Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana meaning “to retrieve” and also refers to the Bono Adinkra symbol represented either with a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards, while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. (Wikipedia).
There is a saying that if you keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, it is a sign of insanity. Black people have not yet been able to shake off the chains of oppression put in place during slavery. People have been blinded by the occultation of our history. Yes, if we are not aware of how we make mistakes, we will keep making them. We need to be able to look backward in order to chart a forward course.
Sankofa is one of the most profound concepts that we can utilize to correct our situation in the Western world. Unfortunately, it is currently under siege. There are forces in the United States government that are trying to rob us of our legacy. Black people have made great contributions to the development of the United States. In fact, we have played a major role in almost every arena in spite of the evilest forces conceivable that have attempted to thwart our efforts to thrive in this country.
One of the most egregious examples of this is the control that certain local governments are attempting to exercise over what elements of Black history should be taught. Think for a moment: what would it be like if someone came to the United States and forcibly denied the American people access to their history? Imagine if the Declaration of Independence was forbidden reading; imagine what would happen if the Revolutionary War was not allowed to be taught.
This is precisely what is happening to Black people in parts of the United States today. People who don’t look like us are denying us access to our history. That history provides our Sankofa, because it is through actions of the past that can help us chart our future course. To deny us our history is to cut off a part of our ability to thrive; it can keep our younger generation from benefitting from the past. To thwart access to our history is to attack our future.
In Florida, what has been called a “laboratory of fascism,” the move is on full throttle to erase important African American history. Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has set the bar low and has arrogantly made a decision as to what elements of Black history will be taught in schools. In addition, that stance is shutting off the ability of concerned white citizens to understand how this will impact them. A lot of them have no clue as to the atrocities committed by their ancestors against Black people, even though vestiges of that behavior continue up to this day! They can’t connect the dots of the toxic behavior that besets many Black communities to a legacy of white racism. They ignore the destruction of Black Wall Street; they may not know about the Black babies that were torn from the breasts of Black mamas and the consequent animal-like existence that many were forced to endure.
They look at the high rates of crime in Black communities with disdain, opining that the fault is in Black innate inferiority. They do not understand that the sordid history of oppression that continues to this day has damaged many Black souls resulting in damaged communities. Because of the history black-out many of them don’t have a clue about the part their ancestors have played in the attempted destruction of a people.
Actually, the focus should be placed on the phrase “attempted destruction,” because Black people have achieved success in multiple fields of endeavor far beyond what would be expected from a people who were so mistreated and maligned. Our successes have obscured the pain that many have endured, which contributes to the fact that many white people don’t understand that we have survived in spite of their attempts to erase Black contributions to America and to the world. When we look back, it becomes apparent that Sankofa is under siege among both Black and white people. The white attempt to deny Black history is also thwarting an understanding of white history! They are shooting themselves in the foot! We are in this together; we will sink or swim depending upon the ability of the enlightened of both races to push back on the ignorance forced on us by a certain group of white supremacists. A Luta Continua.