A keynote speech from literary colossus, Alice Walker, at the Stanford Contemplation by Design Summit discussing how we might heal from trauma caused by various atrocities of Whyte Nationalism and Whyte Supremacy.
So often we get our principles confused with our public display of propriety. Where some stand alone in their displays of courage and loyaly, we often overlook their contributions to allow those that would never save us to save face. There is a grace to the proper word, and the forgiving glance;there is a more valued glory to the look that need not words to kindle eternal gratitude and a remembering heart. During our moments of breathing we can place an appraisal on expectations that far outweighs reasonable perfection given the default rules of such.
To be of service to any group of humans can be a daunting task. To be a comrade, a fighter alongside those that have chosen or have been enscripted in some sort of fashion to form the blocking hands and attacking fists, the sneaking eyes and encouraging tongue of a group, is a life of obligations and sacrifice. And yet, neither of these is the summit that is being a Friend of The People.
I rose from my slumbering angle half an hour ago with the thought of Malcolm and Martin wrestling for my Asylum, escuse me, Our Asylum’s attention like a teenage crooner outside his romantic interests second story window. I don’t believe in Harry Potter, but I do believe there is a vitality of personality in all things. The discomforts of war and warlike conditions often force us to choose which lifeforms will be respected as such. The feeding lioness and her hungry cubs are more objectifying than the Western educated chauvinist pig in a stripper’s den. The passing of wartime into peace can often afford us self-righteous creeds that don’t exactly match the objective realities they are supposedly designed to guide us through. That all being written, I don’t want to neglect Our Asylum any fruitful ventures of thought that I might have had to overlook in worse conditions, nor do I want to become a moralizing prick that has forgotten the ways of the walk.
How easy is it for us to call Omowale an ex-con(and all the stigmas that implies) that was a horrible father and possibly even more horrible husband? How easy is it for us to point at Dr. King, Jr. and call him a womanizer and unfaithful to Corretta’s bed? Now, how many of us reading(and writing) this piece can say they walked out of a prison and built Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, taught Brother Louie how to be Minister Louis Farrakahn, won the respect and honor of revolutionaries of Fidel’s caliber, and inspired the Black Panther Party? How many can say they died being a Friend of the People? How many of us have our sock and t-shirt drawer organized let alone have organized a successful boycott of the one means of transportation within a citywide area for working Black women, organized a March on Washington before it was ever done and during a time when Whites would pull your wig back because of it? How many reading this(and writing this) have ever faced a dog down for more than selfish reasons? What about a water hose on full blast? Yeah, me neither…
Is this how we treat our friends? By backbiting them? Slandering them? Digging through crates and garbage cans for information to defame their character? Is this how we treat our friends? Is this how we want the people, especially our children, to treat Friends of the People? If we treat Friends of Ours that have taken bullets in front of their children, who else will be willing to sign up for that job? “Would you take a bullet for your homie?” Don’t you people know how to treat your friends? Did they brainwash that out of you, too? No, wonder why we don’t have any.
I would sincerely hope that we don’t afford our children the misconceptions of Western analysis and progress. That limb that you are about to chop off for the sake of a seeming “growth”–or as Marable might put it with his writing arse,unfreeze a “stage of development”– is the same limb you will need to hold on to if you fall. Better yet, who the hell is allowing you to cut branches from Our Afkan Tree any damn way? There is nothing perfect without perfection in a dynamic such as life. We Afkan have a serious reality to face and that is that we are a people. Sure, forced through the labors of a raped mother and murdered father, sold by our own family to the enemies of the house of Our ancestors–we still are all we know. I can only speak and mumble a few words of Akan, Kiswahili, and Yoruba. But I can walk through the hoods of any Afkan neighborhood nationwide and reach out to my own kind. With all of my legal issues and urban traumas, I can walk on any college campus and hold my own intellectually. Our good friend Malcolm taught us that. Although I don’t believe in a personal godhead, I know how to sup amongst the Baptists, and give a good word to the homeless and the poor. Our good friend Dr. King taught us that.
My socio-political hypocrisies, or Saul Alinsky’s “political schizophrenia”, provides me with enough good sense to know when to cover my friend’s nakedness while photographing the nakedness of my enemies for proper propaganda. My intellectual pursuits as an adult didn’t begin on the quad of academia, it began in the alleys of St. Louis where I was taught by a partner of sorts somewhat older than me that no matter the dispute, we agree with each other in public, and hash our disagreements out when we are alone. No matter how western my logic might unravel, I never forgot my Afkanese. And one thing the Afkan knows for sure, good friends are a damn struggle to find. So, Afkans, treat your friends good…
“They accuse us of what they themselves are guilty of. This is what the criminal always does. They’ll bomb you, then accuse you of bombing yourself. They’ll crush your skull, then accuse you of attacking him. This is what the racists have always done–the criminal, the one who has criminal processes developed to a science. Their practice is criminal action. And then use the press to make you victim–look like the victim is the criminal, and the criminal is the victim. This is how they do it.” – Malcolm X, Feb. 16, 1965
“There are all too many people who, in some great period of social change, fail to achieve the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in our world today. It is a social revolution, sweeping away the old order of colonialism.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., June 1965
So, I woke up this morning from one of those weird dreams that I’m sure many shell shocked victims of any sort of stressful past that affected them physically will have. Upon waking up, I cursed out the fedloan and all the banks, and thought about urinating on the debt statements I now owe the US Government. I sat down to this keyboard, as I always do when I am upset with the world, and yet have no other party to actually be upset with other than myself. A question arose that had nothing to do with my prior angst. What if Malcolm X decided to start Essence magazine?
Strange, indeed. But media has that sort of effect on your mind. I thought about something that Mulchan wrote in his treatise on the understand of media, namely, “During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man– the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society…”
To build on that thought, I immediately recognized the parallel when George Jackson spoke about the extension of the human appendage through knife and gun. The extension of the physical has always been a human necessity due to the lack of physical capability to defeat and destroy predators of the land. The lion, the bear, and many of the predatorial animals of the world had an advantage the human did not. As such, it became needed to prepare controlled weapons, traps of artifice, mechanisms that would avail the human in the pursuit of survival. The Human has always needed means to extend itself throughout the physical. Now, as we have read through the above passage and even are being subtly informed through movies such as Avatar, the human is further extending the consciousness of individual selves.
The name of the movie, “Avatar” in and of itself is very symbolic. Due to the nature of the extension of consciousness in our time, in more colloquial terms, the everyday updating of sources, it is not persuasive enough for me to Google the term “avatar”. So, I have gone far enough with the definition in Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College edition. This is a dictionary dated as being published in 1988, far from the influence of internet updates which are grounded in popular parlance and the like.
According to the dictionary:
1. Hinduism a god’s coming down in bodily form to the earth; incarnation of a god 2 any incarnation or embodiment, as a of quality or concept in a person.
This is very telling for us. Let’s consider a modern, more popular definition and derive a deeper psycho-social understanding…
Going to dictionary.com at the URL http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/avatar you will read:
1. Hindu Mythology. The descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.
2. An embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.
3. Computers. A graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet.
At what point does the connection get made between descent of a deity and the use of a graphical image to represent a person…as on the internet?
Maybe the higher conscious was considered a diety; maybe those that began to develop graphical images to represent a person had a great philosophical sense of humor. Regardless, the avatar in the movie was a body that looked like those it needed to communicate and interact with.
The avatar was able to use the streams of consciousness with the body of the mind conduit. The body of the avatar became one with the mind that was being transmitted from another body. In much the same way that the media uses every vehicle it has to use to convey the thoughts of those that control it. In much the same way that I use the avatar on twitter and at times facebook to convey my consciousness. In much the same way you do too. Are you in battle against much with your avatar?
I ask these questions because I believe that the change necessary is located in the evolution of the means by which humans are “communicating”. That term is so limited. We are doing more than communicating. We are extending ourselves through medium. That has always been the difference between humans and other sentient beings we have met. Have black people begun to understand this? What if Malcolm x left and decided to use popular forms of media? What if Malcolm X was still living and had started up a popular periodical that was popular to Black women? What if Malcolm had a twitter account? What if you were Malcolm?
Feel free to address this question in the dialogue boxes below…
Sometimes I have to laugh at people to keep the last pieces of my sanity from completely sending me into the abyss. I think deeply about what I read, and what I hear. I attempt to reflect the best part of that back into the world, through what I say and what I write. I consider the Brother Malcolm X to be a guide post in my life more reasons than one. I think about all the articles I read based on Oprah’s theory of the down low brother and “homo-thug”. I listen to the banter about Atlanta, and I laugh when someone begins to question a man’s sexual preference based on if he likes receiving oral stimulation from a woman more than vaginal penetration. I wonder if any of these people would have asked Malcolm those questions, or had those thoughts running in the back of their heads as he mentions he spent seven years incarcerated.
So today, as I read my twitter stream, I begin to giggle at this one young sister that I follow. The sister is one of those high strung women that thinks because she looks a certain way, (that being light-skinned), that she is entitled a certain respect in all things American black. I read a comment she made today about the release of Mr. Thomas Haggin, the one of the suspects arrested at the Audubon Ballroom after the assassination of Brother Malcolm. Mr. Thomas would become the only one of three men sent to prison for the assassination to admit his guilt. The sister typed shock that the brother was being released in rhetorical question.
What I responded to the sister might have been slightly rude. What I typed possibly might have even gotten my account blocked from following her. I mentioned that the brother had done his time, as Malcolm had done his once, and asked her if she was going to “put in work” for Malcolm. Knowing that she would rather post and update her twitter stream than plan to kill the person responsible for the assassination of a brother she looks up to in death, but possibly would have repulsed in person, I continued my conversation with others there, not expecting a response. Not saying that I am doing more, of course, my life being what it is, I would suppose my efforts should be considered with high regard. Those who have seen the ugly face of war should be relieved of any obligations to return.
That being said, in the same vein that I regarded the actions of Maulana Karenga and the US organizations involvement with the murder of Bunchy Carter, I read and learn of the history, respect the elders that survived, and learn from their flawed victories. There were wars and disputes that existed before I did. The black struggle for self-determination and nationhood has had people from different sides of the aisle with extreme passion and dedication take shots and fight one another. Just as I have fought with people, and have done things that others might either be afraid to do, or ashamed to do. We all have a past. We all have to thank God for the opportunities given to us to live among the hurt, as those that hurt live among us. It is not my duty or my job to the memory of Malcolm x to attack Aziz Muhammad(who subsequently was made the regional captain of the East Coast and head of the very Mosque that Malcolm built upon his release by Minister Louis Farrakhan), Kahlil Islam, or Thomas Hagan.
If you feel it is your duty, let me remind you that when you attack that man, you attack a brother that was in the climate that “allowed him [Brother Malcolm] to be assassinated” that Louis Farrakhan has taken accountability for creating. You attack a man who not once said that the other brothers who were set free some twenty odd years ago had anything to do with the assassination. You attack a man that while serving forty years has received a master’s degree, and has been working to take care of his wife and children. But, he is in Sunset Park in Brooklyn if you need answers. I’m sure he is more than just the man who killed another man you probably wouldn’t have understood either…