a result of the very same “New Black Conscious” and that black conscious is a product of The Academia. In this paragraph and those to follow, we will then explore and traverse with delicacy and intricately the argument against The Academia. One point that has been argued exhaustingly is the anti-black curriculum in Africa. In the mother continent itself, despite the infamous frivolously celebrated independence/freedom, the education is far from reflecting let alone teaching African ideals and thoughts. As a result, we are left in most part, with three main categories of Africans. The first is the majority. These are those who are unaware of the fallacies, misinformation and propaganda permeating their brains. Totally unaware of their mental enslavement let alone the physical enslavement, and not only their prejudice against fellows blacks but also towards themselves. These are the perfect ones, the ones that carry forward the agenda and propaganda of the West. The second being the ones who largely form “the New Black Conscious“. These ones are trouble because they are unaware of their own prejudices and carry their ideals as the last word. They cannot be reasoned with as they believe that salvation hides in the obliteration of identity and in particular, the identity of the cishet straight black male. Their agenda is in broad terms to fight two main systems of oppression; one being the white man and the second being patriarchy (which they associate with the cishet straight black male). One day, it is the hope of the author to argue the origin, causation and stakeholders of patriarchy. 

The third but surely not least are the ones who simply choose to disengage especially in the face of the ruckus of the former. They chose to disengage also from a nihilistic point of view. They therefore surrender and allow the second ground, being the loudest vessel to propagate and by extension facilitate their growth. 

But the author would love to discuss a “fourth group“. This group is the one with the potential to build and in the belief of the author would be the most productive. This is the group in the grey areas, that understand nuance and appreciate the blurred thin grey areas between each group. This group has the potential to lead the “New Black Conscious” into the realm of truth and fact.

We have not analysed the opening narration and it’s time to now conclude by analysis of the narration. A white person is not racist by the mere fact of being white but it is by the lack of admission and omission of a few facts that he/she becomes racist. He/she is racist by:

  • Failure whether through ignorance or simply blatant denial that his/her fortune is the work of an oppressed black person;
  • That his/her ancestors stole and committed genocides in order for him/her attain said fortune;
  • And that to this day, he/she continues to not only profit from the deeds of his/her ancestors but partakes, whether aware or otherwise, in the impoverishment and oppression of the black person. 

Therefore, using the same rationale, a cishet straight black male becomes an oppressor to any other being if and only if, he fails to acknowledge the same terms by which a white person becomes a racist. The narrator is by no means a homophobe nor a chauvinistic misogynist by simply being a cishet straight black male. It is by the narrator’s failure to acknowledge the status/privilege he enjoys that he then becomes the aforementioned nouns. It is then the burden of both parties engaged in the dialogue to ascertain which is true. But due to the failings of an academic system supposedly meant and created to liberate and educate the black person, he/she is imprisoned to only seeing the enemy but never the ally in those who are of a different nature to his/hers. This failure then further divides the black populace reducing them to internal feuds that could have been resolved if any had the capacity to understand the underlying tones of the dialogue, and winning wasn’t the intention of interaction.

The reason, in part, that the old black conscious was more cohesive, hence Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were able to share ideas, was due to the fact that the black conscious mostly existed separate from The Institution. That is, black people went to separate academic institutions from white people. This in turn made the black person much more aware of his nature and plight and could therefore fathom better what his/her needs were. The black person had to educate him/herself, therefore he/she learnt to not only read but decipher and interpret the subtext forming a consciousness unprecedented to the whites. With this power, he/she was able to mobilize, viscerally so, his/her kin into action. This power was lost with the independence as it was assumed, as it should have been that academic institutions, especially in the motherland, would compensate for time lost and provide in abundance the tools needed for the Black Conscious to grow and evolve. Now what is left is the debris of the old consciousness scattered and with no common ground with the New Black Conscious. A terrible date which could have been avoided but we have reached the point of make or break. The New Black Conscious has to figure its true fight and course or otherwise undo centuries of ground laid for this generation to reach for the stars. Unless we, collectively scrutinize each other and accept that we are in one way or the other, wrong about each other we will continue to only fail and dismantle the very foundation meant to help us carry the burden of the house in which we lay our heads. In short, a radical overhaul of the black person’s education and educational experience, which does not only revolve around colonisation and songs of and about freedom, this is only the tip of the iceberg from which we will sink.

Signed: S.I.N

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**Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle is a Motswana writer from Mmankgodi with roots in Potchefstroom & Mafikeng in South Africa as well. He has been an avid writer since his pre-teens, but his love for literature dates back to his mastery of nursery rhymes at just 5 years old. He pursued his writing skills via various forms all through his teenage years, eventually moving into facilitating and nurturing other talents in his early 20’s. He eventually took a 2-year hiatus from writing which ended in 2019, when he rekindled his love affair with writing through a series of brilliant ideas. In 2020, these ideas would go on to grow into ambitious multimedia projects originating from Africans, For Africans.

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