Introduction: Post-Modern Blackness in Theory and Practice.
The song running over the credits of 1999’s sci-fi epic The Matrix from Rage Against the Machine, “Wake Up.”
I love the Matrix for giving us Black people being brilliant & in leadership positions. The Oracle, Morpheus…
— Touré (@Toure) May 17, 2011
In Afrolantica Legacies Derrick Bell utilized many occult themes — from racializing the legend of Atlantis, to extraterrestrial encounters with the sexy alien goddess Chiara, to a continued reliance on conspiracy theories, the man who blurbed books by both Louis Farrakhan and Barack Obama knew his esoterica.
And in Bell’s follow-up we understand why. After a small radical publisher released Afrolantica Legacies in 1998 a more mainstream, respectable house — Bloomsbury — blessed the world with his next book in 2002, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth. The chapter on spirituality includes the passage in the above illustration.
Bell rejected the principles of ethical monotheism that make up the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition and its political expression in classical liberalism. Instead of understanding human nature as flawed and man as separated from God he embraced the Gnostic conception: “To know self at the deepest level, they believed, is to know God.”
The practical result of this is self-worship, a form of idolatry and the practice the second of the 10 Commandments confronted.
This focus on the self manifests in both Bell’s arguments and his rhetorical style. Count the number of times the word “I” appears on any random page in one of Bell’s books. Note his frequent references to himself. Then do the same exercise with Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness. Here’s the top paragraph from page 168, where Touré drops 12 I’s:
Touré opens his second chapter by claiming that his vision of “Post-Blackness” will bring “spiritual liberation.”
What are his primary liberation concerns in the chapter he titles “Keep It Real is a Prison”? Liberating the black children trapped in inner city schools mismanaged by Democrats and teacher union bureaucrats? Liberating the law-abiding, black families struggling to keep out of the crossfire amidst the the astronomical rate of black-on-black violence? What about liberating the untold numbers of African blacks oppressed by dictators and Islamists? How about all the black women around the world today living as victims of female genital mutilation? What about the black women victimized by gang rape in the Congo?
No, with his focus on the self Touré wants black people to know they have permission to skydive, eat sushi, marry non-blacks, and engage in any other act that might generate the “acting white” or “oreo” slurs. Apparently in Touré’s view American blacks feeling good about themselves takes priority over non-American blacks living.
Is this what happens to someone who’s swallowed the red pill in real life? Is this what happens to those who think spiritual liberation comes through intense focus on the self?
P.S. Some of the lyrics from “Wake Up” attempt to deflect the role of the Nation of Islam in the assassination of Malcolm X and assert a conspiracy:
Ya better beware
Of retribution with mind war
20/20 visions and murals with metaphors
Networks at work, keepin’ people calm
Ya know they murdered X
And tried to blame it on Islam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot
Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with [Malcolm] like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours?-A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.
Update: See the third Commandment of Post-Modern Blackness here.