In 500 A.D., the most noted school of catechism in all North Africa was presided over by a Black woman, who was teaching white people the rudiments of Christianity. A Roman Zealot who thought he should be in charge, and who could barely read or write, brought a mob into her academy and killed her. They threw her bones into the sea so that she could not be made a martyr. This began the destruction of the religious alliance between the African and European Christians.
Romans corrupted Christianity, and had internal fights until the Africans began to turn on Christianity. Then the African world brought another religion into being. Two educated servants, both Africans from Ethiopia, created Islam. Bilal and Zaldbia Harlth, both Ethiopians, are the men who put down the basic documents which would later emerge as the Koran. The Africans began to establish a partnership with this religion and with the people of the Middle East. It was a good partnership. It would remain good for nearly a thousand years until the partner turned on the Black partner.
What am I really saying? I'm saying we people really need to take a good look at ourselves and begin to exercise the essential selfishness of survival. I'm saying that our first allegiance is going to have to be our Blackness or our Africanity. We will have to ask questions and make alliances that are based on self-interest. Too many of us think that we have to become international now.
I think that when there is an international theme in the politics of the world, we have to create as our agenda, looking inward to ourselves first. We have to take inventory of ourselves as a people. We must stop talking about multi-racialism. People in power do not talk about multi-racialism. They talk about their laws, and either you obey them or get out. But we are so hung up on sentiment that we don't know how to handle power. The only way to handle power is to be powerful; not to talk about it, but to exercise it.
Because we're so non-racial, because we're so tolerant, because we're so kind, we do not produce the kind of safeguards to protect ourselves. We need some protection from our sentiment because sentiment and power don't go together. When you become sentimental about power you don't have it anymore. And we can lose some of our naivete and sentiment without losing our humanity, which is something I can't say for most of the powerful people in the world. In order to lose their sentiment and to deal with power, they lost their humanity and human feelings toward human beings. I don't think we have to do it.
What you have to understand is that you stand on the wings of power and you stand on the wings of the stage, ready to come on to the stage of history. And whether you do badly or not, or whether you're ready or not, you can't even stop coming if you wanted to. It will be left with you to make this the kind of a world that no man will have to apologize for his color and no man will have to celebrate it; but out of your essential Africaness, looking first and foremost, you might create the atmosphere where other people need not necessarily walk in fear.
Understand me well, I said nothing about forgiving anybody! I'm talking about how your energy will be deployed in building first, a social order for yourself and your children and then using your new position to build a social order for the world. I'm saying that only out of your nationalism and your Africanity can this happen.