Black Power to Black People, White Power to White People, Brown Power to Brown People, Yellow Power to Yellow People, Red Power to Red People. All Power to the People!!!!!!!!!!!! Fred Hampton
There are not many things that make me cringe in pain; however the appearance of pervasive ignorance never fails to take me to that rare threshold. Today I cringed in a most unusual manner while watching footage of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ activist outside of the Democratic National Convention give directives to an assembly of activists. The cringe worthy portion of this activity is found in her request, or should I say demand, that whites retreat to the rear of the march because the pending march was to be led by Black protesters and Black protesters alone.
Although I instantly recognized what this young and apparently inexperienced activist was attempting to achieve by having a Black led March against a racial issue, I also recognized her voluminous ignorance regarding the multi-racial nature of prior activism during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Era. It has always amazed me how ignorance or a superficial understanding of prior struggles leads contemporary activists to re-write the tactics and strategies of prior protest movements.
The demand that whites assemble in the rear harkened my mind back to the Women’s Suffragist movement when white women, attempting to cater to prejudiced southern delegates, issued a similar ‘request’ to Black Women suffragists. It appears that some, certainly not all, members of today’s Black activist scene have chosen to ignore Audre Lorde’s admonishment that,
For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism…is a real condition of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside (his and) herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears.
One thing is for certain, today’s Black activist must find a way to simultaneously avoid replicating the hatred emanating from other groups with divergent ideas for it will ultimately lead to them becoming that very entity that they so strongly loathe. The cost of doing such is one that none of us can afford to pay. Failure to recognize this danger means that we unfortunately become the very figures that noted social critic James Baldwin was considering when he stated, “People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
Contemporary Black activists must always make certain that they do not become that which they fight so diligently fight against, because if they do, there is no doubt that their opponent has won by turning them into a mirror image of the hate, vengefulness, and irrationality that they possess. I have no doubt that today’s Black activists are able to find a medium between avoiding such an unfortunate position while also moving the Black agenda forward.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016