Let's talk about the "Hotep"/ "Black Conscious" Community


#1

Over the past year or so I’ve been hearing people refer to a group of people called the Hoteps. I’m interested to know peoples actual ideas about this community, and the word used to describe them. Currently I fear that a diverse collection of Black groups are being lumped together under one disparaging title. In a recent Waypoint Podcast I believe I remember Austin describing “Hoteps” as people who believe that black men are kings and that women should know their place.This was extremely ironic to me personally because my first encounter with the “Hoteps”, were videos of them stating that the Black Woman was God and creator of the Universe. I’m not here to defend this community, mostly because I reject the term “Hotep” as grossly reductive. Who decides what gets talked about with respect and clarity? Who’s ideas get to be portrayed as nuanced?

I welcome all perspectives on this manner, and understand the possibility that I may be missing a part of the story.

(sidenote: it is my understanding that the word “Hoteps” are being used to descibe largely members of: Black Egyptology or Kemet groups, The Hebrew Israelites, portions of the Nation of Islam, The Moorsih Science Temple of America, the Nuwabians, the Nation of Gods and Earths, as well as other individuals and groups who share similar information and backgrounds.)

Here’s another perspective: https://blackgirlnerds.com/hotep-b-s-time-not-ok/


#2

For what it’s worth, one characterization I’ve seen basically equates them to a Black alt-right. Additionally, at least in my experience, there’s a curious mutual respect between the two groups.


#3

I respect that perspective; some groups do share some basic values like segregation and belief in innate racial differences . The problem is these “Hotep” groups actually disagree on far more than they agree philosophically. One quick example is the infamous Hebrew vs Kemet/ Egypt debates of a couple of years ago. These two groups have been at intellectual war for quite some time and even had quite a few live public debates in Harlem. I believe the ones mostly connected to alt right sensibilities are the Hebrews and possibly the NOI, but the other groups diverge quite a bit in core values. I guess my whole point is that their is enough diversity there to argue against labeling the bunch as if they are on the same page. It’s not at all even like the “religious right” in which you could at least assume some protestant christian Cohesiveness. The Hebrews are known for being totally against Africa, while many others are pan African in this “Hotep” community. There’s no basis for the two to be labeled under the same disparaging umbrella. That’s why for better or worst people in the community just call it the “conscious community” and leave it at that. Its a fairly neutral term… Sorry for going on so long lol


#4

Putting groups under broad umbrellas just kind of happens these days. I can remember seeing an alt-right meme that showed hardcore nazi inconography coupled with anime girls and rainbow flag colors with the caption “No enemies on the right”. Needless to say, there were quite a few people who took exception to the meme, at least in the twitter thread I saw lol.


#5

lol yeah you’re so right. I guess it is something that we just kind of have to deal with these days. In the internet age there isnt much room for detailed descriptions and refined ideas. It’s really hard to get attention without being extreme.


#6

AFAIK, what various strains of hotep have in common is a personal responsibility politics based on the idea that black people once held great power and are therefore responsible for their current situations. Like any catch-all pejorative label, it has been stretched well beyond its original descriptive scope so that you can almost use it to describe any black conservative.


#7

Yeah, I think that’s an excellent bit of insight. I never really thought about that commonality, but you’re totally right. I can’t think of one strand that would counter your statement.


#8

I usually try to stay out of intracommunity criticism when I’m not a part of that community, but I will say that the term, in my experience, has been less of a label one puts on oneself, as much as a description and/or criticism of someone’s politics, in particular their racial and gender politics and the intersection thereof.


#9

I think thats a really good policy. It’s kind of similar to how I feel about certain topics revolving around anime and japanese culture. Another reason why Hotep could be seen as offensive is because specifically the black Egyptology/ Kemet community used to say “Hotep” to each other as a greeting. Allot of those people saying Hotep to each other ranged from radical revolutionary feminist to the kinds of people meant to be targeted by the word today. It was a very broad community only united by a love and connection to ancient Egypt. So using that word as a disparaging label is almost like a slur. Also to your point about staying out of intracommunity criticism, because it really can be a field of land mines. I remember the first times I heard the word Hotep used to criticize people it was always attached to the word “nigga”. They were first called Hotep Niggas by other black people who didn’t agree.( as I said in a earlier reply there were many public debates between many of these groups specifically the Hebrews vs Egypt) That’s why when I hear people outside the community promoting the use of labeling people in such a way I feel a little antsy. I just wonder if the people using the term have a clear idea of the history of the community it so easily and comfortably indicts. I do under stand that many aspects of the community is homophobic, racist, and sexist, but shouldnt that mean we try to understand them more not less. Or is the goal only to ridicule and alienate?


#10

Are you questioning if Austin knows the history?


#11

First, thanks for offering a perspective that challenges my own.

Second, I can’t sugar coat how I feel about these kinds of people, mostly because of my person experiences with them and other similar or adjacent Black identities. My entire experience with them is completely negative as the only “hoteps” I’ve encountered can only be described as Fascists. It’s also worth stating again that when I think “hotep” I think of adjacent Black identities like the Nation of Islam cult. This is mostly because I don’t want to do the taxonomy of Reactionaries and Fascists who look like me, who think they either represent me or know what’s best for me. Maybe the reality is closer to #NotAllHoteps. I’m willing to admit that I might be wrong in hating that identifier. But I will never give anyone who uses it the time of day, at this point thinking of them as anything short of Fascist feels like a moral compromise.


#12

Yeah questioning in the true sense of the word. As I in I actually question if he knows. Not as in I doubt that he knows. His statement about the Kings was kind of sloppy, but I do understand that wasn’t the point of the podcast and may have just been a wrong place wrong time to have an actual discussion type thing.


#13

I think your opinion is very valuable, but the mere fact that the Nation of Islam would even be considered a “Hotep” is the problem. That group has been around sing the 1930’s in some form or fashion and is being grouped in with groups that have just really arrived on the scene. (lol I used the word group too much in that last sentence).
Though I do actually sympathize with many of these groups I value your opinion because your condemnation of them is not misplaced. I just feel like Black Americans always have to fight extra hard for basic respect. You would not call a Sunni Muslim a Protestant just because they both believe in Jesus. In fact even though you or I might disagree with some tenets of Islam we would likely respect their right to at the very least not be bunched in with groups they have fundamental differences with . The Hotep label is a clear shot at Egypt/ Kemet based Black Consciousness, but people use the word to describe a whole range of religious beliefs. I feel that is a show of disrespect for black ideology. Some of these people being labeled Hotep do not hold fascist ideas at all, and some very much do. lol my cousin is just about the proudest Black Feminist you’ll ever come across and she is a member of The Moorish Science Temple of America, a spinoff from the Nation of islam. Is she a Hotep? or does she some how get a pass. Who gets to say? I guess thats the root of my concerns. I’m new to forum posting so I’m going to tag austin in this reply, because I just learned how to do so lol. I should have way before because this whole post is directed at his comments @austin_walker


#14

Hey Loran,

I truly do not have time to get into a drawn out thing here, but what I’ll say is that there are a lot of resources that dig into the rampant homophobia, misogyny, antisemitism, and outright scammery of the sort of hyper-masculine “black consciousness” movements that I and others are referring to when we say Hotep Shit. Here are a few links to get you started, but honestly, the work has been done, and as always its worth digging into it yourself.

I’m also linking some introductory type stuff for the curious who have no touchstone here.

  1. “Hotep, Explained” by Damon Young at The Root
  2. “The Hotep Problem” by Chris Kindred on The Nib
  3. “Hotep is Killing the Conscious Community” by Sierra Boone for Madame Noir
  4. “How Umar Johnson Cured Me of Being a Hidden Hotep” by Jason Johnson, also at the Root
  5. “You’re not ‘Conscious’ If You’re a Homophobe” by Anna Gibson over at For Harriet

Just a taste, honestly. There’s so much more where that came from, especially if you start to actually dig into the spaces where these dudes actually organize and talk online–places I’m not eager to link to. It’s where some of them built alliances with and supported the Alt-Right and Trump in 2016. It’s where they demean queer folks like me for not being man enough. It’s where they peddle conspiracy theories and prey on the vulnerability of other black folks.

And if you have an issue with use of the term “hotep,” then you should direct your words their way, not mine. Because the term is not “a shot at Egypt/Kemet based Black Consciousness,” it’s a shot at folks in that space who explicitly adopted the term. They use the term in social media profiles and organize on sites named things like Hotep Nation. When folks like me drag them, we’re doing it by echoing their own use of the term back to them.

I appreciate your dedication to trying to untangle this, and hope you’re able to spend some time reading the words of black women and black queer folks on why, specifically, this whole movement simply replicates the black community’s issues with heteronormativity and misogyny and then dresses them up in (sometimes faux-)historicity as an alibi.

“We were kings, once” will never sound like a call for liberation for me. It will only ever be a reminder that some of us never learned that an equal society doesn’t have lords.


#15

To be clear the issue is with a term being placed on people indiscriminately without their consent. the reason My post was designed as a inquiry was because I wanted to know what Hotep meant to people.
Read the replies, many people said it basically meant Conservative Black Person. As A black person im just tired of being labeled by people, its exhausting.
Now if I go on the internet and express an interest in African History I can be labeled a Hotep. You are not responsible for people overusing the term, but its certainly not helping when people help spread it. No one went around calling themselves Hotep

(for the record I’m a 29 year old Black Bisexual man from New Orleans) I’m not on team homophobia or mysogony, but damn bruh. I know you know this shit is complicated in the black community. Its not a pass, but its real. Again I respect you dont have time to get into it. Liberals talk allot about Fascism, but use allot of the same tools. Labeling and marginalizing.
Umar Sucks, Sara Suten Seti Sucks, Polite Sucks. I know the peple the Hotep word is aimed at very well, but its a shotgun blast thats hitting allot of innocent bystanders. People just trying to express their blackness in peace without the internet coming up with new trendy labels.

I really do respect your time, and don’t expect a reply. I ask that you take in on faith that after I eat this burger I’ll look through your links.
I posted in the original post a link to A Black female blogger that raised similar issues to mines. My only real concern is as a black person it seems I’m not allowed to be offended. But perhaps I am quite wrong, and your links will enlighten me.

If you have the time, skim through my link. (Its very possible both me and her are wrong) Again I dont expect a reply, because I genuinely believe you are a good guy so anything you do whether I agree with or not, I believe is done with best intention so as you said, you and people like you should definitely not be the target. I think you may be on the wrong side of History on this one though sir. Thanks! I’ll now eat my lunch,and watch your Stellaris video on twitch (big fan)

Yoooooo You gotta know as a Black Philosophy grad I look up to you bro. Keep fighting the good fight. Lord Knows we need more people like you.

Added after reading a few articles and skimming others: Thoughts- "Damn I forgot how much these dudes suck, maybe it is ok to label them, they certainly dont mind labeling others. The internet is depressing. I remember being young and hating when a teacher said the good have to suffer for the bad. I always thought that was unjust, but maybe its just realistic. I guess if you’re not homophobic or misogynist and someone calls you a Hotep, you should just let it bounce right off you and not worry about it. idk. People wield words these days with little care, I guess I just dont trust the internet with the power of placing identities on people. At the end of the day, as long as you’re working to improve the material conditions of people as well as internet label sniping, I guess its all good. I just want my community to be happy, and what Ive seen thus far in my life has shown me none of this kind of thing actually helps noone. ( or at least noone in the part of New Orleans I live, I guess thats the only place I can speak of out of actual experience)


#16

Appreciate it and know you come in good faith, that’s why I responded in the first place! And I promise, I read that link right away. I get the fear of the shotgun blast, the fear of “labels,” etc., but I do firmly believe that there is value in political directness–it’s why I also don’t buy any of the “TERF is a slur” shit. Miss me with that, some labels are about protecting vulnerable folks. Our fear of over-categorization should serve as a check, but not as a silencer.

Anyway, happy to have this shot chat. Enjoy the burger!


#17

Peace dude! I’ll try to remember this convo the next time, I’m worried about something similar. I gotta be less sensitive.

have a great day out there!


#18

LOL, biiiiig week for Ho-tep