Week of May 6: Consciousness and Power

Important announcements!

Fall Course: I’ll be teaching AAS 245: History of African Americans in the Wednesday 6-8:40 PM time slot if anyone’s interested. Section H81, course code 57646. It meets the “US Experience in its Diversity” core requirement. It is not writing intensive.

Final assignments are posted on the assignments page. There are two options: one assignment for those doing fieldwork from home or who did enough to write about their organization. The second option is the alternate assignment, which uses the Black Panther Party as a case study.

Next week (May 11) will be reserved for phone conferences/ questions/ work on your final papers.

Instructions for this week: Watch the short clip from Dr. Marimba Ani then listen to my lecture (it’s about 23 minutes long) then comment on Wilson’s chapter. In chapter 4 Wilson analyzes the importance of individual and collective consciousness for building power in the black community. Take some time to carefully read, think about, and comment on it.

Watch to the following 49-second clip by Dr. Marimba Ani (Go to the direct link on Youtube if you don’t see the video embedded below.) Think about how her explanation of  collective consciousness relates to Wilson’s vision in the chapter.

No student presentation this week

This week’s audio lecture:

It’s approximately 22 minutes long. Play it in your browser by pressing the arrow below. Try it in a different browser or on a laptop/desktop computer if it doesn’t play–especially on mobile devices–and please report any problems to me.

Comments on posts:

You’ll notice the “Leave a Comment” button is now active below. Here’s how it’ll work: you can use these to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either Wilson’s chapter, the presentation, or my lecture using some of the questions raised. conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have until next Wednesday to write those two comments for credit. The comment section closes after 14 days.


11 thoughts on “Week of May 6: Consciousness and Power

  1. Nevia Cridlan

    In spite chapter four being a short chapter it has a lot of interesting subjects. This statement really stood out to more than any other statement. (page 193) ” To the degree that the values Blacks use to determine their own behavior are originated and controlled by Whites, is the degree Black behavior falls under White control, it the degree Whites retain and exercise social power over Blacks, is the degree Blacks are powerless relative to Whites. This allows Whites to social control the behavior of Blacks while Blacks believe themselves in control. Black power requires that Blacks originate their own values and that those values be exercised by them in their own interests.” How long is people of color going to allow Whites to control so many degree of their lives? Whites has taken over black people and is using it against them, putting a limit on their lives by keeping them in bondage in different kind of ways. Blacks will always struggle for power if they do not change their mind set, their values, their behavior and regain their own consciousness. Its time black people emancipate themselves from mental slavery because nothing else is going to free them but their own mind.

    1. Bereket Mengistu

      Good points raised in your comments, Nevia. Reading through it, all I could hear is Bob Marley’s voice from his Redemption Song. He sings:
      “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
      None but our self can free our minds
      Have no fear for atomic energy
      ‘Cause none of them can stop the time”

      1. Nevia Cridlan

        Thanks Bereket,
        That song is very powerful and very fitting for chapters four. The lyrics has a message in it that will live on from generation to generation its a legacy that is still alive today. Someone do not have to behind bars to be in bondage sometimes we can be trap in our mind by the things in our past life. Our mind can be a battle field that causes us to have inner conflicts with ourselves and no matter how hard we try the results are the same. Wilson was a visionary who saw more that what others have seen among the people of color.

  2. Bereket Mengistu

    Chapter 4 was indeed the core of the whole book. Wilson dives in deep on consciousness and power. And he further discusses what consciousness is a form of power; and consciousness as an instrument of social control. Wilson writes “consciousness is about power, whether as generated and exercised by oneself and/or by others.” He starts by giving a deep psychological definition of consciousness, he further continues, “it is the medium by which the individual and others control his state of being and behavior.”(90) His analysis of the effects of conscious power of whites over Black exposes to the underlying problem of racism in America. People usually pay attention to social, economic and political phenomenon to determine whether bias and discriminations exist. One could be free from that and yet within his consciousness might yield power to others and might not even be aware of it. Hence that weakens that person’s power because that person lacks self-knowledge. Wilson argues that “high levels of self-knowledge and self-awareness facilitate high levels of self-control, control over impulses.” (89)

    Marimba Ani’s video is so relative to what Wilson talks about on chapter four. Ani says that “No immorality, no spiritual strength, no cultural existence for us except as a collective, as a community.” As Wilson urges Black people to take power over their consciousness, Ani argues that we can only gain that as a group together and not individually.

    1. Fatoumata Tunkara

      Hey Bereket,

      I agree with your take on this chapter. I also felt this chapter was definitely one of the most important ones in the book. Consciousness and self identity is very important and its the reason why Whites continue to have power over Black Americans.

    2. Hadijah Alhassan


      Thanks for breaking down the Psychological and Physiological part of the chapter. It was a little challenging for me to break down. It definitely is an important asset on what Wilson advises us to do in order to gain power within the black community.

  3. Fatoumata Tunkara

    In Chapter 4 of Blueprint for Black Power Wilson makes interesting points in regards to the importance of consciousness and power. Consciousness is very important because it will guide the way you view the world as well as the way you think. The lack of individual as well as group consciousness can be very dis empowering as stated by Wilson. Black people will continue to be powerless against the dominance of White America until they derive their own identity by becoming more self aware. I agreed with many of the points made by Wilson in this chapter and it definitely broadened my view on the importance of consciousness in relation to exercising power. By the black community creating a collective group identity and consciousness they can generate power in America.

    Marimba Ani makes a great statement when she states that “Only by recognizing ourselves as a community as a nation of people as one can we gain these things. We cannot gain them as individuals. Individuals divorced from historical and cultural origins”. I think that what she is saying here is very important and directly relates to what Wilson states about collective group consciousness and only attaining power if we come together.

  4. Hadijah Alhassan

    In Chapter 4 from “Blueprint for Black Power” Wilson described how one must develop an “African Consciousness” in order to promote power for the benefit of the group. When he talks about a consciousness he is mainly speaking of awareness of one self and develop a knowledge of everything about that one group in it’s truest form. Wilson talks about the existing white consciousness that is embedded in society, and it has to be eradicated in order to develop a “Afrikan consciousness”. In the video of Marimba Ani on “ Individualism”she claims that in order for the Afrikan group to be effective they must come together collective, group, and as a whole. Similar to what Wilson is saying, a group can not be effective if there is no consciousness from all members of the group. Developing a conscious is the key to power, and being able to allocate what works for this group specifically. It is totally different than what works for the white group. In my opinion, it is invaluable to develop a black awareness so that you are no swayed by the manipulation of the Caucasian culture. There is an underlining tone of divide and conquer in the white supremacy world that we live in, and that’s why Wilson urges us to stick together and work strategically in an organized way.

  5. mogundipe55

    In chapter 4 of “Blueprint for Black Power” I completely agree with Wilson that there is power in consciousness. When I was reading this chapter, I was reminded how the power of consciousness has transformed many different lives of civil rights leaders. In my opinion, I see that everything Wilson stated in this chapter can be envisioned when you look into the life of Malcolm X. I believe that the power of consciousness is needed more than ever now. There are many ways that we can be misinformed on many different topics if don’t have the right mindset. For example the media can flip a story and can turn a victim into a villain.

  6. Lyssette Matias

    In chapter 4 from “Blueprint for Black power” Wilson described “African Consciousness” in order to demonstrate the power that African has. The understanding that i had was aun awareness of one self and of a group. The way that one way has to change their attitude or pattern of self which is followed by others, there is power in consciousness, there is value. In my opinion, it is very tough to have grown up with the skills already developed with the black awareness so that you are not manipulated by others. But we have to grow up and learn about these skills throughout the years.

    1. Nevia Cridlan

      The way in which someone change their mind about themselves should not base on someone else awareness, having a consciousness of your own and being aware of what is going on around you will give strength and the efficiency to conquer anything being by yourself or within a group.


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