H. Rap Brown’s Right To Bear Arms, Malcolm X, And Revolutionary Spirituality::: Highlighting Chapter Eight Of “Die Nigger Die!”

If you have not read my highlights of Chapter One of H. Rap Brown and ‘Die Nigger Die!”, please click here. I have included an important disclaimer that I wish to apply to this post as well. Also, in case you have read that, but not my highlights on Chapter Two of “Die Nigger Die!”, you can click here. If you have not read highlights of Chapter Three, those are linked here. Those of you seeking chapter four highlights can click here. Chapter Five, Chapter Six, and Chapter Seven are linked respectively.

 

Continuing from his storyline from chapter seven, H. Rap Brown explains how he and Ed always carried a gun. His anecdotal reasoning for his eye for an eye stance is simply his personal experience with law enforcement compared to others. He states that police never beat him as they were afraid of his retaliating even if only one person got back what they attempted to give him. He extends this philosophy of personal self-defense:

 

Everybody’s able to defend themselves, but few are willing. You got to be able and willing. That’s the whole concept. All my life that’s what’s been preserving me. And I don’t think there’s any need for me to change. Nonviolence might have been tactically correct at one time in order to get some sympathy for the Movement, but for me as an individual, it just never worked. And I didn’t try to convince myself that it would work.


“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 81

 

I appreciate that throughout this book, H. Rap Brown has framed “nonviolence” as a “tactically” applied measure, and not a hard coded philosophy. As US Blacks (especially Black males) are furthered molded in media as “savages”, whether literal animals or just criminally uncivilized, US Blacks in protest space seemed to fear any form of resistance that involves physical retaliation to physical onslaughts.

 

H. Rap states that he had become acquainted with law enforcement harassing him and how his father had to bail him out of jail during Christmas. He details in length his being alienated from others due to his stance on carrying steal.

 

Folks have always had difficulty trying to deal with the fact that I carry a gun. Even people in SNCC. The first time I got busted in Alabama, it was on a concealed weapon charge, and people in the Atlanta SNCC office wanted to know why I had a gun. This was in 1966 when SNCC was talking Black Power. They debated over whether or not to get me out of jail and they didn’t. Ed put up my bond. That was some shaky muthafucking shit. But I made it very clear to them. Yeah, I would give up my .38 when they gave me a laser gun. If you’re gonna woof at the muthafucka, then I’m gon’ carry some shit to back up the woof. They could put me out of the organization, but they weren’t taking my gun. I knew that bubble gum and rocks ain’t no good against that other shit. The only thing “the man’s” going to respect is that .45 or .38 you got. That’s what it all boils down to.

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 84

 

A fairly sensible stance. H. Rap Brown’s pragmatic approach to activism– especially in a group dubbed, “Student NONVIOLENT Coordination Committee”– creates a semantic contradiction in an effort to resolve a fundamental issue still facing US Blacks in public grievance. If you have that heart to yell, “Fuck The Police,” what happens after they decide to “phukkk” you up?

 

A lot of people, though, are afraid to defend their own lives. They’re afraid to take a chance for their own liberation. But there’s no other way to be free unless you put your life on the line. A lot of people are mad at me now, because they say that me and Carmichael and other dudes who’ve been out there talking are only setting the stage for the extermination of Black people. Well, if 30 million people have to go to free the people in Vietnam and Africa, fuck it. We’ve been living too long anyway. Only people who’ve never lived fear death. If you’ve lived, you know that death is part of the process…

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 84-85

 

I think it is in this chapter that we begin to see a truly international revolutionary thought process. His stance on violence is deeply entrenched in personal survival, but it is also just as richly influenced by not only a local group sense of identity, or racial, but also a global identification with all oppressed peoples. This identification is not symbolic, but includes embracing concomitant corporeal sacrifice. He sees fear of death as an excuse to behave cowardly when faced with personal physical confrontation.

 

[…]A lot of people say that it’s regrettable that Malcolm got killed. But Malcolm was not an individual. His life didn’t belong to him. No revolutionary can claim his life for himself. The life of the revolutionary belongs to the struggle. Malcolm, like Che, is not dead, because he was totally committed to the struggle. The only people who should make any kind of statement of regret over Malcolm’s death are Malcolm’s family. Death is the price of revolution. Malcolm assumed that responsibility and he knew what role he was playing. The shame is that the people who’re going around screaming Malcolm now wouldn’t listen to Malcolm when he was living.

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 85

 

As stated above, H. Rap Brown fully emerges us in his understanding of revolutionary intention. His is a revolutionary spirituality where those who pay that iron price are eternal energy and inspiration for those waging protracted physical struggle for oppressed peoples.

 

Malcolm was the first Black leader to come out and tell Black people that they had a right to defend their own lives. Of course, it was negroes who needed to hear that, not Blacks. The brother on the block carried a knife in his diaper. He knew where it was at.

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 85

 

Malcolm X represents to H. Rap Brown a pioneer of US Black personal and group self-defense and right to bear arms. He does not frame Brother Malcolm as “loud and wrong” Black militant with empty rhetoric, but someone also willing to stand on those words.

 

[…]America doesn’t rule the world with love. It rules with guns, tanks, missiles, bombs, the Army, Air Force, Navy and the Marines. When america fights a nonviolent war, I’ll become nonviolent. But I ain’t gon’ hold my breath waiting for that day to come around. People want to say that I preach violence. If you’re minding your business and someone starts fucking with you, he’s being violent, because he’s infringing on your human rights. It’s your responsibility to jump back at the muthafucka and make him back down or fight. If you don’t, he knows that you’re scared and that he can control you and that’s your ass.

“Die Nigger Die!”, H. Rap Brown, pg. 85

 

Another point that surfaced as I transcribed that last quote is H. Rap Brown’s moral code vis-a-vis physical self-defense. In H. Rap Brown’s ethical code, it is sinful to not defend your Self physically. His politics is rooted in a very concrete sense of self-respect and maintenance of honor.