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