If there is one thing that can be said about Black people that has caused a lot of pain, and yet is historically true, is that politically we are one of the most naive of people. We have been taken in by practically everything and everybody that has come to us. I think this taking in and this betrayal has something to do with both our weaknesses and our strengths. If you find the strengths of a people, you will find their weaknesses because the two are closely related.
We have been hospitable to strangers—nearly always to the wrong strangers! Nearly all of our relationships with non-African people began with a dinner invitation. More than anyone else in the world we repeatedly invited our future conquerors to dinner. I´m going to be dealing with Black-White alliances, going back 2,500 years.
I think that the nature of our betrayal by people who come among us, and who solicit our help and get it, tells us a lot. It tells us something that is quite frightening, i.e., we are totally an un-obligated people. We don´t owe Christianity anything because we created the religion. The Jews bought it and sold it back to us and used it a basis for the slave trade. We created Islam; then, the Arabs after years of fruitful partnership with us, turned on us and used Islam to justify the Arab slave trade. We created the concept called socialism. This is established in the fact that an African king 1300 years before the Birth of Christ was preaching the same thing from the throne that Karl Marx thought he invented. When the newly found socialism used us, it turned on us.
In looking at alliances, we´re looking at the Black man and his humanity and the manifestations of his humanity, in relationship to people in other parts of the world.
About 1600 years ago a group of people living in Asia, partly African, who had risen from their former status and were considered shepherd kings, put together an army and invaded Egypt. They stayed in Egypt for many years until the Egyptians could break the backs of these shepherd kings and drive then out. But many Egyptians (and I´m talking about a Black Egypt, at the time), feeling some disagreement with the prevailing status quo, took sides with the invader and permitted the invader to stay in Egypt much longer.
When the brilliant Queen Hatshepsut, one of the great women of history came to power, she drove the Hyksos out. Her mission was to remove the stamp of the invader from her country. This she managed to do. Subsequently, there were no more alliances, because the Africans went over and conquered the land of their former invaders, which caused a disruption within Africa itself. The Cushites invaded Egypt. The people of the Middle East (again, this tells you something about how we might miss certain points) were buying iron from the city of Meroe in Cush. These people made iron-tipped weapons while the magnificent army of Cush was using bronze-tipped weapons; bronze is softer than iron. With the iron bought from the Africans, they could drive the Africans out of the Middle East and begin the decline of Egypt. Once again, Africans had naively trusted an ally.
How is it that year after year over a period of 3000 years, people come into our house and manifest no loyalty to us. We are the only people who permit people to stay in our house without pledging their allegiance to us. One must be either loyal to the African house or leave it. The Greeks stayed in Africa, eating African food, sleeping in Africa´s bed, eating Africa´s bread for over 200 years, manifesting no loyalty to Africa. They went home and told Alexander, the so-called Great, how to come in there and conquer Africa—NO LOYALTY! All the Africans had to do was check those people out as to who they were.
Now let´s deal with the Christian alliances between the African Christian and the European Christian. The minute this man took over the religion, he thought he should be the boss of it. The Africans produced the first monastic order of monks, and the first school of catechism.
In 500 A.D., the most noted school of catechism in all North Africa was presided over by a Black woman, who was teaching white people the rudiments of Christianity. A Roman Zealot who thought he should be in charge, and who could barely read or write, brought a mob into her academy and killed her. They threw her bones into the sea so that she could not be made a martyr. This began the destruction of the religious alliance between the African and European Christians.
Romans corrupted Christianity, and had internal fights until the Africans began to turn on Christianity. Then the African world brought another religion into being. Two educated servants, both Africans from Ethiopia, created Islam. Bilal and Zaldbia Harlth, both Ethiopians, are the men who put down the basic documents which would later emerge as the Koran. The Africans began to establish a partnership with this religion and with the people of the Middle East. It was a good partnership. It would remain good for nearly a thousand years until the partner turned on the Black partner.
What am I really saying? I´m saying we people really need to take a good look at ourselves and begin to exercise the essential selfishness of survival. I´m saying that our first allegiance is going to have to be our Blackness or our Africanity. We will have to ask questions and make alliances that are based on self-interest. Too many of us think that we have to become ‘international’ now.
I think that when there is an international theme in the politics of the world, we have to create as our agenda, looking inward to ourselves first. We have to take inventory of ourselves as a people. We must stop talking about multi-racialism. People in power do not talk about multi-racialism. They talk about their laws, and either you obey them or get out. But we are so hung up on sentiment that we don´t know how to handle power. The only way to handle power is to be powerful; not to talk about it, but to exercise it.
Because we´re so non-racial, because we´re so tolerant, because we´re so kind, we do not produce the kind of safeguards to protect ourselves. We need some protection from our sentiment because sentiment and power don´t go together. When you become sentimental about power you don´t have it anymore. And we can lose some of our naivete and sentiment without losing our humanity, which is something I can´t say for most of the powerful people in the world. In order to lose their sentiment and to deal with power, they lost their humanity and human feelings toward human beings. I don´t think we have to do it.
What you have to understand is that you stand on the wings of power and you stand on the wings of the stage, ready to come on to the stage of history. And whether you do badly or not, or whether you´re ready or not, you can´t even stop coming if you wanted to. It will be left with you to make this the kind of a world that no man will have to apologize for his color and no man will have to celebrate it; but out of your essential Africaness, looking first and foremost, you might create the atmosphere where other people need not necessarily walk in fear.
Understand me well, I said nothing about forgiving anybody! I´m talking about how your energy will be deployed in building first, a social order for yourself and your children and then using your new position to build a social order for the world. I´m saying that only out of your nationalism and your Africanity can this happen.