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During the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, a number of radical groups, like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), have risen from the shadows.  The American people are now calling this group “White Power” activists, the “alt-right,” White supremists and White Nationalists.  This terminology for White dominance is used interchangeably.  I am not going to attempt to describe the differences among the groups above but I want to differentiate between these groups and groups that were or are part of the Black Power Movement. Don’t get it twisted.  White Power and Black Power are very different.  White Nationalism and Black Nationalism are very different in focus and content.  As stated, the term, nationalism in White Nationalist is descriptive of White supremacy.  However, nationalism in Black Nationalism depicts the area of advocacy – the country (USA).  Conversely, Black Pan-Africanism focuses on activities and events in the world, particularly Africa.  These activists state that all people of African descent are connected by blood and history; and, contend with common issues.   While White Nationalism and Black Nationalism sound similar, they are not equivalent in any way.

African American activism to achieve Black liberation has existed in America since the days of slavery. This activism has, for the most part, been defensive strategies against racism and oppression – not the pursuit of Black privilege or to enable Black people to discriminate against other groups. Black Power organizations were/are about sharing power; defending Black people from unprovoked violence, breaking down social and financial barriers for equal opportunity; reeducating Black people, and healing Black people from the ravages of slavery.  

Most people view Black activism that occurred during the 1960s and 1970s as the Civil Rights Movement.  Because of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. many citizens are familiar with this movement.  However, there were several other movements that occurred during that time including the Black Power Movement. The goal of civil rights activists was and is breaking down barriers in areas such as voting, housing, education, and jobs; and, Blacks achieving equal rights as US citizens. Black Power Movement activists, however, focused on the emotional, social, and psychological needs of African Americans. We realized that we had been grossly mis-educated about our rich cultural heritage, our contributions to the world, and our connection to the peoples in Africa.  The West portrayed continental Africans as savages swinging from vines in the jungle (remember Tarzan?). This portrayal effectively caused African Americans to deny any connection with the peoples of Africa.  We were embarrassed by them, all because of the negative and inaccurate depiction.

Just as Civil Rights activists point to Dr. King as their inspiration, Black Power activists point to the teachings of Malcolm X (El Haij Malik El Shabazz) and Marcus Garvey as their inspirations.  Malcolm X said that Black people had a right to self-defense, should practice self-determination, and must re-educate ourselves. The Black Power Movement was about healing – recovering from being enslaved, correcting history, and reestablishing the rightful place of Blacks in the world.  It was and is not about hating anyone.

Based on my knowledge of the Ku Klux Klan and recent hate crimes of some Trump supporters, this White movement is about hatred of anyone that does not look like them.  They contend that the White race is superior to other races, and is deserving of being dominant because, they assert, the US was founded by the White Christian race. Activists in the White Power Movement feel it is their right to attack, shame, and oppress people of color.  After the election of Trump to the White House, hate crimes against Blacks and other people of color have spiked. Black Power Movement activists focused on uplifting Black people, not attacking other people. Again, it was a defensive movement against oppression and proactive in planting seeds for the future of Africans in America and around the world. These are and were very different movements.  Please share this article with others who may be confused about this issue.

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Thank you for posting this.  I think the difference between Black power and white power is obvious, but sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious and make and clarify these distinctions. 

When our communities are thriving, every community will benefit.  Black Power is therefore not a selfish aim or goal.  When members of our communities are able to achieve our full potential, members of every community will benefit, and the whole society will benefit.

My one question is:  who is this article intended for?  Or, to put it another way, are we not speaking to the converted? 

Unfortunately not everyone knows of the Black Power Movement - especially millenials.  Members of the Civil Rights Movement act as if the Black Power Movement never existed.  They have recently called Black Power icons, such as Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey, and Muhammad Ali, Civil Rights icons.  These brothers were never part of the Civil Rights Movement and all Black activists were not part of that movement.  I do not have anything against the Civil Rights Movement but their activists should not misrepresent our leaders.  If you check the media and articles about African Americans, rarely is the term, Black Power, mentioned.  As a matter of fact, a guest on the Wilmer Leon show, "inside the Issues" said all Black activism during that time was the Civil Rights struggle.  I believe they are afraid of coupling "Black" with "power."  We in the Black Power Movement worked so hard to seek and learn the truth about our history and culture. We must be vigilante to ensure that our history is not lost. We must also make clear that we are not placed in the same category as White Power (White Nationalism, White Supremacy, the Alt Right, or whatever it is called).


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