By Larry Pinkney | Guest Commentator
The Black Commentator: 19 April, 2007 -- Issue # 226
We are well into the 21st century and it continues to be absolutely essential to be Black in America. Beyond mere color, being Black is first and foremost a conscious political, social, and economic commitment to the struggle for the collective betterment of the descendants of the Black slavery holocaust, in what has now become the United States of America, in conjunction with other people of color and humanity as a whole.
(MG) The imperialist project, implemented so effectively by the British Empire, has been taken up by the U.S. which has over 750 military bases in 150 countries all over the globe. If 150 countries from all over the globe had 750 military bases in the U.S., one might call it quid pro quo. How many thumbs does one need to count the number of foreign military bases in the U.S.
Indeed, to be Black is not only to be physically of a certain hue, but just as importantly--to be consciously of a certain mental hue--from what some have called 'high yellow' to deep, dark, rich blue-Black. Blackness is, in fact, not only a rainbow of color but also a rainbow of active consciousness and commitment. To be Black is to be socially and politically conscious, as the late and incomparable artist-activist, lyricist, and singer Curtis Mayfield poignantly stated it in his powerful song entitled, "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue"..."Now I know we have great respect./For the sister and mother it's even better yet./But there's the joker in the street/loving one brother and killing the other./When the time comes and we are really free/there'll be no brothers left you see..." In other words, Blackness in its truest sense means consciousness, and more to the point, an active consciousness. Thus the term 'Black consciousness.'
In 21st century America, other than perception, very little of real substance has changed for the better in the daily lives of the vast majority of Black people and other people of color. In fact, Black people are incarcerated at a higher rate than ever before in US history, and far too many of the hard-won gains of the so-called "civil rights movement" have been eroded, outright reversed, or otherwise nullified, for the majority of Black men, women, and children in America. Moreover, Black youth in particular are under sustained intense social, economic, and cultural assault on virtually every level of American society. The reality of Black life in America--has been insidiously and deliberately replaced in the US media and institutions--by illusion, which in fact has little or nothing to do with the increasingly deplorable conditions in, of, and under which the masses of Black people really exist today in America. To paraphrase the words of Malcolm X, "Wrong has become right and bad has become good..." Today, it is illusion that is touted as if it is reality, while reality itself is expeditiously discarded.
(MG) "illusion .. is touted as if it is reality, while reality itself is expeditiously discarded."
Examples of this abound. the cheney sock-puppet continues to spout babble - "if we leave Iraq, the terrorists win" ... "mission accomplished" ... Ron Suskind writing in the New York Times quotes an unnamed source as saying "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." .... It's a mindset that can be explained only by its complete and utter faith in its ability to use propaganda to fool most of the people, all of the time.
To be Black means a conscious recognition of reality for what it really is, so that it can forthrightly be addressed, not dooming ourselves and our posterity to ultimate oblivion and historical ignominy by playing go-along-to-get-along ostriches. Being consciously Black means choosing reality over illusion. One of the most potent mainstays of racist oppression in America, is deluding ourselves to succumb to illusion. For example, as in the case of the US Presidential aspirations of Barack Obama as they relate to Black America; to be Black means choosing reality--versus perception and disastrous illusion. As former Oakland (CA) City Council Member, Wilson Riles, recently and correctly wrote:
The US would not be a racist nation if those on top didn't want it that way. No matter how close Obama comes to the Presidency, racism will not shift significantly. The Perception of it will, making the struggle against it more difficult... That Barack has a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas has little relevance... Obama has signaled where he stands--he passed the powers-that-be vetting. For example, he took neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman as his Senate mentor, voted to re-authorize the PATRIOT Act, blames concentrated black poverty on "cultural issues" and not on white supremacy, and he favors keeping troops in Iraq and keeping the bombing of Iran "on the table." Obama is not the one.
To be Black, demands active consciousness and rejects lethargy.
(MG) To be HUMAN, to be MUSLIM, to be CHRISTIAN demands an active consciousness and a rejection of lethargy. To be Black, in the sense that Larry Pickney is describing here is to be a fully actualized human being, with deep concerns for ones brothers and sisters, especially those of lower estate.
To be Black is to recognize the controlling distinction between some (not all) personally misguided and corporately manipulated rap and/or hip hop artists--versus the outright traitors to humanity--such as Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice, et al. Blackness recognizes the unassailable beauty, potential, intelligence, and achievements of our young Black women and men--whether they are playing basketball for Rutgers or some other university--or simply walking past us down the street.
(MG) The integrity of BC magazine in calling Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice outright traitors to humanity isn't merely refreshing. It's renewing and affirming. Integrity is as integrity does.
Black, Red, and Brown peoples--both young and old alike--in America, perhaps more than any other group of people in this nation, collectively know the utter horror and enormous pain of having violence constantly thrust upon us and our loved ones; and so it is that we sense the recent tragic and terrible events on the campus of Virginia Tech. Not surprisingly, however, conscious Black people are also painfully aware of the almost total absence on the part the US so-called news media in drawing the connections between the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech, the proliferation and increasing accessibility to guns inside the US, and America's own role in perpetrating and perpetuating the daily violent horrors experienced by the people of Iraq, Haiti, Palestine, and so many other places on this planet.
(MG) To the Black, Red, and Brown peoples in America, I would add the poor, the beggars, the homeless ... these too have come to know the fiction of the American dream. Try falling asleep on a bench waiting for a train in Union Station in Chicago. The police will come and tell you to get up and move on. Don't want no homeless in the train station. There are tourists, and the homeless might leave an accurate impression.
To be Black in this context is to be conscious, and conscious people, regardless of color, know that the only effective way to address the terrible ruthlessness acted-out, within the borders of this nation, is simultaneously to address and stop the bloody carnage being inflicted by America upon the rest of the world. Again it must be said:
To be Black demands active consciousness and rejects lethargy.
To be Black in America is not a burden; it is a wondrous and unflinching necessity.
(MG) to be black is to be beautiful. Thank you Larry Pinkney for your insightful article.