(An Introduction to the 4th Principle of the Johari Sita)
Dwt: A Tool for Breaking the Chains of Psychological
Having a fool is one of the basic ingredients of and incidents to the making of the slavery system.
The European American ruling elite and their agents, from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have clearly understood that their preeminent status, class dominance, and economic superiority are contingent upon carefully managing the thinking processes and cleverly exploiting the labor of the African American people. During the time of Washington and Jefferson two of Americas most notorious slave owners most Africans in the 13 British North American colonies (which later became the United States) were in bondage, both physically and psychologically. Consequently, it was easy for Europeans to control the thinking and steal the labor of Africans.
It took a Civil War (1861-5) and Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation (1863) to initiate a legal process, which culminated in the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1865, to move this nation toward ending the physical enslavement of African people. And, it took an additional 35 years, or until 1900, before Southern Blacks en masse began to escape from the physical slavery of the share cropping system. Only by migrating North into Americas urban industrial centers were the Black masses able to bring an end to 300-years of physical enslavement.
Because it is a deeply entrenched, intergenerational, mental disorder afflicting the vast majority of our people, the effort to liberate ourselves from psychological enslavement has been no easy matter. Unlike the physical slavery we left behind in the South, we brought our mental slavery North with us. Psychologist Naim Akbar (1989), the worlds foremost authority on Black psychological slavery, discovered that the European American system of slave making perfected in this country over the past 350 years cleverly weaves psychological conditioning and limited education with outright terrorism and premeditated violence to create a dense tapestry of African dependence on and service to those who oppress them. Willie Lynch, a mysterious 18th century Caribbean planter considered to be a master handler of slaves, best sums up the American approach to slave making.
According to the story, Willie Lynch was invited to the U.S. by a group of wealthy Virginia and Carolina plantation owners in 1712 to teach them the art of slave making. Lynch taught the Americans that the long-range goal of Black enslavement is to create a dependency state so that we may be able to get from them useful production for our business and pleasure. Using six cardinal principles perfected on his plantation, Lynch found that he could break the will to resist of his slaves by using techniques he created for domesticating his wild horses which rendered them both man and beast submissive and dependent, ready to serve his every need (Akoto & Akoto: 278).
To create self-perpetuating, lifelong, dependent Black slaves, Lynch advocated using an instruction of containment to disconnect them from their original historical base along with organizing their family structure by dictating male - female relations and child rearing practices (Akoto & Akoto: 278, 280). While the historical authenticity of Willie Lynch may be suspect, can we doubt his historical accuracy when it comes to revealing what has been the true nature of Black-White relations in this nation these past 200 years?
Cast aside illusion, prepare to struggle.
It is 200 years later, but the game hasnt changed, only the playing field. The White ruling elite created public education system even when managed and staffed by Blacks knowingly provides African communities with an instruction of containment designed to keep us disconnected from our original historical base and powerless. And, this same White ruling elite through their powerful media and social institutions still shapes our family structure to suit their economic needs by dictating Black male - Black female relations. Two hundred years later and we are still in a dependency state exploited for the business and pleasure of others just as Willie Lynch instructed.
For African people in the U.S., the end goal of our 21st century psychological slavery is the same today as it was in 1619 when the first 19 Africans arrived at Jamestown, Virginia. The European American hegemony seeks to exploit African labor and resources for European American enrichment. It is just that simple. Over the past 350 years, the White American ruling elite, perhaps best symbolized by Willie Lynch, has perfected a system of Black psychological enslavement based on elementary mind control techniques.* For example, during most of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, it was a capital offense for enslaved African Americans to learn to read or write in any language. Consequently, during most of their history in this country, Africans were illiterate; what they knew about the world was restricted, in the main, to only what their White masters wanted them to know.
Following the Civil War, dozens of European American missionaries, mostly women and primarily from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, traveled South to serve as the first teachers of the recently freed Africans. They brought with them, as Booker T. Washington (1900) noted, materials, curricula and pedagogy best suited for genteel Bostonians and urbane Philadelphians, and thus devoid of any practical knowledge or skills suited for improving Black southern rural life.
By 1933, the European control, or better said, containment, of African American education had produced such havoc that it prompted Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson to publish The Mis-Education of the Negro, a stunning expose of the self-alienating effects of American educational practice in the African American community. For the past 100 years, the American system of public (mis)education has effectively trained millions of African people to play roles supportive of the political and economic institutions controlled by their oppressors insuring intergenerational White domination and intergenerational Black subordination. The Civil Rights Era spawned the Black Consciousness Movement of the 1960s and 70s, impregnated by the Pan African nationalist spirit of Marcus Garvey, Queen Mother Moore, Eljiah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Kwame Ture among others planted Afrocentric seeds that took root, grew and blossomed in the 1980s and 90s.
Today, what has changed is not the game or the playing field, it is our understanding of game theory and game strategy. For example, psychologist Wade Nobles (1986) coined the metaphorical term conceptual incarceration to help us better understand a key aspect of the psychological slavery that shackles African people. Conceptual incarceration results from our unwitting adoption of erroneous concepts, ideas, views, opinions and theories about ourselves as African people, about Europeans, and about the world. It is Nobles contention that the debilitating anti-Black, anti-African attitudes in the belief systems of virtually all Black people regardless of class, education, or religious orientation are largely to blame for the underdeveloped state of African communities in the U.S. and abroad.
Dr. Nobles also believes that since our behavior is influenced by what we think about ourselves and the world, large numbers of African people are imprisoned by false beliefs about themselves and the world which generates behaviors that keep us among the poor in every nation. We all, in varying degrees as Black people socialized under White supremacy, have internalized a set of beliefs that compel us to serve the needs of our oppressors while blatantly neglecting our own group development. These are the invisible chains that bind us.
Free your mind, and your ass will follow.
One tool for breaking the chains of psychological slavery and freeing African people from the shackles of conceptual incarceration is a process I call Dwt (Dwat) after the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) word that signifies the daily transformations wrought by the rising and the setting of the sun. Dwt is the fourth principle of the Johari Sita and thus a scientific method for removing the psychological chains of mental bondage. Rooted in Erriel Addaes (1996) notion of nyansa nnsa da or thought without boundaries, at its most elementary levels, Dwt equips us to experience then actively promote what Thomas Kuhn (1970) called a paradigm shift in our case, from European centered to African centered world views. At its highest level, Dwt promotes harmonizing the human will with the Universal Will, a process the Kemites called Maat.
Dwt emancipates African people from the dungeon of false beliefs about ourselves, others and the world because it provides us with a new set of historically accurate facts, concepts, theories, and perspectives about ourselves, about others, and about the world based on our African cultural and intellectual heritage. African centered scholars, like Maulana Karenga, Molefi Asante, Linda Myers, Wade Nobles, Naim Akbar, Marimba Ani, Amos Wilson, Kwame Akoto, Jacob Carruthers, Asa Hilliard and a host of others, are developing a lexicon to free us from conceptual incarceration not only by replacing our false, limited concepts and ideas with correct ones, but also by expanding and re-centering our analyses, definitions, and understanding of ourselves and the world.
In addition, our African centered scholars have discovered that much of what is passed off in our schools, in our churches, in our civic organizations, and by the media as universal truths are nothing more than select European theories, practices, preferences, and customs wrapped around a core of Jewish mythology and folklore. Today, our psychological slavery in large measure is self-imposed; we have allowed others to imprison us in their ethnic or cultural groups concepts and beliefs. In short, we have been contained by our infatuation with Europes knowledge; therefore, we have scant knowledge of our own.
Dwt, for African people, is a journey of rediscovery and reconnection inspired by what the Akan people of Ghana, Togo, and Cote dIvoire call sankofa. Sankofa posits that the wisdom is reaching back and reconnecting with the best of ones ancestral traditions, customs, and practices. We American Africans are blessed because we are perhaps the only large group in the U.S. with a tricultural heritage. We have three cultural traditions we can mine for gold: African, European, and Native American. As recipients of European centered education, most African Americans have an abundance of operational concepts from our European gold mine.
But that is not enough; we cannot empower ourselves, our people, or Abibiman (The Black Nation) merely by adopting the world views, belief systems, and life styles of European Americans. Our salvation will not come from imitating others, but only from being our authentic, African selves. That is why we sankofa, which means that we: (1) extract the gold from our African and Native American heritages (two long neglected, untapped sources of potent operational concepts) and (2) assess our European cultural borrowings through the lenses of African and Native American philosophy and tradition. In cases where there are conflicting world views, we gravitate toward the traditional wisdom of Africa. Mwalimu Shujaa (1996) sees this process of African cultural gold mining and European cultural sifting as aspects of re-Africanization.
Dwt, because it vigorously promotes re-Africanization, breaks African people out of conceptual incarceration by shifting what psychologist Julian Rotter (1966) calls our locus of control from external sources to internal sources. It is Dr. Rotters belief that individuals (and my belief that entire communities) have either an internal or external locus or center of control.
People and communities that have internal centers of control believe that through their own persistent effort, they can rearrange or change their life conditions without outside approval or assistance. Because they believe deeply that they are the captains of their fate and the masters of their destiny, they feel empowered, optimistic, creative, productive, energetic, and positive. Because of this deep faith in themselves, their people, and hard work, they are willing to take calculated risks to fulfill their dreams. Such people are successful and such communities are autonomous, wholesome places to live and raise children.
On the other hand, people and communities that have an external center of control believe at their core that they cannot arrange their lives and construct their futures without the active approval of and assistance and guidance from external human agencies. Those with an external locus of control look for powerful others to think, legitimize and provide for them. They are victims of a psychology of dependence often to the extent that they are willing to place their lives and the lives of their children in the hands of others who they believe will treat them fairly. Because they believe that others are better equipped to make decisions about their fate than they themselves, they are considered child-like and foolish, worthy of exploitation and abuse by their oppressors. Such people and communities languish in a dependency state, depressed, demoralized, and disenfranchised.
The American institution of psychological slavery is predicated on African people maintaining an external locus of control. Through a variety of tactics and strategies, like those advocated by Willie Lynch, slave masters shifted the self-perception (locus of control) of most captured Africans from that of prisoners of war, which is an internal focus to accommodating slaves, an external focus. As Akoto and Akoto (2000) pointed out, there are vast differences in how these two groups see the world.
Though both are constrained by the dominant order, the prisoner of war or P.O.W. steadfastly refuse to accept the legitimacy or permanence of his/her condition. She/He constantly seeks opportunities to escape from, sabotage, or destroy her/his captors. Even in the face of unspeakable horror and brutality, the P.O.W. maintains her/his internal locus of control, which Akoto and Akoto believe to be an unbreachable psycho-emotional fortress anchored in the unknowable depths and expanse of the spirit. Once they escaped from slavery, British and American slave owners called African P.O.W.s, Maroons, a term which comes from the Spanish word cimarrones, meaning wild ones.
Stripped of the spirit of resistance inherent in knowing ones ethnic group history, culture and traditions, the slave, on the other hand, accepts the current order as permanent and seeks only to modulate the personal discomfort associated with that order. Forsaking all thought of rescue and seeing small chance for permanent escape, over time, vast numbers of African P.O.W.s came to see their European captors as first their masters, and then their superiors and benefactors thereby completing their conversion to accommodating slaves. In exchange for petty creature comforts, favorite status, or merely, like house slaves, close physical proximity to their beloved masters, slaves, by definition, are content to center their locus of control only on those external rewards provided by their masters.
Dwt teaches that the maintenance and perpetuation of African psychological enslavement and its chief expression, conceptual incarceration, pivot on African people maintaining an external locus of control. As long as we turn away from Africa and our ancestral wisdom and embrace as solutions to our life problems the views of Europeans, Arabs, Asians, Jews and others from outside of our traditional African cultural centers, we will remain the servants of Europeans, Arabs, Asians, and Jews, in both thought and deed.
Because of its emphasis upon re-Africanization, Dwt ends our dependency state, liberating us from psychological slavery and conceptual incarceration by re-centering us in traditional African knowledge bases. This re-centering returns us to Maroon status, permanently shifting our locus of control from external or European-based concepts and definitions to internal or African and Native American-based concepts and definitions. For African people, Dwt may be our most effective strategy for combating European mind control and defeating its attendant, psychological slavery.
Reversing the Psychological Effects of Slavery in the African American Community:
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by those whom they oppress.
African Americans are the only group of American immigrants whose ancestors came to these shores involuntarily. As prisoners of war (POWs), Africans were captured or kidnapped then brought to the Americas where the slave making process was completed. If they survived the five to six week trans-Atlantic voyage of horrors known as the middle passage, African POWs were then trained for a life of obedient, faithful service to their European captors.
Usually initiated in the West Indies and commonly called seasoning, the first two-to-three years of life under White slavery for what the Europeans called a raw negro was devoted largely to forced labor and rudimentary language instruction. It was during this period that POWs were made to work 16 or more hours per day and learn from seasoned slaves the rudiments of their captors language (Franklin & Moss, 1994; Parish, 1989; Jordan, 1968; Haley, 1976). Despite frequent revolts and the constant Maroon presence, slowly over the course of time, the vast majority of African POWs were either murdered or converted into slaves (Aptheker,1968; Price, 1979; Franklin & Schweninger, 1999).
Slave owners used a myriad of tactics and strategies, from physical violence, terrorism and brutality to family destruction, forced miscegenation and mis-education, to transform Africans and their descendants into slaves (Blassingame, 1979; Van Deburg,1979; Oakes, 1983; White, 1985; Akbar, 1989; Spring, 1997). As evidenced by our complete political and economic dependency on European Americans and their institutions, we are still enslaved, psychologically and emotionally, to the children of our former masters (Muhammad, 1965; Wright, 1984; Akbar, 1989; Baldwin, 1992; Wilson, 1993). Slavery in the U.S. may have ended in 1863, but the African American people are still reeling from the after shocks of a 350-year holocaust of dehumanization, disenfranchisement, and dependency known today as the Maafa (Ani, 1994; Borishade, 1996; Farrakhan, 1993; Akbar, 1989).
Sovereignty is Our Goal
Our next assignment in history is nation manage-ment and nation structure.
-John Henrik Clarke
To rescue African Americans from intergenerational dependency on European Americans and their institutions which is the psychological aftermath of 300 years of slavery requires that we invert the seasoning process. Africans in large numbers first came to these shores as POWs and then they were systematically terrorized, methodically brutalized, deliberately mis-educated in a word, seasoned into accepting first slave status and now second class citizenship. But, before they were POWs, Africans were free and sovereign people. And that is where we must return; national sovereignty is our one and only destination.
To get back home will require that we travel a well-defined path leading to a number of critical junctions. These junctions are important milestones that signal that we are indeed making progress and headed in the right direction. Reaching our destination of mental liberation requires travel in reverse order starting from our present-day status as quasi-educated, pseudo-citizens. We move next to the point of establishing a POW mind set and world view, which slowly awakens our Maroon consciousness, the consciousness of autonomous nationhood.
As stated earlier, this journey of return to our source I call Dwt after the Kemetic word for the daily transformations occasioned by the rising and setting of the sun. Dwt, in essence, is a journey of rediscovery and reconnection that leads African Americans toward freedom and wholeness through three distinct stages of self-awareness and self-recognition.
Start Point: Well-Seasoned, Mis-Educated Quasi-Citizen.
The intergenerational Black dependency state (Lynch, 1712) demands an instruction of containment (Lynch, 1712) to produce an external locus of control (Rotter, 1966) and exclusive eurocentric world views and frames of reference (Woodson, 1933), which confines African Americans to conceptual incarceration (Nobles, 1986), and thus psychological enslavement by our assimilationist-integrationist fantasies and yearnings (Akbar, 1989).
Mid-Point: ReAfricanized Black POWer Practitioner.
As a result of constant sankofa practice, which incorporates a process psychologist Linda Myers (1988) calls Belief Systems Analysis, a system educator Mwalimu Shujaa (1996) calls the D-R-C method, and a perspective philosopher Erriel Addae (1996) calls nyansa nnsa da, the African American escapes from conceptual incarceration, internalizes his/her locus of control, and negates the instruction of containment inherent in European centered world views. The impetus to break the bonds of dependency is heightened with knowledge of the American tradition and legacy (1619-present) of White domination and oppression and the American tradition and legacy of Black resistance and triumph.
End Point: 21st Century Maroon Freedom Fighter.
Self-emancipated from all forms of psychological slavery, centered in the best of traditional African philosophical belief systems and world views, empowered by an indigenous African religion and speaking at least one African language, the 21st century Maroon actively works for African American national sovereignty through service in Pan African nationalist organizations. Committed to restoring Maat (truth, justice, order, harmony, and balance) and terminating the maafa, Maroons are servant leaders in the tradition of Harriet Tubman, David Walker, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Kwame Ture. Active in their families and communities as well as the larger African World, they joyfully embrace the role of scholar-warrior-family-nation builder as their lifes mission and work (Akoto & Akoto, 2000; Williams, 1974).
We aint what we want to be, and we aint what we gonna be, but thank God we aint what we was.
-African American Proverb
Completing the journey from psychological enslavement/dependency, or Stage I, back to Stage III group autonomy, world leadership and planetary restoration is the cosmic assignment, divine mission, and thus supreme life challenge facing the African American people. This is the great task that our history and this century places before us. Taking it on requires unprecedented clarity, courage, and commitment.
We begin, however, with the clear understanding that millions of African Americans are stuck permanently at Stage I. As well-seasoned, half-educated, quasi-citizens willingly deceived by illusions of inclusion, they are content to live out their lives as faithful servants to the European hegemony; they see no compelling reason to do otherwise. Only the complete collapse of the European world order would shake them out of their lethargic, myopic dependency of thought and deed.
And those few who re-Africanize and reach Stage II are extremely susceptible to co-optation, content with the fact that they have a little knowledge, but not enough to build on what they have learned or to pass it on. Just as in the days of our Great Enslavement, many are called, but few are chosen. Only the boldest, the baddest, and the bravest dared to reach out for the freedom and the responsibility that Maroon life guaranteed.
Perhaps one out of a hundred who re-Africanizes and self-emancipates will reach Stage III. But, that is all we need to win. Victory is ours when 21st century Maroon freedom fighters form trans-national family-based alliances to harness the political and economic power inherent in our historical vision of total African emancipation.
Belief Systems Analysis - Approach to transpersonal psychotherapy rooted in African philosophical principles and designed to move African people toward self-empowerment and wholeness (Myers, 1988).
Conceptual Incarceration - State of being bound and limited in both thought and action by our self-imposed containment in European centered paradigms (Nobles, 1986).
Dependency State - Psycho-emotional state of child-like reliance upon and subservience to White authority figures inculcated into Negro slaves by their masters (Lynch, 1712).
D-R-C Method - Liberatory reasoning that posits that Africans must first deconstruct the formal canons of western thought (democracy, Christianity, capitalism, rationality, progress, etc.), reconstruct those Western concepts that are potentially transformative, and then construct new concepts based on our African traditions (Shujaa, 1996).
Dwt - Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) term for dusk and dawn, which is the period between the rising and setting of the sun thought to usher in changes of consciousness (Nobles, 1990).
Instruction of Containment - Type of pedagogy and curriculum designed to educate Africans for European servitude. Involves both mis-education and diseducation (Lynch, 1712; Woodson, 1933; Carruthers, 1996).
Locus of Control - Seat of our sense of power, legitimacy and authority. Rotter posits that people have either an external or internal center of control (Rotter, 1966).
Maafa - Swahili word for disaster first used by Marimba Ani to mean the past 500 years of European and Arab conquest, domination and exploitation of African people (Ani, 1984).
Maat - Kemetic word for truth, justice, order, balance, harmony, reciprocity and propriety known to the ancient Chinese as the Tao. Also a moral code and standard of conduct for evaluating leadership and society (Karenga, 1988; Ashby, 1996; Hotep, 2000).
Maroon - European (English) slave owner term for self-emancipated Africans, 1500-1863 (Price, 1967).
Nyansa nnsa da - African centered liberatory orientation advanced by Kofi Addae (E. Roberson) that posits that African liberation turns on developing the capacity to think outside of and independent from the prevailing Eurocentric norm. A Twi phrase meaning unlimited thought; or thought without boundaries (Addae, 1996).
Paradigm Shift - Ability to adopt another world view, which allows us to see the world from another angle or perspective (Kuhn, 1970).
POWs - Prisoners of War. The status of the captured Africans stolen out of Africa by Western Europeans and Arabs and then transported to the Americas, Europe, or Asia (Akoto & Akoto, 2000).
Psychological Slavery - Incarceration in European belief and value systems that promote African allegiance and subservience to European political and economics needs (Akbar, 1984).
Re-Africanization - Pan-African nationalist approach to African development rooted in cultural and intellectual traditions and practices found in both classical African societies (Akan, Kemet, Nubia, Zulu, Yoruba etc.) and the present-day African World Community (Shujaa, 1996; Akoto & Akoto, 2000).
Sankofa - Traditional Akan epistemological concept which posits that wisdom is learning from our past to build for our future.
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Copyright © 2002
Kwame Ture Youth Leadership Institute
* See Robert Muhammads article, Mind Wars: Attack of the Songs! Final Call (June 11, 2002), for an insightful analysis of the use of behavior modification - or mind control - techniques in hip hop music.
Uhuru Hotep, Ed.D., is the creator of the Johari Sita: The Six Jewels of African Centered Leadership and the co-founder of the Kwame Ture Youth Leadership Institute. He currently serves as the associate director of the Spiritan Division of Academic Programs and the Michael P. Weber Learning Skills Center at Duquesne University. He can be reached at [email protected]