An Interview Series with Human Performance Specialist Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport
by Dustin Washington
On Nov 8th, 2016 we elected Donald Trump as our 45th President. His election ought to serve as a wakeup call for all of us who care about justice and love.
The uncut authenticity of Trump’s xenophobic, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, racist and generally brilliantly stupid campaign message stripped away any pretense of who we are as a nation. His election to the highest office of the land revealed the persistence of white supremacy and patriarchy, and exposed the true nature of power within a predatory capitalist country.
After witnessing Trump wage an ugly, mean-spirited and overtly racist campaign, 58% percent of all whites – at every economic level – voted for Trump. White America – having endured a black President for 8 years, the destruction of the manufacturing base of this country, the introduction of neo-liberal economic policies (by white republicans and democrats) and the so called “browning” of America – simply found it all too much to bear; a threat to centuries of white domination of this country. The collective Internalized Racial Superiority of whites drove them to the false opiate of Trump. Boy, will they be disappointed.
The truth for people of color, and any righteous white human being, is that Trump’s election is an amazing opportunity because we can no longer have any false pretense of a savior in the White House. No matter who has been President, from George Washington to Barack Obama, the material conditions and racialized oppression of People of Color and the poor has not changed. The U.S Presidency is not a position to create liberation for the oppressed but a position to maintain the current economic rule of the 1%. History and this election proves that the ruling class will always use racism to ensure that the rule of the elite stay in place.
No matter who has been President, from George Washington to Barack Obama, the material conditions and racialized oppression of People of Color and the poor has not changed.
Only through the building of an Anti-Racist People’s Movement that has vision and a long-term strategy can we shift the dynamics of this country towards freedom and liberation. If we believe in the power of the people, its time now to show it through #NewWoke leadership and brilliant Anti-Racist organizing. No more reactionary activism. We must marshal our collective wisdom, creativity, skills, humanity and abundance of resources toward building an alternative society.
God, the Universe, the Creator and our Ancestors are begging for all of us to step out of Ego and into Power. No one will save us but us. The elite ruling class rely on us being passive consumers and compliant sheep while they destroy the planet. We rely on you to wake up. It is time for #NewWoke leadership from all of us to move out of survival and into the beyond.
With all this in mind, I’m honored to share the final installment of my discussion with Brother “Mahdi”.
(DW) Brother Mahdi, as we have just elected a clearly overt racist and fascist as President in Donald Trump, people across the planet are in shock, distraught ,and hopeless. No one seems to be looking inward. Can you share your analysis from a #NewWoke perspective on why he was elected? Where did the Movement fall down?
(BMD) Brother Dustin, Donald Trump was elected for one reason. It’s because America as we know it can only exist as long as there is a white man running it! America was not designed to function with a black man or woman at the head of it. This is why President Obama was given such a difficult time. Both he and the position itself were constantly disrespected. The reality of whites being on top and blacks being at the bottom is deeply embedded into the psyche of white people and the institutional construct of America.
America was founded and rooted in white supremacy. This means whites on top and blacks on the bottom. It doesn’t matter if those whites are liberals, conservatives or independents. They all benefit from white supremacy. White folks will benefit from Donald Trump as President just much as they’ve benefited from all the other white male Presidents we’ve had before. Not too much actually changes for them.
Hillary was just as much for white supremacy as people believe Donald Trump is. She didn’t campaign on the promise to transform America into a different nation where white supremacy is no longer the undercurrent driving the actions and decision-making of every institution in America. Bernie Sanders however, did campaign to transform America and the democratic party chose not to back him. They chose white supremacy over transformation. Essentially, they chose to stand still rather than grow.
To uproot white supremacy from the fabric of America, America has to become something else and, at present, we don’t have the will to transform America into something else.
To uproot white supremacy from the fabric of America, America has to become something else and, at present ,we don’t have the will to transform America into something else. This is not just what the election of Donald Trump proved; it’s also what the choices we were given proves.
It’s important that we understand that choosing white supremacy is a choice to not grow. It is a rejection of the invitation the Universe offers to each of us to accept the challenge of becoming a fully developed human being. America must choose to become a nation governed by people who have accepted the challenge to become fully-developed human beings. Thus far, it has rejected the invitation. This is what white supremacy is and will always be: a rebellion against nature, a refusal to get as big as we can get.
The #NewWoke, as you well know, is all about accepting the challenge to becoming a fully-developed human being and we give no energy to anything that does not move us in this direction.
Essentially, America is at war with the Universe or Multiverse as some choose to call it. Anyone who has any ounce of sense knows who is going to win this war.
As fellow anti-racist trainers/organizers with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, you and I have often discussed how we as Black people – and really all people – have been stuck in a survival mindset around our organizing work and generally around our lives but have yet to move towards doing “ Beyond” level work. Could you share what Beyond level leadership looks like?
Beyond survival leadership is all about accepting the challenge to become a fully-developed human being and then leading others from there. We must be about the growth and development of all people. This means we have to practice the principles we preach. As I often say to those I coach, “You have to be big and bold enough to grow right in front of people’s faces”. In other words, a Beyond survival leader understands that his or her leadership must be informed by his or her own desire and commitment to get as big as he or she can get. As leaders grow, those who follow them also grow.
As a community of people, we keep finding ourselves in the same unwanted conditions because our leaders aren’t growing – they’re just surviving. Their fear and false sense of scarcity informs their leadership. They’re not exposing themselves to new understandings and are dedicated to doing the same old thing because they’re on top in the old model. Survival leaders are ego-driven and their desire to be right and look good overshadows their commitment to being effective. You see no real vulnerability from survival leaders. It’s one racket or scheme after another.
A Beyond survival leader is not focused on opposing anything. Rather, he or she is focused on creating something. It’s about offering direction that is not reactionary; rather, it is visionary.
A Beyond survival leader is not focused on opposing anything. Rather, he or she is focused on creating something. It’s about offering direction that is not reactionary; rather, it is visionary. It seeks to fulfill the answer to the same question as the Universe, “What do we want?”
Mahdi, what would the elements of a Beyond People’s movement look like and feel like? So many struggle with having vision, especially vision out of the matrix of this world. What is your vision for what the world could look like if we did our work from a Beyond perspective?
The #NewWoke movement is the Beyond movement, because its vision is rooted in the same objective as the Universe: supporting people getting as big as they can be. A movement focused on growing people would transform everything. For starters, the world would look totally different than it does now in that people would be more honest and this would mean more authentic relationships. You would know where you stand with someone and you could count on what people say.
Now just imagine how different your life would be if everyone in your life were totally honest with you. Wouldn’t it be different? There are so many things we go through in this life that we wouldn’t have to go through if people were honest. There would no longer be a thin line between love and hate. Love would be more than a feeling we’re attempting to get from someone else. We would know love as who we are! As we grow our love grows.
Last Question: Mahdi, our young people are inheriting a world that is confusing, angering and terrifying for many of them. What would you tell them around having hope, vision, and a sense of their own power to create the Beyond world they and future generations deserve?
I would tell them the world they’re marching, protesting and fighting against not only wants them to fight against it, it needs them to fight against it. Causing the oppressed to rebel is a built-in part of its strategy. Every move you make in reaction to its policies and laws is already calculated. Our rebellion feeds the Matrix. To disrupt it, we must not give any energy to it through our opposition to it. Instead, we must direct all of our energy toward healing and uniting ourselves, creating a new vision of a world where people aren’t fragmented into assigned political positions such as race, gender, sexuality, age, or class status. Our energy must be used to transform the negative ways in which we see, think and treat ourselves so we may once against know our power and own it to create what we desire.
Baiting us into rebelling against it is how a world rooted in white supremacy stays alive. Its primary mission is to keeps people of color, anti-racist white people and especially black people distracted from focusing on themselves. It wants to keep us from healing and restoring ourselves back to our original state of being. As long as we’re fighting against white supremacy it appears as if white supremacy has real purchase in the universe when, in reality, the only power it has is harvested from us through our opposition to it. Let us focus on protecting ourselves, trusting ourselves, loving ourselves, listening to ourselves from a brand new place and being honest with ourselves. Watch what happens when we do this. Turning our focus on ourselves would totally flip the script.
The #NewWoke movement is not just a movement for the people and by the people. It is a movement of divine implications where we finally manifest God into the world.
In parting, I would like to impress upon you the strategy the Universe uses to solve problems. The universe outgrows its problem and likewise we must do the same thing. We must outgrow the things that hold us back, like our ego and the fears it keeps us focused on. We have to face the challenge that comes with trusting ourselves enough to fully express who we already are in a world designed to take advantage of the side effects that come with us not fully expressing ourselves. The #NewWoke movement is not just a movement for the people and by the people. It is a movement of divine implications where we finally manifest God into the world.
Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport is a graduate of McNeese State University, Landmark Education, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and has studied under the tutelage of some of the most powerful spiritual masters on the planet. Mahdi began his career as a relationship coach some twenty-four years ago. As a pioneer in the field, he founded the Relationship Fitness Center of Houston, Texas long before life-coaching was a concept. Mahdi brings a deep-rooted spiritual awareness to his work. He works to not only expose the underlying purpose of racism, sexism, ageism and classism, he also reveals how to interrupt the negative side effects.
Dustin Washington is the Director of the Community Justice Program with the American Friends Service Committee, Core Trainer with the People’s institute for Survival and Beyond and Clinical Faculty at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Dustin’s work centers around developing humanistic, anti-racist leadership across the nation and beyond via the Freedom School and YUIR projects. He is the winner of numerous awards: Faith Action Network Social Justice Award, Fellowships of Reconciliation Martin Luther King Jr. Award and Seattle Human Services Coalition’s Ron Chisolm Anti-racist Leader Award.
Featured Image is a cc licensed image via Flickr/eric lynch