One of the most eloquent voices of the pains, passions, and dilemmas that was (and still is) The Black Experience in a western-dominated world, James Baldwin traveled the globe learning, growing, teaching, and seeking peace. His unfiltered/no nonsense analysis of societal ills to me only can be compared to the level of genius presented to us by Malcolm X (aka El Hajj Malik El Shabazz). Relevant then, and relevant now, we must continue to study the insights Baldwin provided us-and use them as out tools to create the brighter future he surely hoped we would already have by now. So in memory of The Great James Baldwin, on the anniversary of his passing, here are a few quotes and videos to soak up and apply going forward…
I saw a picture floating around on social media earlier today that got me to thinking. The picture showed several different examples of the Beautiful Black Couples that graced the television screen during the Eighties and Nineties. That along with a few other stories, and interactions, got me to thinking. Relationships, in general, are pretty bad nowadays. almost all of those images of Black Love are long gone. And today it is a far more popular trend for Black women to date White Men and for Black Men to chase so-called Mixed Girls and the lighter skinned variety of Latina. Take a moment to do a Google Image Search "Black On Black Love," and you will get mostly images from the past and abstract art. But do a Google Image Search for "Black Relationships" and you will be bombarded with mostly pictures of Us Arguing or in Interracial Pairings. SMH
Few want to admit or acknowledge it, but the majority of the problems I will attempt to speak on in this post go back to slavery and colonialism. And before you start shaking your head in disagreement, please consider that for any person or group of people to dominate or control another-they must be able to dominate and control their minds. Physical force can only go so far. So in order to be able to enslave millions of once-proud Africans, colonize their lands, control of all of the natural resources of said lands, and subject those people to varying degrees oppression and apartheid for the next 500+ years, one would have to systematically destroy certain elements of logical thinking and dehumanize them so that others will not step in on their behalf.
Whatever you want to call it, Willie Lynch Syndrome or Cognitive Dissonance, the fact remains that a dishonest picture was projected on US and to US so as to systematically maintain the system of Global White Supremacy. Even those with only the most basic understanding of the slave-breaking process know that families were broken apart and the strongest were savagely beaten and killed so as to instill deep-rooted fear in the other slaves. Both the men and women became tools for breeding, hard labor and perversion only. In order to justify these actions, myths had to be created in regard to how lazy, ignorant, and savage we were supposed to be. That Black Woman could not have raped, because she was so promiscuous and uncontrollably sexual in nature. that Black Man somehow deserved whatever cruel and inhumane treatment he got, because he had to have done something to make it warranted. Even after slavery was sort of abolished, laws would be put in place that would reinforce those standards for at least another 100 years. Sadly many of those attitudes still permeate how we view things today. #MikeBrown somehow deserved to be shot six times, somehow #TamirRice and #JohnCrawford did something to deserve being shot on sight, and #DanielHoltzclaw was able to get away with repeatedly raping at least 12 Black Women-before he finally did it to the wrong one. Even while on trial, the defense still focused their efforts to save his freedom by painting the picture of these Whorish, Drug-Addicted, Low Class Black Women. But let me not get off of the main point.
Today those same ideals run rampant like never before in the age of big media. It has always been happening; but now the tools to push that agenda cast so much wider of a net. From music to television and movies, the images of the irresponsible and slightly coonish Black Man and the angry-but fragile vindictive Black Woman is pushed on us Seven Days A Week and 24 Hours A Day. Ever wonder why we can make an infinite number of movies, songs and social media posts about killing each other and disrespecting each other; but make a comment against others and it will be immediately attacked. We can be a million punks, bitches and hoes-but rarely ever Kings and Queens. Movies and music with true substance can win awards and gain critical acclaim; but you won't see or hear about them on mainstream radio and television. How many movies and sitcoms show a happy Black Couple working together for the greater good? Meanwhile sneaky, conniving, angry and over the top Black characters dominate the airwaves and movie screens. Black women struggle to persevere, while the Black Man runs off because he wasn't man enough to handle the pressures of real life. And nowadays the storyline goes further to have her eventually fall into the arms of the sensitive, caring and patient "White Knight." Even the characterizations of successful and well to do Black Men usually still have some major character flaw that precludes them from having a full degree of humanity-while at the same time painting the picture that if a man doesn't have all of these shallow material gains to show off, then he is somehow inferior and not worthy of a Black Woman's Love and Commitment. What message does this convey to the Black Man or Woman that has been hurt or disappointed? Rather than learn the lessons required to go forward with our lives, we instead find ourselves blaming each other and no growth occurs. Before long it becomes "these n___as ain't shit," or "these b___hes ain't shit." as a result, most begin to either buy into the pathology of hurting others before we get hurt or closing ourselves off and looking to other races for what we have been programmed into thinking that we can't get from our own. slowly the Black Family Structure declines, fewer Black children are Born (and too many of those born are born into dysfunctional families), and begin to take on the very stereotypes that were once used to justify our oppression. today they don't even have to put much effort into propagating these myths, because we exceed their efforts in our own mindless behavior. Multiple generations blindly accept this as the norm, and subconsciously go out of their way to defend the very system that exploits us.
So HOW DO WE FIX IT???
Self discipline. We must have a code. We must stop supporting the media companies that profit off of this foolishness. Boycott the movies, television shows, and radio shows that put priority on the negative-with little if any regard for balance. Write complaints to these companies and post comments on social media, letting them know that we require them to do better OR ELSE! Demand that radio PROGRAM Directors balance out their playLISTS with more balance. Support those more positive artists and filmmakers. At the end of the day money is the key; and even those with the worst of intentions will adjust to what will keep money coming in. And let's be honest, most of those in positions of power truly think they are giving US what WE want. More importantly, let's take an honest and critical look at how we treat ourselves and each other. NEVER LET ANYONE ELSE DEFINE WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU!!! That Black Woman you mistreat is someone's Daughter; and that Black Man is someone's Son. And WE ALL COME FROM THE SAME DIVINE ESSENCE; so let's begin to train our minds to treat each other as such. There is nothing more Beautiful and Powerful as The Children Of The Sun. We are the Fathers and Mothers of Civilization, and The Backbone of All things In Existence. Don't you think it's time for US to get back to acting according to Our True Nature??? The journey won't be an easy one; but the sake of future generations, don't you think fighting this battle is worth it??? P.E.A.C.E.
WRITER'S NOTE: Some will wish to point out the few, and I do mean few, examples of happy Black Families in TV & Movies. But be honest with yourself. They are so outnumbered in reference to those that push more negative narratives of Black Life. Part of Mental Enslavement is to make the minds of the oppressed just be thankful of what little they are allowed to have, and not question why more isn't being done.
Fifty-Eight Years ago today, The African Republic of Ghana (formerly known as The Gold Coast) gained its independence from Britain. One of the first to break free from what had been hundreds of Years Exploitation & Oppression at the hands of European Nations, this set off a wave of additional revolutions all across The Continent of Africa. Between 1957 & 1960, eighteen African Nations gained their Independence from British, French & Belgian Oppressors. In the case of Ghana, many of its citizens had fought along-side The British in World War II & returned home to find the same Poverty, Unemployment & Violence they thought they had fought to end. At the forefront of Ghana's struggle for independence was Kwame nkrumah. Previously imprisoned for leading protests against the British Colonial Government, Nkrumah would be elected as The Gold Coast's First Prime Minister & eventually President. Renaming his new nation Ghana, in honor of The Ancient African Empire, Nkrumah went about the work of improving the nation's Roadways, Universities & Infrastructure. However his Marxist-Leaning ideals did not sit well with the Western World, and soon the campaign to bring him down would kick into high gear. Blamed for the Ghana's new & old economic woes, public opinion of Kwame Nkrumah began to change. Nkrumah made several errors during his time, which led the military to believe that he had too much power. At least two failed assassination attempts would only make Nkrumah close ranks to more of a Dictator-Like Regime. In 1966, a CIA-backed Coup took place while Nkrumah was away in China. Nkrumah would never be allowed to return home to Ghana, and would end his days in Exile. Numerous regime changes would follow-most of them far more repressive than Nkrumah could have ever been accused of being. The early 1970's regimes of Ignatius Acheampong and Frederick Akuffo were said to be especially brutal. Some stability would return in 1979, under the rule of Jerry Rawlings; but by that time the spirit pf The African Revolution was long dead.
“Divided We Are Weak. United, Africa Could Become One Of The Greatest Forces For Good In The World.”
With a vision for a "United States Of Africa," Kwame Nkrumah was one of the pioneering forces behind the formation of The Organization Of African Unity established in may 1963. The OAU, which consisted of 32 African Nations, sought to ensure a return to Political & Economic Prosperity for the Entire Continent. Kwame Nkrumah warned of this Unified Africa as the only deterrent to a second wave of returning to continue to exploit The Continent of Africa for all of its Natural Resources again. Today we honor You President Kwame Nkrumah & All others that stood to fight for the greater good.
Freedom, Equal Access to Proper Housing, Proper Educational & Employment Opportunities, Payment of The Previously Promised Reparations for The Atrocities Committed During The African Holocaust, The Right To Be Free From Persecution, and An End To The Exploitative & Disproportionate Drafting of Black Soldiers in Foreign Wars are all conditions that most would expect to be a given in a civilized society. But for many of the Black, Brown, red & Yellow Populations of America, this has not always been the case. For many still today, this is STILL NOT THE CASE.
Can one with any real sense of what goes on in society deny that these same principles, laid out in the Black Panther Party's Social/Political Platform written in 1966, are still absent from the fabric of American Society forty years later? Be honest. While some individuals have hit Moonshot goals in Politics & Business, that success has never had any real impact for the masses of America's citizens of Color. In fact, due to the ever-expanding Greedy Giant of Capitalism, many of the jobs that one could count on in decades past have moved to cheap international markets overseas. Add in the drug scourge, and decimated of funding for Educational & Social Programs, and we see a once promising society on the edge of ruin. Not to say that every single point to the BPP's Ten Point Program had a realistic path toward changing society; but the fact that the majority of its pieces are still hotly debated principles forty years later speaks volumes. The fact that many of these principles were carried out, ALL ACROSS THE NATION, in the form of Black Panther Party Survival Programs shows that the core goals were certainly practical & attainable. For they were able to do it on a "shoe-string budget," and in the midst of the most extreme repression seen in 20th Century America. The BPP Survival Programs were designed to show the masses an alternative to their current existence; and would later become the framework for so many other social programs-including the School Breakfast Programs that we take for granted every day.
The Ten Point Plan
1. WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.
We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.
2. WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
3. WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. we believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.
4. WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS.
We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.
5. WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.
6. WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR All BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE.
We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.
7. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.
8. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION.
We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.
9. WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY.
We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.
10. WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE'S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are most disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Beatriz Nascimento (1942-1995) was an Intellectual Militant, Poet, Teacher, Researcher, and Historian in Brazil. An Authority on All Things Black History & Culture, Nascimento helped found Grupo de Trabalho André Rebouças (André Rebouças Working Group) A Student Movement designed to address Racial Issues from an Academic Perspective. Between 1974 & 1995, Beatriz Nascimento became increasingly well known for for her lectures, Research Projects, and Documentary Work ("ORI" 1989). Her writings on the history of The "Quilombo," (people of African origin, Quilombolas, Maroons, etc) & her Ideas in regard to the experiences of Blacks in the Diaspora "Trans-Atlanticity" became highly touted works of intellectual & Revolutionary Genius. She was the face of Brazil’s "Movimento Negro" or black movement & was also well-known for her poetry-which was said to have had a very sensitive & unique take on the life of a Black Woman. On January 28th 1995, Beatriz Nascimento was killed in Rio de Janeiro after intervening on behalf of a friend in a violent relationship. She was shot five times. While her ending seemed to have more with Brazil's notorious culture of Domestic Violence, one must note that four other members of the Movimento Negro to be killed that year. Her assasination would have been the fifth.