History is important. Very important. This is why those who would re-write history do so for one purpose… for their own benefit! To feed their ego. In a word: selfishness. However as simple as the telling of history should be… I do acknowledge that it can be a difficult endeavour because of different perspectives. There are various vantage points and starting points in viewing the same event, which influences what it is we are seeing and/or experiencing. Also there is the likelihood of emotions distorting what it is we are perceiving. Does all this make what we perceive any less true.. real… legitimate? I don’t know. What I do know is that it important to state what you know and to listen to others… and equally important to question what you do know and what you are told.
So what is the history of the AfroSpear? How did it all get started? For me the answer is pretty straightforward. It all started from a discussion on thefreeslave’s page on 30 March 2007 (see here). Five of us at the time, Aulelia, Field Negro, thefreeslave, Sylvia and myself got together and discussed what the dynamics of what we wanted the AfroSpear Think Tank blog to represent… and then drafted the Mission Statement and About pages. At the beginning of April 2007 we launched (see here). Kizzie came on board next… to be our 6th member and that’s it (see here) . That’s it. That’s how it all got started.
Then how did all this confusion start? How did a simple plan get so convoluted? AfroSpear, AfroSphere, AfroSpear Googlegroup, AfroSphere Bloggers Association etc. My brother thefreeslave tried to bring some clarity to this issue via his post “Will the Real AfroSpear Please Stand Up?!” Here is my attempt, in my own way, to add some more clarity.
History… like life is dynamic. The whole idea/concept of the “AfroSpear” was never meant to be static. Rightly or wrongly we staked no ownership of the “concept” , so it took on a life of it’s own and quickly became more than “the think tank”. We welcomed and encouraged it’s growth from a simple blog page of six people to a collection of like-minded individual bloggers and other collectives, with “the think tank” being just one of the collective units. AfroSpear therefore became an “umbrella” concept.
Now over time as history has progressed, we have had some resign from “the think tank”, while others just stopped contributing. Other contributors have also come and gone, and we are always searching to add another voice… a different perspective from the Motherland, Caribbean, Central and South America or from some other region of the Diaspora. Here there are no membership requirements, applications nor waiting periods to get onto our blogroll. Ask and you’re on. We are a separate entity from the “AfroSpear googlegroup”!
The term “AfroSphere” is one that I started to use to refer to the community of “Black” bloggers and websites. I don’t claim that I was the first (or only) person to use this term, but for me it had more of a cultural and “human” connotation than simply referring to us as the “Blackosphere”. It was a personal, political and social choice since as far as I was concerned, “Black” refers to a colour… an inanimate, non-human symbolic description, while “Afro” connotes a cultural community based from a shared African root, regardless of our location or beliefs. So to break it down as simply as possible: if you are of African heritage (and “Black”) and have a blog or website, then you are a part of what I termed “The AfroSphere”.
Unfortunately as history progresses, things never stay simple… and clear. Sometimes this is a natural but temporary “hiccup” due to what is referred to as “growing pains”. However, as I stated above, there are those who re-write history to satisfy their own personal agenda and purposely muddy the waters. This is seen in the Wikipedia entry on the AfroSpear/AfroSphere, which is sprinkled with some truth… but prominently features some undeservingly I will add, while totally ignores the efforts of those (due to petty jealousies), who were most instrumental in the formation of the AfroSpear. AND so starts the confusion! There were those who had a different vision of what they wanted the AfroSpear to accomplish, so they formed a separate collective, to be distinct from the AfroSpear Think Tank page: The Afrosphere Bloggers Association. However, the same character as above due to their own personal agenda, still decided to appropriate… I guess the true term is mis-appropriate… and operate under the Afrospear name. AND so deepens the confusion. Subsequently, an AfroSpear googlegroup was formed to make it easier to facilitate discussion among those under the AfroSpear “umbrella”. However this became identified as “The AfroSpear” brand, unfortunately being dominated by a handful of bullies with their own agenda, who also intimidates and attacks anyone who doesn’t agree with their views, (the chief bully… the same character as above, who due to their own personal agenda, designates themselves to be the “Group owner” in the membership list). AND so broadens the confusion.
The question now is how do we get beyond this state of confusion and move into the realm of clarity? As thefreeslave states:
“Is it a branding issue, or is it something more, deeper, darker? Those of us who are a part of the AfroSpear and all of its tributaries should think about this confusing state of affairs and how it should be resolved – if it needs resolving. Clarity and greater coalescing might prove fruitful.”
The obvious solution would be a name change of one of the groups, but I don’t see this happening any time soon. It’s not because of stubbornness or rivalry on the part of the groups. Actually there is no rivalry, nor competition between this “think tank” page and the “googlegroup”, (nor the AfroSphere Bloggers Association for that matter)… not on our part anyway. We have always been supportive of their efforts and have said so many times. However both groups have put in a lot of time and effort… blood and sweat… into building their respective domains under the banner of the “AfroSpear”. Someone suggested greater unity would be best… but unity is not the issue. It’s a “band-aid” solution at best… in the guise of some “utopian” meeting of the minds. As my sister Angie stated: “Perhaps many of us are not supposed to be working together…. Sadly, we seem to think that just because we are black, we all got to be linked up, joined together at the hip, and singing the same negro spiritual.” Interestingly, this statement provides some clarity to the issue.
So I have to admit that at this time, I don’t see a solution to this dilemma. But I will end with more words from Sister Angie, that I believe moves us along a path to more clarity:
“Too bad that strong African people are still battling on the internet over status, power, and a freaking name… It is my prayer that all of the groups, whatever the hell the names are, get moving, get energized, and get thinking/working/fighting to elevate, empower, and free our people.”