The Black Liberation Movement/Struggle throughout history helped our people to wake up, clean up and stand up.” We became aware of our connection with Africa and the Diaspora; We straightened our backs as we demanded and fought for justice; We built organizations and institutions to advocate for and solve our own problems. We did all of this despite state-sanctioned deprivation, discrimination, political repression and murder.
Our superhuman feats and faith informed and inspired other disempowered people who then launched or re-launched their own effective sociopolitical movements (women, LGBT).
To the extent that oppressed and marginalized people were empowered, this was a good thing. No one should be mistreated or deprived of dignity, regardless of if we understand or agree with their beliefs. Ultimately, we all yearn to be free. This of course includes Black women and members of the LGBT community. However the emergence of these two groups has not been without conflict.
Black women and members of the LGBT community like all of us, face mistreatment and exploitation due to white supremacy. They also endure additional mistreatment and rejection from some elements of the larger Black community. Narrow-minded and fundamentalist elements within the Nationalist community with our sometimes chauvinist and insensitive rhetoric and behavior have not helped the situation. Such intolerant and repressive attitudes and behavior (similar to that of racist rednecks) has helped to create “extremist” factions in the Black Feminist and LGBT communities (like similar factions in the Nationalist community) who develop unsound, inaccurate, and imbalanced perspectives as a result. Those who disagree with their perspectives are soon painted with broad (negative) strokes, ostracized, and met with indifference, distrust or flat out hostility.
Whether we acknowledge this or not, such intra-group hostility and intolerance constitute MAJOR threats to our collective liberation. The simple truth is Black Feminists Black Nationalists and the LGBT community have existed for longer than we imagine, and most likely aren’t going away just because anyone disagrees or feels “uncomfortable” by their presence. We are therefore left with two choices: Continue to attack, ignore or isolate one another, or begin discussions to heal, understand and work together. I am convinced that the first option will make all who participate in it, unwilling collaborators with white supremacy and Black subversion….in addition to making us inhumane and unprincipled.
We must seriously discuss ways to preserve/empower ourselves as a race against those who seek to eliminate us, while ensuring that we don’t maintain oppression, hostility or indifference among the various subsets of our race, all vying for recognition, respect, and power themselves (and rightfully so). Unless we give this serious energy, our alliances, priorities and hostilities will cause us to rot from within, seek each others’ decimation, and be absorbed and manipulated by outsiders and interlopers who despise and seek to dominate us all.
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 lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. In 2015, he wrote My Two Cents: Unsolicited Writings on Race, Politics, and Culture. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of theBlack Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment. He is the founder and coordinator ofHarlem Liberation School and the YouTube channel Black Liberation University.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org