Early Pride in the Message
The Nubian Message's proverbial tongue was sharp when it came to assessing the effectiveness of African American leaders on campus and in American society as a whole. Influenced by Black Nationalist ideologies, many staff writers and editorialists took political and social leaders to task for accommodating mainstream white interests and assuming that the promises of the civil rights movements had been fulfilled. Early staff writers rejected such accommodation and resoundingly denied the notion that racism and prejudice were things of the past. In their calls for an ongoing struggle against white preference, staff writers often turned the issue on its head and praised African American culture as the one to emulate. At the very least, early writers in The Nubian Message rejected the idea that African Americans were 'just like everyone else,' and instead proudly upheld their differences. Later writers couched their critiques in humor or satire to blunt the blow, but their messages were usually the same as their predecessors.
An excellent example of how these two trends--criticism of leaders and cultural pride--often merged in the paper appears in a September 22, 1994 editorial, "What's the Next Step?". In this article, staff columnist Danny Byers scathingly criticized contemporary African American leaders and organizations for their failure to change African Americans' poverty and inequality. He cited multiple examples of how racism still affected African Americans in the 1990s, thirty years after the civil rights movements of the 1960s, and he concluded based on that evidence that African Americans' "lost" the fight for racial equality. He also argued that African American leaders still mistakenly sought to fit into mainstream American society, a mindset that he attributed to the legacy of slavery. Instead, leaders should push African Americans to reject mainstream cultural norms, particularly religious beliefs and denominations that emerged from white society. Although Byers essentialized white and black Americans by separating them into two distinct cultures, when in fact multiple cultures exist and overlap in America, he encouraged African American leaders to unite and have real discussions about how African Americans can help themselves, rather than pursue personal wealth and status in mainstream society.
As can be seen, Byers identified African American leaders' ineffectiveness as a result of their lack of cultural pride and their ongoing, ill-fated attempts to integrate into white society. A second shorter article, "Four Reasons for Using 'K' in Afrika," took these ideas a step further and argued that African American acceptance of white cultural norms amounts to white hegemony. Appearing in multiple issues of the paper throughout the 1990s, the article was adapted from African American poet and educator Haki Madhubuti's 1979 work, From Plan to Planet: Life Studies--The Need for Afrikan Minds and Institutions. As its title suggests, the article provided four reasons for using the letter "K" in "Afrika," "Afrikan," and "Afrikan American." The main reason was that Africans themselves use the letter "K" in these words; Europeans "polluted" the spelling by switching the "K" to a "C" during the attempted colonization of the African continent. The article argued that the spelling change represents cultural subordination that Africans and African Americans should reject. Reverting to the "K" spelling empowered people of African descent and created the foundation for a common identity between them.