goto Appendx main menu A Black Manifesto :
Darell W. Fields
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If anything is clear at this point, it is this: the terms African-American and black are not interchangeable.
The discussion pertaining to race terms and their formal and functional identities also applies to the ambiguous terms of history, theory, and practice. My purpose is not an attempt to state, absolutely, a definition for each of these terms—it should be obvious by this point that "definitions" are what I am arguing against. Definitions are Appendx 1 page break 32 | 33 not, in themselves, dangerous; what is dangerous is the ways they are used. Ask one hundred people to define history, theory, and practice, and I am certain you will receive one hundred different responses. However, ask them a question that insists on their reconsidering their system of belief or why they do what they do, and they will immediately place their past, present, and future actions at those very same doors of history, theory, or practice. 

These "doors" of history, theory, and practice define what we believe to be reality. This reality is characterized by the definitions we have of our respective "selves"—for example, the history of being black, the theory of being male, and the practice of being heterosexual. This trilogy of doors, mere representations of the truth, is known singularly as the "regime" and constructs meaning for what we call "life" requiring that one exist within the districts of these confined spaces. What has been forgotten is that the doors are adaptive distortions, and their single purpose is to condone and manage the "reality" nurtured by the regime. The resulting experience is like pondering, for an eternity, the deep and false space found on the surface of a mirror. 

The "room" housing the doors is society, and innumerable regimes whose practices are veiled by constantly shifting definitions and relationships, perplexing those persons trapped inside. There is no "outside" the room because the interior is life, and what is beyond is not known and cannot be experienced. A myth of exterior, produced by the regimes, is defined as the hope that one will be able to travel beyond the reaches of the controlling mechanism of the regime, establish a regime of one's own, or subvert power constructs of existing regimes. However, such  excursions are always bound to the interior and control of the room. This "hope," again a construction of the regime, is a tool used to mystify and thereby subdue any thoughts of disrupting its daily operations. If the child asks "why?" the answers provided by the parents are those of the regime, and by the time we achieve "consciousness" it is too late; we are already inside. 

When the regime is at the height of its power, the presence of its doors is more distinct. Although I have spoken of a trilogy here, there are a "pair" of doors similar in character that embody nuances I have alluded to above; however, rather than being metaphors, these doors are real. You can feel their weight, open them, close them, and hear the creaking of their hinges. This pair of doors is quite similar in construction, and if it were not for the "obvious distinctions," any reasonable person would state that they were twins. The distinctions, however, are sinister but clear, separate Appendx 1 page break 33 | 34but equal, "black only" and "white only."  Their obviousness relegated generations of black bodies, and history—the mere fact that we were slaves—made it clear that such distinctions were necessary. 

Theory (medical, scientific, ideological, etc.), supposedly the most "objective" construct in our society, did its share to "prove" the necessity of these two doors. It was obvious that blacks were childlike, promiscuous, ignorant, criminal, athletic, and very entertaining—statistical facts made this clear. It was also obvious that our behavior was due to our amoral character, the possibility that we had no souls, and the fact that our brains were smaller and less capable than those of whites of discerning right from wrong. To this day universities are full of literature and "research" (archives) that attempted to prove blacks to be a species less than human and little more than animal: the hypotheses of "science" were, in reality, predetermined conclusions.   And I, the subject of such discourse, will read every bit of this history and theory in order that the lineage of categories bound to me at this present date are not forgotten. 

Categorization not legitimized by history and theory is "covered" by practice. The fact that the doors and labels existed at all was practical evidence that reinforced the "ethics" of society. Racial difference was tolerated and blacks were allowed to be equal as long as they were separate. This prolonged practice became entrenched and, therefore, became the catalyst for other historical renditions of the same ordeal. Again, it is only the child, whose curiosity has not yet been suppressed by the regime, who wonders if there is any difference beyond the two doors, and it is this curiosity that gives the child the courage to peek inside; the sameness found, however, is much less interesting than the labels. The doors that a child could recognize have gone and been replaced by more refined techniques. How many glass ceilings have you seen lately? 

The doors and their limiting thresholds of the regime are quite adept at compressing and thereby distorting reality; however, they are not capable of totally wringing out the less desired agents existing in that same reality—some "aberration" is bound to show itself sooner or later. So these "contaminants" are allowed to coexist within the confines of the regime, but they are not allowed to thrive. Rather, they are identified, controlled, and distributed to establish a fine-tuned equilibrium within the regime that defies the formation of a congregation of these agents. This practice is quite popular these days and is being preached by innumerable "progressive" establishments. Yes, diversity is a wonderful thing. Appendx 1 page break 34 | 35 next page 

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