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Black and White
Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Posted By: gman
Date: Tuesday, 11 March 2003

First of all let me point out that there are Chinese, East Indian, Native American, Hawaiian, Japanese, Maori Rasta. So it's not only about Black and white anyway.

Now I wonder if a few simple points could calm the controversy.
Ha Ha, of course not. But here goes anyway:

(1) Rastafari is Black. Rastafari emerges from the African experience(s) in the so-called New World. Rastafari interprets and makes sense of this experience and seeks the way forward for African people. This is not to say Rasta doesn't seek the way forward for ALL people. But PRIMARILY, Rasta is dealing with the African people. However, Rasta raises the consciousness of the African people to the extent that IanI see our struggle as tied in with the struggle of ALL downpressed people, and even of the other life forms that share the planet with us. Rasta realizes that, as the Native Americans would say, we are all relations. Which leads to point number

(2) Rasta is not "racist". I put "racist" in quotes cos I feel it's quite a stretch to call ANY Black person a "racist" when it comes to their feelings about whites, given all that whites have done and are continuing to do to us. Anyway, Rasta is not about "all white people are devils" and suchlike thinking. Rasta recognizes that as simplistic and simply UNTRUE. It's unproductive for African people, or anyone, to act on the basis of something that is UNTRUE. Rasta deals with reality, not mythology.

(3) Rasta has no one leader. No one person can speak for all of Rastafari (other than H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, of course; and even so, Rastas interpret HIM words differently). So there's no one who is really qualified to say whether or not (for example) whites can be Rasta. The closest we could get to a voice of authority on this would be the elders. Well, some say yes, some say no.

(4) Black people whether Rastas or not have a right to be angry about the state of the world today, and in particular the position of Black people in that world. I might even go so far as to say, we have a DUTY to be angry about it. Once that anger is going to serve as an impetus to do something about it, and not become a self-destructive cancer in the gut.

I feel that if Black and white (and other) ones keep these points in mind, and listen to one another with an open mind and without knee-jerk defensiveness, maybe they could progress further than the current morass of name-calling and back-and-forth accusations and one-upmanship.

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong.

Posted By: Ayinde
Date: Tuesday, 11 March 2003

Most of what you said seems pretty clear, however, I would like to add a few points from my perspective.

"(3) Rasta has no one leader. No one person can speak for all of Rastafari (other than H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, of course; and even so, Rastas interpret HIM words differently)."

H.I.M. Haile Selassie I do not speak for me. I admire much of what he said and attempted to achieve and I do share much of his views but I and I alone speak for myself.

Some people interpret "following someone" differently to myself. They interpret it as literally doing as someone says even if they do not agree or understand the reasons. I never accepted or practice this.

I follow the best example of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, which is learning broadly and engaging the world from an informed position. I think this is the best of HIM that is worth EMULATING. Haile Selassie I also read a lot and was able to synthesize many ideas.

I accept Rastafari in its most indigenous form with the definitions I expound on this board.

I spent much time in the forest when I was younger and observed and learnt much there. I used to go back from time to time to get my bearings. It was there I felt at home. Today, anywhere I am, mentally I am still in the forest environment as I interpret everything from that perspective.

On another note:

In my view many were not fully able to grasp the reason Marcus Garvey felt strongly against Africans accepting another person as their saviour. Garvey may have understood the danger in 'blind fellowship'. He may have felt that Africans would be returning to another state of dependency and not actually doing enough to help themselves.

Marcus Garvey and H.I.M. Haile Selassie I operated from two sides of the same coin.

Garvey operated from the West as is symbolized in the logo to the top of the board, trying to get Africans back to Africa and to accept themselves as worthy people. Haile Selassie I started his reign from East Africa as symbolized in the logo, where asserting Blackness would not have been a priority as the people he was directly leading were already in Africa and around mostly Black Africans.

On the point of White people, I actually know a few very spiritual White people. I started treating with them with my usual distrust and over time saw that they were able to draw very similar conclusions after learning more about themselves. The few I know, willingly contribute to the development of African institutions but they have felt no desire to try to set up or own any African organization. They usually spend their energies trying to educate others who gravitate to them because of their color or perceived social position. None of them claim to have the level of consciousness that gives them some superior advantage. But they are quite spiritual. They are few in numbers and are the exception to the general conduct of most Whites but certainly in my mind I know that anyone can develop the essence of Rastafari (weather they choose to call it Rastafari or not).

I also know people of other races who live in relative harmony with nature and do fair by all manner of people. There are highly 'spiritual' people in all races although few in numbers.

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