• William Mathis

GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS - NOTES FROM MONMARTE/CHATEAU ROUGE, PARIS, FRANCE


Racism systematically verifies itself anytime the slave can only be free by intimating his master. Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin


I am a person who has never completely escaped from the scars of my childhood. Racism, which leaves a shadow on one’s sense of accomplishment, can make one feel like a perpetual outsider.

Alvin Ailey


In the South they don’t care how close you get, as long as you don’t get too high. In the North, they don’t care how high you get, as long as you don’t get too close.

African American Aphorisms

Perhaps one of the worst things that has ever happen to Black people and our Blackness is the lie of integration. It has in many ways created a space in which we are not just displaced but are outsiders of who we are authentically and the spaces that will develop and nurture our true greatness. This outside space never allows us to escape from trying to be someone else while also dependent and watchful of those we seek to imitate - casting us farther and farther away, both physically and emotionally from the true greatest of who we are; not just displaced but bounded as an outsider of who we are, free and thriving in our full potential. It is like a perpetual place of frustration in which we never will be good enough or acceptable; always looking to be someone else instead of embracing who we are and the history and destiny of our greatest as emancipating vehicles for our thriving.


At the end of the Civil Rights movement, integration served as a plausible response, particularly for liberal whites who seized the opportunity to drive the narrative - a narrative that was comfortable and acceptable for them coated with a sense of victory for us; allowing us access to their way of life and what they deemed important to define freedom, equality, and justice, in essence transforming us into their image - although never too high or close to be equal to them and/or posses the reigns, not only of our narrative, but also that of the world. This notion of integration, as defined by them, lays the foundation of what they have declared and promoted as a colorblind society - where they profess to see no color - and at this foundation springs the roots of assimilation.

The pride of France is the French Revolution, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,” which has. Laid the foundation for their constitution in which they declare themselves as a colorblind society, so much so that no data is collected and /or used as a matrix to the benefit or detriment of any person, which sets the stage for the springing forward roots of assimilation, found even in the French educational system that promotes one being and/or becoming French as priority over everything, including one’s Blackness, creating a complexity that is both conscious and sub-consciousness among Black people in which they become outsiders not just to their community but perpetually to the French, the white collective.


It is this notion of complication I found in France that was most disturbing and actually challenged me to struggle with the writing of this note. After experiencing more of the Afro-French life outside of France in their former colonies such as Haiti and Senegal, I found a better grasp on my feelings and thoughts. In research, I discovered a bit more about the French educational system that is designed to educate but only to the extent of the contribution and greatness of France and the French Revolution with a bent toward liberalism that is very much at the foundation of the white American progressive left. In addition, the French educational system validates the white collective/ Western European version of history and culture.


My experience in France shedded a greater light on the intentional global miseducation of Black people and how it has served as a vehicle to cause the roots of assimilation to spring forward, consciously and subconsciously, disguised in the libertarian, equality, and fraternal term of integration in which the “minority”/white collective construed a narrative of history, ideology, and practice perpetuating their “rightness”and thus the very thing that we must all strive. In reality, it demands the giving up of one’s own authenticity to take on theirs in which one will becomes a permanent outsider to one’s self as well as to those whom one seeks to assimilate although their are deceptive rewards which after time reveals the built-in natural limitations of their intentions. Thus, Blacks are placed in conflicting and challenging situations in which we feel forced to choose to educationally, economically, socially, and politically integrate believing their foundational lie of liberty, equality and fraternity (a sense of brotherhood - we are all the same - justice for all) and as a result it becomes the root of our assimilation to their narratives which leads to our consciously and subconsciously giving up of who we are, our Blackness, in order to advance and thrive in a world defined (historically, ideologically, and practically) and dominated by them, the white collective. This white collective driven narrative of integration that springs forth the roots of assimilation is cancerous to our establishing and maintaining our own narratives, promoting our Blackness as the driving force, lens in which we develop and sustain our own narratives, causing our community, the world to thrive. The word integration implies the combining of and not the giving up of. However, the white collective as personified in and through their narratives of liberty, equality, and fraternity have conditioned us, forced us to be “outsiders” and/or “displaced” from who we really are in order to translate their terms as they will, such as integration as assimilation, if we, our family, community want to thrive in a system and structure for which they dominate. Parenthetically, the combining of black to anything makes black the dominant color (the one in which others give towards) and always creates a darker hue!

A Senegalese business woman I met in Chateau Rouge, said “the only reason I am in France was because our leaders gave all of our stuff to whites and I came here to get it back!” In our engagement, it was obvious that she was aware that in her pursuit to get back our stuff that there are sacrifices to be made for her, her family and community if they were to move educationally, economically, socially, and politically to survive not to mention, thrive in this white dominate world in which we have or at least our leaders have given everything over to them. This is indicative of all Black people no matter where they live as we struggle with the sacrifices we have to make to be, exist in our present world. We have been conditioned, especially through the educational systems, created by and for the advancement of the white collective (including, if not, especially, the “woke” of academia) to embrace assimilation disguised as integration, like-us-itis disguised as diversity and inclusion rooted in their version of liberty, justice, and fraternity which promotes their narratives and dominance as the measuring bar. The acceptance of their version demands our sacrifice, often leading us to places of being in order to exist that has displaced as well as created a sense of us being outsiders, i.e., more European than the Europeans, causing emotional and physical bondage that makes it so hard for us to find our way back to our authentic selves.


Therefore, it must be incumbent upon us, the community of Black people, to not rely on the white collective driven and sustained narratives that only perpetuates their positions of dominance and profit. We must create and engineer spaces to develop and nurture our Blackness, our authentic selves; re-educating ourselves and our community with the truth of our greatness that counteracts their narrative and dispels notions of our acceptance of deceptive techniques, strategies, and paradigms in order to survive in their version of the world which do not emancipate us emotionally or educationally, economically, socially, and politically but instead continues to bind us to statuses in which they can continue to manipulate and dominate. Our Blackness is too precious and necessary for our thriving for us to be willing to comprise it and/or give up on it just to fit into their world. Remember their world is a product of our world; they are civilized and financially sound as a direct result of our ancestors and they know it and will do anything to ensure we do not or if we do, misconstrue the truth in such a way that we are forced to give up our authenticity in order to take up their version, narrative of being. We will never be like them (nor should we be) and thus will never achieve and maximize our God-given potential as Black people. Remember their objective is that we do not get the truth, therefore, we must be determined to get it right that we are a great people with enormous potential for even the greater!



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