Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Opportunities for Africology and African American Studies education at Eastern Michigan University

By Victor O. Okafor, Ph.D.
Professor and Head of Department
Dear EMU Student:

Are you aware that the Department of Africology and African American Studies here at Eastern Michigan University offers several academic programs and General Education courses that are designed to help enrich your learning  experience in a way that could better prepare and equip you with knowledge and skills for effective functioning in a world of diverse peoples and cultures?

Are you aware that we offer a bachelor’s degree program in African American Studies which is open to ALL students, regardless of your country of origin, racial, ethnic, or gender classification? Indeed, our students—that is, students who traffic through our myriad of courses each semester—represent a diverse group of learners who come here to join us in our often exciting critical and systematic exploration of the black experience in its domestic and global contexts.

So, besides our 33-credit Major in African American Studies, we also offer a 21-credit Minor in African American Studies, a 12-credit Undergraduate Certificate in African Studies and a 15-credit Graduate Certificate in African American Studies. We also encourage students to double-major in African American Studies and any other discipline of their choice that can fit into the 124 minimum number of credits that you need in order to earn a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University.

Every semester, we provide a mix of course sections that pertain to not only multidimensional aspects of black life and culture in the United States but also to the Caribbean and Africa. Thus, Africology is designed to provide you with a holistic understanding of the global black experience even though we accord a historically-necessary premium attention to the African American experience in the New World, particularly the United States.

Going back to history, we can recall that there was a distant time in human history when "our world" consisted of our village and destinations to which our most natural means of movement, namely our feet, could take us. At that ancient pre-historic time, our ancestors most likely did not even know that what they thought constituted the totality of their world, was simply a microscopic snippet of it to which they were confined by their limited horizon. Human civilization ultimately achieved greater self-awareness, and advanced technologically away from that simplistic mode of existence and that simplistic horizon to efficient and complex machines, including motor vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, the telephone, and now the internet, as means of expanded and quicker transportation and instantaneous human interaction and human communication. Thus, we now talk in terms of a global village connected by instantaneous modes of personal and mass communications. For Black Studies, one of the implications of all these technological transformations in human existence is a fact that our students are bound to be ill-served and ill-prepared by a tunnel vision of the black experience—that is, one that is simply local and simply domestic. Hence, for our students to be reasonably and optimally equipped to function in a world of diverse peoples and cultures that is increasingly inter-connected by instantaneous digital communications and creeping socioeconomic globalization, including our own heterogeneous society marked by an inevitable diverse work environment, they, in effect, deserve exposure to an Africological scope of inquiry—that is, a global vision of the black experience.

Easily remembered as the father of Black Studies, W.E.B. DuBois was a champion of a broadly-based and worldly educational experience. As he articulated it in The Souls of Black Folk, educational outcomes should include “… intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men [and women] to it” (quoted in Mullane, 1993, p. 392).[1] In terms of the New World, he posed the following challenge to educators: The problem of education … among [African Americans] must first of all deal with … the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races” (quoted in Mullane, 1993, p. 382).

DuBois could not be more correct. Liberal arts education is meant to open minds, not close or contract them. Education is meant to enlighten and broaden our horizons, not cause atrophy.

Thus, in our increasingly-globalized social and digital space, you stand to benefit from and be intellectually strengthened by a course of study which, among other learning outcomes, is designed to help you achieve a deep or deeper understanding of human equality in the context of human differences and commonalities as members of the same human species.

If you have not had a taste of what we offer, you are really not opening yourself up to a rich opportunity that exists here at EMU for you to acquire a critical understanding of race, its intersection with ethnicity and gender, and how race, in particular, influenced the social evolution of our heterogeneous society.

Avail yourself of an opportunity to acquire a critical knowledge of and perspective on how our society evolved from what was once a slave-owning state to what it is now: a country led by a President elected from a minority community of contemporary African Americans, most of whom are descendants of ancestors who were subjected to two hundred and forty-six years of African enslavement in the United States (1619-1865).

Avail yourself of an opportunity to critically learn about how the afore-mentioned transformation consequentially gave a concrete meaning to our ideal of freedom and how it also expanded our democratic space and strengthened our system of representative governance. And, avail yourself of an opportunity to critically learn about how a stratagem of non-violent direct action serves as a tool for positive social change.

So, to summarize, here at EMU, we have available for you a variety of learning options by which you can experience Africology and African American Studies:
  • You have a choice of choosing African American Studies as your major;
  •  you have a choice of double-majoring in African American Studies and another discipline;
  • you have a choice of choosing African American Studies as your minor;
  • you have a choice of using our African American Studies courses to satisfy some areas of EMU’s General Education program, such as AFC 101 Introduction to African American Studies, US Diversity; AFC 102 Introduction to African Civilization, Global Awareness; AFC 232 Politics in the African American Experience, US Diversity; AFC 244 Dimensions of Racism, Knowledge of the Disciplines, Social Science & Global Awareness; AFC 313 Contemporary Africa: the Struggle & Prospects for Development, Global Awareness; AFC 302W Writing for African American Studies, Intensive Writing; and AFC 351 the Social Context of African American Health, Knowledge of the Disciplines, Social Science;
  • you have a choice of completing a 12-credit certificate in African Studies;
  • you have a choice of completing a 15-credit graduate certificate in African American Studies;
  •  you have a choice of using available African American Studies course sections to complete the “free electives” for your bachelor’s degree; and
  •  as we speak, we are in the process of finalizing a proposal for a Master’s degree in Africology and African American Studies.

Take note that though we are known as Africology and African American Studies here at EMU, our field of study goes by a variety of names across US universities, such as Africology, Black Studies, African World Studies, Global African Studies, Pan-African Studies, Black American Studies, and Africana Studies.

In closing, are you aware that on our departmental website, you will find a link that opens up information on various types of careers that were established by individuals who graduated with degrees in African American Studies: http://www.emich.edu/aas/blackstudiesmajor2015.pdf?

Our website and Facebook pages also contain additional information about our department, its academic programs and a colorful list of our students’ dynamic community engagement activities: http://www.emich.edu/aas/programs.phphttps://www.facebook.com/News-about-Africology-Current-AAS-Majors-Minors-Cert-Students-Alumni-364720703546024/timeline/

[1] For more on this, go to Mullane, Deirdre. (Ed.). (1993). W.E.B. Du Bois from the The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Crossing the danger water: Three hundred years of African American writing. New York: Doubleday.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Juneteenth’s 150th Anniversary

Juneteenth refers to the oldest commemoration of the termination of slavery in the United States, after two hundred and forty-six years of African enslavement. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. This commemoration goes back to June 19th 1865—a date when Union soldiers, under the command of  Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War of 1861-1865 had, indeed, ended and that the enslaved were now free. Given that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863, and secondly, that the 13th Amendment to the United States, which constitutionally abolished slavery, was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865 (Hines, et al, The African American Odyssey, 2003, p. 255),[i] some observers would naturally wonder about the fact that the enslaved in Texas were still not free until June 19, 1865—two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

While history offers some theories about why the enslaved population in Texas remained in bondage years after the Emancipation Proclamation, there is a common viewpoint that those enslaved people of Texas were generally not aware, all along, of the Emancipation Proclamation that was supposed to take effect in the rebel states as from January 1, 1863. Second, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 had no impact in Texas primarily because Union soldiers were not available there to enforce it. But in due course, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender in April 1865 and the subsequent arrival of Union General Granger and his regiment in Texas in June, 1865 brought along a significantly strong presence of Union soldiers to quell outstanding resistance and to enforce Emancipation.

General Granger brought the news of Emancipation through Order Number 3 that he read to the people of Texas:

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm).

Among the enslaved, reactions to this historic news included both shock and jubilation. Some of them headed for the North, while others migrated to closer destinations, such as Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Henceforth, June 19 of each year came to be annually celebrated by the freed African Americans and their descendants. It served as an annual special occasion for commemorating that “great day in June of 1865” with festivities and for recounting cherished memories of that day of liberation. In a way, for the newly liberated African Americans, this annual celebration also served “as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory.” In due course, the celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and the descendants of the initial generation of freed African Americans saw to it that the celebration was kept alive and annually re-enacted. As one historical note recalls, “the Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date” (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm).

Juneteenth celebrations typically featured entertainment and abundant refreshments, including special dishes of not regularly available portions of lamb, pork and beef, along with prayers and educational items meant for self-improvement. Guest-speakers and elders tended to recount the struggles of the past, as they discussed the historical significance of Juneteenth. Barbecuing featured prominently in Juneteenth celebrations as celebrants shared “in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors” (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm).

Celebrants come well-dressed and in early Juneteenth customs, being well-dressed was viewed seriously, particularly by the direct descendants of the enslaved population, for during slavery, the enslaved were prohibited, by law, from dressing as a free people could and can do. Thus, history has it that during the early days of this emancipation celebration in June, 1865, liberated African Americans discarded “their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers” and replaced them with clothing retrieved from their plantations (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm).

Negligible outside interest
But, the early years of Juneteenth celebrations tended to attract negligible interest outside of the African American community. In fact, there were instances of external resistance to these celebrations as exemplified by official prohibition, in some places, of the use of public facilities for the occasion. So, in the early phase, most of the festivities tended to be staged in rural areas and by the rivers and creeks “that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities” (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm).

But as African Americans became land owners, it was not uncommon to see land donated and dedicated to Juneteenth celebrations. A prominent early example occurred in 1872 when one Reverend Jack Yates organized and raised a sum of $1000 which was used to buy an Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In 1898, a local Juneteenth organization in Mexia, Texas bought Booker T. Washington Park, which served as a Juneteenth celebration site for decades, attracting as many as 20,000 African Americans during the course of a week, making that celebration one of the state’s largest.

A decline in Juneteenth celebrations
As from the 1900s, economic and cultural factors brought about a decline in Juneteenth festivities. As classroom and textbook education gradually replaced traditional home and family-taught history, with their less emphasis on the details and inhumanity of slavery, youth awareness and youth interest in this celebration dwindled.  Classroom text-books typically emphasize Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the landmark instrument that brought about the termination of slavery in the United States. Even till today, textbooks, in general, tend not to discuss the impact of General Granger’s arrival in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865. Furthermore, the Great Depression of the 1930s exacerbated poverty and caused many to lose their farms and to move to cities in search of jobs. The time constraints of urban employment often meant that unless June 19th fell on a weekend or a holiday, not many people were available to commemorate the historic day of June 19. Being close of July 4, not surprisingly, Juneteenth has tended to be overshadowed by America’s national Independence holiday.

A resurgence of youth interest
Nonetheless, some pivotal moments of the African American journey for freedom, equal rights and justice, particularly the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, have seen a resurgence of youth interest in the historical struggles of their ancestors. Juneteenth served as a rallying symbol. For instance, a set of students who participated in an Atlanta, Georgia civil rights campaign in the early 1960s adorned Juneteenth freedom buttons. On May 12, 1968, Juneteenth received yet another boost through that day’s Poor Peoples March on Washington, spearheaded by Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King, wife of the slain Civil Rights Leader, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had laid out a vision for that march but was assassinated on April 4, 1968 before it could be implemented (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91626373). A large number of those who attended the march, which attracted a crowd of about 50, 000, returned home to help organize Juneteenth celebrations in places where it had not been observed previously.  Milwaukee and Minneapolis are cited as two of the most prominent Juneteenth celebrations initiated after the Poor Peoples March of 1968.

Texas blazes the trail
In 1980, the state of Texas emerged as the first state to officially recognize the Juneteenth emancipation celebration through the work of an African American legislator, Al Edwards. He went on to encourage other states to follow suit (http://www.texanstogether.org/content/juneteenth). His efforts have been rewarded handsomely, for today, 43 states of the Union, including Michigan, have proclaimed Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Juneteenth has also been embraced by prominent national institutions as sponsors of its festivities. They include the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others.

Global Spread of Juneteenth
Juneteenth has reached beyond the shores of the United States, and is commemorated by African Americans who live abroad and their friends in several countries around the world. Among parts of the world where such Juneteenth commemorations have been held in various forms are South Korea, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Japan, Canada, Honduras, Ghana, Israel, Trinidad, Guam, France, England, Barbados, China, Germany, Italy, Puerto Rico, Germany, Czech Republic, Kuwait, and Spain (http://www.juneteenth.com/international.htm).

Continued Official Recognition of the Importance of Juneteenth
Here in the United States, the historic significance of Juneteenth continues to receive high-profile official recognition. The White House, the Senate of the United States, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have all issued statements saluting this year’s 150th anniversary of Juneteenth.

On June 20, 2015, a White House statement noted as follows:

On this day 150 years ago, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word that the Civil War was over. They were free. A century and a half later, Americans still recognize this occasion, Juneteenth, as a symbolic milestone on our journey toward a more perfect union. At churches and in parks, lined up for parades and gathered around the barbecue pit, communities come together and celebrate the enduring promise of our country: that all of us are created equal (http://www.juneteenth.com/whitehouse.htm).

However, the White House statement regretted that:

This year, our celebrations are tinged with sorrow. Our prayers are with the nine members of the Mother Emanuel community — nine members of our American family — whose God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were so cruelly snatched away. Our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and the entire city of Charleston. We don’t have to look far to see that racism and bigotry, hate and intolerance, are still all too alive in our world. Just as the slaves of Galveston knew that emancipation is only the first step toward true freedom, just as those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago knew their march was far from finished, our work remains undone (http://www.juneteenth.com/whitehouse.htm).

As it has done in previous years, in a resolution of June 19, 2015, the Senate of the United States proclaimed June 19, 2015, as “Juneteenth Independence Day.” The resolution said it “supports the continued nationwide celebration of “Juneteenth Independence Day” to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the United States,” pointing out that it “recognizes that the observance of the end of slavery is part of the history and heritage of the United States” (http://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/brown-applauds-passage-of-juneteenth-resolution-honoring-the-day-that-news-of-the-end-of-slavery-spread-to-the-southwest).

In its own statement, the Democratic National Committee said:

Juneteenth is an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of those who suffered from the stain of slavery in our nation’s early history, and the courage of those who struggled to secure a more perfect union. We commemorate those who were born or sold into slavery, and those who died in the process of bringing about its end (http://www.juneteenth.com/dnc14.htm).

And, the DNC added that “Juneteenth is also an opportunity to celebrate the significant contributions made by the African American community, and our nation’s rich history of those willing to fight for equality and freedom for all” (http://www.juneteenth.com/dnc14.htm), noting that “to this day, the fight continues” for “voter expansion, immigration reform, marriage equality, education reform, employment non-discrimination, health care reform,” each of which constitutes part “of the effort to extend the full set of rights and privileges to which we’re entitled as Americans” (http://www.juneteenth.com/dnc14.htm).

It its own statement, the Republican National Committee stated, in part, as follows:

Whether you’re celebrating Juneteenth at a community event or with family and friends, it is important for us to reflect upon how far we have come and the people who made it possible … Our past is a reminder of the necessity of fighting for equal opportunity and valuing our nation’s efforts to ensure freedom for all Americans (http://www.juneteenth.com/rnc.htm).

We can see from the foregoing passages that within this nation, there remains a bi-partisan recognition of the historic significance of Juneteenth as an essential celebration of freedom, liberty, democracy and equal rights for all. This is note-worthy and commendable, for, as a popular adage goes, those who forget their history are bound to repeat its mistakes. Indeed, African American epic struggles have had an overall salutary impact of expanding the democratic space and giving freedom a concrete meaning in the United States, and also serving as a metaphor for battles fought by other human communities, within and outside this country, for their own freedom and for legal recognition of their entitlement to equal rights in the sociopolitical arena.

[i] Though Congress passed the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865, it was then ratified by 27 states and declared effective as from December 18, 1865.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Racism, White Supremacism & the Tragedy at Charleston, South Carolina: President Barack Obama Hit the Nail in the Head

In the wake of the June 17, 2015 massacre of nine African American worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina by a 21-year white supremacist Dylann Roof, the news and social media are awash with rueful comments and lamentations that President Barack Obama “used the N-word” in one of his recent comments on the state of race and racism in contemporary America.

I am of the opinion that such lamentations missed the point the president was trying to convey. I am disappointed that critics of the president’s alleged use of the N-word apparently chose to take his choice of diction out of context. Based on what I have read of the actual words of the president, all that he was doing was to make a point that society should not be fixated (as it tends to be from time to time) on whether a person has called another person the N-word as a key or essential indicator of whether that person believes in and practices racism.

Contrary to what looks like an attempt in certain segments of the media to reduce and trivialize the president’s exposition on race and racism in America, he, in fact, did offer a nuanced and balanced historical and contemporary perspective. As he put it,

Do not say that nothing's changed when it comes to race in America — unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s, or '60s, or '70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/22/416476377/we-are-not-cured-obama-discusses-racism-in-america-with-marc-maron).

Continuing, however, President Obama then went on to assert:

Racism, we are not cured of … and it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say [the N-word] in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior. What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/22/416476377/we-are-not-cured-obama-discusses-racism-in-america-with-marc-maron).

President Obama could not be more correct about his assessment of the state of racial animus in this United States, while pointing out, correctly of course, that `it is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact.’ 

Contrary to Dylann Roof’s reported goal of triggering a racial war in America by cold-bloodedly murdering nine church worshippers inside a historic black church (http://myfox8.com/2015/06/19/charleston-shooting-suspect-dylan-roof-confesses-to-killing-9-people/), the multi-racial closing-of-ranks against his blatant racial terrorism and hate that we witnessed in South Carolina in the aftermath of that massacre, attests to President Obama’s assessment that `race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours.’ At the same time, however, the President was correct in describing racism as a social DNA deriving from the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow that has not been erased. And, he could not be more factual in pointing out that racism is `not just a matter of overt discrimination.’

The Eyes of the Storm
From the standpoint of a person who has been through the eyes of this insidious monstrosity otherwise popularly referred to as racism, racism does not have to be overt. In fact, as one of my brilliant students aptly put it, “Racism Is Not Dead, [it is] Just Redesigned.” Yes, covert racism is difficult to track and harder to prove though the victim is well aware of his/her predicament!

Scholarly Perspectives
At this juncture, let’s continue this discussion by recapturing a set of scholarly perspectives on racism, and, as you read them, do take note that they are articulations of racism that are largely shaped by the US social experience. I provide this caveat because, as we shall see in subsequent sections of this essay, racism and other forms of hate, are not peculiar to the United States or any one human society. To say the rather obvious, hate is a global human phenomenon that exploits a variety of social group constructs to transport itself, often depending upon the tilt of the local balance of political power.

In his Introduction to Black Studies (2010), Professor Maulana Karenga offers as follows:

Racism is essentially a system of denial and deformation of a people’s history, humanity and right to freedom based exclusively or primarily on the specious concept of race. Stripped of all its cultural and pseudo-scientific mystification, race is a socio-biological category designed to assign human worth and social status, using Whites as the paradigm. Racism, then, which begins with the creation and mystification of race, is social thought and practice which expresses itself in three basic ways, i.e., as 1) imposition, i.e., conquest and oppression of a people, and interruption, destruction and appropriation of a people’s history and productive capacity in racial terms; 2) ideology, i.e., an elaborate system of pseudo-intellectual categories, assumptions and contentions negative to people of color and serving as justification of the imposition and reinforcement of the institutional arrangement; and 3) institutional arrangement, i.e., a system of political, economic and social structures which insure White power and privilege over people of color. Racism, thus, becomes a continuing problem, nor only for social inquiry, but also for the quality of social life and the ongoing quest for human freedom and human flourishing. And it is a problem that tends to appear at every level and every area of social life (pp. 255-256).

Describing racism as “societal waste,” Professors Joe Feagin and Hernan Vera articulate it as follows in their 1995 book, White Racism:

White racism can be viewed as the socially organized set of attitudes, ideas, and practices that deny African Americans and other people of color the dignity, opportunities, freedoms, and rewards that this nation offers white Americans. The concept of white racism encompasses the attitudes and ideologies that motivate negative actions against blacks and other minorities. Racist acts have ranged from overt extermination and murder, to subtle gestures of social exclusion, to passive acquiescence in the racist acts of others. Typically, racist acts and practices are institutionalized; they are embedded in and shaped by social contexts. These practices have sometimes been defined as illegal under U.S. law. This is the case for certain types of blatant employment, educational, and housing discrimination that fall under the 1964 and 1968 civil rights acts (p. 7).

Racism can be broken down into various types, including personal or individual racism, collective or group racism, institutional racism, environmental racism and even intellectual racism. In their American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom (2006), Hanes Walton, Jr. & Robert C. Smith assert that individual racism “occurs when one person takes into consideration the race of another to subordinate, control, or otherwise discriminate against an individual” (p. 7). In contrast, institutional racism “exists when the normal and accepted patterns and practices of a society’s institutions have the effect or consequence of subordinating or discriminating against an individual or group on the basis of race” (p. 7).

Ingredients of Racism

What are ingredients of racism? From my own investigation,

·         Absurdity constitutes a central marker of racism;

·         Racism derives partly from cultural ethnocentrism;

·         Racism could exist in the form of an attitude, action, institutional policy or pattern of actions;

·         In general, racism denies biological racial equality and assumes that some “races” are biologically inferior;

·         Racists view the physical, mental and cultural attributes of the “inferior” race or person as naturally defective;

·         Racists tend to fixate on their victims;

·         Racism may lower the self-worth of persons who internalize negative stereotypes about them; and

·         Racial prejudice may constitute an insidious force working from within the oppressed to nurture the message of the oppressor. (For more on this, check out James Jones' 1997 book on Prejudice and Racism through McGraw-Hills).

The last two bulleted points can be a key for unlocking such socio-psychological phenomena as self-hate and loathing of one’s own kind and one’s own cultural identity.

White Supremacism
White Supremacism, as a form of racism, is defined by a belief that “Caucasian/Aryan people are from a superior gene pool, and that all other minorities are inferior. There is a particularly embittered hatred towards black people linking back to slavery, but also an increasing hatred towards Hispanics as that group has grown due to migration” ((http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33198061).

A report says that white supremacists are not homogenous, “but what defines them is hatred - usually directed at race and the government. Weapons are a key part of their ideology: far-right websites dedicate entire sections to recommending what guns and other weapons to buy. Nazi ideology is one symbol seen in nearly all far-right groups, with tattoos of swastikas common” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33198061). Notice how, on the one hand, white supremacist Dylann Roof was pictured burning the United States flag (a blatant display of contempt for a symbol of US sovereignty) and, on the other hand, valorizing the Confederate flag, a symbol of rebellion against the Union (http://beta.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33211192).

Be that as it may, fundamentally, a white supremacist, simply put, is a person who subscribes to a belief that `Caucasian/Aryan people are from a superior gene pool, and that all other minorities are inferior.' Thus, to qualify as a white supremacist, a person does not have to act violently or burn the US national flag like Dylann Roof. Since consciousness precedes action, a person who harbors consciousness that `Caucasian/Aryan people are from a superior gene pool, and that all other minorities are inferior,' is most likely to judge human affairs and to relate to the Cultural Other from that standpoint.

In his 1990 work, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?, Haki R. Madhubuti describes white supremacism as a system and one which exerts a debilitating influence on black families and black manhood. Among other goals, he states, the white supremacist system rewards black men and women who assist in the oppression of the black community. The system targets, labels, and harasses black men and women who dare to speak out on behalf of black humanity (p. 73).

Hate as a universal phenomenon
It must be understood that hate, as a human emotion, just like love, is not peculiar to any human group. Hate, like love, exists in all human societies. It must also be clear that hate uses a variety of social anchors for its fermentation and growth. So, apart from the social category of race, hate also exploits ethnicity and religion.

Ethnicity as an anchorage for hate
Ask the Tutsis of Rwanda, more than 200,000 of whom were massacred by their Hutu fellow nationals in 1994, about how ethnicity can become a deadly vehicle for hate (http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/Genocide/genocide_in_rwanda.htm). Ask the Igbos of Nigeria who lost up to 700,000 of their brethren in the pogrom that took place within Nigeria between 1966 and 1967 whether ethnicity can also serve as a ferocious vehicle for hate (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woQ0KcAeVWE). The subsequent Civil War of 1967-1970 claimed about a million lives, including the lives of the secessionists and Nigerian troops, but predominantly the former.

Religion as a basis for hate
It must be recognized that hate exists in other forms as well. Hate can be religion-based. As a prominent contemporary example, consider northern Nigeria where a group that calls itself Boko Haram and mis-uses the name of Islam, has systematically targeted and killed thousands of fellow Nigerians, particularly Christians, including deadly attacks on Christian church sessions. When translated, Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13809501). Boko Haram's religion-based, hate-driven insurgency is said to have claimed about 13,000 lives (http://africacheck.org/reports/have-13000-people-been-killed-in-nigerias-insurgency-the-claim-is-broadly-correct/).

Hate also exists prominently in the form of xenophobia. For example, during the month of April 2015, South Africa experienced another bout of xenophobic attacks that targeted and killed some of the resident Africans from other African countries (http://www.ibtimes.com/south-africa-xenophobia-2015-victims-names-nationalities-released-1900755). Seven people were killed in this round of xenophobic violence, but three South Africans also lost their lives. Thousands of foreigners living in South Africa were driven from their homes in this wave of xenophobic violence that swept from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province to Johannesburg and other cities in Gauteng province. It will be recalled that back in 2008, “a spate of anti-immigrant attacks swept South Africa, resulting in at least 67 deaths” (http://www.ibtimes.com/south-africa-xenophobia-2015-victims-names-nationalities-released-1900755).

Well, where do we go from here? As a cross-section of political and civic leaders in South Carolina have admirably done in the wake of the bloody tragedy of June 17, 2015, all persons of goodwill and all persons who believe in human brotherhood and human sisterhood that transcend the boundaries of race and ethnicity should strive to join hands together against hate—in all its identifiable manifestations. 

Speak up and bear witness to justice when you witness hate though I understand that there are risks (including social ostracism) that are associated with challenging hate, particularly where it’s backed by the levers of power. Secrecy allows hate to flourish because the perpetrators of hate are aware that they are on the wrong side of the law and morality. So, help by taking steps to unmask them. Expose them! Remember what the sun-shine glare does and can do to a Dracula, fictional as it may be. Endeavor not to play the role of an acquiescent by-stander!

Do not knowingly defend hate; and do not protect an acknowledged hater that masquerades within your zone of awareness or allow yourself to be hoodwinked into rationalizing hate.

Given that racism tends to be grounded in absurdity, critical thinking skills, when backed by a deep understanding of human diversity issues at stake, can serve as an effective anti-dote. Check-out Richard Paul & Linda Elder's Critical Thinking: Concepts & Tools (2009) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l0SDLmeBf8). 

So, endeavor to apply the basic rules of critical thinking. For instance, if you are told about or you receive a "report," or a "sourceless rumor," demand for the full name of the reporter, and demand for the name of the employer of the reporter. Don't dignify or act on a "report" which has no named reporter or use such a "report" as a basis for decision-making aimed at exonerating a person who stands accused of or who is known to have engaged in an act of hate. If you are told that "it's our government," ask to find out which government--local, state or federal. Ask to find out the specific name of the agency that's claimed to be the source of the report. Then, contact the leadership of that agency and inquire about the authenticity of the alleged report, particularly if it does not square with the reality that you are familiar with.

If you occupy a position that empowers you to act against hate, do not hesitate to wield your power in a manner that can serve as a deterrent against hate. As the universal human experience has shown from time to time, when ignored, hate only tends to metamorphosize and wax stronger, not weaker. When ignored, hate feels emboldened, grows in complexity, mutates, manufactures “new evidence” through mischief and false transmittals to the authorities, markets itself to the na├»ve and the gullible through its simplistic appeals to base human instincts, and worse still, creates room for copycats.