A nigga moment is when ignorance overwhelms the mind of an average male. To put it plainly, they act like niggas…one of the common misconceptions is that it can be avoided by avoiding every nigga. But niggas are crafty, they will find you. They are always around the corner.
October 15th was the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. It should have been an exhilarating time for me as I have spent the better portion of my life researching, studying, and writing about the Vanguard organization of not only the 1960s Black Power Era, but also the general American protest scene.
In many ways, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was the most significant hope for this nation to deal with its foremost, seemingly intractable maladies such as: racism, police brutality, inter-racial conflict/discord, and a predatory Capitalism that demanded that all Americans view one another as potential prey. Put simply, the genius of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s organization was that it provided hope to a suffering Black community and injected hope for a nation that had turned in on itself.
I planned to be in Oakland, California, participating in the official 50th Anniversary Celebration and why shouldn’t I? I had finally released my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and considered it an honor to have been invited to speak at the event; however, I soon learned that due to circumstances beyond my control, I would not be in Oakland. The word disappointed does not begin to describe how I felt.
Although I believe that everything happens for a reason, this injustice of not being present for the 50th Anniversary, and yes I do consider it an injustice, was beyond my comprehension. Optimistic friends rationalized that God must have something else for you to do for ‘the movement’ at this moment.
Such reasoning seemed to actually be sound after I received an invite from a local group that was seeking to celebrate the Panthers 50th Anniversary at a local park in Houston, Texas. With my trip to Oakland shot to bits, I decided to join the celebration; I rationalized that although it is not the official celebration, maybe I can still do some good by working to uplift a few minds locally.
Let me say that the organizers for this venue and the roster of speakers, the vast majority of whom were members of Khalid Abdul Muhammad’s ‘New Black Panther Party’, were an impressive group of orators who simultaneously inspired and provided much needed information for those who ventured to the park on this 90 degree day. I was provided the honor of being scheduled as the event’s final speaker.
As the event reached its apex, meaning during my address, a group of African-American men of various ages entered the basketball court area where the celebration was occurring, after a few moments of listening, they began dribbling basketballs in unison. This intentional attempt at disrupting the program was not only noticed, but also addressed by those assembled for the celebration.
Recognizing that their petty attempt at disrupting the program was failing, these fools raised their antics to another level by launching basketballs that invariably clanged off of the rim and made an unbelievably loud sound. As one could expect, the request from those who were assembled for the event for the disruptors to wait until our event was concluded prior to dribbling and shooting baskets, was met with a crescendo of ignorance.
“Man, fuck that Black Power bullshit. You niggas ain’t talking about shit.”
Another chimed in with, “Uplifting the community? What that even mean? I’m here to play some ball. We play everyday at 4:00.”
As if things could not get any worse, an individual who was present for the Panther celebration grabbed an errant basketball and threw it into the parking lot, causing one particular loudmouth rabble-rouser to state,
“Nigga is you fucking crazy? If you don’t go over there and get that ball, the revolution is going to start with me shooting a couple of you revolutionary ass niggas.”
As I am certain that you can imagine, things spiraled further out of control when both groups began yelling at one another regarding the others presence.
One particular ‘brother’ related,
“You niggas don’t understand, I don’t give a fuck about no Black shit, so y’all had better watuzi your Black Power asses up out of here or its about to be on right here, right now.”
Before long, the Panther celebration disassembled and these fools began playing basketball. As I drove away from the venue, I could not help but think about what it all meant.
What does it mean when a segment of ‘our people’ see no value in honoring their own?
What does it mean when a segment of ‘our people’ see no value in Black life?
Does it mean that they are actually not ‘our people’?
One thing is for certain, I hate that I didn’t make it to Oakland, because I never imagined that I would experience a ‘nigga moment’ at any celebration surrounding the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.
I pray that Huey, Lil’ Bobby, Eldridge, Chairman Fred, and Mark Clark are resting in peace, because the antics of these nigga’s proves that they were not worth dying for.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016