"Speaking with profound conviction and strength is the power of sustained resistance that can protect one from dehumanizing despair while protecting memory against forgetting"~ bell hook's Talking Back
James Baldwin's essays are brass mechanisms in my compass, guiding me through The Rise of:
Military Industrial Complex Drones, Corporate American Consumer Human Drones, our Government's transformation to Shock Doctrines that fosters Predatory Capitalism, while dumbing down the citizenry.
James was a true American Optimist, ( a rare breed), it's deeply unsettling that perhaps I am too?
Black folks are America's most valuable, profound, -more American than Apple Pie- yet despised creations, labeled as "distinct hybrids" by James. Intrinsically, I understood this, hence I resisted the "African-American"classification. Yet like most Black folk, I situate my history in Africa, but clearly I'm no immigrant. The only real American Optimism, is not born out of white supremacist myth,
but of acceptance of, as James states, our "past of utter alienation from self, from [our] people and [our] history. Of having "a mother that sang 'Sometimes I feel like a motherless child', accepting the reality that being American is a matter involving integrity and [our] greatest hopes, for only by accepting this reality can [we] hope to make articulate to [ourselves] and others, the uniqueness of [our] experience and to set free the spirt so long anonymously caged."
James's realization instilled courage, to express Black political anger in his writings and legendary confrontations, including with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy who stormed out of his own penthouse apartment meeting, because of James's aggressive challenge.
The expression of Black political anger, is a dichotomy for the most abused people in the world.
To perpetuate American chattel slavery, those in slaved were programed with violence, not to express it, so southerners could maximize production, while being vastly out numbered. In states like South Carolina, Blacks were 90% of the population. Black political anger, is still thoroughly controlled and regimented, furthering white supremacy, while exploiting it's underbelly, Black rage, to fuel predatory economies, like the growing Prison Industrial Complex.
American Jews, after WWII, issued the mantra "Never Again". Latino's recently galvanized to reform the immigration system, to primarily meet their needs. Black people, now trapped in political and social crisis of economic depravation and violence, are responding with political pacifism, swaying like old trees in winds of specious opinions, ignoring the systematic roots of what's destroying our community, shrugging our shoulders unintelligibly, attending church for the negro spirituals, with bibles held high. We drink, get high, fester, yet dare not express Black political anger, as the first step, in political mobilization.
The Black masses didn't elect President Obama out of Black political anger for political empowerment,
but out of stoic symbolism, of a Black family in the White House. Baldwin called this an "ache for [white] acceptance"
It matters not that he ignores us, we make excuses, bearing outdated beliefs, from slavery, in the mysteries of faith. Obama is our manifestation of the power of Negro Christianity that the meek shall inherit the earth just as Obama inherited the white house. Therefore, there is honor and dignity in our suffering for a delayed reward that we cannot know, until it arrives. We also expect nothing from the rest of our Black leadership, who keep us penned in as their political capital. Former Congressmen Jesse Jackson is exemplar of this. The behavior of he and his wife was outrageous, yet for Black Chicago, simple sadness prevails, for a celebrity Black family, that has gone, dark.
But anger does not magically dissipate without some form of equal expression. From the continued brutalization of white supremacy and the abandonment by the Black middle class, poor Black adults and children are expressing Black political anger in the only language they know, Black on Black Crime/Violence, that further destabilizes Black America, along with the economic violence of white supremacy.
What Is At Stake Here Is A Frank Conversation.
Black political anger is the gate crasher of the American 'id", "ego", and "super ego". Therefore
White America continues to make it highly taboo and non normative, as witnessed by the personal attacks against Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, last summer for their public anger over the neglect of the Black community by President Obama and the rest of the country. Generally white America uses Black surrogates or rightwing whites to attack Black truth tellers that threaten the status quo. The Post Race Era emboldened white liberal WBEZ Radio to punish the two political miscreants.
James Baldwin wrote that white America operates constantly off a myriad of readily accessible "American myths" personally refined and adjusted, to their level of education and political sentiment, to block them from being forced to "apprehend their true individual relationships" with Black America. "Radio, press, film, and, personal anecdotes considered to be illustrative of American life guide them."
Black people without political anger, greatly perpetuate these myths, especially in social settings where American Segregation "controls" access. Baldwin noted two faces of his white associates, a "front" of "automatic smiles" and "nods of solidarity" with the Black experience, that "momentarily means something". But are quickly erased in all white "back yard cook outs" where these same conversations about race, must happen more frequently( than at Black gatherings), in controlled settings of white uniformity, to continue the myths.
If Black people are at all present, they've been preselected to loyally support the myths. James labeled them the "Negro who's forced to say "Yes" to many a difficult question, and yet to deny the conclusion to which all answers point, which is that his past has not been simply a series of ropes and bonfires and humiliations, but something vastly more complex, which is far worse."
There is no braver American, than the American Optimist, crashing the back yard parties, not to set them aflame, as the term crash isn't particularly accurate today. From James's writings, a Black women or man understands that they've "crashed" when they just happen to be the "only one" in an environment where they should not technically be alone. And unlike Baldwin's "Negro" who supports the myth, they will speak the truth as casual as one speaks of the weather, yet go to match point with those in abject denial as a point of honor and a burden, to speak on behalf of those rendered at best invisible and at worse demonized by the perpetuators of the myths.
Black people, more than ever cannot afford, not get politically angry. The plight of Black America, especially the pandemic of violence that continues to consume the lives of our children is not our making, but our silence is to blame for it's continuance.