Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jame's Baldwin's Essays, Out of Black Identify comes Black Political Anger


"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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Speech + No Resources = More Death/ The Hurricane Sandy of Black America Continues

Before President Obama's last visit,  Black Chicagoans for over three months, had been calling on him, to return to Chicago, and address the pandemic of Black on Black youth gun violence


The Calls ramped up -including online petitions- when Hadiya Pendleton- who preformed at the president's inauguration- was gunned down, only blocks from President Obama's south side home.

Some Black activists and citizens, raised the bar, stating the obvious.  That the pandemic of death, that started early last spring and continues on today, should be branded a National Emergency,- comparable to Hurricane Sandy- with resource immediately following, to address the long term systematic causes, before the return of warm weather.  In short, a National Bailout to create jobs and provide suitable education, to rescue the most marginalized Black people in America, and to sustain and bolster the Black working class, including young Black college graduates, who presently are sliding into the economic abyss. 

When President Obama arrived,  the narrative changed.  A muted awe washed over Black Chicagoans 
and the demands for actions simply vanished, replaced by praise and celebration.  Black folk were just so proud, like aged parents, of the famous son who made good, and was finally able to slow the world just enough to return, to the homestead, for a  few hours to smile upon his young sisters and brothers.  The symbolism of  the Black President in a high school on the southside of Chicago, trumped the death and carnage of innocent Black bodies, now and in the future. 

As if to mock our failure and neglect, hours after President Obama, on Air Force One, cleared the Chicago run way, 18 year old Janay McFarlane was gunned down.

Janay McFarlane

She would be buried by family and friends, including her three month old son, and her 14 year old sister Destinie Warren, a Freshman at Hyde Park High School who had attended President Obama's speech hours before her sister would be murdered.

The President's Speech, addressed the need for Black men to be responsible, yet there are no resources or "rescue" in the pipe line. All that he left behind, is the silent and befuddled Black community.

And as the violence continues, America has moved to the National Crisis of "The Sequestration" that has the unreal qualities of the Boggie Man, as far as I'm concerned. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Christopher Dorners, Bigger Thomas, and their Native Sons, merged into a "perfect" storm during the Presidency of Barack Obama and global warning.

Standing in the ruins of another black man's life

or flying through the valley
separating day and night
I am am Death,
cried the Vulture,
for the People of the Light.

Caron brought his raft
from the sea that sails on souls
and I saw the scavenger departing
taking warm hearts to the cold
he knew the ghetto was a haven
for the meanest creature ever known

-Gil Scott Heron 

Ex LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner's death hung in the balance.

Beleaguered, Black America wanted him captured alive so he could talk to the world, for he had a lot to say. And by the time that he would have been executed by the state of California in San Quentin Prison, he would have been transformed into Nat Turner Rising in the Black Community.

 Christopher Dorner, memorialized in tattoo 
White America wanted him to die as Bigger Thomas, which required him to die mute, which is how he died.

Years ago, like most works of Black fiction,  I read Richard Wright's Native Son, outside the classroom.  It was far different than Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, which I loved.
 I was greatly disappointed.  For a while, I read nothing more from Richard Wright. 

Native Son left me cold, substituting literary value, for brutal shock. Unlike protest novels, painstakingly lists the sins of the oppressor, Native Son simply tells a bleak story of the "trigger"

of every white man, the rape and murder of an attractive white women by a big Black male, unknown. I am equally sure, most Black men, to varying degrees intrinsically feel this connecting if they have frequent interactions with any white women. 

I call it "Emmett Till moments", when you're laughing with a white female neighbor while walking your dogs, or spiritedly debating an issue left unresolved from the classroom outside the doors of the library,  and all of a sudden, it comes over you, wow I could have been brutally murdered for this, not that long ago. 

James Baldwin's essay Notes of A Native Son,  taught me the importance of Richard Wright's novel Native Son.

Langston Hughes

Native Son answered the question of what really happens to Langston Hughe's "Dream Deferred", that's deeply rooted in our emancipation from 400 years of slavery, when the Federal Government:

implemented Reconstruction policies that began to inject full Black representation and participation at all levels of government,


promised forty acres of land and mule to every Black family.

After slavery, Black people wanted to be left alone, so we could begin to heal, while doing for our selves with our land what we did for white America for over four hundred years as objects of labor and toil.  Because these "objects" instead of being wood and steal, were made of  flesh, blood, and bone, we had to be "managed", by whip, bible, rape, castration, mutilation, torture, etc, to make round pegs fit into the triangular pyramid of American Chattel Slavery.  Then, smashed back in, when we popped back out, due to this highly unnatural fit.

Forms of "management" 

The process of being"managed", has created an organic and highly toxic cancer inside us today, which is what Langston Hughes meant when he said "sags like a heavily load" It is also the question of "does it explode"

Bigger Thomas answered the question, by doing both

 Once my 145 pound French Mastiff, Truth, and I watched over my neighbors house cat while she went home for the Christmas holidays.  Twice a day, Truth and I would trek through the snow to her house.  I would take care of the cat's needs, while Truth explored the house, followed by the cat at a safe distance, every day coming closer, once it discovered that the only interest Truth had in it, was as a source of smells.

My neighbor knowing of my love for James Baldwin, brought me back an itching of his grave stone located in the Fern Cliff Cemetery in Westschester County, New York, where she's from.

I was surprised that not only does James's mother,  Emma Berdis Jones Baldwin's mortal coil rest beside his- and that she'd outlived him-, but also, there are no other words marking the grave stone of this Black man of infinite literary ability, who was also a radical Black activist, that bore the burden of both Blackness and homosexuality, with so much amazing grace, humor, and courage, that it deepened the roots of his love for Black people.

It's therefore not surprising when James Arthur Baldwin wrote about Bigger Thomas, he combined his socratic literary gift with deep love, which  in this rare case weakened an otherwise brilliant analysis. James's love, liberated Bigger out of the dark dungeon, that Richard Wright created him in, as America's Frankenstein Monster.

Baldwin states;  

Its' an idea which is the frame work of the novel, presenting Bigger as the herald of disaster, the danger signal of a more bitter time to come when not Bigger alone but all his kindred will rise, in the name of the many thousands who perished in the fire and the flood and by rope and torture, to demand their rightful vengeance." But it is not quite fair, it seems to me to exploit the national innocence in this way. The idea of Bigger as a warning boomerangs not only because it is quite beyond the limit of probability  that Negroes in America will ever achieve the means by wreaking vengeance upon the state but also because it cannot be said that they have any desire to do so"

Then Baldwin goes on to write;  

Native Son does not convey the altogether savage paradox of the American Negro situation of which the social reality which we prefer with such hopeful superficiality to study is but, as it were, the shadow. It is not simply the relationship of oppressed to oppressor, of master to slave, not is it motivated merely by hatred; it is also, literally and morally, a blood relationship, perhaps the most profound reality of the American experience, we cannot begin to unlock it until we accept how very much it contains of the force and anguish and terror of love. Negroes are Americans and their destiny is the countries destiny.

James Baldwin, writing is all too current today,  yet he was writing at a more optimistic time
for Black America.  Martin Luther King's Civil Rights Movement was gathering strength in an era of legendary Race men and women.  Malcolm X was just released from prison where he converted to Islam, Angela Davis was talking back in high school, and Congressman Adam Clayton Powel  was using his office (the only politician to ever do so) to mobilize and organize the whole American Black Community.  DuBois and Robinson were still around, along with numerous other progressive, great Black Artists, and activists .  James Baldwin was angry enough to "get all up" in Attorney General  Robert Kennedy's Face, but he was also part of a wave of radical change sweeping the land, and yes it would bring lot's of death, lots of blood and loss, especially in the Black south, but white violence could not stop it.

Today, like that Biggie Smalls song "Things Done Changed"

"Back in the days, our parents took care of us 
   Look at em now, they even fuckin scared of us 
call'in for help cause they caint maintain
 damn shit don changed! " 

Richard Wright was a lot less optimistic than James Baldwin even though James was more vocal and confrontational.  Maybe it was because, unlike James who group up in the north, Richard was born on a plantation in Roxie Mississippi.

Richard Wright

Richard's construction of Bigger Thomas as a warning, wasn't 100% accurate.
James was right that we've not risen up against white America, nor shown any inkling to do so as a group.  But unfortunately, America being a purposefully optimistic nation, mostly chose James's side, over Richard's gut feeling, which now bleeds out  all over urban Black America today.

Moments before Milton Wardlaw kills Kiyanna Salter
On a CTA Bus by "mistake"

Black youth mob in Detroit 

Black youth morns killing of a friend in Chicago

 Black youth mob of looters in Philadelphia   

Two generations of Black youth have "risen-up" with a least two more in preparation to follow. They are being trained by US.Corporations, including the entertainment industry, who funded Urban Generals like Chief Keef.

And like Biggie Smalls said even their parents are "fucking scared of them" and so are we.

Chief Keef "loyal" to a fault representing
the O'Block Black Disciples  
And it's a generational family affair
Chief Keeps mother represents O'Block 

Don't forget,  unlike Bigger Thomas, Keef isn't one dimensional,
besides for guns, he also loves "S.O.S. A."

More alarming is that James was wrong when he said "Negroes are Americans and their destiny is the countries destiny" Like a rubber band, contraction and expansion are natural to our economy. The various levels are debatable,  but clearly our economy was not designed to be systematically looted 
by plutocratic corporations simply for profit. What they are not telling us is that the robber band has broken given rise to alternative and new cynical economies supported by government that feed off   Black bodies.

Finally, James writes that Native Son doesn't convey "the savage paradox of the "American Negro situation"  which we prefer with "hopeful superficiality". What it does conveys, James says, is "the shadow" that is too constricted as a "black and white relationship of oppressed to oppressor,  master to slave, motivated merely by hatred".

What he seems to be saying is,  not only is Wright missing the Savage Paradox by focusing solely on it's  ethereal shadow, but that  "America" does  prefer his savage paradox although with "hopeful superficiality". It seems like James is speaking for himself as an optimists. 

James makes the case, often made by both Black and white liberals today, that this relationship is symbiotic and and what will save us  "literally and morally, a blood relationship, perhaps the most profound reality of the American experience", that "we cannot begin to unlock it until we accept how very much it contains of the force and anguish and terror of love." This the deeply moving prose,  chocked-full in every paper he put ink on. it's wrong

I think if James was with us today, he would be the first to admit, that if America was ever interested in his concept of  the his "savage paradox" it was at such a "hopefully superficial"  level that the interest was at best meaningless and at worse was a hoax (perhaps unconsciously) to protect the status-quo.  

Further I think James Baldwin's  "savage paradoxes with hopeful superficiality " has become a well paying part of the Non Profit Industrial Complex, which continues to status quo while exploiting poor black people. Of course James could not have foreseen this part.

Bigger Thomas was the Black Shadow that Brother Richard set loose upon America as a clarion angry baleful warning of things to come if we did not heed to what white America was building. We failed numerous times to listen and the dark shadows have been released from the vast urban dungeons,  Ironically merging into a perfect storm during the during the Presidency of Barack Obama and global warning.         

Shadows in real like are more damaged than those of fiction. These shadows "say fuck it", and gleefully roll the dice of life and death every day on the block. They are American child terrorist, who unlike child soldiers in Africa did not have to be kidnapped into it. 

 They are now the shadows you feel following close behind (be you white or Black)
 and you can feel their scorn because they know the truth. White America created them, but Black America allowed them to be created and also profited off their misery and suffering. 

purveyors of post race 

A mainstream Black church at worship of material idiols

 We will not face these Black shadows let alone admit our culpability. When we see them we cross the street or pass them quickly head down between hope and prayer. Richard warned us. Now they don't give a fuck cause you never really did. And I know he could not have predicted they would first devastate their own communities.

I wish Richard Wright and James Baldwin were still around though. There was a socratic and proud earthy boldness in Black artists and activists back then. Black music was a sound track for struggle and revolution. And as Cornel West said, Black children could turn on the TV and see that somebody loved  and was willing to die for them.

Gil Scott Heron

 Today art and activism are controlled and commodified by corporations,  universities, and white liberal non profits.

The late great Manny Marable in his ground breaking biography "Malcolm X A Life Reinvention"   wrote about a meeting between Chole Ardelia Wofford aka Toni Morrison and Malcolm X
at a coffee shop in Harlem. He had just returned from Africa and she needed his help and influence with a struggle she was engaged in with the Pan African Community in New York.  Today Wofford  is at Oberlin College and this is a good thing. But Oberlin is far removed from the diminishing organic Black radical left in America partially because ending segregation  did opened doors of opportunities in academia and the philanthropic world. Yet a price was to be paid. To be there a silence was demanded when you first walk into the door. The problem then comes when you get big enough to challenge the silence, you have forget what it was that you originally came to do.