Of the four books written by Walter Rodney that I can purchase through Amazon.com, The Groundings With My Brothers is the one I was able to read completely in time for this two-part tribute to mark 28 years since his death.
The text (his words) is 64 pages in all, and it is quite a quick read. It is impassioned, lively, and discusses race in terms that you don't need a Ph.D to comprehend. Rodney was writing for the masses, for us.
The book details his struggles and triumphs at trying to create a Black Power Movement in Jamaica in the 1960s, and explains the relevance of a Black Power Movement to the West Indies as follows: "Black Power can be seen as a movement and an ideology springing from the reality of oppression of black peoples by whites within the imperialist world as a whole. Now we need to be specific in defining the West Indian scene and our own particular roles in the society. You and I have to decide whether we want to think black or to remain as a dirty version of white" (Groundings, p.34).
Rodney also explains the particular relevance of the term "grounding" to the Black Power Movement and his manner of activism in Jamaica. He writes, "I was prepared to go anywhere that any group of Black people were prepared to sit down to talk and listen. Because, that is Black Power, that is one of the elements, a sitting down together to reason, to 'ground' as the Brothers say. We have to 'ground together.' There was all this furore about whites being present in the Black Writers Congress which most whites did not understand. They did not understand that our historical experience has been speaking to white people, whether it be begging white people, justifying ourselves against white people or even vilifying white people. Our whole context has been, 'that is the man to talk to.' Now the new understanding is that Black Brothers must talk to each other. That is a very simple understanding which any reasonable person outside of a particular 'in-group' would understand. That is why we talk about our 'family discussions' " (Groundings, p.78).
In the newest introduction to the 1990 reprint of Groundings (no year evident as to when he or she wrote the darn thing), Omawale (one name only) suggests a more relevant slogan for the Caribbean these days is Peoples' Power, rather than Black Power. I agree, but I wonder in Guyana for instance, how that slogan would sound. How would it fit into the dynamic of Guyana's current power struggles? Who in Guyana would (or should) ground together in a Peoples' Movement? And, what exactly would that mean?
Other posts on Walter Rodney: