Anytime someone compliments me or something I’ve said or done, I always give credit to the many excellent mentors I’ve been blessed to have throughout my life. I must confess that I probably have enough confidence and self-esteem to share (smile). Nevertheless, I recognize that many people much smarter and more talented than myself were defeated in life partially because they lacked the guidance and preparation I had.
Speaking of my mentors, they often told me that intelligence is not always registered or exemplified in the answers we give, but more so in the questions we raise. Penetrating and insightful questions often lead to the answers we seek and the answers we need.
With this in mind, this article raises a series of questions we must ponder on the road to our liberation. I should add that these questions are not rhetorical; Each one in my humble opinion actually begs us to study, discuss and ultimately answer them. Nor is this an exercise in debate or simple philosophy. While the mere attempt to seriously answer these questions will lead us to learn and challenge what we know, our liberation and fulfillment in part, is based on our willingness to raise the hard questions, answer them, and IMPLEMENT them. These are certainly not all the questions. Just a few on my mind….
Given the chronic issue of police brutality and other forms of murder and violence directed against our people, how do we organize to protect our bodies and communities against such attacks now and in the future?
- Because financial stability enhances our power in other areas and frees us to think and act in empowered ways (without fear of losing a job) how do we build independent economic power? Does capitalism hold any answers for us? Investing? Real Estate? Intellectual property? Entrepreneurship? Should we seek a socialist approach or combination of both? Is there an approach we should look into that we haven’t tried?
- Some members of our community struggle with very personal and traumatic issues like molestation and rape, self-hatred, insecurity, competitiveness, jealousy, etc. These personal issues often manifest themselves in myriad negative ways that threaten the harmony and effectiveness of our families, organizations, businesses and communities. What can we as a collective do to heal ourselves and improve ourselves as human beings?
- Much has been written about the state of our youth, and much of it negative. Whether we’re talking about a deficit of academic skills or political consciousness, how do we rescue and reclaim our youth, and prepare them to assume their future roles as leaders and problem-solvers for our community?
- The Black community as we know, is not monolithic, but very diverse in terms of class, and political and spiritual ideology. How do we develop the capacity to allow for such a diversity of beliefs while working together to achieve common goals? Is Black solidarity achievable, how so and what would this look like today?
- Most of us would likely agree that it is oversimplified and even inaccurate to simply classify “the white man” as our enemy today. Who or what is our greatest enemy? Are we, and if so how? In what ways do we confront and defeat our enemies?
- When we say “liberation” what specifically do we mean? What components does our liberation consist of? What would our liberation look like? Alternatively, are we already liberated?
- What should our relationship to Africa be, if any? Should we make special efforts to establish ties to Africa? Are we indeed an African people, and if so, how does that realization affect our politics, culture and values?
- Related to the first question is the issue of Black fratricide (Black-on-Black violence and murder). How do we confront and eliminate the widespread violence at our own hands that continues to run rampant in America?
- Strong, loving and committed Black relationships lay at the core of Black family and community. Yet, they appear to be so difficult to develop and maintain. What accounts for this dilemma, and how do we solve the problem of producing strong families? How does the growing presence of homosexual couples/marriages affect this, if at all?
- If indeed corporations and military interests control politics in America, how does the Black community exert more power and influence in this area? Should we continue to participate or modify how we participate in party politics? Are there alternatives we should consider?
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and protest. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at email@example.com.