Archive for the ‘Black In America’ Category

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This series celebrates the accomplishments and explores the wisdom of our foreparents.
The Story

In a recent article regarding the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri one writer wrote that people that came down that as people came down to join and chronicle the protests a question that continued to come up was who was the leader of these rallies. The journalist stated that the question was often met with ambiguity or indifference.

It appeared that these young had come and assembled without leadership. For the previous generation this may seem like an odd occurrence or an indication of a lack of organization. In the extreme this may even seem like anarchy but the truth is that the world has changed since the struggles of old and so have the people.

Messianic Model

It has often been discussed about the state of Black leadership. The civil rights champions have begun to wonder who will take their place and continue the fight. This strange new generation with their social media, texting, and education seem to be ill equipped for the fight ahead of them. But I submit to you that every generation is given what the need to meet the world in which they live. The only reason that anyone cannot see this is if they have spent the majority of their lives in a world that no longer exists.

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“And I know that oftentimes older people are very distressed by the fact that young people just don’t know what it meant to struggle to get this far. And in a sense its good they don’t know because it’s good that they can take for granted what we had to fight for. Because that way their vision can be much more far reaching.
– Angela Davis

In the Black communities of the past there has often been one individual who has risen from the masses to lead the movement. For America this has given the perception of the messianic model of Black leadership where one person such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rev. Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton. These singular activists became voices for entire movements despite whatever affiliation they had to a larger group or organization. However, one of the most wholistic movements of the Black community, The Black Power movement, was built on a model of group leadership. Granted their was a hierarchy of leadership and certain individuals and voices stood out from the larger group for instance Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, and Kathleen Cleaver will always be remembered as voices of The Black Power Movement. But the overall mission of the Black Panthers was to empower communities to lead and struggle for themselves (hence why they were chapters of Black Panthers nationwide).

The Problem

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I for one could not tell you who the national leaders are of Jewish America, or Latino America or Chinese America. And maybe that’s ok. Enough with all the celebrity and pomp and circumstance around finding the nation’s next household-name for the black community. Time for black leaders to realize we need many names to help lead many communities.

-Kevin Powell

Searching for the face and/or voice of Black leadership is dead. The wait is over. The leaders are here and they will appear in the dust of the battle because leaders don’t make movements; movements make leaders.

We have gotten so accustomed to one person as the leader of the struggle tha we are waiting for the rise of this messiah. We have forgotten that a movement is made of many bodies, many voices, many leaders. We cannot wait for that one person to arrive; we must all be that one person.

The Point

We, the people of the community must be willing to assemble in ambiguity of leadership and write the programs that will guide our struggle. This model will be the standard for groups across the nation to struggle for justice and equality under the leadership of the principles and ideology that we have crafted instead of under the will of one person.

What we have learned is that there is no one God ordained sinless Moses who is going to lead us through the Red Sea. We will walk together and part that sea collectively when we reach it. Who’s the leader is so much less important of a question than what is the struggle and how do we plan to win it. Out focus has to be about getting our communities what they need and not judging the voices and faces that speak for us. Whoever the leading voices of the struggle are they will be as imperfect and flawed as we are – as they should be – we will never find a messiah in a man.

The question is then: Who can lead the way in this effort? Here comes a new idea for a Talented Tenth: The concept of a group-leadership, not simply educated and self-sacrificing, but with clear vision of present world conditions and dangers, and conducting American Negroes to alliance with culture groups in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, and looking toward a new world culture. We can do it. We have the ability. The only ques tion is, have we the will?

– W.E.B DuBois

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.
The Story

The Root published an article written by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele in response to the murder of Michael Brown. Eromosele boldly stated:

Yep, you read that right—I’m touting my privileges as a black female, not my woes, which are typically what are written about and expressed.

I recently encountered (not the first or last) a situation similar to the one in which Eromosele speaks of in her article when I was sitting at the bar with a Black female friend of mine and a White woman came from her table to approach the bartender for a drink. The woman was pretty, blonde, and she had a banging body. I visually acknowledged the woman’s attractiveness and my friend say “She has a great body. I’m going to tell her I like her body.” I asked her not to do it and told her I was going to step outside if she did. She sucked her teeth leaned past me and called out to the woman…I got up and stepped outside for a few minutes and came back. We didn’t discuss the situation however, it was clear that she didn’t understand that as a Black man I didn’t feel comfortable speaking to a strange White woman from a table of all White people specifically about her body. That is something that is generally misconstrued when men do it to women and could turn ugly simply because a Black man says it to a White woman. Maybe it would have turned out okay…I wasn’t in the mood to risk it.

The truth illustrated in the article set Black Feminists on fire and many took twitter chastising and critizing Eromosele for writing the article and The Root for publishing it. However, Eromosele stood her ground and wrote a response to her opposition:

Taking into consideration all of the responses—and recognizing the many harms suffered by black women in this country because of racism, sexism and, while we’re at it, sexual orientation—I still maintain that I enjoy certain benefits as a woman that evade black men.

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Black Female Privilege

Many of Eromosele’s protestors missed the most significant point that she made about the nuances of the way Black men survive America through an unspoken code of actions that does not always relate to the way any other person, including Black women, lives by. Eromosele simply acknowledged that even though she is Black, some of the ways of acting and thinking that Black men seemed foreign to her but through a conversation with a friend she realized why they do it and why it has never occurred to her to use those same practices. In short, as a woman she did not have the same dangers and fears that a Black man does.

I cannot imagine that other Black women have not been in situations that Eromosele describes. Instead of discussing and analyzing those situations the focus has been on the term “Black Female Privilege” and the ways in which it did not negate the oppression and disenfranchisement of Black women (no one said it did), which is not the conversation Eromosele is having.

The Problem

The Black community has a disgusting hubris that is killing our relations with one another, specifically between Black men and Black women. That hubris is that as we struggle for justice and equality we are so afraid of being ignored (although we often are) that we refuse to share the platform of justice with voices that do not first and foremost affirm our victimization. We are always trying to out disenfranchise one another: my struggle is greater than your struggle. I don’t know where we got the idea that only one struggle can exist and that only the greatest struggle will be acknowledged. It is true that at any given time America at large is only acknowledging one struggle at a time and often during that time ignores all others but that is the behavior of the oppressors and not one that we should mirror. What all disenfranchised groups know is that America is powerful enough to oppress us all at once and we have to strand in solidarity with one another despite the nuances that differentiate our struggles.

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The Point

Terms like privilege have existed as part of the articulation of oppression; however, they are ineffective for describing what we now know and experience. The term privilege on it’s true definition is not a bad word to describe certain entitlements given to some people; however, in the context of liberation and equality struggles it has been given a negative connotation that people from disenfranchised groups cannot relate to. So when combining the term privilege with anything other than White, people from disenfranchised groups get offended. If we get out of our feelings long enough to intellectually consider the point being made, we might find some truth in it. The term “Black Female Privilege” may be provocative but the sentiment being expressed is a fact. And that fact doesn’t make Black women not oppressed or disenfranchised. It just means they aren’t the only ones.

Overall I believe that we should stop trying to describe and define discrimination in coinphrases that negate the complexity of the situation. Furthermore, we should avoid language that describes our struggles in a contrast to another disenfranchised group. Such behavior turns the discussion into a match between the two groups and polarizes the struggle when, in fact, the two are similar and yet distinctly different…and that’s okay. Aren’t we fighting for the equality of ALL people?? Anything less supports and reinforces the system of oppression which thrives our division and assaults upon each other. The presence of one group’s struggle in the conversation does not mean the absence of another’s. So while the system of oppression and survival for Black men may have nuances that do not affect Black women, no one group is more victimized than the other. In the end we are all in the same struggle against discrimination which happens across genders, races, social classes.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

As I began reading about and researching the death of Michael Brown the 18 year old from Ferguson, Missouri who was unarmed and gunned down by a police officer, I also began to follow the community’s response. A number of protests, riots, and lootings have taken place in the wake of the teenagers death.

But what has been the most disturbing is the police response to the protesters. Granted the looting and destruction of local businesses is uncalled for and definitely warrants police intervention; however, the police have increased their presence and attention even to those nonviolent protesters. Most recently the police have begun showing up to these rallies and protests in military gear and with military weapons. What-the-fuck?!

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Law Enforcement Militarization

The American Civil Liberties Union published a report that detailed how local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged and supported in gaining military equipment. According to them it was the Department of Defense who transferred $4.3 billion dollars in military equipment to police agencies through a 1033 program that was first enacted in 1996 during the “War on Drugs.” And then the Department of Homeland Security offered federal funds for “terrorism prevention” so that police agencies could procure things like armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor.

The Problem

The problem is that the psychosocial dynamic between law enforcement and citizens is being changed right before our eyes (not that it was all that great to begin with). For what reason would a police officer need an armored vehicle. Are we expecting an invasion?? Civilians cannot possibly obtain any weapon that would require a tank to stop them. So what is the purpose?? Time will tell I suppose but one thing is for sure, if this is going to become a standard practice for law enforcement, then there are going to be major problems.

AX177_680D_9The only thing that is coming out of this militarizing of the local police is a civil war. History has already shown – during the “War on Drugs” – that increased police aggression combined with agency and judicial support allows police to mutate from law enforcers to packs of savage beasts with a lust for authority and domination. That occurs when you have too many of them together with their department issued firearms and tasers. So what do we think is going to happen when we start suiting these assholes – who are not known for intelligence or peaceful natures – up to play soldier in the streets??

They are going to find an enemy to try out their new toys. Protesters become terrorists that need to be monitored from armored tanks. Citizens become enemies who have to be approached in army gear with huge guns. But remember this is a dynamic. Conversely, what position does that place these citizens in when they are being monitored daily by gun toting police in tanks? What position are they being placed in when they are give curfew? What position are they in when journalists and unarmed citizens are detained without cause or explanation? It puts them in the position of the prey for whom the predatory police are far better equipped to win the hunt. In this dynamic there is justice, peace, or fairness…there is only war.police-shooting-missouri-1

The Point

We had better pay close attention to what’s happening in Ferguson. Not just because it’s fascinating. Not just because we are keeping track of the Brown case. We need to pay attention because what we are watching is an example of how the revolution will begin.

It will start with a single incident of injustice that the community cannot accept. The police will respond with aggression. The community will respond in defense. And the war will come. Blood will be shed. Lives will be lost. The country will stand aghast as the anger and riots spread throughout the country and the dynamic plays itself out again and again in different cities.

We have to pay attention and know now that it won’t take much before the law enforcement ups the ante with their military toys. They won’t wait for us to get violent. They won’t give us an opportunity to utilize our civil liberties (all they have to do is throw around the word “terrorism”). How things play out in Ferguson will be very telling for the future of the struggle. This is only a glimpse of what is to come.

I’m not sayin: I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

18 year old Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday August 9th. A rally and vigil were planned to honor the memory of Brown; however, tensions rose between tbs police and the public and a riot ensued.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

About Power

Power is a strange thing. Power is never about the individual except in respect to larger group. In order for any one person to have power everyone else has to agree to yielding to the power of that individual. When a large portion of the group does not agree to the individual asserting power or the ways in which that power is asserted, there is unrest. That is why mankind has become the most volatile species on the planet: a lust for power.

Conversely, powerlessness is just as complex. To be forced to exist in the midst of a group no better qualified or worthy than you and be forced to submit to their power offers the individual no other choice than indignant rage.

Rioting and looting have been ways that the Black community has often lashed out in times of extreme duress. This is clearly evident through a review of history and taking a look at the riots that occurred during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 60s or the inner city riots that took place during the early 90s.

What we know logically is that rioting and looting do not produce results. It gets media coverage and the attention of local law enforcement and, if extreme, the higher levels of state legislators. But it never produces a revolution or any counter action to whatever ignited the riot to begin with. This is usually where the conversation remains; however, we should go deeper.

British criminologist John Pitts stated:

[Rioting and looting makes] powerless people suddenly feel powerful [and that] is very intoxicating

– John Pitts, criminologist

So in truth the riot is usually about the incident that occurred but the looting is about power. Once the rioters escalate to a certain level of anger where the entire group is incensed and determined to do whatever they want, anything becomes possible including the destruction and theft of stores around them. It is a very dangerous thing to suddenly give power to individuals who have been denied it and do not understand it.

The Problem

The problem is that we are so angry. Half of us don’t even know why we’re angry and 25% of the ones that know don’t know what to do about it. So when moments like this occur we know that it is directly related to the anger that already exists inside us and we collect together and that anger is amplified and before you know it anything can and has happened. But in the current climate of the justice and equality struggle that we are in, we don’t have room for wanton destruction and blind rage. We cannot get so swept up in the pain of tragedies like what happened to Brown or get overwhelmed by our rage at the injustice of it until that’s all we got. A bunch of nothing.

Image: Ferguson shooting

This should have remained a constructive protest that have voice to the pain of injustice suffered. This moment was supposed to be for the memory of a little Black boy who lost his life for what – I’m sure will be discovered – nothing. That was a vigil in his honor that we allowed our pain and anger to turn into fiasco for which the whole damn country is shaking its head and thinking that we are indeed the savages that they make us out to be. Not to mention that it invited law enforcement to come and aggressively engage the Black community in Ferguson and further exacerbate the problem of harassment, imprisonment, and violence.

The Point

We have to learn about power and violence in a whole new perspective. I’m down for the revolution. I’ve been told it cannot happen without bloodshed, so I’m bracing myself for that inevitability. BUT I am really spending my time in preparation by learning and understanding the system that oppresses us: finding its weaknesses and how it maintains control. I am spending my time making time to do the things that I don’t always want to do but know is necessary. I am learning to channel my rage into a violent offense that will actually produce change.

The fact is that we have got to learn to channel our rage and pain into some useful energy. Often we have sat so idle for so long that our pain and anger has festered into disease that is sure to be toxic to any and everyone. Instead we should prepare for war in the time of peace. We should let our anger push us to participate in our local governments which direct the local law enforcement. We should use our anger to make us treat voting day like a national holiday and plan months ahead to take the day off and/or make arrangements to cast our votes. We should use our pain to make us take the extra walk or bus to get to a well run Black owned establishment instead cheapest, closest, most convenient option (which more often than not is not Black owned nor do those people live in the community).

So what has happened is two tragedies. The first being the loss of yet another Black child that didn’t make it to adulthood and the other was the disgusting behavior of a bunch of mindless emotional assholes who had their hearts was in the right place but their asses were not. These looting niggas shoulda kept their asses at home. If we are gonna do the better that hasn’t been done, we’re going to be the better that hasn’t existed.

 

R.I.P. Michael Brown and peace and light to your family in their time of grief.

 

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

 

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

So the case of Jeremy Meeks…

“We never want to glorify or put people like this in the news for reasons like this but a lot of you are talking about it online and for those of you who are doing it, we kind of wag the finger of shame at you we never want to put these on a pedastal.”

So let’s talk about this. Here is the news covering the story — because God forbid they not grab a story that would get ratings — but at the same time they are going to “wag the finger of shame” at everyone else for talking about it. I hope I don’t have to explain the hypocrisy of that.

Also, the news reporter uses the term “these people.” This couldn’t get any more disgusting. By these people I’m guessing he is referring to convicts. However, why are they “these people”? Is it because they committed a crime (as if the majority of the general public has not)? Or is it because in America once someone has committed a crime they are no longer considered to be part of the society?

Jeremy MeeksThe Problem

The problem with the Jeremy Meeks story is that America is still a place of antiquated delusion where people are either bad or good. Despite the huge area of gray in which most of the country resides, we take on this condescending air of moral authority when it comes to individuals that we do not know personally. Every day the media is covering attractive celebrities and talking who’s hot and who’s not, but, apparently, people who commit crimes are not allowed to be attractive. If women think the man is attractive then that just is what it is. That has nothing to do with the crime he may or may not have committed nor does it have anything to do with the morals of the women who admit to finding him attractive.

The real problem is not whether or not America thinks Jeremy Meeks is attractive nor is it that Jeremy Meeks may have a criminal record and is currently incarcerated. The problem is that this story made headlines and that even as Jeremy Meeks’ visual appeal became the topic of conversation on major news networks, there has been no admission to the fact that the major institutions of this country are enthralled with the superficial and deluded of their own flaws.

The Point

These sentiments illustrated in this coverage of the story expose the truth about what’s wrong with the media and with our criminal justice system. We objectify these people based upon the judgment of a well-known flawed justice system and we reduce them to unwanted objects to be dismissed by the general public. Where is the rehabilitation in that? How is it that we come to expect these individuals who are convicted of criminal offenses to serve their time as a non-human reject of society and return to society rehabilitated? It’s asinine. Yet we pretend that “these people” deserve the treatment that they receive. They deserve to have their civil liberties stripped from them; to be treated like animals; to be permanently branded by their past decisions. This is all okay…until “these people” become us or someone close to us. For those privileged persons in our society this seems less like a reality. For a person of color (especially a male) it is a statistical inevitability and harsh part of reality. For that reason, I take issue with the commentary surrounding Jeremy Meeks. It reeks of the kind of fascist ideology that has led this country to stumble in global respect and prominence.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it regarding Lupita Nyong’o’s wave of celebrity and viral admirations for her beauty. At first I smiled when she won her Oscar and appeared gorgeous and graceful on the red carpet. I felt touched and honored to hear her address what it means to be a dark skinned woman Black woman facing American standards of beauty. Then the social media channels began pouring Lupita mania. I saw aggressive declarations about her beauty and emotional postings about her being named One of People magazine’s most beautiful people. But something inside me didn’t cheer, it didn’t smile, it didn’t celebrate these things. Instead I felt suspicious and partly disgusted. It took a while for me to find the words to articulate why I felt this way…but I’ve found the words to express what I was feeling.

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Lupita Nyong’o is a Mexican born, Kenyan descendant who studied drama at the prestigious Yale University. Nyong’o lived in obscurity until 3 weeks before her Master’s degree commencement when she was cast in 12 Years a Slave.

Nyong’o’s performance won her an Academy Award for her performance. And there begins the spectacle of Lupita. Luptia was acknowledged at teh Academy Awards, the Essence Awards, and through countless nominations. The media clung to Lupita and she was flawless. For me, it reminded me of what I felt when Barack Obama was on the campaign trail for the presidency and, subsequently, won. He did not have to look like me (because he doesn’t) and he didn’t have the same story as me (because he doesn’t) but it was the euphoric feeling of pride that he had accomplished all that he had accomplished without denying or refusing to acknowledge his Blackness. That is what I think Black women must feel watching Lupita and hearing her Essence speech about beauty, but there is so much more happening.

Lupita’s speech was brave and admirable simply in the fact that she chose to say it and how eloquently she articulated it; however, America is not to be revolutionized to easily. Immediately following the clip of Lupita’s speech in the clip the news caster goes into a section of speaking about how Lupita’s speech was not jsut about race but about beauty in general. Actually, while I cannot speak for Lupita, I would say that Lupita’s speech was ONLY about race. The moments in which it is not about race is where White people want to partake of that moment and want to justify allowing her to say it.

The Problemwmb-600

The mainstream which caters to the perspectives of the dominant group (White preferably rich and male) to make them accepting of things, decided to pollute Lupita’s revolutionary and courageous statement by saying that it was about “beauty in us all.” It clearly was not. The statement she made was specifically about dark skin in American standards of beauty. That kind of translation of Lupita’s message serves to neutralize the radical nature of her speech. It is the propaganda that the media perpetuates.

The problem is that while the media encourages us to praise Lupita’s beauty, we have not stopped to address the reason that her beauty is so special — as the son of a beautiful chocolate woman, I have seen beautiful dark skinned women all my life. Lupita is not the first. So what’s so wonderful and special here about this woman’s looks? Why is it wonderful that America is gasping at her breathtaking looks? The answer lies leaning our head just slightly to the left to get the other perspective.

It isn’t wonderful that Lupita, a dark skinned Black woman was allowed to grace the cover of People Magazine and was listed as one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People. That’s not the conversation worthy part. The part we should be talking about is why is she the 3rd Black woman to be on the cover of the magazine in the 25 years that the magazine has been doing their “Most Beautiful” issue?? It isn’t special that Lupita, a dark skinned Black woman is now a brand ambassador for Lancome. It’s that the company is 79 years old and Lupita is the first Black brand ambassador. WTF??y

The media would like to place Lupita on a pedastal and focus only on her dark skin and its “beauty” and the Black community eats up the coverage and becomes enamored with themselves so that all they see is that they are finally seeing something they had never seen before. The media is subliminally telling us that America has no problem with our race or dark skin and the Black community is believing that we are making progress. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The anchor Deborah Roberts manages to inject the truth in her recap of Lupita’s coverage when she states that this is “an open secret among Black women.” THAT is the problem. That it is an “open secret.” A secret that is well known by Black people, Black women specifically, that there is not love for dark skin in America (which is reflective of the fact that there is no love for Black people in America). Certainly there is an intrigue and fascination maybe even a fetish or lust for dark skin, but none of those things is the same as love and acceptance.

The Point

It was disturbing the way the media clung to Nyong’o featuring her on the covers of magazines and giving her a place in People Magazines most beautiful people list. What disturbed was the dishonesty of it. She was being used as propaganda to assert that America has come a long way in their representations of beauty and their acceptance of dark skin. But have they? Only with some passable exception have dark skinned Black people ever allowed to be considered beautiful. There has never been a mass mainstream acceptance of dark skin; it was about exoticism, fetish, and consumption. And here we are in 2014 and the notoriety of Lupita’s beauty is evidence that dark skin has still not been accepted in America.

So, it is not significant that Lupita is finding access into theses areas of mainstream favor that have previously been unavailable to Black women, especially dark skinned ones. It is significant that here we are in 2014 in what some posit to be a post-racial America and Black people are still celebrating mainstream firsts. Is that post racial or racially dismissive? There is a difference.

 

I’m not sayin: I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used the concept of the gaze as a way to describe the psychological effects of an individual becoming aware that they have an external that is created from a perspective that is not one’s own. In discussions of oppression and disenfranchised groups, the gaze comes into the conversation to express the thoughts and beliefs of the perspective which – despite having no direct understanding of them as a group- shapes their oppression.

What The Gaze Has Taught

Sun-Tzu-3

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
– Sun Tzo, The Art of War

In the battle against oppression there is only one way to guarantee victory: know yourself and your enemy. Often there can be found texts that deal with Black identity and the effects of of oppression on the Black identity. Conversely; there are texa that deal with the systems of oppression under which Black people suffer. It is most important to the struggle that always information from both are presented parallel – if not simultaneously- to ensure a wholistic view of the situation.

There was a time when Black people understood the gaze that oppressed them. They knew that it was imperialistic, white supremacist, and capitalistic. They were able to understand that a gaze grounded in those ideologies would frame them as barbaric, inferior, and poor. From that understanding Black people were able to understand that in order to navigate American society that they would have to combat such notions. That is how it came to be important to Black people to own land, get an education, and to be articulate.

Often in contemporary Black culture we have forgotten the necessity and the significance of these coping strategies. We have developed a level of pride for the progress that we have made as a culture. That pride has made us arrogant and ignorant about the history behind these coping strategies (even those now deemed counter productive).

The Strategiesdu-bois-dialectic

A few months ago I engaged in a debate with several HBCU students. These students were incited when I suggested that Black could benefit from learning to codeswitch. That thought, to them, spelled giving in to oppression. As I listened to their points of view I realized that philosophically they were on point. Their passion and ideals were in the right place. However the problem was that they were making no attempt to reconcile those ideals with the opposing reality they were living in. They felt that because what they believed was right that their work stopped at believing in those ideals and arguing with anyone who didn’t. But what good is that argument without a platform that offers an audience to affect and influence? And what a dangerous thing it is for a Black person in America to forget their Blackness and disassociate from the truth of what that means for their experience in this country. Because inevitably that moment will come when America will remind them of their Blackness and what the imperialistic, white-supremacist, capitalist thinking of this country has framed that to mean. The psychic trauma that will be caused by having that reality forced upon them- than coming into the realization willingly- can be devastating.

I have seen a number of Black people that I went to school graduate and fall into a stasis of consciousness that paralyzed them from going forward with the dreams and ambitions of their undergraduate years. They eventually settle for the peace and comfort of flying under the radar, which amounts to nothing more than mediocrity.

Those Black people who would engage the struggle today often begin with a judgment of the strategies of our forefathers. We somehow assert that since these strategies did not yield the desired results or because they did not progress the struggle, that they are useless or support the systems of oppression. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These strategies are significant simply because they reflect an understanding of the gaze which created the framework for the systems that now bind us. When examining these strategies we cannot simply look at the results in order to judge their merit. We have to examine how and why they were created. On this angle we will find the most critical information for shaping our own resistance strategies.

slide-sun-tzu-battle-won-before-fought-001-450x200The Problem

In contemporary Black culture, however, the understanding of the gaze has become neglected. Many young Black people have grown up without the experience of Jim Crow and blatant discrimination. So they lack a conceptual understanding of that experience. It is easy from the vantage point of post civil rights era privilege to declare that we would have all been freedom fighters had we lived during that time. In truth, some of us -just like some of them- would have sought survival first and would adopt practices that did not support the movement but did save their lives and their lineage (which may include some of us). In war every battle cannot be won through a charging assault. Sometimes you have to be covert. Sometimes you have to lie low and gather intel. Sometimes you have to just save yourself and live to fight another day.

The Point

Now that prejudice has become more insidious it has become harder to identify the gaze. The truth is the gaze has not changed. It is the same imperialistic, white supremacist, capitalist gaze that it has always been. The problem is that we have lost touch with our understanding of the gaze. This leaves us powerless to invent and innovate the ways in which to combat the oppression it causes. We would do well to not forget that which our forefathers knew-as uttered by James Baldwin-“The world has more than one way of keeping you a nigger.”

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man