“Garveyism Is An Outdated Ideology”: A Rebuttal
"The greatest weapon used against the Negro is DISORGANIZATION."
~ The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
After I read the article in The Gleaner, Garveyism Is An Outdated Ideology, I'd decided that I wasn't going to write a response. The letter is riddled with inaccuracies and demonstrates that Mr. Lipton possesses only a cursory knowledge of Marcus Garvey's work. It is also clear that Mr. Lipton has no sense of the historical contribution of Marcus Garvey to the formation of nation states in the Caribbean and Africa and his influence on the political thought of the following leaders:
Leopold Sedar Senghor
Henrietta Vinton Davis
Martin Luther King Jr.
Alhaji Ahmed Sekou Toure
Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Amy Jacques Garvey
M. L. T. De Mena
Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)
But then, a dear friend of mine reminded me that I should not let the letter go unanswered. So, I've chosen my blog for a partial rebuttal. For although The Gleaner has published the press release of the Marcus Garvey Celebrations Committee, Institute of Caribbean Studies, and the Rootz Foundation,
Caribbean Groups Want Obama To Pardon Marcus Garvey, they censored the most important part of the press release:
Of course, The Gleaner did not censor comments such as, "Look Guys, this is an election year in the United States, don't you think President Obama has enough on his plate right now, Marcus Garvey is dead now for years, get real, lets deal with the problems at hand. May his soul rest in peace," which again displays historical ignorance. President Obama in his first election bid invoked Marcus Garvey's famous words in Dreams from my Father, "Rise up ye mighty race" (199).
Candidate Obama's intent was clear. He used Marcus Garvey's words to shore up his reputation as someone who understood the historical significance of Garvey's work and to secure his political and philosophical lineage in the struggle for human rights. By using Marcus Garvey's words, Mr. Obama was also sending a signal to the African American community, who were still learning about this young politician from Chicago, that he was an inheritor of the struggle for civil rights in North America.
Two questions also emerge from the comment, "Look Guys, this is an election year in the United States, don't you think President Obama has enough on his plate right now, Marcus Garvey is dead now for years, get real, lets deal with the problems at hand."
Why are we always apologizing for politicians who were elected to carry out the "will of people"?
What's the use of a hero if he or she doesn't inspire your present actions?
I could go on and on, but Kwame Piankhi provided an excellent rebuttal: "Mr. Lipton which part of Garveyism is outdated? Indigenous control of a land's natural resources and local economy so the Black population as a whole can benefit? The teaching of our true history preceding the slavery era so our people can gain confidence to create and govern without the aid and handouts of others and thereby love ourselves? Obtaining a scientific education so our people can demonstrate technological leadership and excellence as we do in sports? Creating culturally uplifting entertainment and music so our people, especially the youth, can be inspired to create the highest order of civilization that reflects our divine nature and divine order?"
Marcus Garvey urged New World Africans to take control of our destiny and most importantly to validate our experiences through the memorialization of our heroes--seeing the world through our own eyes: "We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind."
Further, the proof that Garvey's message is not an "outdated ideology" or as Burning Spear sang, "Garvey's old yet young" is seen on the streets on Kingston every day. Marcus Garvey and the UNIA were trying to repair the bonds between Africans and New World Africans and restore the trust that was broken among New World Africans. He was calling us to love ourselves.
Mr. Matthews, if Garveyism is outdated, explain to me why after winning our independence from England with the lives of Sam Sharpe, George William Gordon, and Paul Bogle many Jamaicans still favor the monarchy? If we really loved ourselves, why do we have one of the highest murder rates in the world? If we loved ourselves, why are we bleaching our bodies into whiteness? And if we really saw ourselves as noble people and as Marcus Garvey imagined us, why do we "dagger" each other in the streets?
Finally, Marcus Garvey's words offer the final rebuttal:
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." ~ The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.