Post or Pan Blackness?
We are living in a tragic, neo liberal age. The personification of Margaret Thatcher’s words, “There is no alternative” are now, more than ever, embedded within the public’s ability to perceive themselves as natural power. Those of us who have committed to the all encompassing struggle, through our voice, words, energy and expressions of resistance are always looking for public dissidents to confirm that we are not insane in the pursuit of liberation. The Black community is one of the most complex wings of this racial warzone. We have all types of “representatives” in every arena of power and protest and yet, in almost all of these cases; they represent the protection and life support of white power.
Most recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates has been crowned, unintentionally or not, the new radical voice of Black America. He claims to be shocked that white people take any interest in what he writes. His defenders echo the sentiment when they report that the white liberal audience he speaks out against – embraces him more deeply than ever. That’s nothing new. Despite all this, he has done nothing to outright condemn them for not “getting it” He’s not going to pull a Lauryn Hill. Coates wants us to believe he just does what he does and the prestige he has garnered wasn’t his intention. He claims to have been “radicalized” in the years of the Obama regime and that his expectations of white America are very low.
Whether Coates likes it or not, he is apart of the new wave of public Black figures like Melissa Harris Perry and Touré. A generation that has made academic as well as media “progress” they have been given seats on liberal corporate cable outlets in an attempt to showcase our respectability with a little edge. Genocide, Racism and the OPEN ways in which America carries such policies out has now become a “public discussion” which means being a progressive white liberal who wants “to talk” about race is fashionable. Being a veteran of the farce called Occupy Wall St is another form of street cred to talk about police brutality. We are in an age of celebrity activists who gain prestige for challenging nothing, who ride the crest of race debates and sell books that contain nothing nourishing.
America’s greatest contribution to “minorities” is the ability for it to have a discussion with us. Results? Western Praise. It has distracted us from action. So now we seek praise for our ability to talk as well as Barack. But like the march on Washington, it is a status symbol. It is all ego driven. It is Black Anglo Saxon individualism. More Results? The majority of Our youth, Our queer youth, Our youth of color, Our activists are like idiot savants – they know what they know for themselves and their problem and know nothing else. No discipline, no international thought, no knowledge of history – We fall for the trap over and over. Where are the uncompromising visionaries who worked outside the system? Better yet, where are the ones who, as James Baldwin did, use the system to beat the system?
I’ll tell you where and who they are. The ones who act and have to run because they have acted. I’m speaking about Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Those who were willing to give up their lives and liberty so that American citizens would know what an Orwellian nightmare we are indeed living in. How many people of color are currently in jail for such an act? I have more respect for the whistleblowers than Coates or Cornel West. This is a shame – for us.
Coates, Melissa Harris Perry and Touré are the descendants of Michael Dyson, Henry Louis Gates, Tavis Smiley and a host of other Black parasites that make white America feel safe, while educating them about the uniqueness of African American History. Where are Lerone Bennett, John Henrik Clarke, Cheikh Anta Diop ,Vine Deloria, Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Rodolfo F. Acuna? Where is J. Sakai? Where are the scholar activists who terrified the establishment? Not with shock value and propagandized truths like Umar Johnson but with TRUTH. Why doesn’t our youth know anything about them?
When Coates wrote his famous piece on reparations, he didn’t need to convince anyone but white liberals – AND HE DID. They couldn’t stop talking about it. Coates told us nothing that hadn’t been extensively documented and written more beautifully by Eric Williams or Benjamin Quarles. On that note – Kendrick Lamar has done nothing that hasn’t been done more powerful by Saul Williams, Chuck D, The Last Poets or Tupac. My fight with Coates is primarily about his apathy, his image – the lone black wolf who simply writes what he sees. Nobody quite understands this black phenomenon that is the heir to our artist saint – James Baldwin.
My fight is also with the idea of America has of Blackness. Blackness, Liberation and Transcendence. Are Black writers essential in America? YES. Are Black Spokespeople, especially spokespeople, endorsed by white America essential?
Post Blackness is a dirty myth. We need to redefine the idea of Spiritual Blackness. We need artists, activists and thinkers with vision who see beyond America’s definition of blackness. To accept what they have invested you with is to accept the oppressor’s terms of negotiation for your freedom. Look no further than Greece to see the results. We need thinkers and artists whose foreground is the excavations of our respective cultures so that we may all heal and ascend but we must never be too far removed from that international bridge of solidarity.
We need solidarity. Solidarity against empire. Solidarity with our respective achievements and civilizations. Solidarity amongst the oppressed. Solidarity against the disease of whiteness. We need to nurse our knowledge of our brothers and sisters world over. We need power. We need to recognize the natural, earth feeding power we are connected to. We need to understand the power of Cosmic Blackness. The ancient life force from which truth descends unto us. This is the universal origin and the way we will find our way home. This is the spiritual foundation on which our world solidarity with the oppressed should be based on. POWER? Black Power. Trans Power. Queer Power. Red Power. Undocumented Power. Brown Power. Street Youth Power. Sex Worker Power. Yellow Power.
America killed Fred Hampton but it has absorbed, with love and clarity – Ta-Nehisi Coates.