By Kweku Akyirefi Amoasi
As a young person, when I learned about the Civil Rights movement, it appeared to me it was a struggle inside the struggle. We were forced to choose between icons. Do we ride with DuBois or Booker T? Is it Malcom or Martin? Why didn’t the Big 6 of the Civil Rights allow women like Dorothy Heights, Ella Baker, and Mary Church Terrell to share in the spotlight? It seemed to me, that even in the midst of celebrations and the quest for liberation, discord was consistently in the atmosphere.
Those who suggest that this inward fighting is the result of social engineering over hundreds of years of abuse and manipulation are quickly relegated to conspiracy theorist. However, the concept of menticide has been around since the 1950’s but illuminated by Dr. Bobby E. Wright in the 1970’s. Menticide, sometimes spelled mentacide, is the deliberate and systemic destruction of a person’s or a group’s mind.
Menticide is the seed that produces genocide, homicide, fratricide, and suicide. There are four walls of persecution that faces every Black person born in America. Ta-Neshisi Coates book, Between the World and Me, he brilliantly explains how the Black body is denied a certain level of humanity and is in consistent danger from systemic racism baked into the fabric of America, harm from the within group, and even inner turmoil that creates self- injurious actions, even suicide. The movie, They Cloned Tyrone,” is a fictional story that documents how the Black community is kept at bay by recreating character archetypes (e.g., rappers, pimps, drug dealers, preachers) that lead the sheep into a consistent state of underachievement, numbness, and self-destructive behaviors.
At this point, many say how long are we going to blame everyone else for our issues and not take a level of personal accountability? Agreed. Black History is often scoffed at by the masses because it is 1) forced upon us every February; 2) that month is inundated with overly repetitive stories of the same characters; and 3) the trauma porn of the dark past is not filled with action items to show us how victory can be won.
The answer is complicated. James Baldwin has two quotes which express our dilemma. He said, “to be Black in America, and relatively, conscious, is to be in a state of rage all the time.” Another quote attributed to him states “To be African-America is to be African without any memory and American without any privilege.” So, where does one start? How do you force a country to love you that recognized your ancestors as cattle? How do you go back home, to a land that is now foreign to you?
We must begin our own personal Sankofa, where we gain a true knowledge of self; 2) understand our power as a people stems from our unity; 3) revisit the strategies of our ancestors that proved to be effective in this land post emancipation; and 4) learn to play a new game for success. This game is not checkers, it is too simplistic. It is not chess, for an ethnic and financial minority can never win a game of attrition with a larger opponent. Family, consider the game of Go. Never heard of the game? That’s a form of menticide. To indoctrinate you with false and misleading propaganda and keep you away from the tools that can dismantle the master’s house. If you allow the masters house to remain, ask yourself, whose side are you on?