Black People : ‘Self-Help’: A Stolen Word Wielded as a Weapon Against Black Activism

truetothecause

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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Servants of Power of all colors have looted Black history and defamed our heroes by usurping the term "Self-Help" for their own purposes. By expropriating the term to mean only "safe" volunteerism, private entrepreneurialism, wistful philanthropy, and personal good deeds, the language thieves attempt to discourage mass social action that confronts Power, and to equate "Self-Help" with accommodation. The Sixties Freedom Movement, according to the vocabulary criminals, was something other than Self-Help, as were all the other mass struggles of the African American journey. Bill Cosby is only the most prominent member of the gang that debunks agitation and mobilization - with specific warnings for Black youth. When the language of struggle is neutered, the people become powerless, which is exactly what the rulers desire.

‘Self-Help': A Stolen Word Wielded as a Weapon Against Black Activism

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

"To be successful, all mass movements had to rely on themselves."

The mantra of "self-help" has been fashioned into a club to bludgeon or shame African Americans into inaction on all fronts that might challenge real power relationships in the United States. Stripped of all meaning other than philanthropy, non-controversial volunteerism, individual entrepreneurial pursuits, and varieties of motivational exercises, the shrunken term is deployed as a deterrent and warning against mass political action. Especially in recent years, Self-Help and its attendant terms "self-reliance," "self-discipline" and "personal responsibility" have been stolen and twisted by right-wing forces in both white and Black society, to morally defame those who would organize Popular Power in opposition to Money Power.
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