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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hope, Naivete, or Desperation?

While watching the debate last night, I tried not to get distracted by trivial things the way I usually do with these things, such as what was going on with the candidates lips (seriously, did Obama not have a razor within a mile radius before this important debate? Why were McCain's looking all coral lipstick-y?).

But I digress.

I was in a particularly political/militant mode yesterday, as before the debate I rewatched "Black August", the story of imprisoned Black Panther leader George Jackson. For those of you who don't know, in the 70's George Jackson was the boyfriend of Black Panther activist Angela Davis, and was sent to prison for 1 year to life for robbing a gas station of $70. While in prison he formed an offshooot Black Panther unit (The Black Guerillas); 3 of his comrades were killed by a guard in cold blood, and the guard got off scott-free. When the guard was murdered, George was one of the suspected. This, coupled with his Panther beliefs, subjected him to a heinous life of torture within the prison walls, until he couldn't take it anymore and organized a mutiny--in which he was shot and killed. His sixteen year old brother was shot and killed beforehand by taking a judge hostage to get George freed.

I have made the synopsis of his story very simplistic for the purpose of this post, as he was a complex man and the effects of his life are still being felt today, as it was with me yesterday. Gary Dourdan as George Jackson did an amazing job of showing that throughout American history, if you were/are an intelligent Black man that stands up for your rights, there was/is hell to pay.

It saddens me that the younger people of today (not all of them mind you) seem to have zero idea of the struggles we had even in the 70's (and George was in his 20's), much less what was going on during slavery. The simulated sex at parties, quests for Gucci, Prada, and other assorted junk--rims, weaves and the latest sneakers and cell phones are of the highest order of the day. It is so directionless, tragic, and amazing in it's cocooned ignorance. I try to laugh to keep from crying sometimes, but the shit is SO not funny. For example, a post I read on The Field Negro:

Scranton Pennsylvania ain't exactly field Negro country, if you get my drift. So I wasn't exactly surprised to hear that the good folks in Scranton were calling for the head of the skinny Negro with the funny name. "Kill Him" , one enthusiastic supporter shouted, while Congressional candidate, Chris Hackett, fired up the crowd. Oh, did I mention that this was once again a Sarah Palin rally? Well I didn't. But if you have been following these elections like I have, you would know that I didn't have to. Because I am sure you knew exactly who the guest of honor was.

Honestly, who are these people? Do they just follow Sarah around like "dead heads" or some shit? The Sarah Palin Hate Tour coming to a small back water town near you. And why didn't anyone in the crowd call out this guy? Why didn't Chris Hackett, who should know better, and who is running for Congress for crying out loud, rebuke the guy? Seriously folks; this stuff is not funny. These people aren't too smart, and if you keep telling them enough, they will really try to hurt that uppity Negro. Take that nigger, how is that for change? Since you are supposed to be the second coming, let me see you rise from the dead. Your dead ass is the only change that we all can believe in. We have god on our side , so we will go to heaven after we kill your ass.

Yes, so definitely not funny. And yet when Obama spoke up about why at these rallies people were screaming "kill him", (which I was surprised he actually brought up--he's usually above it) McCain is like "boy, how dare you insult my people? I will not sit hear and listen to these insults" WTF? Not once addressing that it was actually said. If they were saying that about McCain at an Obama rally, they would have brought that shit back to the 50's, straight up, with dogs, and hoses, and teargas, and billyclubs, and pepper spray, and if it got too hot, bullets.

And so it goes. I am hoping with all of my heart that this election is the last true bastion of unashamed racism. Am I just being naive in that hope, cause as George Jackson said (paraphrasing) "every time we we give them the benefit of the doubt, the Fascists always stay true to who they are" ? Which is to say, it may just be inherent in some circles to stay the same, no matter what is going on in the rest of the world--there will always, always be someone to carry on the torch. I hope (again) that's not true.

I'm also hoping (again) that if Obama wins this election, it will be an awakening to those who don't know anything about George Jackson, and couldn't care less. Maybe they can see the beauty, the real beauty of being Black, which is also the beauty of being just a human, something that a lot of the times we aren't allowed to do.

As one who has received great amounts of hostility for NOT being ashamed of my blackness in any way, where I've lived, where I've worked, where I've gone to school, and sometimes being covertly (or overtly) punished for it, I see this as the first step in the direction of well deserved respect in an Obama win. Yes, I have respect for myself, and yes, I respect others, and I want everyone to treat me with that same respect. People would be more hard pressed to lynch/taser someone to death someone if our president is Black. I would like to think.

My fate has been sealed for a long time. My great, great grandfather was born a slave, and I am not an old person. When I had a baby, I had my six week old son in a front carrier on my breast. A BART policeman accosted me when I got out of the car, and when I had the audacity to ask him what he wanted and what I had supposedly done, he twisted my arm behind my back and slammed me on the hood of the car, with my 6 week old baby under me. When I went bananas, I was arrested and taken to jail; they took my breastfed son away through child protective services, and it took me days to get him back. The cop had to cover up and lied and said I assaulted him--I had to got to court 4 times because I would not say I was guilty, though they tried to scare me into saying it. They dropped that charge, but till this day, I have no idea why that BART cop rolled up on me, and to my knowledge he was never punished.

I knew the pain of what my ancestors felt when their children were stolen away from them. Until you feel that pain of complete and total injustice, you can actually listen to a bullshit artist like McCain, and a potentially dangerous airhead like Palin. Me? They make my ears bleed. My experiences are why I'm a Malcolm X and not a MLK, and why I am a George Jackson and not a Barack Obama. There are those of us that know our fate--that if it all goes down, you will be on the front line, full force, no questions asked. There's nothing in you that will allow for anything else.

I am hoping (again) that it never comes down to that, because Obama is our MLK--yes, it's cliched, but he is our hope, what George Jackson was longing to see in his lifetime. If he was able to have that hope, he might not have died, just as our brothers are dying in the streets by their brother's hand. Maybe his winning will heal some of our hurts, give us more pride, make us remember the struggles and sacrifices that were made by our people in the last century to get to this point, and make no one ashamed of their Blackness anymore.

I hope.

to read more about george jackson, click here


Bonez said...

I had the same reaction you did whenever McCain said that in defense of "his people" and tried to verbally paint them as patriotic bastions of society. WTF?!? The shit I've seen and heard would have had most of those same patriotic bastion bastards and trailer park trash in cuffs with their faces on the pavement if they had screamed them at McCain. Seriously, isn't that considered terroristic threat or a death threat to a presidential candidate? It is sickening and serves no purpose except to create more confusion and misunderstandings. I am proud of Barack Obama and what he and his family are undertaking in becoming the next President of the United States. Keep in mind that not only the Black Community will take pride in his election and the message that sends to the World at large.

Anonymous said...

Preach I.W. You know I'm with you all the way!

As Election Day draws closer, I will not be surprised to see violent outbreaks in certain central and southern parts of the country, because I'm guessing that the kinds of coded, hate-filled speeches we've seen from the McCain/Palin camp, and their right-wing sound-boxes, will only intensify in frequency and virulence, all out of frustration. After all, Karl Rove is on their team, and we saw what he did for Bush in 2000.

All it takes is for one unstable nut to decide that he’s entitled to act on his blind hatred, masked as nationalism. Maybe not even necessarily an unstable nut.

I’m not trying to engender fear, but I’m concerned by what I’ve seen and heard in the last few weeks, coming from the conservatives. This win-at-any-cost strategy is truly disturbing, and incredibly sad.

Encouraging divisiveness across racial lines is dangerous, especially for a country already seething with xenophobia. How blind can they be to this? Unless that is indeed what they want - a race war. The only kind of prophecies that worry me are those that are self-fulfilling.

clnmike said...

I hope the Secret Service is taking down names.

Qadree said...

Politics is something that I'm never optimistic about. If you haven't seen Negroes with Guns or read the book I would definitely recommend it.

Many people don't realize why most of the non-violent activists in civil rights movement chose the path that they did. The mainstream movement relied on money from people that had ulterior motives and if you did something that conflicted with their motives they yanked the rug out from under you. This is still the situation today.

The Rob Williams story, Negroes with Guns, demonstrates this very well. Unfortunately, many of the activists and black celebrities saw their first chance to get some real money on a regular basis during the movement and they've been singing for the king (almighty dollar) ever since. We have to look at what the ulterior motives were to understand the current state of popular culture, politics, and race as it exists today.

I went to a screening of The Spook Who Sat by the Door and had a chance to talk to Sam Greenlee while I was there. He was talking about how all of the black people i the movement that actually wanted real control were cut out of the financial loop and all of the other people are making six figures now. I believe he has a masters degree, but he hasn't been able to get real work or funding for any of his projects since he made that film. None of the wealthy people from the movement have helped him out.

In a nutshell, don't get your hopes up with regard to Obama. He can change some things, but the ignorance that exists in the country isn't one of them. There are three options as far as I'm concerned. You can either be like the average person and accept this as the way of the world and live out your years just going with the flow, you can formulate a comprehensive plan to change things and start moving on it, or you can just try to make money so you can buy an island or a big house somewhere and just forget about whats going on.

Marvalus said...

I hope too, IW...

Thembi Ford said...

Great post, your writing is awesome...last thing I expected to read with a Gary Dourdan photo as an opener!

Lenoxave said...

IW - I have no words for what you went through w/your baby. I have always taken unapologetic pride in being Black and that is an issue for some. Glad to see Dourdan in this role and thank you for sharing so much of yourself in this post.

Camille Acey said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. It really pleases me to see someone bringing up the radical black element at a time like this. Every time I try to bring it up in any conversation I am hushed down as the element that dare not speak its name lest we ruin Obama's chances.

Thank you for reminding us that black people are the product of and continue to be the victim of daily humiliation and violence. Thank you for reminding us that racism and racist violence is still alive and well. And thank you for reminding us that we come from a heritage of fighters. I know we have more fight in us!

I will have to find this movie. I used to volunteer in the college program at San Quentin Prison and George Jackson was a BIG hero for a lot of the dudes (black, latino, even asian) there, and I am always sad that I don't hear people on this side of the wall talking about him.

Anonymous said...

I know what what to say in response to your magnificent post other than "RIGHT ON!"

Invisible Woman said...

@Tony: hi there--it is so nice to see you come around :-) yes, you are right of course; i knew obama was a victory for everyone when i saw so many "obama 08" signs all across TX...i never imagined i'd see that. maybe the world will like us again if he wins...

when the klan is ready to endorse a black man, it is time to take a close look at your campaign if you are the opponent, haha.

@wuexplode: i completely agree with everything you've said, as usual, and i love the way you say it, as usual.

@clmmike: hopefully you don't mean me!

@qadree: thanks for the info on the movie---i'm going to look that up today :-)

@ms. m: i almost feel sorry for O--folks are expecting so much from him....

Invisible Woman said...

@thembi: thanks girl--i guess that did kinda come outta there from nowhere, yes?

@sdg1844: thanks for you kind words...i had no words either for a long time--until just recently i could barely even think about it. it was catharic in a way to write about it. stay strong sista! haha

@camille: thank you so much for sharing that with me. it was so wonderful to hear/read.

Your blog is wonderful too--i am going to add it to my blogroll later today; you are an amazing energy :-)

@sergio: thank you my kindred film spirit--that is a big compliment coming from you ;-)

Karen said...

It's sad. It really is. I was browsing YouTube and was completely disturbed by some of the things some white people said. I could sense the rage and racism and sometimes it was quote blatant. As a biracial person I just don't get how some people can still act that way. Will there ever be a time when racial issues won't make our society squirm in their seats because a topic is too intense for them? The only time I feel a true unity among all people is when I'm in church, in those unguarded moments when we take the focus off ourselves and place our attention on God and the love we're supposed to be giving.

Unknown said...

Hope and optimism are a MUST today. Time and social shifts have changed how many people in America see race, but we can't forget that some people simply developed a more sophisticated style of racism. I love the in-your-face scaremongering because it's easy to identify. The "smile through my hatred/tolerant guy" racism here is for the birds. The direct racism forces people to look within, to see what they have in common with the nutcase, to drop that outlook like a hot potato. How we view race and how we treat each other in this country has become an important subject again, and I couldn't be happier.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry you had to experience such pain with your newborn, getting jacked like that...

What's so amazing to me is all the whites who are suddenly "clear" on how racist this country is, the same folk who last year were telling me to get a grip when I pointed this fact that they LOVE Obama they allegedly see with new eyes...yeah right..((HUGS))
....just me...daez

Invisible Woman said...

@solshine; tho i am so aware it's out there, i still get shook witnessing it. you are blessed to find places where people are true christians, and not hypocrites supposedly "acting in God's name"

@newblackman: very well said! i have always said that i am glad when famous and non-famous people make these statements during this election--it is like turning on the lights and seeing all the roaches. and yes, we have to stay hopeful, or we're dead inside and out.

@daez: thank you for you sympathy--see my comment above this one. now the naive and those in denial can finally see!