Nationalism: “A desire by a large group of people (such as people who share the same culture, history, language, etc.) to form a separate and independent nation of their own; a sense of national consciousness.”
Practical: “Of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action; not theoretical or ideal; disposed to action as opposed to speculation or abstraction.”
The “conscious” among us often get into discussions about nationalism. Some say Blacks should leave the United States altogether and start a nation of our own, while others say we should carve out a few states and make them our nation. Others say Black people should denounce and refuse to participate in capitalism in any form because of its individualistic, dog-eat-dog, selfish aspects.
Co-convener of the I Am One of the Million Movement, Baba Amefika Geuka, describes these differences in a video titled, “What is a Nationalist?” available on www.amefika.com and YouTube. For more depth than I can go into in this article, please watch the video.
Geuka explains the differences within the conscious community when it comes to what Black people should do, where we should go and how to get there, and how we can achieve a communal, self-sustained, and self-determined “nation.” He also discusses the practicality of actually doing what many of us advocate vis-a-vis taking a nationalist approach to solving our social, economic, political and educational problems.
The abovementioned definitions point to a “desire” to form an independent nation, and to move from theory to practice in order to bring our ideal to fruition, respectively. Thus, the term “Practical Nationalism,” something I had not heard until I met Amefika Geuka, when describing conscious people should move us beyond mundane and superfluous conversations to a constant state of action. And for purposes of this article, I mean practical action – action that makes sense for us within the framework of the society in which we live. In other words, it’s great to have the “desire” to do something, but if that desire is not followed by a constant and consistent effort, based on a specific plan of action, it will remain a “desire.”
THE One Million believes it is not enough just to be “conscious;” we are looking for “conscientiously conscious” Black folks, because being “conscientious” will cause a “conscious” person to work on our “desire” to have the best for our people.
As Geuka questions, where will we go, en masse? How will we take over five or six states in this nation? How will we pay our way for self-determination, and what will we offer the folks who already live in whatever country we decide to move into? These and other questions must be answered as we move beyond the rhetorical and philosophical discussions about liberation, separation and communalism.
We may not like it, but virtually everything in this country is the result of an exchange of goods and/or services, produced by someone, distributed by someone and sold by and to someone. We say we “need our own,” and I wholeheartedly agree, but how do we get our own? No one is giving anything away, no one is providing free transportation, no one is giving away land and no one is feeding our people without having to pay something to do so. Thus, since we are in this belly of the beast called capitalism, which some of us hate, do we abandon it, or do we find ways within it to survive and thrive?
Our culture is the link that should bring and keep us connected, but romanticizing that culture without the work and sacrifice to takes to build “our own” just makes us feel good. The practical side of things dictates that Black people can use our culture best by practicing what we celebrate. Take Kwanzaa, for instance; seven days of celebrating, remembering and reflecting on our culture is great, but if we really wanted to be practical about our nationalism, we could actually practice Kwanzaa year-round. Implement one principle for 52 days each by doing the things each principle represents. By the way, one principle, Ujamaa, has to do with economic empowerment.
Amefika Geuka is a self-described “Practical Nationalist;” and I know from my personal interaction with him over the past 12 years or so that he definitely practices his brand of nationalism in an effort to bring to fruition his “desire” to see real progress for our people in this country and beyond. He understands the real work that must be done and is willing to do his part, first by giving us a reality check on the world in which we live. Now, that’s practical.
“I’m supportive of practical nationalism, like the kind we need in Canada to avoid being absorbed into a much larger country.” — Steven Heighton
More information about THE One Million can be found at http://www.iamoneofthemillion.com.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the author of Black Dollar$ Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense. He can be reached through his website, http://www.blackonomics.com.