H. Rap Brown’s Black Revolutionaries And US Black Neocolonialism::: Highlighting Chapter Eleven Of “Die Nigger Die!”

H. Rap Brown starts chapter eleven of “Die Nigger Die!” continuing his thoughts on revolutionary leadership. He addresses and defines who he considers true revolutionaries.

 

Anybody who is projected as a leader generally impedes the revolution anyway. Whether I was out there or not, I knew that the brothers were going to take care of business. A revolution doesn’t depend on one person. In actuality, the revolutionary is an unknown person. He’s the brother who’s taking care of business, the one who’s getting his head together, the one who’s in the street, the one who dies in the rebellions. Like in Vietnam, he’s the one who is known only to his cell leader, or his commander. He’s the cat whose name never appears in history books. It ain’t the dude with the natural. I’d rather see a cat with a processed head and a natural mind than a natural head and a processed mind. It ain’t what’s on your head; it’s what’s in it. You see negroes with naturals on their heads and nothing on their minds. Revolutionaries are not determined by physical characteristics. Some of the most revolutionary people in Vietnam are women, but we got muthafuckas here running around talking about let the men do it all.

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 111

 

In his defining of revolutionary, he emphasizes unsung heroes.

 

The news media is one of the greatest enemies to Black people. It is controlled by the ruling classes and is used to articulate their point of view. Every day the news media says,”The united states killed 2,000 Vietcong!” Hell, if you can count, it’s obvious that there can’t be no more Vietcong because the united states been killing them every day by the thousands for four years now.

pg. 120

 

Here, H. Rap Brown addresses a perncicious authority given to US media outlets.

 

The media claims that I teach hate. Hate, like love, is a feeling. How can you teach a feeling? If Black people hate white people it’s not because of me, it’s because of what white people do to Black people. If hate can be taught, ain’t no better teacher than white people themselves. I hate oppression. I am anti anybody who is anti-Black. Now if that includes most white people in america, it ain’t my fault. That’s just the way the bones break. I don’t care whether or not white people hate me. It’s not essential that a man love you to live. But “the man” has to respect you.

pg. 121

 

H. Rap Brown has consistently shown his inability to reduce his politics to a huggable moment. He is deeply aware of common misconceptions of US racial dynamics. His response to those that wish to box him in this “reverse racist/angry Black man” category is that he does not care for their box, and while you are at it, here is a mirror. His humanity is not validated by seeking approval from Whytes like so many other Blacks supposedly doing “the work”. He does not seek to appease Whytes, not does he expect them to appease him.

 

I believe that america loves the negro, though. It loves for him to do its work,loves for him to stay down under its foot. But america does not respect negroes; negroes don’t respect themselves.

pg. 121

 

Using “america” as a metonoymy for US Whyte Supremacy, he underlines its proven objective of maintaining a racially coded system of class. Noting as well, this devotion of US Blacks to find their place within it.

 

Each individual Black person decides for himself whether or not he hates all whites. Racism in reverse is charged when Blacks don’t profess their undying love for whites.

pg. 121

 

H. Rap states a simple formula. For US Blacks, racial antagonistic attitudes are at an individual level. US Blacks do not have a collective or organized power structure to impose any systemic measures that makes their feelings anything more than an isolated occurrence. Blacks are held to a standard of racial tolerance that is not only hypocritical and illogical but also extreme.

 

The Black Movement has never pushed the doctrine of racial superiority. But what upsets the media is that we don’t say we love all white people. White folks get up tight if the first words of a Black person say don’t deal with love. That’s their problem. If they haven’t been oppressing Black people then they ain’t got nothing to feel bad about.

pg. 124

 

H. Rap Brown furthers this line of rationale by reminding history that US Blacks within his movement have not promoted a propaganda of scientific racism. His is not a campaign to reduce Whytes to animals like Thomas Jefferson did to Blacks, or to place them on an evolutionary trajectory that likens them to neanderthals like Charles Darwin did to Blacks. However, in his not creating more confusion based on racial competition and domination, he also does not see where it is necessary to “love” all Whyte people or any, for that matter.

 

White people got hung up on integration. Segregation was the problem and the elimination of segregation was the solution, not integration. It was the unequal nature of segregation that Black people protested against in the South, not segregation itself. Separate but equal is cool with me. What’s the big kick about going to school with white folks? Them that want to do that should have the chance. But that ain’t no solution.

pg. 124

He extends this notion with a quote from Franz Fanon:

Fanon says of racism, “It stares one in the face for it so happens that it belongs in a characteristic whole: that of the shameless exploitation of one group of men by another which has reached a higher stage of technical development. That is why military and economic oppression generally precedes, makes possible, and legitimatizes racism. The habit of considering racism as a mental quirk, as a psychological flaw, must be abandoned.”

pg. 125

 

H. Rap Brown explicates his ideas regarding power structures and systems. Note his stance on Black leadership after power structures are usurped, while systems are left intact.

 

Now there’re a lot of people who say that the way you change laws is to destroy the power structure. I say you got to go beyond that. If you destroy the power structure, it can always be replaced by another power structure, whether it’s white or Black. The power structure serves the system and the system is the thing which demands exploitation of people. You have to destroy the system. You can destroy the power structure and leave that system intact. But if you get the system, you got the power structure. That’s the job which confronts us.

pg. 125

 

Once again, H. Rap Brown displays his political maturity. He reminds us that “liberation movements” must be directed by needs and pain points of those people a movement is supposedly directed to liberate.

 

Liberation movements must be based upon political principles that give meaning and substance to the struggle of the masses of people, and it is this struggle that advances the creation of a people’s ideology. Liberation movements from the very beginning must be dedicated to the principles that speak to the needs of the poor and oppressed, or must evolve into this type of movement with these principles while the fighting is going on, for it is not evident that those who fight will assume power and implement decisions that appropriate the wealth of countries for all people.

pg. 128

We must draw from all ideologies those principles which benefit the majority of mankind. We cannot limit ourselves to just one concept or ideology that was relevant in some other revolution. As Debray point out, and correctly so, in his book Revolution Within the Revolution: “Revolutions cannot be imported nor exported.” Certain changes have made even some of the most advanced ideologies obsolete.

pg. 128

 

I broke this into two salient ideas.

 

Firstly, throughout this book his political breadth has widened. While I still feel his specific agenda is a US Black one, he embraces an all-encompassing revolutionary practice. He states “principles which will benefit the majority of mankind”. This infers a vision of revolution that is not limited to US Blacks in these United States. In fact, it also infers certain compromise in order to find those principles, that Summum bonum.

 

That second bit of thought I wanted to tease out here was his ability to disperse with particulars when they are no longer applicable. His is not a romantic or religious association with group political change. He also is not handcuffed to any set of solutions simply because they are from US Blacks.

 

Many people have had these principles (principles that speak to the needs of the mass of humanity) in mind as they were waging a struggle for independence, but having failed to win independence by defeating the enemy through armed struggle, it was necessary for them to negotiate with the colonial powers. In this process of negotiation, the colonial powers granted political autonomy but maintained economic influence, control, and investments. The mere act of negotiating freedom means that the control necessary to appropriate the entire wealth of the country did not fall to the new leaders. We should have learned by now from history that the process of negotiating freedom and not winning it by armed struggle has built-in limitations. We must be prepared to fight to the death to destroy this system known as capitalism, for it is this system that oppresses the majority of mankind.

pg. 129

 

As I pointed out above, H. Rap Brown has a singular focus that is not limited to one group of people. However, I do believe H. Rap Brown has a practical appreciation for local engagement. His central target is a system of oppression he frames as capitalism. Whichever methods necessary to attack and dismantle that system are determined by local variations and exploits determined by those people expressing pain due to that system of capitalism.

 

[…]What is known as politics in this country is meaningless. People have been told that politics means the Democratic and Republican parties; federal, state, and local government; the vote. History shows that politics as it is defined by america is undesirable and dangerous to Black people, for the politics of capitalism has always been human oppression and exploitation. We must begin to relate to the politics of revolution. Chairman Mao says, “Politics is war without bloodshed and war is an extension of politics.” Every action that we are involved in is political, whether it is religious, artistic, cultural, athletic, governmental, educational, economic or personal. There is no seperation between church and state, art and politics, or politics and individual beliefs. Everything is inherently political. The only division occurs around the question of whose political interest one will serve.

pg. 130

 

H. Rap Brown’s politics is abstracted in a similar manner as his revolutionary spiritualism. Sure, it is extremely pragmatic and rooted in empirical processes. It abhors absolutes, yet it embraces abstraction at that level of collective peoples. It is a politics that operates at local levels, while considers a global solution. With this sort of foundation, it is easy to understand how annoy H. Rap Brown must be in a nation where politics is reduced to media circus.

 

H. Rap Brown scoffs at popular pronouncements and understandings of politics here in United States. This paragraph is not only him explaining his vision, but him laughing at those who define politics in this puerile bi-partisan manner.

 

Without a common Black political doctrine, america will use (and is using) Blacks against Blacks. Blackness must be political in our behalf. Individuals can no longer be immune to public political criticism because they are “Black and proud.” There must be revolutionary political criticism of counter-revolutionary positions and acts. Some individuals who gain popularity in Black america are later used as tools by white america. In most cases, white political interest comes as a result of the existing popularity of the Black individuals. Understand, popularity does not reflect correctness. Blackness alone is not revolutionary.

pg. 130

 

I agree with H. Rap Brown’s assessment that without a common, articulated, verbally agreed upon(as opposed to tacitly assumed) set of visions and outcomes, there will always be room for manipulation of US Blacks at a mass level. I totally disagree with any belief that this could ever happen, though.

 

Again H. Rap Brown explicates his disdain for fictive obligations in political space. Just because a person is “Black and proud” does not give them carte blanche from criticism. Their behaviors should still be examined; their motives and interests even more so. In H. Rap Brown’s revolutionary politics, racial fictive kinship is not a precursor for loyalty or accuracy.

 

If we examine Cleveland, Ohio, Gary, Indiana, Washington, D.C., and many other areas populated predominately by Blacks we can see a tactic being used that has often been tried in Africa, Vietnam, and other oppressed countries. It is called neo-colonialism. In other words, when white structures and institutions are threatened whites protect their economic and political interests and maintain control by using members of the oppressed people as their spokesmen. They set up puppet governments headed by individuals with white interests in mind. These people oppress their own kind for their personal gain. These puppet leaders are as dangerous as those whom they represent.

pg. 130

 

It is important that H. Rap Brown compares US Black celebrities being used to direct US Blacks for US Whyte interests to neo-colonialism. For years now, I have attempted to find a better term that speaks specifically to what occurs in Black USAmerica. That this particular tactic has not ceased in its malignant effectiveness from when H. Rap Brown wrote this to my era is very telling.

 

White folks realize now that they can concede Blackness and still exercise control. This country says, “Yes, you may be Black; but, you must be american,” which means we are as responsible for oppression as whites. This country says, “Yeah, you may have Black heroes; but, we must approve of them.” So, they publicize negroes who have been beneficial to this country.

pg. 130

 

Here we see H. Rap Brown upbraiding US Blacks attached to this neoliberal machinery. H. Rap Brown determines that any Black allowed to represent Blacks at that nation media level must also be reflecting values of a capitalist state.

 

We must say as Fidel Castro says, “No liberalism whatsoever! No softening whatsoever! A revolutionary people, a political people–a strong people–this is what is needed throughout these years….What do the dangers or the sacrifices of a man or of a nation matter when the destiny of humanity is at stake?”

pg 131

 

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