By Doshon Farad
For centuries we witnessed a worldwide assault on black culture by white writers who sought the need to relegate blacks as a justification for exploiting Africa (their mother continent) and its descendants. This literary blitz began well over five centuries ago when Europeans decided to expand their empire by way of exploiting Africa’s resources-its best resource being of course Africans. This intentional misinterpreting of African culture has resulted in centuries old misconceptions that have led to the enslavement and in many cases the genocide of people of African (black) descent across the globe.
One of the most insidious effects of Eurocentricity is the ability to compel its non-European victims to engage in demonizing their own culture. We have seen this taking place in America among black people since the days of slavery. I think it’s fair to say that in the Twenty-First Century many African-Americans and African-Caribbeans (and in many cases a lot of black Africans) hold very negative views about African culture. In the intro of his book “The Hearts of Darkness: How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa”, Journalist Dr. Milton Allmadi says he wrote it “. . .in order to fight the stereotypical racist representations of Black people, along with the ignorance and the cover-ups that go with it, which still persist in contemporary media. During the course of my research, I encountered some gatekeepers who prefer to defend the status quo.”
From my perspective in many cases this attack on African or black culture is currently being led by a segment of the black community (consisting primarily of many feminists or feminist sympathizers) who the late E. Franklin referred to as the “Black Bourgeoisie”, individuals who have allowed their educational or financial statuses to cause them to look down on their own cultural heritage.
For well over two years we have seen an ancient African word being thrown around to negatively describe black men such as myself who would be described as “Afrocentric” ( a term introduced by Temple University Professor Dr. Molefi K. Asante), African-centered or “conscious”.
The word that I’m speaking of is “Hotep”. The individuals who are guilty of denigrating this term belong to the “contemporary media” (and status quo which they claim to be against but actually are a part of it) of which Allmadi speaks of and they all identify as being pro-black. And they have used their media platforms to do so. There are several black websites that provide a definition of this term. Perhaps one of the most popular ones was provided by VerySmartBrothas.com editor-in-chief Damon Young in his December 29th, 2016 article titled, “Dr. Umar And the Hotep Civil War, Explained” asserts that “Hoteps” are “Pan-African extremists who often infuse their Pan-Africanism with misogyny, a Trumpian relationship with facts and understanding of context, and understanding of context, and a steadfast belief in bizarre and ridiculous conspiracy theories”.
Other people have stated that us “Hoteps” specifically hate black women and are also homophobic. One black “intellectual” (who I won’t mention at this time) on Facebook even went so far as to say that “Hoteps” are “grown men still living in their mother’s basements”. Wow, talking going to extremes to over generalize.
First things first; let me be emphatic when I tell you that as a student of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Yusef Ben Jochannan, Dr. Marimba Ani, and many other prominent black studies scholars, I am a proud HOTEP.
I must concur with Clarke when he says that Africa (its culture and people) are the most discussed and written about while at the same time being the most misunderstood-even by those of us who are supposed to be the most “educated” of the black community.
Please allow me to briefly provide some historical background to the word “Hotep”. The main problem that I have with the individuals misusing this term is their obvious lack of research. “Hotep” is an ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) word which means “peace”. It comes from the ancient Kemetic language known as “MeduNeter” or “Speech of the gods”. It was spoken all throughout the Nile Valley region in Northeast Africa during ancient times.
The word “Hotep” was used as a greeting and salutation among people in that area. There are several variations to it: “EmHotep” or “In peace” or its extended version “II-wyemhotep” meaning “Welcome in peace” or “Shem Hotep” meaning “I go in peace”.
The late E.A. Wallis Budge compiled a fairly accurate dictionary of the MeduNeter titled, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary : With an Index of English Words, King List, and Geographical List with Indexes, List of Hieroglyphic Characters, Coptic and Semitic Alphabets (Vol 1&2), providing a clearer definition of the word.
It was introduced to the African-American community during the Black Power era of the 1960s by such prominent black studies scholars as Dr. Maulana Karenga, during a time when our community was attempting to redefine our racial identity that was nearly destroyed during the slavery. And thus you began seeing African-Americans across the country greeting each other by saying “Hotep”.
Now that I’ve provided some historical context, let’s address a few things for clarification.
Regarding us “Hoteps” being sexist; I can admit that I have sexist tendencies. However, it has less to do with my cultural philosophy and more to do with me being raised in an extreme patriarchal society-like most men. Just as I have asserted many times in the past that most white people exhibit racist or white supremacist tendencies because they live in a Eurocentric society. When I hear people claim that “Hoteps” hate black women, I would like to know which ones are they speaking of. I ask this because when you read the writings of Clarke, and Ben Jochannan who can easily be credited as pioneering the “Hotep” movement, and the writings of some of their students such as Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Prof. James Smalls, you will clearly see that these men were and are in love with black women. Often Dr. Ben Jochannan would even remark that “Heaven is in between the legs of a black woman”, or course referencing the Kemetic sky goddess known as Nut. He also often made very clear that “You cannot talk about God without talking about the Goddess”.
As for myself, just about every day I use my social media pages to honor black women of every complexion, hair texture, eye color, physical shape, religion, and social status.
Regarding the issue of homosexuality and homophobia; you cannot bunch all “Hoteps” in the same category. Why? Because the view of homosexuality among Afrocentricity advocates vary. The Afrocentric movement is primarily comprised of those who would be classified as “Cultural Nationalists”. These are individuals who believe that black people should return to the traditional practices of their ancestors.
What you’ll find in this school of thought are differing views regarding homosexuality. We often hear the most popular one that claims that it was alien to African culture prior to the advent of Europeans. While another segment says that homosexuality was already a part of African culture thousands of years before Europe came into existence. There are even many openly gay Afrocentric Pan-Africanists black people (men and women) who are openly gay.
It is very apparent that most of the “Anti-Hotep” folks are not very well read when it comes to black history and culture.
As for myself no one can ever accuse me of castigating my gay black sisters and brothers, as I have spoken very highly of such individuals as James Baldwin and Langton Hughes who willingly placed themselves on the battlefield in the war against white supremacy. And who can refute that there were many other openly gay blacks who placed their lives in danger for the sake of black liberation.
Let’s discuss the “ridiculous conspiracy theories” that Young and others accuse us “Hoteps” of spreading. In his article young mentions one theory that says we “Hoteps” advocate is, “The belief that menstruation is unnatural and only happens to Black women because of a European virus.”
Wow, I’ve never heard that one before, certainly not coming from me or my elders Clarke, Ben Jochannan, Jeffries, Small, or Greg Carr, especially being that all throughout Africa there are rituals that hold a woman’s menstruation in high regard.
Now I must admit that I do hear some of my fellow “Hoteps” offering some wild summations and conclusions that I have critiqued heavily. But Young only mention one conspiracy theory that of course should be challenged.
But what other conspiracy theories are he and others accusing us of being guilty of sharing? If he’s speaking about the Tuskegee Experiment, COINTELPRO, and the Crack Epidemic, war on our children, these are not conspiracy theories instead these are “CONSPIRACY FACTS” that have been validated for the past thirty to fifty years.
As I read the various articles by these individuals they appear be very condescending and enjoy mocking us “Hoteps” rather than offering non-emotional critical analysis or kind advice. Instead they enjoy negatively painting with a broad brush a group of people that they disagree with. Something that they have accused “Hoteps” of doing.
The main problem that I have with these black “Hotep critics” (who mostly identify themselves as “liberals” or “progressive”) is that they are guilty of doing the same thing they criticize conservative white male patriarchy of doing (who they claim to be fighting against), and that is taking an aspect of black culture and mislabeling as well as demonizing it due to a willful lack of understanding. They are also guilty of practicing the same narrow-mindedness that they accuse us “Hoteps” of practicing.
What we must understand concerning the “Hotep” movement, every movement has its extremists this includes conservatives, liberals, black nationalists, feminists, and yes even the “Anti-Hoteps”. I say to both sides, rather than exchanging insults, why don’t we sit down and attempt to find common ground in how we best assist our community in achieving total liberation since that is what we both claim we want.