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For Black Consciousness the struggle began with the person coming to self or coming to consciousness.By understanding one’s history, culture and humanity one could understand the unjustness and evil of apartheid, and to understand it as a human construct meant to achieve and maintain privilege and power.
Black Consciousness unequivocally emphasized the need for psychological liberation.In elaborating, Biko said, “Racism does not only imply exclusion of one race by another – it always presupposes that the exclusion is for purpose of subjugation.”[v] With this understanding it is therefore no wonder why Black Consciousness would reject mere integration as the answer.As Biko put it, The myth of integration as propounded under the banner of the liberal ideology …John Alan and Lou Turner, writing after Biko’s death observed that “what is powerful and new about Biko’s ideas is that he always centers the possibility for change within the subjectivity of the oppressed person, and not simply within the South African economy or the hierarchy of the system”[iii] .Unlike the race based construction of identity that typified apartheid, Black Consciousness defined Black on the basis of political and socio-economic factors.By 18 October the Cabinet had decided to rack down on the most prominent Blak Consciousness-aligned organisations, and the next day, on 19 October, the government went ahead and banned 18 organisations (listed below).
About 70 activists were arrested, including several members of the Soweto Committee of Ten, and many were banned, including Biko’s friend and supporter, editor of the Daily Despatch, Donald Woods.
It sought to free the mind of the oppressed and as Mabogo More puts it “[Black Consciousness] was and still is a struggle for a new consciousness, a reawakening of a self-consciousness, a re-appropriation of black self-consciousness from the clutches of an appropriative and dominating white consciousness, a rediscovery of the black self which lay buried beneath white consciousness imposed on blacks by cultural, political, economic, linguistic and religious domination”[i].
In a society were Black people were referred to as non-Whites, Black Consciousness gave the oppressed their own separate identity that had no one else as a point of reference.
The rejection of false integration does not mean Black Consciousness is against integration.
To the contrary, Black Consciousness is and has always been for true integration which is, according to Biko, “free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people.”[viii] One of Black Consciousness’ achievements was to introduce the ‘subject’ in the thinking and execution of the liberation struggle in South Africa.
works from the false premise that, because it is difficult to bring people from different races together in this country, achievement of this is in itself a step towards the total liberation of the blacks.