I read about the “Washitaw-Muurs” or “Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah” of Louisiana, which is where I live. Of course, I found it intriguing, so I searched for more information… After all, where are the indigenous tribes of my hometown? The only evidence of their existence is in an obscure museum (which I can no longer locate) that I visited on a school field trip as a kid. Had they faded into the background of a majority slave population?
I thought, “Well this would explain a lot.” It wasn’t long before I realized that this “indigenous nation” was likely nothing more than one woman’s way of coping with the identity crisis that most slave descendants will come face to face in their lifetime.
When I noticed that the content creators of the information I came across shared the last name El or El-Bey, which in Hebrew translates to god or god in me, I realized this “nation” was probably more occult than tribal… I’m usually not quick to judge but when I read that the founder of this group called herself “Empress Verdiacee Tiari Washitaw Turner Goston El-Bey” and the tribes alias includes Dug-dah-mound-Yah… Well, let’s just say things became clearer to me! Her battle with her identity is right in her own name. Now, this isn’t to say her claims were not based on truth but that she went left at some point in her discovery, as many do.
Rather than me thinking that everyone else is wrong and I am right, I subscribe to the thought that there is usually some truth to every theory of the black identity.
Nonetheless, this all got me thinking that this identity crisis faced by the empress and most, if not all, slave descendants isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the empress was likely perpetuating a 100-year-old doctrine called Moorish Science or the Moorish Nation, which predates the more popular Nation of Islam which was established 87 years ago. As far as I can tell, it claims that the original people of the land we now call the United States of America was first inhabited by Moors thousands of years before Asiatic Natives arrived on the continent.
Like the Nation of Islam, the movement evolved into a religious organization rather than a confederate of black nationalists as the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to portray all non-Christian black congregations who stand for the organization, liberation, and self-identification of slave descendants. This little nugget is relevant because as we search the internet for truth, we should except that there are always two extremes to every so-called truth… They are the supporters of such organizations who blindly perpetuate the beliefs and ideals of their leaders despite their level of accuracy and truth and the institutions that attempt to completely discredit and demonize them. The actual truth lay somewhere in between!
Interestingly, before the Moorish and Islamic nations were formed, the first Hebrew Israelite church was founded in 1896, in Kansas. Like any religion, the Hebrew Israelites have different interpretations of their identity and purpose; however, they all believe that they are descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exiled from the southern kingdom into Africa and eventually transported across the Atlantic into 400 years of slavery and oppression that had previously been prophesied. Like Jews who call themselves “Messianic Jews”, some believe in Yahushua (Jesus Christ), while others mimic the religion and ideals of the European religion of Judaism, rejecting his title as Messiah.
We should all know how we came to perpetuate the European and Christian identity… It was forced on us in slavery or “given” to our ancestors prior to American slavery when parts of Africa were colonized by Europeans. If you don’t know this history, I recommend you research it.
More recently, slave descendants claim to be “Egyptians” and practice or dabble in Egyptology or Kemet. Others believe they are the indigenous people of the New World like the Moorish and Louisiana Muurs. Still, there are some who think they are Jews, attending synagogue or ironically sporting the non-biblical satanic five-point star as they yell scripture at some unwitting bystander, as though they know what scripture says and doesn’t say. If they did, they’d realize David did not have a star, but Satan did. Others believe they are descendents gods from another planet! (Sadly, I’m not kidding.)
Still, there are those who are satisfied with the idea that we come from the enormous continent of Africa, all lived identical cultures, running naked in the jungle and practicing voodoo. Minimal research proves this to be very simple thinking.
Yet, the worse are those who have not yet considered their identity at all. These are the sleepers, in what is commonly termed “the conscious community”. This conscious community is an informal community of blacks who are “woke”. Essentially this community consists of slave descendants who are seeking their identity and subsequently fall into a number of other categories of groups. It is made up of civil rights activists who have chosen not to sit idly by in the face of injustice, followers of the Moorish, Hebrew, or Islamic doctrines, and others who are at some beginning phase in their awakening. Most “conscious people” reject Christianity as a tool used to make and keep blacks enslaved and oppressed.
It’s not exactly clear what we are “woke” to, but if I had to describe it I’d say we are woke to the lies. Now, the challenge is proving to be woke to the truth!
See, I have mentioned all these groups not to condemn or judge, but to reveal that our search for our true identity didn’t start yesterday or during the glory days of civil rights leaders like Martin and Malcolm. As a matter of fact, the civil rights era was and is antithetical to discovering our identity. It sought and seeks equality. It demands that we share an equal identity with a culture whose captives we are…One that is foreign to our own cultures. It begs for inclusion and seamless integration into the systemic deception that we are now woke to and away from the truth we seek. This equality never comes because knowing the truth is averse to integrating into a system of deception!
To confirm my own ideology about the truth about our identity, I went to read former slaves account of life before slavery. Perhaps the best testimony is first-hand testimony!
What I learned was definite confirmation of a complex pre-slavery dynamic. For example, in The Making of The African American Identity Vol. 1, several slaves give us glimpses into the very diverse cultures of the African people enslaved by the Europeans. One might draw the conclusion that the only requirement to be enslaved was to be myelinated, seeing as this was the absolute only basis upon which any person was sold into European slavery.
In this document, some slaves were enticed onto boats with shiny and colorful things, materials, and trinkets. Others were invited to a party on the boat. Some were greeted with whips and chains and others with a glass of wine. Some freed slaves recall their ancestors living primitively, while others recall living a privileged life as children kings. Still, Prince Ayuba Suleiman Diallo AKA Job ben Solomon lets us in on a little-acknowledged fact… His people, a Muslim tribe named the Futa, enslaved “Negroes” before selling them into American slavery and he himself getting sold into slavery for 4 years. Likewise, Charlie Barber of Morocco describes being on a boat with lots of “other niggers”. While people like Olaudah Equiano, describes how she preferred her life as a slave in Africa. She says, “I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo.”
Contrarily, John Brown describes his parents as being different from all the other 500 to 600 slaves on the boat. He says his parents only spoke a few words, used their hands to communicate, and ate only raw vegetables. Additionally, some of the slaves describe their native ancestors as “savages” who ran naked into the jungle, ate fruits and nuts, and were easily tricked with red fabric and shiny stuff.
Another narrative, Cudjo’s Own Story of the Last American Slaver, about the life of Cudjo Lewis offers up yet another scenario of how one might end up in slavery. A member of the Togo tribe, Cudjo described his people as a peaceful agricultural tribe whose communal laws and practices resembled that of the biblical Hebrews. Cudjo’s village was destroyed by the female warriors of the Dahomey people, suspected to be the infamous Amazon Warriors. They killed his people cut their heads off and lined them on polls as they journeyed to the coast to sell their captives. The King of the Dahomey people then sold his own people and the captives of Togo into slavery. He then attempted to pirate the slave ship and take the white men and all those he sold but failed to do so. After slavery was abolished, the Togo and Dahomey/Benin people lived as one people in an Alabama community called Africa Town.
From this small sampling of slaves’ own accounts of their pre-slavery life, we see that there were a few different classes and cultures of people, who had equally diverse religious beliefs, much like today.
I wrote this piece to remind you all that the search for our identity didn’t start in our parents’ generation or even in their parents’ generation. Perhaps it began the moment when that final remnant of who we each were, the language we spoke, and the culture we once lived in finally withered away. Maybe, it began long before American slavery, in Africa, when we were recruited and forced into Islam and Christianity. Nevertheless, we were never one unified culture. Evidence suggests that the majority of slaves who were imported in the Atlantic Slave Trade were the class of people who were peaceable, yet unintimidated, and who therefore became the African slave class before they became the American slave class, the Negroes.
We search for clues and, like me, we think, “This explains a lot”… We must, however, question ourselves. Doe, it explain a lot because its true or is it because we live in a world where little is true and history is literally “His Story” and not “the story”. Thus, anything can be true and everything can make since when compared to what we’ve been told by our captors. Alternatively, could it be that we had diverse cultures, classes, and beliefs before American slavery; therefore, we are just as diverse now?
So, as I searched the web for answers to the simple question, “Who are the Moors?” Much more dawned on me. In our desperate attempt for an identity, we segregate ourselves from the only other people in the world who understand our struggle, each other!
Remember the premise of Jim Crow. “Turn the niggers against each other and they will never unite!” We have long been divided: light skin against dark skin, straight hair against kinky, house slave against field slave…. Today is not much different. We still divide over these and many other things… The wealthy against the poor, the educated against the undereducated, the professional against the laborer… But the greatest divisive tool has been religion, yet it has also contributed to an awakening among blacks. Nonetheless, it is now Hebrew Israelite versus Moorish versus Christians versus “non-religious Hebrews” versus the Atheist, who finds it impossible to believe that a supreme being would allow such injustice to continue on for so long and who is put off by the varying religious opinions.
In some way, each has decided to fight back against such injustices the best way they know how. Some yell and scream on street corners, others march in protest. Still, others fight injustice with injustice or ignor-ance. There is also another a group who fight injustice by sitting back and allowing the cycle of life to take its course. Some call it karma, others call it the wrath of God. Each group unwittingly teaching the other a little more about our shared, yet diverse identity, even if only by observation of our desperate search for a better reality!
Isn’t it accurate to say that we are all seeking the same truth? Aren’t we all trying to understand what happened, who we are, and if not here in America, or in Europe, or South America, or Africa, or in Egypt, or Israel than where do we belong?
See, the epiphany I had is that I am like Louis Farrakhan and Empress El-Bey because like them I just want to know and tell the truth about my identity and the identity of my people, at least some of the slave descendants in the Americas.
Ultimately, I want to set our minds free. I want to know that I have an identity of which I could be proud. I want to name the place that my ancestors called their home and attach it to my own identity like the Philippians of the Philippines, the Chinese of China, the Australians of Australia, the Germans of Germany, and the Russians of Russia. Not only do I want these things but I believe that every slave descendant needs it. We need an identity in order to maintain an image to be proud of.
What language did my ancestors speak, what deity did they worship, and what great feats did they accomplish? Where they a peaceable religious people like the Togo Tribe or a Murderous people like the Dahomey people? Where they the slaves that native Africans called Negroes, or were they African kings, queens, and princes of the Muslim Futa people? Am I a descendant of Moroccan jungle tribes or a child of the preemptive tribes who were lured with red fabric and beeds? Are my people responsible for the Great Pyramids of Giza or the first universities in Timbuktu? How did they contribute to the advancement of our global society?
With so many myths, theories, and truths about the myelinated peoples circulating, who make up the majority of the world and with whom we identify, how will we ever be certain of who we (slave descendants) are? Evidence exists to support many theories. Do all the theories make up our collective truth?
So, yes, I am one who believes that I and my people are the people of the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. I believe that the God of Abraham is particularly my God and I am distinctively his daughter as a descendant of Jacob whom we best know as Israel. I am thoroughly convinced that my people’s history is recorded in a collection of ancient manuscripts, some of which made it into the Christian bible. I believe in my Messiah who was sent for my people and me. I also believe that in him, his people also become anointed ones (messiahs) who continuously carry out his teachings to all nations. I believe all this, not because someone told me, but because I read the manuscripts in its original language and context, and it (the Word) told me that this is my identity. I recall the moment when this first dawned on me. For once I felt like I belonged…like I was home! Rather finding truth through the conscious community, a cult, camp, religion, or atheism, I imagine all of us who find a place that is closer to the truth than what we’ve been told feels liberated and at home, even if only temporarily.
My beliefs may seem silly to you, just as your belief or lack of such, might seem strange to me… But I am not asking you to believe exactly what I believe, but to be open to the whole truth. We share a common yearning for truth and the desire to be made whole by it – to feel the gap left by 400 years of slavery and oppression. We share a blurred and short-lived history, which isn’t far enough back to be considered the history of any people, even if we didn’t share a history prior to 400 years ago.
These journeys we are now endeavoring are the journeys endured by our ancestors since the final strand of our withering identities and heritages fail to the brink of obscurity. It is the moment when we ask momma and she doesn’t know. We asked grandma but she didn’t know either… And grandma recalls the time she asked her mother whose response began with, “Well I didn’t know my daddy but my momma told me he was a white man just before she was sold off to a new massa when I was just a girl…”
It was at this moment in time that the identity of slave descendants historically identified as the Heeboes, Negroes, Niggers, Nigras, Niggas, Christians, Hebrews, Israelites, Moors, Muslims, Egyptians, Jews, Aboriginals, Indigenous, the lazy, the criminals, the poor, the incarcerated, the drug dealers, the rapists, children of Cain, blacks, African- Americans, the big bad wolf (Well let’s just say, it depends on who you ask) was lost.
I guess the question is, does any of these titles tell us who we truly are, where we came from, and perhaps where we are going?
One thing is undeniably factual… We are descendants of slave whose identity(ies) and heritage(s) were erased from our memory… A people far-removed from their past, confused in their present, and hopefully, restored in their future!
“We are not the same because we are black, but it is indeed the reason that we are different – most of humanity is black and is thus extremely diverse in their culture and beliefs. It is our shared identity as descendants of Americas’ slaves that link us rather than our complexion!”