Tag Archives: Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Why We Call Them Pigs: Huey P. Newton Explains the Black Panther Party’s Use of the Term Pig

I have always considered it extremely important to understand each and every aspect of the Black Power Era. Anyone who has studied this era will tell you that the language used by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was not only used to convey a message but also intended for that message to be delivered with laser-like precision. Considering the Panther Party’s never-ending conflict with law enforcement agencies at the Federal, State, and local levels it is not surprising that Huey P. Newton’s cadre would have their unique way of referring to law enforcement personnel that was often behaving lawlessly.

While researching my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance, I came across the following explanation and justification for the use of the term “Pigs” by Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton.

We thought up new terms for them. At first I figured that the reverse of god – dog – would be a good epithet, but it did not catch on. We tried beast, brute, and animal, but none of them captured the essential quality we were trying to convey…Eldridge showed us a postcard from Beverly Axelrod. On the front was the slogan “Support Your Local Police”; there was a sheriff’s star above the phrase, and in the center of the star a grinning, slobbering pig. It was just what we were looking for. We began to show policemen as pigs in our cartoons, and from time to time used the word. “Pig” caught on; it entered the language…

“Pig” was perfect for several reasons. First of all, words like “swine,” “hog,” “sow,” and “pig” have always had unpleasant connotations…”Pig” has another point in its favor: in racial terms “pig” is a neutral word. Many white youths on college campuses began to understand what the police were really like when their heads were broken open during demonstrations against the draft and the Vietnam War. This broadened the use of the term and served to unify the victims against their oppressors. Even though white youths were not victimized in the same way or to the same extent that we were, they nonetheless became our allies against the police. In this case the ruling circle was not able to set the victims against each other, as the racists in the South had done by setting poor whites against Blacks.

Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide

And You Call Yourself a Panther?: The Hate-Filled Dead-End Road that Cultural Nationalist Routinely Travel

It is amazing that the same problems afflicting the African-American protest community 50 years ago remain prevalent to the present day. I am confident that most people think that I am referring to the dogged refusal of America’s leading cancers — prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, and racism — to excuse themselves from “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
If those are your thoughts, you are going to be disappointed to learn that I am not alluding to the pernicious evils mentioned above as I am attempting to address an ever-present danger found within the black activist community. The evil I speak of is the continuing tendency of Cultural Nationalists to haphazardly denigrate and mischaracterize all whites as a monolithic population whose sole political priority is to retard African-American politico-economic progress.

I am honest by relating that I have yet to find the words to express my frustrations with the manner that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s legacy of racial progressivism has been co-opted and revamped to fit the needs of contemporary “activists.” Unfortunately, the activists mentioned above are absent a political platform capable of addressing the pernicious evils affecting the black community. The alluded to individuals believe that an integral part of revolutionary politics is not political mobilization or economic solidarity, rather they seek to advance their understanding of the black agenda via “hate-speech.”

Make no mistake about it, the re-surfacing of imagery intentionally designed to stir up memories of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPPSD) by individuals lacking even a superficial understanding of either the Panthers political platforms or historical experiences has needlessly marred the Panther legacy for counter-revolutionary self-serving purposes. The legacy left by Huey, Bobby, Eldridge, Kathleen, Lil’ Bobby, Bunchy, Fred, Geronimo, Elaine, and those who made up the Panther cadre deserve so much more than what contemporary manifestations of the Panther Party are providing.

What makes the denigration of the Panther image so painful is that if those behind the many attempts to resurrect the Panthers had taken a moment to study BPPSD ideology, they would have quickly discerned that Huey P. Newton opposed any effort to characterize other activist communities, including the white community, as being monolithic. Those who have studied Huey realize that he was not only a genius but also used that mental acumen to in a wise and judicious manner. Consider for a moment, that the Panthers, at the behest of Eldridge “Papa Rage” Cleaver, forged an alliance with the Peace and Freedom Party, a group of white radicals, because it served the interests of the Party at that particular moment. The Panthers are a great example of the utility of alliances and coalitions with like-minded groups, regardless of their race/ethnicity. Those who disagree with the above assertion know little about both the Panther legacy and the black struggle for racial equality.

Unfortunately, phrase-mongering rabble-rousing Cultural Nationalists who are quick to speak, yet slow to study, are not only comfortable spewing vitriolic hatred, but also often encouraged to do such by adoring audiences. Little do they know, that such a backward political stance stunts their political power as it alienates all around them regardless of race, class, or gender.

I have dealt with Cultural Nationalists long enough to know that they will both ignore and deny an easily accessible historical record that proves that inter-racial alliances were a hallmark of the BPPSD. It is for this population that does not mind existing under a yoke that is equal parts illogical and shockingly uninformed that I include the following quote by BPPSD co-founder Huey P. Newton.
According to Newton, the African-American activist community “…must also be able to realize that there are white people, brown people, red people, yellow people in this world who are totally dedicated to the destruction of this system of oppression, and we welcome that. We will always be open to working with that.

I am quite confident that luminaries of the African-American freedom struggle such as Newton, Hampton, Baldwin, Du Bois, and King are rolling over in their graves at the ascension of a black political platform that rests upon nothing more than divisive hate-filled rhetoric. Put simply; such rhetoric not only fails to represent black leaders who came before us, but also guarantees that none of the previous mutually beneficial alliances that aided our community in its pursuit of liberation are possible today. Contemporary so-called black leaders have efficiently placed themselves in a box of irrelevancy that they cannot escape.
Despite the euphoria that many of these new activists feel after hearing a profanity-laced rant against some yet to be identified “white man,” the truth of the matter is that such rhetoric serves as a highly imperfect substitute for a well-thought out political agenda. Not to mention that such hate-speech has yet to move the struggle forward one iota. Trust me when I say that it never has and it never will.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why the Revolutionary is a Doomed Man Win or Lose According to Huey P. Newton

Rarely does a day go by that I am not made aware of some self-promoting “Black Revolutionary.” If only I had a dollar for every “Revolutionary Black Man” that I encountered, I would be a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these individuals have little understanding of the steep cost one must make to carry the revolutionary mantle.

I rarely encounter people who understand even the first lesson of being a revolutionary. If they were in possession of such knowledge, I am confident that they would choose a different life path.

According to Black Panther Party for Self-Defense co-founder Huey P. Newton, a figure that so many of today’s so-called revolutionary-minded individuals admire, “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man.” Let me repeat this prophetic statement by a brother who most certainly possessed the revolutionary spirit, “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man.

Although I would love to disagree with Newton’s position on this matter, to do such would make me illogical and a liar. If one understands the role of a revolutionary among an oppressed people, there is simply no way of avoiding the harsh reality that Huey is communicating.
A revolutionary is a doomed man for the following inescapable reasons. If he fails at his attempt to overthrow the oppressive regime oppressing his people, he will meet a quick demise at the hands of the oppressor. If he can successfully lead a revolutionary struggle, he is therefore of no additional utility to those who have been able to escape the yoke of oppression. Put simply; win or lose, a revolutionary is a doomed man.

It is this primary lesson of revolutionary struggle that so many of today’s vain, self-centered, and boastful revolutionaries fail to consider. The alluded to failure is predictable for a so-called revolutionary class that spends more time talking, making Facebook posts, and Youtube videos than conducting substantive research regarding the catalyst behind and perpetuation of real politico-economic problems affecting those that they publicly proclaim to represent. Put simply, today’s “Black Revolutionary” class is continuing one of their grandest traditions of “talking loud and saying nothing.” Such inactivity is far from revolutionary and one of the primary reasons that our community continues to be disorganized politically, economic inefficient, and clueless regarding even a proper academic or cultural diet.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017

Dr. James Thomas Jones III is the author of Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. (Available at Amazon and Other Fine Bookstores.)

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WHITE RADICALS GONE? HOW A RECENT NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY RALLY NOT ONLY BETRAYED THE ACTIVIST ROOTS OF THE ORIGINAL BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE, BUT ALSO ENSURED THAT WHITES WOULD NEVER ASSIST AGAIN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

I am confident that this will sound peculiar to most; however, it nevertheless needs to be said. One of the most visible signs that the political priorities of white progressives have altered dramatically in regards to the fight for racial equality is their declining relationship with African-American groups agitating for “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation.”

If the recent Presidential election did not definitively prove that the “White Left” has abandoned their natural political terrain, their bpp-pfpgradual drift from a principled position regarding racial reconciliation definitively proves this point. As a historian who has dedicated his life to the study of American Race Relations, it is evident to me that the disappearance of the “White Left’s” voluminous presence in the struggle for racial equality is extremely disappointing. The current absence of a definitive white radical presence in the fight against this nation’s standard racial issues speaks volumes about shifting political priorities among white Leftists. In fact, their silence in the face of ever-increasing racial disparities ‘speaks’ volumes.

As a student of American race relations, I found it startling to witness increased intra-movement ethnic conflict among so-called black and white progressives. It appears that the racial cooperation that undergirded sixties activism is a relic of the past. Long gone are mutually beneficial relationships between groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party whose primary desire was bringing power to the people.

Unfortunately, such progressivism has yielded to a contemporary activist scene whose absence of historical literacy fuels a shockingly DALLAS PANTHERS 2unrefined xenophobic impulse that encourages their public articulation of political positions that are outrageously antagonistic to potential coalition partners. Things have gotten so bad among today’s descendants of white radicalism and the Black Power era that they have publicly vowed never to work with one another. This shocking position is counter-productive considering that they both realize that they are often facing the same enemy who gleefully exploits progressives’ disorganization to further their exploitation of America’s poor and working-class.

What an unfortunate moment in time that we exist within.

Despite the unwise posture of non-cooperation that so many Black Nationalist leaders and so-called white progressive groups have chosen, the historical record regarding the path to racial equality is evident; it takes black and white progressives alike to move this nation closer to racial justice.

A recent New Black Panther Party meeting provided voluminous clarity regarding the state of non-cooperation among radicals. I noticed that there was not a single white progressive present. I am certain that white radicals absence had as much to do with their shifting political priorities as it did with the bitter race-based hatred spewed from a roster of race-baiting orators featured at this event. The tone and tenor of the speeches blared that whites were neither welcome nor needed in either this latest expression of Black Nationalist politics or the achievement of racial equality.

I intently listened as these ‘brothers and sisters’ decked out in paramilitary gear ranted against whites via a host of colorful descriptors that would have shamed and embarrassed original Panther leaders such as Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale, and Assata Shakur.

I left this event with a gnawing feeling that every segment of today’s ‘Left’ is woefully ignorant of the coalition building that has always been crucial to progress on America’s racial frontier. The alluded to bpp-sdshistorical illiteracy not only compromises the activism of today’s leftists but also emboldens and strengthens their opponents. There is no doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is unaware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Peace and Freedom Party and Students for a Democratic Society for logical mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, their ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with those fighting against the same enemy curtails their activist impulses and delays the achievement of all goals. I am left wondering, are black and white ‘Leftists’ fighting for the same goals anymore? It is sad that such a question has to be presented, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to this mundane question.

Fight the Power

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016