These are important digressions, but for the sake of streamlining the blog, I’ll place them here.
Race/racism gave the the Euro-American plutocrat the social justification to routinely neglect and/or erase the personhood and humanity of the human group racialized/identified as black in order to prop up imperialism and a slavocracy. In addition, the social construction of race created an identity called whiteness to (1) unify the various ethnic, cultural, and national differences between European groups and (2) justify the domination, plunder, and imperialism already unleashed upon the world since 1492. This second point must be emphasized. Domination, plunder, and imperialism came first. Race and racism are second. The power of race and racism is that they, by their very design, make it difficult to get back to the genesis of violence–ecological and human exploitation of the many for the sake of the few. Sometimes, even the most well-meaning forget this. Columbus didn’t murder and enslave Ararawks because he was a racist. He did it because he was looking for gold and resources. Violence comes first followed by the cover-up and the justification.
I say this because some may mistakenly believe that the entirety of black identity is tied into modern constructions of race and racism.
In my view, Black prophetic imagination should not be cast as an imagination whose existence is owed solely white supremacy and the (Modern) social construction of race. Again, to do so would suggest that Black folks’ entire existence is defined upon what race and white supremacy has done. Ultimately, this grants race and white supremacy a kind of godlike, unassailable, creative power, and I refuse to give human constructions and actions godlike power. (The challenge is difficult: to search for a language that seeks to move beyond the corrosive social arrangements that created race/racism, while acknowledging and investigating the ways race shapes our world.)
Let me say up front that I did not initially receive these insights from my academic pursuits; I received them from my elders. And for the record, I do not believe my definition to be exhaustive of all prophetic speech, but within my community, this is a familiar way prophetic speech has been understood.