Today, New Black Nationalists in America’s settler state issued a call to explore the formation of a New Black Diaspora Movement (NBDM). The initiative was launched in conjunction with NewBlackNationalism.com’s George Floyd Memorial Project.
The tidal wave of protests that consumed the planet in June and July of 2020, condemning George Floyd’s execution by Minneapolis police, has injected new and diverse currents into the African Diaspora’s bloodstream.
As W. Bernell Brooks, Editor of NewBlackNationalism.com noted, “The contagion metastasized to Brazilian favelas, European metropoles, South Africa's Bushveld, the Caribbean and Melanesian basins. In the process, this insurgency gave rise to a qualitatively different counter-carceral movement--one embedded with a new molecular structure. We characterized this nascent trend as Black Lives Matter 2.0.” The scale and depth of the insurgency, Brooks suggested, compels Black scholars and activists to recalibrate previous assumptions and theories guiding African diasporic thought.
Consonant with the distinct rhythms and political trajectory of BLM’s 2.0 upsurge, New Black Nationalists assert that momentum is gathering for a shift in the African Diaspora’s intellectual center to an alternative discourse. In particular, this call for a New Black Diaspora Movement was significantly influenced by Black scholar Sebabatso Monoeli’s June 30, 2020, article “We Have No Harlem In Sudan.”
Professor Monoeli's work posted on Africasacountry.com's website argued that, “The current anti-global discourse on Black Lives Matter does not yet adequately include anti-black racism beyond how the West and white settler states experience and theorize it. The American framework for anti-Black racism is rooted in white supremacy stemming from Europe’s long history of racism and through its imperial occupation in large parts of the world. Although this specific prism illuminates anti-Black racism in post-colonial cities and countries, it inadvertently concedes it in places with different histories.”
New Black Nationalists concur with Professor Monoeli’s assessment. From our perspective, affecting a rupture with the orthodoxies of the present is the order of the day. Further, it can be credibly argued that the activist element of BLM's 2.0 insurgency is now leading a global multi-racial, multi-ethnic, non-heteropatriarchal counter-carceral movement that is substantially invested with moral authority.
So that there is no ambiguity on this point, let us be clear: The BLM 2.0 global rising does not bear the hallmarks of a masculinist or heteropatriarchal movement. Rather, the composition of the millions who participated in demonstrations worldwide, and those who led these efforts reflect the original Black Lives Matter leadership core, founded by three women committed to creating new spaces for women, LGBTTQ communities, and the marginalized.
As the international situation grows increasingly dynamic, the Black Diaspora cannot afford to squander the collective energy and heat of this historical moment. To that end, rather than proposing a New Black Diaspora Movement in the abstract, this call includes a table of issues that attempts the radical capture of Professor Monoeli’s vision.
The issues outlined in the following table represent an experimental model of what an alternative Black diasporic agenda might look like. It can also serve as a useful instrument to probe which issues may be foundational to a new diasporic construct.
The Table Setting
- End the privileging of Western-centered Black Atlanticist and Pan-African theories, chronology-based Black Enlightenment progress narratives, and “Middle Passage” epistemologies.
- Establish Black Feminist/LGBTTQ theory as a foundational component of Black diasporic thought.
- Assign new priority to scholarly works and dialogue on the “Black Eastern” diaspora experience, including a focus on strategies to end the practice of enslaving Blacks on the African continent.
- Prioritize support and popularize the “Black Pacific” sovereignty movements of Australia and Torres Straits First Nation Aboriginals. Create a formidable support network for the national liberation struggle of West Papua from Indonesia.
- Maintain an open Black Diaspora cultural forum.
To push this vessel out of the harbor to sea, agreement on a political agenda may be less critical in the short-run than achieving broad consensus around a conceptual framework of unifying identities and currents that can bind a New Black Diaspora Movement into a coherent project.
In this regard, Professor Michelle Wright’s formulation concerning Black identity in the African Diaspora, may be a useful analog for consideration. In her book "Becoming Black," Wright posited that, “Unlike Black Africans, who ultimately define themselves through shared histories, languages, and cultural values, Blacks in the diaspora possess an intimidating array of different historical, cultural, national, ethnic, religious and ancestral origins and influences."
Framing the problematic, Professor Wright goes on to conclude that, “Any truly accurate definition of an African diasporic identity, then, must somehow simultaneously incorporate the diversity of Black identities in the diaspora yet also link all those identities to show that they indeed constitute a diaspora rather than an unconnected aggregate of different peoples linked only in name. Attempts to produce a history of Black or African diasporic self-consciousness in the West have tried to negotiate between these two extremes by linking different Black communities through a common historical moment or a shared cultural trope--usually one with West African origins. These efforts have only been partially successful because there is no one historical moment or cultural trope to which one can link all of the diasporic communities now living in the West."
Although the NBDM project isn't attempting to define a Black or African diasporic subject, Professor Wright's observation concerning the pitfalls and limitations of defining shared diasporic identities and cultural tropes is instructive.
There are common threads coursing through BLM 2.0’s diasporic opposition to state-sanctioned violence and terror. There has also been an abundance of multivalent expressions revealed in the “great reckoning” now underway to reconcile the legacy and symbols of white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism. Grasping the unity and contradictions inherent in these phenomenon in any given country, may constitute the nexus of resolving the problem raised by Professor Monoeli of Western-centered analysis and epistemologies.
The proposition to launch a New Black Diaspora Movement was conceived principally as a scholarly project to generate alternative perspectives, ideas, analytics, cultural, and intellectual products. At the same time, we live in a period of rapidly accelerating developments that are propelling broad sections of people into the political and social fray.
In today’s digitized world we have the ability to package, format, and inject these new ideas and products directly into Black diasporic mass movements in virtual time. We have the momentum. We have won the political argument against state-sanctioned violence, terror, and the carceral state. We command the moral high ground. Arguably, the Black diasporic intellectual guard may be lagging behind the aspirations and actions of our people.
We have a decision to make. We are confronted with an opportunity gap in search of an animating force. Are we at least willing to try to match the majesty and intensity of the moment with an alternative Black diasporic construct?
To all individuals and parties who are interested in exploring the possibilities of raising a New Black Diaspora Movement as an open-ended, voluntary union of free thinkers, we encourage you visit our website at NewBlackNationalism.com. You may also send us a Twitter message @WBBrookslll. We have created a special section for the New Black Diaspora Movement project on the site. Join us there for further details.
On behalf of the stateless maroons of NewBlackNationalism.com, we look forward to hearing from you soon.
September 4, 2020