The unfinished business of Black Liberation

Bridgetown, the Capital city of Barbados, is normally described as a ghost town after the sun sinks below the horizon on the Caribbean Sea. Daily, Caucasian, East Indian, Lebanese, Syrians, and a growing number of Chinese sell to Black Barbadians everything from wine to iodine, significantly increasing their share of the economic pie available on the island. Once these business owners have taken their daily fill of Black cash, stores close, and Bridgetown goes to sleep until the economic feeding frenzy starts again the following day.

Suttle Street pales in comparison with Broad Street and Swans Street (the two main commercial zones in Barbados) but what Suttle Street lacks in infrastructure it more than compensated for with an explosion of illumination as the internationally renowned Pan- Africanist, motivational speaker, psychologist, and social media personality Dr Umar Ifatunde (Johnson) graced the stage at the Bongo Lights International Culture Center and Restaurant.

Greeted with a standing ovation on his ascension to the stage, Dr Ifatunde wasted no time in getting into his subject matter for the night. In his opening salvo, Dr Ifatunde told Barbadians that Black people were at war and that we had no real true friends since the ascendency of other nations was intricately connected to the descension of African people. Dr. Ifatunde’s thoughts on this point dovetailed perfectly with those of the great African American ancestor John Henrick Clarke who reminded us that no one who came among African people ever came among us to benefit us.

After reminding Black men that the Black woman was not their enemy, Dr Ifatunde urged Black men to develop greater sexual discipline. On the domestic front, he insisted that great thought should go into partner selection especially if children were being contemplated. His jibe about coons producing more coons was greeted with laughter by his exuberantly appreciative Barbadian audience.

On the religious front, Dr. Ifatunde who identifies as an African Spiritual practitioner, stated that he was not at war with the various religious tradition so liberally represented in Barbados. Barbadians may have been shocked to hear that there were about one thousand churches on the island which could be translated into one church for every two hundred and eighty-one persons in Barbados. Adherents to the numerous faith traditions in Barbados were implored not to turn their backs on the struggles of the Black global collective.

Dr. Ifatunde was however unapologetic in his comments about what Black people should do with images of a Caucasian Jesus and God hanging in their homes. His solution to this problem was to collect all these images and burn them. According to Dr. Ifatunde, perpetuating the Caucasian image of God kept alive the racist, Caucasian supremacist view that Caucasians were more in the image of God than were Black and other non-Caucasian people.

After reminding his audience that the oppressor does not work with the oppressed to end oppression, Dr. Ifatunde outlined a number of pragmatic steps that Barbados and all other former colonies of the European powers need to take to advance the Black liberation revolution. Dr. Ifatunde was adamant that revolution as opposed to voting and democracy was the needed balm to heal the hurts of the suffering Black masses globally.

Land and wealth redistribution were presented as the two foundation stones upon which Black liberation must be built. Dr. Ifatunde evoked more laughter when he observed that if voting could change the condition of Black people, it would be illegal. After listing some of our great Black revolutionaries who have transitioned to the ancestral realm, Dr. Ifatunde affirmed that all significant changes in history were consequences of revolutions.

Black faces in political office who are financed by the historical oppressors of Black people will do very little to change to condition of Black people. Dr. Ifatunde used former US President Barak Obama as a case study to drive home this point. The color-blind politics of most Caucasian financed Black politicians only results in every other group of people being benefited at the expense of Black people.

Dr. Ifatunde stated that if he were to advise the political directorate of Barbados, he would recommend the confiscation of plantation land and the redistribution of this land to the Black masses of Barbados. He added that he would also impose a tax on the descendants of those who benefited the most from centuries of free Black labor and use the revenue collected to reduce Black unemployment on the island.

As the culmination of his presentation approached, Dr, Ifatunde jabbed in many directions. He engaged an over exuberant audience member on the miscegenation issue, warned against the Chinese debt trap, advised that industrial education be enlarged in the schools, and suggested that Barbados might benefit from the emergence of a grassroots third political party.

After sharing some highlights from his ancestral family tree, Dr. Ifatunde closed with some powerful quote from Frederick Douglass. Most memorable were the quotes that informed about the need for struggle if there was to be progress and the reality that power concedes nothing without a demand. These words of wisdom from Frederick Douglass were a fitting climax to a presentation permeated with revolutionary rhetoric that challenged the masses in Barbados to stand up for their rights and to advance the struggle for total Black liberation.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Future of Africa and the Caribbean: Challenges and Possibilities.

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