Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The intended consequence of white supremacist-manufactured "symbolism?" -- our continued blissful ignorance

I can understand how "symbols" inspire many of us to aspire -- not only when what seems to be their deeply held truths appear to mirror our own, but particularly when they look like us!  But, once we see, by their deeds, that we've been staring "through a glass darkly," shouldn't blissful ignorance be kicked to the curb in search of some real truth?  Doesn't our successful survival as human beings depend upon it?
With most of the present sources of power controlled by the white race it behooves my race as well as the other subject races to learn the wisdom of the weak and to develop to the fullest that organ whereby weakness has been able to overcome strength; namely, the intellect.  It is not with our teeth that we will tear the white man out of our ancestral land.  It isn't with our jaws that we can wring from his hands consideration and respect.  It must be done by the upper and not by the lower parts of our heads.  Therefore, I have insisted ever since my entry into the arena of racial discussion that we Negroes must take to reading, study and the development of intelligence as we have never done before.  In this respect we must pattern ourselves after the Japanese who have gone to school to Europe but had never used Europe's education to make them the apes of Europe's culture.  They have absorbed, adopted transformed and utilized, and we Negroes must do the same.  The three editorials in this chapter and the articles which follows them were written to indicate from time to time the duty of the transplanted African in this respect. (emphasis mine)

Hubert Henry Harrison,  Chapter VIII. -- "When Africa Awakes"
Please read this book, Family.  Its mere 146 pages are chock-full of the kind of clarity we need to hear and heed.  And please, know that his reference to "Africa" in the title is not restricted to the Continent itself, but to the diaspora worldwide.  It was through Pan-Africanism that he saw us defeating white supremacy and benefitting from that struggle.   First published in 1920, Mr. Harrison's book was not only prescient, it is still very relevant today (though I'm certain he'd be sorely disappointed with many of us -- "New Negroes," for whom he held out such promise).

For the past month or so, I've been ruminating about Madiba's death, memorial service, interment and dedication of his statue in South Africa the day after.  Combined, they all totally reinforced for me, how white supremacist-manufactured "symbolism" continues to cripple many of us, Black folk across the diaspora.

If the ANC's 1955 Freedom Charter (demanding the nationalizing of banks, mining and other major industries, as well as the redistribution of land, among other things) had not been abandoned and, had they told the IMF, "Thanks, but no thanks, we don't need your loan money.  We've got gold, diamonds as well as plenty of those pesky rare earth minerals that YOU seem to need so much right here under our feet!  So, how 'bout let's talk some contract renegotiations m'kay?" -- I think we can all agree, the marginalized in South Africa would've been able to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" a long time ago!

John Pilger's, "Apartheid Did Not Die" deals with that inconvenient truth most effectively.  Take a listen:



After reading Ezili Dantò's most comprehensive, Madiba Is Dead: Condolences To Heroic Mother Winnie, I was more than good with my ruminations (Family, please take the time to read the entire piece, as well as the links).  She begins:
Now that Madiba is dead: Remember to remember that icons created by oppressors will never liberate the people. Madiba is dead: Condolences to heroic mother Winnie. (emphasis mine)
This is a sentiment with which I totally agree.  And it, consequently, represents an excellent example of that "white supremacist-manufactured symbolism" that's still confusing us.  According to them:  pre-prison, resistance warrior, Nelson Mandela, bad; post-27 years imprisoned, compliant Nelson Mandela -- good; pre- and post-prison, resistance warrior, Winnie Mandela?  All bad.

Ms. Dantò continues:
Since Mandela’s death, the same international powers that keep the structural conditions alive for Black suffering worldwide, are universally heralding the man and his great achievements. The same corporatocracy who helped keep South Africa and the global South in economic chains and political instability to increase their money-making profits, are lining up to have their pictures taken at the funeral. (emphasis mine)


Really, Family -- you just can't make this shit up!  

And rather than Black bloggers reaching back to the "temple of their familiar," knowing that in our culture, a funeral service is a solemn showing of respect for a life lived (after the wake, of course!),  there was a plethora of these kinds of pieces, mimicking the narrative of the oppressors.  Apparently, cultural amnesia has replaced what we know to be true -- for us.

I've not written much about Michelle Obama because early on, it was quite clear to me that she'd been reigned in and allowed herself to be made into the kind of "symbol" with which white supremacy is most comfortable.  But, the photo above speaks volumes -- not only about "from whence she came," but about her damned husband as a White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchal lemming as well.  Given his "selfie," it's obvious he never had a clue what our Blackness is, and has been, about.   He's just another one of those pieces of white supremacist-manufactured "symbolism" we really could have  done without. If we're honest (with ourselves and others), the answer to the question Ms. Dantò asks here...
Is putting a Black face in command of the same racist, profit-over-people economic system – as with President Barack Obama in the US – a great change? (emphasis mine)
...is an unequivocal, "absolutely not!"
“Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people’s terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.”

Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker
To my mind, having "lived bravely," must always involve telling the whole truth (to one's self as well as others), owning one's fears and muddling through to clarity -- despite them.  As I ponder young Sister Danticat's words, I wonder if Madiba did, in fact, lose his life on his own terms.  Thanks to the non-stop white-washing, I guess we'll never really know.

As I write this today --  on Martin Luther King Day -- I would be remiss in not mentioning white supremacy's machinations of Dr. King's "symbolism."  I've been pensive about it all day.  It seems to me that Dr. King was Black America's own, pre-prison Mandela (though he was not technically imprisoned in America for 27 years).  Instead of breaking him with jail, forcing him to finally disavow all for which he'd fought -- they killed him.  Perhaps they concluded that, no matter what they put him through (unlike the Changeling), they could not turn him against the interests of his people.

White supremacy has done everything they can -- to manufacture a Dr. King with whom they can feel comfortable -- and in some ways, we have been and continue to be, complicit in their success. If I hear one more, "content of their character" quote manipulation and misappropriation, I think my damned head will just explode!

While he was alive, they maligned, demeaned and castigated him for standing up for his people, his culture and what he believed was right -- and human.  After he died, they felt it their right and privilege to do whatever they wished with his memory, like they could, and can, still "own" people.

And just so other folk of color didn't get it twisted, they made certain to spread the bigotry around for those, thirsty to indulge in the "American Nightmare Dream."  Last week, my youngest called me as he was getting ready for work to say (trust me, I was not happy when he called because  I rarely "rise and shine" at that hour!), "Mom, I was watching the news and the weather guy came on and said, "for Martin Luther Coon Day, we expect it to warm up..."  I asked, "You sure he said that?" (the weather guy is a community-accepted, white supremacy-stamped -- descendant of Mexican immigrants!)

He said, "Yeah Mom, he said it.  My friend, Charlotte Redd recorded it on her phone from the TV and sent it to me."  Without a thought, I blurted out, "See, that's why I don't f*ck with Mexicans who think they're white -- send me that video so I can post it!"  He did, but my non-computer wonk self couldn't figure out how to convert it to a Youtube video so I could post it, so here's the article where the station insufficiently addressed it:  San Antonio weatherman says MLK slur was mistake.

Please!  I could give two shits about their, or his, bullshit apology.  Seems he thinks his white benefactors at Fox don't think something equally derogative about him (and his other Brown brethren crossing over the Rio Grande into the belly of the beast).  Let me just say, he's still at work.  Without a doubt, his thought processes benefit white supremacy immensely.

I'm ending this saying that, despite my disagreements with Dr. King's "respectability politics" -- I will always love him.  Why?  Because I've never doubted that he always stood -- and died -- for us.  And the struggle continues, Family...

Related:
- Cameron explains selfie at Mandela memorial
- South Africa: Mandela Is Dead - Why Hide the Truth About Apartheid?
- When Martin Luther King Jr. gave up his guns
- How we get Dr. King wrong: “We’ve deliberately dismembered him,” Michael Eric Dyson tells Salon
- The Martin Luther King Jr. They Don’t Want You to Remember

15 comments:

nomad said...

Da-amn! "Martin Luther Coon Day" in San Antonio. Unbelievable.
aislec.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3424&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

Carolyn Moon said...

"I'm ending this saying that, despite my disagreements with Dr. King's "respectability politics" -- I will always love him. Why? Because I've never doubted that he always stood -- and died -- for us. And the struggle continues, Family..."

Hi Deb...I so agree with your conclusion. Peace....

Deb said...

nomad...Hey Man! How you doing?? How's the health? Much better I hope.
"Da-amn! "Martin Luther Coon Day" in San Antonio. Unbelievable."

I know right??? Trust me though, there's plenty "unbelievable" shit like that going on -- still. I'm just tired, Man, really, really tired.

Hey, I like Aisle C a lot! Take care of yourself...

Sis Carolyn...Hey there! I just answered your comment on the last post. I'm telling you, with each passing year as I watch the "misleadership class" concern themselves most with prestige and lining their own pockets instead of with the people, my soul remembers how devoted Dr. King was to us. I feel privileged to have been born when I was, to have been able to see and experience that kind of dedication and love as we struggled through it. It just doesn't exist today.

I tell you, I don't know what kind of world our children, and their children will live in if things keep going the way they're going.

Peace back atcha...

jblu74 said...

Greetings, Deb! Your thoughts on the manufactured symbolism that clouds our historical and present day perspectives, I find sobering.

Just the other day the local public radio show was airing an all day tribute of speeches and commentary for Dr. King and a caller made an attempt to analyze the failed legacy of King as it related to the contradictory stance taken by none other than "The Changeling". I thought this particular caller was going in the right direction and adding meat to a discussion that seemed awkwardly lite on substance. However, no sooner had the caller made his critical (and relevant) remarks about "our" President than one of the hosts jumps in on the defense with the ole "baby steps, brotha" and "first we have to get there, then we can slowly make a change" rhetoric. The caller was swiftly disconnected. The symbolisms that misshape our realities can be dangerous indeed. Dr.King certainly understood reconciliation and appeasement symbolism when he acknowledged, "We’ve fought long for integration. It looks like we’re gonna get it. I think we’ll get the laws,” he says. “But I’m afraid that I’ve come upon something that I don’t know quite what to do with. I’m afraid that we’re integrating into a burning house.”

On Hubert Henry Harrison, I was not aware but I have since ordered the recommended title.

On Pilger's Apartheid Did Not Die, thanks for sharing. I have grown weary of the rhetoric (and hypocrisy) of change. So much to do...

As always, peace.

Carolyn Moon said...

"We’ve fought long for integration. It looks like we’re gonna get it. I think we’ll get the laws,” he says. “But I’m afraid that I’ve come upon something that I don’t know quite what to do with. I’m afraid that we’re integrating into a burning house.”"

The above quote you featured in your response is one of my favorite quotes that I also listed on my MLK tribute post.

Also the quote, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." is a favorite of mine.

Deb said...

jblu74...Hey, there! Hope all is well with you.

"Your thoughts on the manufactured symbolism that clouds our historical and present day perspectives, I find sobering. "

Thanks, methinks "sobering" is good -- wish others of us would feel that way.

"However, no sooner had the caller made his critical (and relevant) remarks about "our" President than one of the hosts jumps in on the defense with the ole "baby steps, brotha" and "first we have to get there, then we can slowly make a change" rhetoric."

Sounds like a Tom Joyner move. {smdh} I tell you, not only am I tired of white supremacists -- I'm tired of us! I gotta channel Dr. King right now and ask, "HOW LONG?? I'm 57 damned years old and I know I'm tired of waiting! That is such a perfect example of that manufactured symbolism Sister! And yes, the opiate that is the "Changeling" is, and continues to be very dangerous for us -- as planned.{smdh}

"Dr.King certainly understood reconciliation and appeasement symbolism...

Yeah he did! It never ceases to amaze me how young and compassionate this man was -- how absolutely brilliant and deep his mind was! He was only 39 when he died! I don't know about you, but I've not seen ANY 39 year-old Black men today with those qualities who are willing to use them as he did -- NONE!

I hope you like Harrison's book, I certainly did. The introduction, written Dr. John Henrik Clarke, offers a wonderful explanation of exactly who Hubert Henry Harrison was, and how hard he tried to educate Black folk about what was really going on, not only in America -- but the world (another brilliant young, Brother -- he died at 44). Harrison connects the dots between America and the rest of the world in a way that made me wish I'd long ago learned even half of what he was sharing!

As for Pilger, I stumbled upon a link to one of his pieces awhile back on a Glen Ford post over at Black Agenda Report. I went to his site and so appreciated learning about Australia's treatment of the aboriginal people (something Oprah predictably ignored when she did her show over there not long ago), I linked to him on my blog. Check him out sometime, there's a wealth of information there that we will never get on this side of the pond.

You are so right, Sis -- there's so much to do!

Peace right back atcha and good to "see" you! again.

Deb said...

Sis Carolyn...It's one of my favorites too! Watched Tavis Smiley's show tonight and he had Harry Belafonte on talking about that exact conversation! There were other folks on too but whenever I think of Dr. King, I always think of the friendship he shared with Harry Belafonte.

""The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

I'm thinking this one is running a close second in my book as well!

Peace...

Carolyn Moon said...

Just stopped by to wish you a Happy Love Day..Sis Deb. Peace and joy to you and yours! Sis Carolyn

Deb said...

Sis Carolyn...Hey Darlin'! Happy Love Day right back atcha!!

Thanx so much for checkin' in on me!

I've been on the road, cross-country, for the last three weeks (ice and all!), trying to get SOME of my shit together for this move to SC (it's been hectic to say the least!). I've got a helluva post rollin' around in my head that I hope to post in the next few days -- stay tuned!! :-D

Peace and joy to you and yours as well, Sis. We'll talk soon -- I'm sure...

Carolyn Moon said...

Sis Deb, you know I'll stay tuned!! I'm glad you had safe travels and I trust your move to SC will be less hectic than your cross-country experience. Take care.... :-)

nomad said...

In case you missed it: aislec.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/woman-killed-during-dc-chase-was-shot-five-times-from-behind-autopsy-shows/

at least once in the head. Barbarism in broad daylight at the nation's capitol.

Deb said...

Hey 'Mad!...How you doing?? Taking care of yourself, I hope. Apologize for the radio silence but I have been, and still am on the road, trying to get my shit together, Man.

I didn't miss it. As a matter of fact, It'll be in my hopefully, soon-to-be-published "Road trip Ruminations" as soon as I can get my shit together and write it!

There's plenty of "barbarism in broad daylight at the nation's capitol," my Brother -- all while the Changeling holds court in this supposedly "post-racial" nation (damned insecure, megalomaniacal fool! They're settin' his ass up to take the fall for e'ery-damned-thing his predecessors have done, along with all that his handlers have had him do!). {smdh}

And what did HE have to say about this revelation?? "Not a mumblin' word!" as my Grandmama used to say.

Take care of yourself, Man. Hope we can talk soon. Peace...

nomad said...

"They're settin' his ass up to take the fall for e'ery-damned-thing "

If Ukraine blows up they're going to blame him for starting WW III. And rightly so. But they'll be blaming you and me too, because we are Barama supporters by virtue of the color of our skin. Black people need to disavow this imperialist war criminal.

Deb said...

"If Ukraine blows up they're going to blame him for starting WW III. And rightly so."

No shit! After that video of Victoria Nuland was leaked, if anybody doubted what the hell was going on -- they either didn't WANT to know, or acknowledge it! The US has fomented a rebellion that's murdering folks wholesale, and the American citizenry just prefers to do the head-in-the-sand, ostrich thing. American exceptionalism, puhleeze!

They can try to blame all of us Black folk if they want to but, Nah Brother, I'm not owning any of that shit!

"Black people need to disavow this imperialist war criminal."

Again, No shit! But as you know, that shit ain't gonna happen. {smmfh}

Take care of yourself, Man...

nomad said...

""Black people need to disavow this imperialist war criminal."

Again, No shit! But as you know, that shit ain't gonna happen. {smmfh}"

Sure you're right. They've been completely brainwashed by the CIA's Obama psy-op. I blame Obama. But I also blame those black leaders who cajoled us into supporting him. People like Oprah and, sadly, Maya Angelou. I wonder if she ever realized that in backing Obama she had betrayed her Civil Rights heritage and become an advocate for the oppression of brown people worldwide. I was not surprised at Oprah carrying water for Obama. After all, she's a media mogul. I expected Angelou to be more ethical. She was a symbol of our quest for justice for the black populace and should have been more discerning about who she was leading her admirers to endorse. I expect such bias from media moguls and politicians. Not from poets. You know, I will never look at black leaders the same ever again. I will judge them from now on on where they stood on the mass murderer in chief in the Error of Obama.

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