4 Black Intellectuals That Changed My Thinking

The black experience is a unique one. Living in a reality dominated by white thinking, white normalcy, and anti-blackness has made it hard to grown up as a black person. Every black person reacts differently to white supremacy. Some assimilate, other are ignorant, and there are some that push back. There are black people who fight anti-blackness aggressively. They read books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, study great thinkers like Kwame Ture, and Angela Davis, and join organizations like The Five Percent Nation. For me, when I entered college and took my first Africana Studies class, I experienced my wake up call. Learning about The Haitian Revolution, Marcus Garvey and the UNIA and The Nation of Islam gave me a great sense of pride and self-worth. I’ve learned a lot about myself and black resiliency. I learned that black history is older than slavery and older than colonialism. Here are four of the many Black Thinkers that I watched and read the most.

John Henrik Clarke

The Wise Elder. John Henrik Clarke is a grand storyteller, like his ancestors before him. He is one of my favorites because he shares African history and events in story form that is easy to digest and understand. He has so many stories. His lectures are long but detailed and fun to hear. He’ll talk about his life and experiences between tales of historical events. His suggestions for the community come from a place of love, knowledge and frustration.

Marimba Ani

Formally known as Dona Richards, Marimba Ani is a great scholar who has shaped the way Black thinkers view history and anthropology. She coined the term Maafa, which refers to the African Holocaust. The word takes every aspect of our destruction into consideration. Not just black people kidnapped and sent to the Americas, but African people left on the continent with communities and families destroyed. Yurugu, the book she is best known for, dissects and analyzes European culture from an African perspective. She stresses that culture is the weapon Europeans have used to destroy black people and until we create our own culture, rooted in African tradition, we will remain oppressed. Many of her lectures are on YouTube and deserve a listen.

Chancellor Williams

I haven’t listened to any lectures from Chancellor Williams. He has written many books, but his magnum opus puts him on my list. The Destruction of Black Civilization is a crucial piece of Hotep literature. This book reveals the rise and ultimate fall of African people from the beginning of human civilization up until our first interactions with European nations. His book reveals the great history of Kemet (Egypt), concepts that Ivan Van Sertimer and Chiek Anti Diop also discussed. He writes about the invasion of other groups and our unwillingness to learn from the past. The spread of the Sahra and migration and division of different tribes have left us with all the various ethnic groups that exist in Africa. His book isn’t the most exciting read, but it’s worth checking out.

Amos Wilson

The brilliant Amos Wilson is one of the most important Black Nationalist Thinkers ever. His book, Blueprint for Black Power is a comprehensive, all-encompassing manual on how black people can gain tangle power and create a global superpower that rivals China or The United States. What I love about his message is he is never willing to accept hollow victories. In one lecture he compares African-America’s economic and political influence during America’s Reconstruction Era. Black people came out of slavery with skills and areas of expertise. There were black lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Black Wallstreet was thriving and there were black men holding public office. Despite all the steps we made to create a better reality for ourselves, white people were still able to come and destroy it through intimidation, policies, education and all out violence. Now (and before his death in the 90s) it appears that we have made similar strides politically, economically and socially. Amos believed that if we continued to allow white supremacy to dominate us our levels of success, and worldview will be determined by them. If they ultimately wanted to destroy us they could. His message was simple. Black people need power over their own lives and the ability to determine their own destiny. His lectures are fantastic, and his books are equally and good.

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