This text is reprinted from the Pan African Association of America. The information within is not meant to be divisive but used as a unifying factor of the African masses.
One of the most cliched terms that accompany conversations about liberation is the term "conscious." It is used by many African people with many agendas that may or may not be related to the liberation of African people. The PAAA presents the following as its observation of what the (five) categories of consciousness are in relation to its organizational agenda.
A state of complete unawareness of a cultural self or a right to self-definition and self-determination. Life is strictly lived at a survival level, governed by accident or incident.
A vague state of awareness that a cultural self might exist and things are not fair for people who look like that person on his or her block. Grabs at some cultural things that are dictated as popular by entertainment or sports figures but is still governed by a survival philosophy based on accident or incident. Usually is only aware of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King as the sole reference point for African human achievement.
A state of awareness of a cultural self in less vague but still very parochial terms. Most of the awareness is attributed to reading extremely superficial information about the culture of her/his ethnic group. Does not move beyond the memorization of a few dates and famous figures that are acceptable to european people. Will decorate a home with a great deal of culture that is reflective of the influence of european culture on African people in the u.s. mixed with a little African art of which there is little to no understanding. Will wear attire that could pass for continental African attire and only wears it once or twice a year at best. Is very uncomfortable with African words, symbols and ceremonies but is willing to be a spectator rather than a participant. Is into feel good, motivational talk and confuses eurocentric definitions of universality with African liberation. Often times the only books read are novels, cookbooks, or civil rights literature that is non-threatening to the idea of white supremacy. Self-determination is defined as the right to live in a multicultural society where African culture is never institutionalized in that society.
An intellectual state of awareness of the cultural self in terms of theories, concepts and travels in closed circles of people who share the same views intellectually. This awareness is usually restricted to an academic, political, religious, economic or social agenda that is the result of personal experiences rather than any clear vision. This awareness is manifested in a range of expressions that can be from ambiguous to extremely dogmatic. While speaking of African-centered perspectives, it applies eurocentric logic to all of its thinking processes. While it can internalize information of a material nature, it has extreme difficulty in internalizing spirituality. Even its perception of spirituality is still housed in a european perception of monastic or hermitic, isolative non-involvement, in the day-to-day struggles of liberation. Its life is still centered around control, power, domination and helping when it is advantageous to it. It has difficulty moving beyond attending lectures, workshops, conferences, study groups and discussion groups to community volunteerism. Generally only has a theoretical, linear working idea of Africa based on an understanding of ancient Africa but with little exposure to the issues of contemporary Africa, the Caribbean and other living African societies. It has difficulty accepting the existence of models in its own backyard that it preaches in favor of, simply because those models have less value than the scholars and intellectuals it has come to idolize. Scholars and intellectuals take the place of religious leaders in its life and liberation for it is the act of reading books, listening to tapes and developing relationships with scholars and intellectuals. For it, self-determination is a romanticized, static, intellectual gymnastic exercise rather than acts of compassion and contribution to the lives of ordinary African people. It is taking on an African name without having a clue to how traditional African people view the universe and themselves. It is a kind of cultural virtual reality without concrete social commitment to change.
A wholistic state of awareness of the global cultural self in terms of knowing that culture is the sum total of how the parts work together in a harmonious and natural way, minimizing stress in African people while maximizing their individual and collective empowerment. It is an awareness that attempts to put all the pieces together in a comprehensive working manner to affect positive change in the lives of African people locally and globally. It understands that economics, politics, religion, education and social development have the interrelated purpose of maintaining the unique African way of organizing her/his world for the betterment of future generations of African children. She/He is an optimist and can envision a world of African self-determination, and strives to make it come true through establishing the institutions needed to bring a change in African human behavior, beliefs and goals. It is seeking a balance between mastering ancient history and working towards positive solutions from those ancient times that have practical application to contemporary issues affecting African people globally. It is developing a multi-dimensional perspective that leads to the creation and maintenance of local models of self-determination, based on African philosophical principles that can be reproduced in europe, the Caribbeans, Africa and India. It is the promotion of harmonious relationship between African people globally that is based on the respect of difference, the ideal of harmonious cooperation and the security of the African Worldview from the intrusion of white supremacy and its cultural tools of direct and indirect domination.
Conscious is the ability to separate a brilliant idea from a questionable character and take the best of all of the ideas and thoughts, internalize them to achieve personal serenity and translate that serenity into institution building to reflect the idea of becoming RA, in the best of our Kemetic traditions. It is able to discriminate enough to work with those who practices the principles it believes in rather than wasting time attempting to convert or rescue those who, repeatedly, display agendas that are not of a Pan-African, sharing spirit. Finally, this consciousness is so comfortable with its Africaness that it will not modify this comfort zone for the benefit of career, profession, social status, educational opportunity, religious acceptance or western/arab political and economic favoritism.