History. That great, unfinished tapestry of human advancement is woven every second. It flows along the years, loops around decades, and bounds across centuries. Life is but one thread in the overall project. Different colors, lengths, and patterns abound–though every thread has its own important purpose. The individual character of each is determined by its own unique experiences, actions, and thoughts: its own history. But even that individuality is thoroughly connected to the great project. They are inseparable.
This extraordinary tapestry must be observed. It must be carefully studied and understood. But beware, many difficulties befall the observer. The observer is one with the great project too. The keen observer knows their limitations. The prism through which they view the great project is cloudy and broken; they do not attempt to know everything. Universal intelligence is left to the Power that created the project. They know the fractures in their prism are determined by the patterns on the tapestry: how they first saw it, if they ever saw it, and whose version was shown to them. They know every current thread should be an observer and they spread the desire where they can; they weep when they hear a thread say, “I don’t like history, what do dead people have to do with me?”
They know the great project is the key to their pain and joy and the pains and joys of their people.
They were beaten as a child. People saw and no one stopped it. They know the average slave was stolen from Africa as a teenager. As impressionable children. The plantation discipline they received became the discipline they gave their children. Even free from bondage, the beatings proliferated down the generations. The duality of stress from a world without freedom and a desire to protect their young from its dangers. Pain. The observer knows their children will never feel the strike of the master’s whip. Many of their peers feel the same. Joy.
They know reckless individualism can undo a people, scar a society, and end a civilization.
They know the tapestry of history is shown to the people as a straight line, devoid of its contours, robbed of its complexity, and removed from its collectivity. In these distortions, individual threads are lionized. The people wait for more lions. Motionless, they are isolated and disorganized.
Looking out for another Dr. King, Black men murder Black men while police murder them both. Waiting for another Malcolm, building new institutions to alleviate our problems is neglected. Searching for one more Stokely, fear of building anything reigns. Black Wall Street and “urban renewal” are still fresh on their minds. Over time, their relation to the great project is further distorted and broken. Too many no longer feel responsible for one another. Those same people who marched arm-in-arm, knowing fully their connection to each other and to humanity, have reduced themselves to a primitive, animalistic mentality. Survival of the fittest; what a paradox. The courage of those lions, those individual threads, did not spring from themselves, but from their people’s collective energy. One thread is easily cut down by a pair of scissors–or a bullet– try cutting down forty-four million that way.
The keen observer knows that as the tapestry developed, division has been used against the people. Always divided, they have always been conquered.
Unity is difficult to build, yet the alternative is destruction. We didn’t steal ourselves from Africa, so why separate ourselves further? The Atlantic is wide enough. Malcolm wisely asked us, “how can you hate the root of the tree without hating the tree?” We didn’t put light skins in the house and dark skins in the field. We certainly didn’t choose for Black women to be raped by the men that owned them. Diversity of color will grow continually wider, especially today. Diversity mustn’t be division. Black man, Black woman. Stop fighting. For God’s sake, stop fighting. We are not our own enemies. Sit down, talk, listen, and move forward—because we all have work to do.
Most of all, the observer knows they know nothing. They know there was a time when they too were blind, deaf, and dumb. They hear other observers condemn those ig’nant niggas. Maybe the people are tired of their scholars. Maybe they know that practice without theory is blind, yes, but theory without practice is empty.
Or maybe they are ign’ant niggas. You’ve seen the patterns on the tapestry. What people wouldn’t be misoriented experiencing all that? Our ancestors who marched for us would be considered ign’ant niggas today. Many of them could not read. They marched so you’d have the right to learn how to. Your education is paid for with their blood. How dare you betray that investment by neglecting the people? In the same breath you preach love and tolerance you say, “niggas ain’t shit.” They do not need your political correctness, they need political power. They do not need a weak and silent “seat at the table of inclusion,” they need institutions that address their needs. They need fearless advocacy and dedicated organization: they need their scholars to come home. And they will.
The observer is optimistic. He’s not sour.
For he knows that right now is the hour.
He knows that until the last stitch of the great project is done.
His people march on, “‘Till Victory is Won.”