The Revolution Will Not Be Theorized by Errol A. Henderson;

The Revolution Will Not Be Theorized by Errol A. Henderson;

Author:Errol A. Henderson;
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Published: 2019-09-14T16:00:00+00:00

RAM’s Thesis on Cultural Revolution

Stanford notes that since publication of the organization’s internal document Orientation to a Black Mass Movement in 1962, RAM maintained that “the captive nation status of black America had bred a colonial mentality which must be wiped away through a cultural or social revolution” (Stanford, 1986, p. 154) whose purpose was “to destroy the conditioned white oppressive mores, attitudes, ways, customs, philosophies, habits, etc., which the oppressor has taught and trained us to have” and to replace them “on a mass scale” with “a new revolutionary culture” (ibid., p. 124). In 1964, RAM’s position was consistent with those articulated at the Fisk conference in Nashville, which viewed black cultural revolution in terms of “re-Africanization,” as a “repudiation of decadent materialist values and pathological egoism inherent in American society” and a concomitant embrace of “a humanism derived from the African heritage which exalts aesthetic, intellectual and spiritual development and communalism or cooperation rather than the exploitation of humanity” (Freeman, 1964, p. 18). They asserted that “Afro-Americans must know their authentic history in Africa and America in order to demolish the psychological rape of white American indoctrination.” Further, they maintained that “[t]he Afro-American self-image must be revolutionized to foster a sense of collective ethnic identity as a unique Black People before Black Nationalism can emerge triumphant” (ibid., p. 18). These conceptualizations seem consistent with Malcolm’s reverse civilizationism and all the theoretical and practical problems this foretold, but actually, under the simultaneous influence of Cruse, Moore, and Boggs, RAM did not conflate African American and African culture in a way that some later BPM revolutionists would (e.g., Us, the RNA, and initially CAP). While they consistently asserted the African origins of black American culture and history, they simultaneously argued the necessity of considering black American history, culture, politics, and economics on their own terms and in their unique American context. As a result, the process by which RAM’s proposed black cultural revolution was to take place was not identical to that presumed to obtain in the African or broader third world colonial context but would be tailored to the demands of the black colony in the United States. Unfortunately, RAM’s elucidation of the process of this revolution was not clear.

Stanford agrees that “the specifics of this cultural revolution were never adequately described,” yet, “generally it would involve the destruction of the slave mentality and those classes and institutions which supported it” (1986, p. 154). “The slave culture,” according to RAM, had created “a generation of ‘freaks’ who identified with a hip life style,” which “transcended all classes and acted as a release valve for the sense of powerlessness that black people experienced. This hip society destroyed the cultural identity of blacks and distorted the roles of men and women” (ibid.). Thus, “as part of the black cultural revolution,” RAM “worked with other groups to set up black cultural committees to spread ‘revolutionary black culture’ in the black community” (ibid., p. 125). By and large, RAM’s initiatives were aimed at


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