Note: Recently I fell into a troubled sleep after thinking about a civil rights organizations leader elevating a criminal to its executive committee and the arrest of a clergyman, head of a major denomination, for racketeering. In Howard County, the poor academic performance of an unacceptable number of African American students was not receiving adequate attention - even from some African American educators and parents engaged with a school system that is nevertheless rated the best in Maryland. During a powerful electrical storm while I slept that night, this letter, back from the future, was somehow received on my fax machine. The mother of Nzinga Nicole Bambara is now age 7 and the father of Dumisani Jordan Omuwale is now age 6. The word Maafa means "disaster" in Kiswahili.
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University of New Luxor
Nzinga Nicole Bambara
Sankofa Dear Nzinga:
I have read your recently published analysis of the economic and moral collapse of European American civilization that accelerated late in the past century as a result of the last ditch effort that began in the then state of California to maintain an economy and educational system based on the ideology of white supremacy, that ultimately oppressed even working class and middle class whites, instead of affirmative action to fully develop and value the contributions of all peoples. Following the collapse, the Afrocentric movement provided all peoples an intellectual model for rescue and reconstruction of a just society.
Our mutual ancestor, Great-Grandfather Ken Jennings, lived during that period in the 1990s and had been noted in his writings for referring to certain African Americans as "last train negros." They seem to be the same people that Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, the great Afrocentric scholar of the period, referred to as the "clarencized." While the origin of Dr. Asantes term "clarencized" was easy to judge, the origin of our Great-Grandfathers term "last train negros" has remained obscure - until now.
In analyzing a recently found collection of our Great-Grandfathers records, I restored an over 100 year old newspaper clipping. The clipping is a book review from the Washington Post of November 18, 1986 (Book World, page 4) and is a review of a book titled The Chronicle of The Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944 edited by Lucjan Dobroszycki and translated from the Polish by Richard Lourie and others. The book was published by Yale University, one of the historically white universities of the time.
The book review states that during the spring and summer of 1940 the German occupiers of Poland collected the Jewish population into areas called "ghettos." In the ghetto of the city of Lodz, an autocratic self-important 62-year-old Jewish man named Rumkowski was selected by the Germans to administer the population of 163,000. Rumkowskis ghetto bureaucracy employed 10,000 Jewish persons in departments of housing, social services, food rationing, taxation, schooling, postal services, justice and a large police force known as the "Order Service." Among the realities of the harsh ghetto life was the periodic deportation of trainloads of persons to mysterious "work camps" somewhere outside the ghetto.
Rumkowskis authority was enormous because he decided who would be deported to the "work camps." He concluded that the only way to save a portion of his people was to convince the Germans that the ghetto workshops were of great value to their war effort. Nevertheless, the Germans periodically demanded that Rumkowski assemble lots of 10,000 and more Jews for "resettlement." Rumkowskis bureaucrats in the Office of Resettlement made lists of who would be deported on the work camp trains which returned empty 12 hours later. Huge quantities of clothing trucked into the ghetto for reconditioning in the workshops frequently were found to have currency sewn in the seams from the Lodz ghetto and the implications were not lost upon those people remaining. By September 1942 the people of the ghetto would not willingly report for deporttion and Rumkowskis police of the Order Service dragged them from their hiding places and snatched children from the streets to meet the deportation quotas. In August 1944 the final transports left the Lodz ghetto for Auschwitz. The Germans put Rumkowski and his family aboard the last train.
It is now clear to me that our Great-Grandfather saw a lesson to be learned from the horrors of the Lodz ghetto that was applicable to latter 20th century African Americans. He was concerned that African Americans would permit a leadership clique to develop and become entrenched among the people that gave priority to coalition with others before coalition within the African American community and was superficially "Black" but not grounded in the history and culture of African peoples.
The leadership clique would be so fixated on emulating the individualistic and materialistic practices of the oppressor, and looking to the oppressor to grant them funds to sustain their organizations, that they would efficiently and effectively betray the people - while convincing themselves that they were acting in the peoples best interest.
As we know from our study of the Maafa of 2006, the fate of such African American civil rights, religious, political, community leaders, educators and others - whose practices did not match their professed principles - was to be "put on the last train" by the oppressor and eliminated during the period before the eventual European American collapse and the birth of a just society through atonement and reconciliation.
I also now believe that our Great-Grandfathers view was influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon of Martinique who wrote, in his 1968 collection titled Toward The African Revolution, "The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes cold complicity."
We can discuss this further at the family reunion next month.
Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika
Dumisani Jordan Omuwale