The most recent few years have had us mired in the muck of the Earth signs, separated from our will to demand and impact change. We believed that the way that things were was the way that they would always be. So conforming was the only way to survive. Be who they told you you were. Do what you could with what you had available—no use in demanding more when it seemed to be clear that there was not enough. Take it all at face value with no wonder about what lies beyond the exterior. Everything being what it was, was as it should be.
What power did we have to make changes? Machines too big to dismantle must have an inherent right to exist, if only because their complexity and weight cannot be deconstructed with a single hand. That would require allegedly impossible cooperative action.
Then came Jupiter in Aries, in April of this year, baptizing us with the Fire of the entitlement to impact change. With this Fire baptism came a mandate. Might we see this mandate as a divine ordinance? The divinely given opportunity to disassociate our actions, our identities, and our beliefs from authorities that claim to be omnipotent?
When Moses was given his divine ordinance, it was announced by the Fire of a burning bush—a bush that was burning yet was not consumed. That was enough for him to recognize that he had encountered something supernatural. At that bush, he was given a vision of liberation. His encounter with the Divine would be the Fire that fueled the eventual exodus of the Israelites from bondage.
Harriet Tubman, often called Moses, saw the vision, too. She had been to the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land, the same mountaintop that Martin Luther King Jr. saw. Moses brought his people out of Egypt, but he never saw the Promised Land. Harriet Tubman brought many out of enslavement, but into Black Codes which became Jim Crow. King began his freedom fight aiming for Black folks’ integration into the larger, white society. But soon he realized that he was integrating Black folks into a burning house.
Pharaoh eventually let Moses’s people go. Lincoln eventually signed the Emancipation Proclamation. President Lyndon B. Johnson eventually signed the Voting Rights Act. But, even the Israelites fell prey to the intoxication of imperialism and domination. They wanted their own king. Post-Reconstruction era Black folks sang the song of antiBlackness to each other with more conviction than the composers and lyricists of it did. And post Civil Rights Era America demanded the adoption of class striving as an alleged escape from all kinds of marginalization and domination.
Many of us have become authorities in institutions as a means to achieving our goals of affluence and hoarding. With the validation of those institutions, we carry out and continue the cultural indoctrination we were subject to. We see it as our duty, our right, to align ourselves with the power and influence granted by powers and influences that enthroned themselves.
Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense said, “To us power is, first of all, the ability to define phenomena, and secondly the ability to make these phenomena act in a desired manner.” The first phenomenon that we must define is the phenomenon of self, of identity. This power is the power of self-determination.
The Promised Land we seek now is a place where we are free from the bondage of wage slavery, free from having our food and housing held hostage by wealth hoarders. Free from external determinants of who we are, what we are capable of, and what we have a right to do. Free to determine who we are. Those who commit to the labor of self-determination see the vision of the Promised Land, who hold that vision, who must make it plain. And this is what makes self-determination the ultimate Promised Land.
Now, self-determination means to uproot the indoctrination that took hold while we were sleeping children, unawakened to the realities of consciousness and awareness of ourselves. We absorbed the stories and myths of national identities, gender identities, racial identities, and class identities as irrefutable truths. Self-determination is the necessary resistance that mutes these myths on our tongues, silences their narratives in our streams of consciousness, and amputates them from our bodies. Self-determination is to reject the seductive promise of power over others at the expense of power over ourselves.
You know who you are. What shall you name yourself in absence of authorities who claim to know you better than you know yourself?