This is a topic that I had put on the shelf because I wasn't sure if I had the right words to convey what needs to be conveyed, however I see no better time then the present to express my viewpoint on this subject matter. First off let's take the two words separately and define just what they mean. Conformity, according to Wikipedia " is the process by which an individual's attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are conditioned by what is conceived to be what other people might perceive." So now let's look at individuality. Individuality,is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires.
From the definitions alone we see the vast difference between the two words. Where it takes movement and action to be and individual, to conform only takes riding on the coattails of another's thoughts, beliefs and ideals. So why discuss this? Easy, we find ourselves in a time which no longer celebrates the individualistic spirit, that so many of our predecessors embodied before us. At one time it seemed like every community in the inner city had one goal for the young men and women in their area and that was for them to be leaders. However, that is no longer the case because the power machine tends to try to make us believe that it would be more beneficial for the greater good if we not only we became one, but if we all thought along the same lines, believed along the same line, all the while telling us that we have the right to be individuals and live our own lives.
That vein is thinking is a living and breathing oxymoron because how can you inundate people with the we are one talk, but say oh yeah, if you want to be yourself it's cool, but when you get with us you don't have to worry about that. We'll take care of it, you just be yourself. That's crazy. The reason we don't have the amount of leaders like in the past is the very subtle extinguishment of the individuality. It's easier to get a people to conform and go along with your program if you have them, fearful, confused, existing in a perpetual state of apathy and hopelessness. Steve Biko put it best "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppress.
When we think of oppression many things come to mind for many people, for some only one thing comes to mind, living beneath your means and your right. See and oppressed mind is one that has succumbed to conformity because now they allow someone to not only think and make decisions for them but if they could they would let them breathe for them. One who possess the spirit of individuality knows within themselves that to allow someone to do for them what they can do for themselves is demeaning. Those who operate from this spirit look to take on responsibility and look to champion causes for themselves as well those who may not have the strength or the gumption to do for self. Malcolm, Huey, Assata, Martin, Marcus, (the list could go on forever) overstood that if they couldn't live and breathe as individuals with the divine right to think and do for themselves then life would be a very hollow existence. Some might even liken the individual to the revolutionary spirit. I don't know, you tell me how you feel about it.
However there is one thing that I am certain, the bell is ringing loudly for the end of individuality because the more they tell you to be yourself, the come and strip what little rights we have left, at the same time saying "It's for national security" Are they protecting us from an enemy that doesn't exist? Or are they the spook that sits behind the door ready to pounce when the time is right? I'll end this post with a quote from our esteemed elder and ancestor Dr. John Henrik Clarke and you tell me what you think.
"Powerful people never educate powerless people in what they need that they can use to take the power away from powerful people; it's too much to expect. If I was in power, I would not educate people in how to take my powers away."
Dr. John Henrik Clarke