Mother Earth, Isabelle Knockwood- Ceremony in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia to remove Cornwallis statue
Ceremony of removing Cornwallis, July 15th 2017
My Indian name is Mother Earth, and my colonial name is Isabelle Knockwood. I’m from the Shubanacadie band. It’s an honor for me to be here, and do the opening ceremony. I realize we come from different directions. Four different directions. Four different places. Many many cultures. And we have our own spiritual beliefs systems that we brought with us today. I want to tell you that opening this ceremony I’m going to be doing this morning is a direct teaching of my mother. And in no way does it conflict with anybody’s beliefs. You are not required to believe anything, or accept anything I say. Just know that I’m here with a good heart.
And that I want you to know that the purpose of this ceremony is to ground us in the present. Because we bring our history. And our history in Nova Scotia regarding this man is ugly. And it’s especially ugly for Mi’kmaq people.
But I want you to understand also, you are on unceded land. This land, Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaq territory, was never sold and was never given up. Never ceded or surrendered. All we had was stone tools, stone spears, and when the Europeans and Asians and other races came here, all we had to defend ourselves was stone tools. You had the weapons, and you had liquor. You brought the whiskey. We didn’t have alcohol. And those are the two things that did us in. We had nothing, we had nothing, but we’re still here and we still didn’t surrender! We never surrendered anything. We have nothing today, but we’re still here.
My ceremony is going to be facing in the four directions. I start off in the East, because we are Wabanakies. Wabanaki comes from the word Wejkwapeniaq. Wejkwapeniaq means the “coming of the white light”. The white light at dawn. That’s when we are used to start our day, at dawn. And our people used to pray to the dawn. To greet the dawn. That’s why I’m going to pray to the East. Then I’m going to face South, and do a certain prayer for that way, then the West and the North. I’ll walk around here.
Just a little teaching, I’ll explain so you know what I’m doing. When we face East, we ask for things that are mental, intellectual, our dreams, our visions, our goals. And what’s our goal for today. You decide what your goal is for today, when I ask the spirits. When I face South, I’m going to ask the creator to bless our emotions. Because there is a lot of anger, and a lot of conflict associated with this statue and with this man, and with the war crimes. That’s for the South. We’re going to replace all our anger with love and understanding and tolerance. Then we face the West, and that’s where we ask for spirit guides. We’re going to ask for guidance on ways of how to help each other. How to understand each other. When we face West. When we face North, we’re going to thank for materializing all our wishes and all our visions and all our dreams. When we face North. And then the ceremony will be over.
So we’ll start.
Oh, Great spirit of the East, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe. To this park in Halifax, K’jipuktuk. To clear our minds. Clear our minds. Remove distractions. So you be able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do with your life. With the rest of your life.
Now we’re going to face South.
Great spirit of the South, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony at this park in Halifax. To remove all our negative feelings. All our anger. All our frustration. To replace it with tolerance, understanding and love for each other.
It’s a tough one to let go of, because we are all victims of war. No matter where we came from. We’re all victims of war. Some of us think we won, some of us think we lost (laughs). We’re all losers in war, and were all winners in peace. (crowd cheers)
Great spirit of the West, send us spirit guides and helpers. And spirits guide can be Ancestors. Could be animals. Could be birds. Could be people. You could be each other’s guides. In this journey that we have to do. We’re on the Earth together. We have no choice. We’re here. We might as well get along. (crowd laughs and cheers) People have spirit guides, animals for spirit guides, eagles, thunderbirds. Great animals, lions, wolves, bears. My spirit guide is a chipmunk. (crowd laughs) Talks a lot. That’s my spirit guide. Each of you has a spirit guide. Could be your ancestors. And our ancestors, when they first met each other, our ancestors, they were glad to see each other. It’s when the politicians and the missionaries and the traders and the capitalists and the others. When they all started making rules and politics and putting us on reservations and whatever, that’s where we started to fight each other. And now, enough. (crowd: “enough!”)
Great spirit of the North, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony in Halifax. At the park at – is this a “Cornwallis Park”? (laughs) Cornwallis Park. (crowd: “we have to change that too”) Tonight when the sun goes down, the day will be over. And that’s when our – when we face North, that’s when everything materializes. Everything we thought about today, or we wished for, or had visions or dreams about, today, it all materializes when we face North. And at the end of the day, when we put down our tobacco, at the end of the day, we will thank the Creator for the day. And we will put our deeds, our good deeds and our good thoughts on the altar. And we’ll tell the Creator, “This is what I did with this day that you gave me. Thank you”.
I’ll send all my blessings to everyone:
I ask the Creator to clear your minds, so that you are able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do.
I ask the Creator to take all the burdens from your shoulders that are not yours. And have strength to do your own. When you carry somebody else’s burden, you are enabling them. You help them, you teach them what to do, but don’t do their work for them. Just do your own.
I ask the Creator to remove all your anger . All your frustration. And replace it with love and understanding for each other. Fill our hearts with understanding and tolerance for each other, so that our words will be pure and perfect and loving. And true.
I ask the Creator to guide – bless your hands! Bless your hands, so that you’d be able to do the work that you were created to do. Bless your hands.
And I ask the Creator to remove all sicknesses from your body. All your worries and fears, and give them back to Mother Earth.
I ask the Creator to protect your backs. So that you will not be – adversely affected by things that are being said and done behind your backs. Especially politics and what the government plans. What happened here (points to statue). We had no input in that. I don’t think we the people had input in that. Things like that, that happened in history, things have planned behind closed doors. By generals and military guys. We ask the Creator to protect our backs from that, and protect each other’s backs too.
I ask the creator to protect your footsteps. And keep you out of harm’s way. Stay in the present. This ceremony is not in any way conflicts with any of your religions, but just stay in the present for today. Focusing on what we’re going to do today. Msit No’kmaq. Means “all my relations”. We are all related. We are all related. Msit No’kmaq.
Crowd member: “Huge support from Palestine!” (Crowd cheers)
White Lady: …you don’t think that anything he’s doing is helping the situation?
Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail: Excuse me, did I just hear you correctly? “how can he be blamed for that”?
Excuse me. Don’t speak to us that way.
– Stop, right now. You do not speak to us that way. We are human beings, and the way you speak to us is
JWI: – not acceptable. Stop it. Stop it right now! Step out. We don’t want to hear from you. You don’t speak to us like that.
WL: “It’s a simple question, can I have an answer?”
JWI: And this is the problem, the way you communicated. You need to stop.
[WL continues to argue]
(in Cree) Stop, I want you to stop being disrespectful to us. You have been doing this for a long time now, you are good at being disrespectful to us, together you people. It has been like this for a long time now.
You’re a guest here, and you don’t even know how to speak to us. You don’t even recognize the tone in your voice, in your delivery. You’re done. You’re done. Next question
White Man: I will re-ask the same question…
JWI: You better be respectful.
WM: I’m totally being respectful, I’m asking if Justin Trudeau has improved the situation…..
JWI: We have a holistic genocide happening here.
– Don’t speak on behalf of Julie.
Julie: I can speak for myself.
JWI: And I can speak for myself. You know what, White people, you’ve had your voice heard for 524 years. 524 years you’ve been visible, White lady! You’ve been visible. Look how fast your White man comes and steps up for you. Where is everybody else to come step up for us? I have a right for my voice, I’m still fighting for my voice and my visibility.
WM: We asked a question…
JWI: And I am telling you, I am telling you, right now, there has been 524 years of holistic genocide on Turtle Island. We are the ones that are dying. It’s not you that is dying.
And as far as “how Justin Trudeau is doing”? One of the things that we need to keep in mind is we are asking the UN to help us at charges of genocide, a war against humanity, war crimes and a crime of aggression, be laid. Because your Liberal Party was also responsible. Every party – your every governance that has been in power. There’s been a war conflict of Indian Residential School, 60 Indian day schools, and a million of damn schools. None of your governments have clean hands. All of your governments have blood on their hands. None of you are different. You haven’t changed! Because you haven’t started your healing journeys.
The moment we have our voice and our backbone you want to shut us down. And you think, you’re privileged to disrespect us, the moment we tell you because of your colonial mindset and your colonial way of being, your white privilege, your white fragility – you can’t take our truth! Look how many people came to bat for you, White lady. And you’re a guest here. Without us you’d be homeless. This is over.
Transcript coming soon!
The Heritage of Slavery (1968)
w/ Fannie Lou Hamer & Lerone Bennett, Jr.
News documentary from 1968 hosted by George Foster, exploring the legacy of oppression that remains over 100 years after the abolition of that peculiar institution. In Part 1, Foster visits Charleston, SC and speaks with both descendants of slaves and slave owners. The cameras capture a sermon by Rev. Henry Butler of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church (where Denmark Vesey planned an unsuccessful slave revolt in 1822 and Dylan Roof would later kill 9 church members in 2015). In Part 2, the cameras go to Mississippi to speak with former sharecroppers and political activist FANNIE LOU HAMER. In the final segment, we travel to Chicago, where Prof. JAMES TURNER and activist CALVIN LOCKRIDGE educate young people about revolution. Ebony Magazine editor and historian LERONE BENNETT offers a poignant analogy to describe the times we are in today. From http://www.archive.org Assumed to be in the Public Domain.
Charleston, South Carolina has a beautiful harbor, and an historic one. The Civil War began here with the shelling of Fort Sumter, and even before his fleet was beaten back at the harbor entrance by American revolutionary troops. But there is another history here, and it has its own kind of troops, two boatloads of them once starved themselves to death at this harbor rather than enter Charleston. Another 40,000 of them were rushed through this port in one three-year period, so they could go to work in America, for nothing.
They were Africans. But, in this country, they were taught to look at themselves another way, as slaves. Charleston is one of America’s oldest cities. Much of the city is lovely, and much of its loveliness is the product of slave labor. But Charleston, like the rest of America, learned very early that, if it was going to have slaves, it had better sleep with a gun under its pillow.
Like other immigrants to America, the slaves were huddled masses. But, unlike the others, what Blacks were huddled against was America itself. Often they rebelled . Quite often.
Partly in order to deal with inside agitators, Charleston put walls and fences all over the place. It turned out, that if you bought a slave, you may have bought yourself an insurrectionist.
Today, all over America, there are still echoes of the noises made when one race tries to subjugate another. We will explore the heritage of slavery and the roots of Black rebellion.
Twenty Africans were landed in America in 1619, one year before the Mayflower. By 1860, there were four million Black men, women and children, the private property of White America. The New World meant possession to the White man. It meant dispossession to the Black man. Slavery was an attitude as much as a condition, and attitudes, like land, can be inherited
On the plantation outside Charleston where his family has lived for eight generations, since 1672, Norwood Hasty was asked if he thinks slavery was immoral.
No, no. I don’t, because when a slave came from Africa, he couldn’t speak the language, he was totally untrained to do any any job at all that would fit in with the civilization. Someone had to take care of him, someone had to take care of him 24 hours a day, and it’s pretty hard to do that unless you owned a person. So I think slavery just had to be in those early days.
Mr. Hasty, what was life like in those early days?
As far as the Colored people were concerned, I feel that they were a good bit happier than they are now. They had less in the way of material things. but I can remember back in the twenties, when I was a small boy, they were always singing at their work, had a great sense of humor. Now today they just don’t seem to care much about that as they used to. And I think they have lost their sense of it somewhat, which I deplore.
What do you think are the differences between the races?
I think there’s a refusal to accept responsibility. I think there’s a lack of motivation. I’ve tried here to promote people to foreman, superintendents, but they just refused to do it. They just don’t want the responsibility. They don’t worry likely the White man. If they have troubles, they go to sleep and wake up the next morning, that trouble is over.
Is it possible that White people have something to do with the lack of ability for Blacks to assimilate into this culture?
Absolutely. White man has certainly been prejudiced and, to quite an extent, unfair. But customs die awful hard. it takes takes a long time. and everyone knew years ago that the nigger would have to be given equality. but in the South, knowing Nigras as we think we do, we realized it would take time. it has been compared to straightening teeth, you can’t do it with a hammer. White people’s attitudes will change in time. I’m a lot more liberal than I was five years ago, and I know I’ll be a lot more liberal five years from now. And I think almost everyone else is in that category.
What has tended to make you more liberal?
The realization that the Negra is a human being like anyone else.
Mr. Hasty, what did you think we were before you began to think of us as human beings?
Well, in a way, we thought of ya’ll mostly as a very superior pet, something, or rather, someone we had to take care of. Because we had to do so much of their thinking for them. We had to do almost everything for them, except living their own lives. Anything outside, we had to do for them.
If masters did the thinking for slaves, it is not recorded who did the thinking for masters. Most Southerners didn’t even own slaves, but they became victims of the glamour surrounding big plantations. Today there is talk of equality in the future. But it is the romance of the unequal past that still infatuates and torments much of Charleston. For Blacks, that past is a little thin on romance.
It is true that in a home like this one, Scarlett O’Hara might have lived. And, a home like this might have contained an overseer like Simon Legree. But it is an absolute certainty that ,if I had been around in those days, I would have lived right here. And that, for an increasing number of Black Americans today, is what American history is all about.
The process of slavery began in Africa. The slave trade was very rewarding. New Englanders made quick fortunes and African profiteers, who were not exactly soul brothers, sometimes helped them. A Black captive was marched overland to the west coast of Africa where a molten branding iron gave him a new instant identity. It was found that if you strip a man of his culture, prevent him from learning a new one, and separate him from his family, it does not take him too long to start feeling like a commodity.
The West’s naval architects competed to design slave ships where more men could be packed into less space. Gustavus Vassa was a slave who later bought his freedom. A reading from his diary recalls his abduction in 1756:
The sight of the ship filled me with terror when I was carried on board. I was put down into the decks. and there, with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and loathe that I was not able to eat. Two of the White men offered me eatables, and on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, while the other flogged me severely. The closeness of the place and the heat added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us . The air soon became unfit for respiration from a variety of loathsome smells and brought on a sickness among the slaves of which many died. The shrieks of the women and the groans of the dying rendered a scene of horror almost unbelievable.
When they reached America, slaves found auction blocks waiting for them. Any slave could be sold at anytime. Slave markets were very effective socially. They broke up the Black family. But even if you were a commodity, you remembered the last time you saw your mother. A slave described his own sale in 1858:
My brothers and sisters were bid off first, while my mother, paralyzed by grief, held me by the hand. Her turn came and she was bought by Isaac Riley. Then I was offered to the assembly of purchases. My mother pushed through the crowd to the spot where Riley was standing. She fell at his feet, entreating him to buy her baby as well as herself and spare her one child at least. Will it, can it be believed, that this man was capable of disengaging himself from her with such violent blows and kicks as to reduce her to creeping out of his reach? I was then five years old.
Slaves were sold at several markets in Charleston, and one of them has been meticulously preserved for visitors. Recently, a bi-racial committee was formed, and it has worked hard to build a new link between Whites and Blacks. Very little of what American cities have come to think of as racial turmoil has occurred in Charleston. But underneath the graciousness, old relationships are often found intact. Descendants of slaves work for descendants of slave owners.
Mrs. Lionel Leg retains the tone of a past she cherishes.
Mrs. Lionel Leg:
So Daisy was my little playmate, my maid, my friend, and the daughter of old Catherine, who was a cook that we adored. So all those years we played together and everyone was happy. We never heard of all these things we hear about today. And there were nearly a hundred, enormous rice plantation with many animals around, and a beautiful old house and about a hundred Colored people there. But we loved them. They were our friends, and then it’s no disgrace to say they’re like children. When we say they are like children, it’s because they are like happy children, some of them, because they like to sit in the sun rather than work hard, and they’d rather play than work.
If you could, would you paint a picture for us of what it was like on the plantation in your early days.
Mrs. Lionel Leg:
It was a lovely happy time, living in open spaces with many lovely Colored people and animals and flowers and fields. My father had everything thoroughbred, from the pigs, horses, the dogs and the people had to be thoroughbred.
And we would get into a buggy with him and drive to the plantation from what we call the pine land, where we lived. And we would spend, every Saturday this was, we would spend the day, and old Fortune, I can see him now, he would give us dinner. And we would have a heavenly time. And old April, he was the dairyman, that’s all he did, all he did was to skim the cream off of these great big boards of clabber and put them in the wooden churn and churn this marvelous fresh butter. That was April’s job. He didn’t do anything else, but love us and and skim the cream.
Mrs. Ruby Cornwell: (Retired Charleston School Teacher)
The Southern White man just loves to say that ,”Oh our Negros are happy. They like it, they like the way things are. If other people would just leave them alone, there wouldn’t be any problem”. And, some, I think, really believe it. And I think that’s one thing, perhaps, has sort of thrown them off balance, when all of a sudden their Negros just weren’t behaving the way they thought they ought to behave. You were just a doormat, and that’s where the good relations came in. As long as you’re a doormat, we have wonderful relations.
They just felt that, until recently, relations between Negroes and White were just so very good, just wonderful relations. It’s outside agitators. And, yet, it never occurs to them that they were good on whose terms, on their terms.
Those terms have been dictated by a White aristocracy that has ruled the South for almost 300 years. The aristocrats said slavery was one of mankind’s noblest inventions. But, it was a nobility often maintained by violence. If a slave got beaten enough, some of the milk of human kindness was likely to drain out of him.
The master got mad at me, and he buckled me down across a barrel, and whipped me until he cut the blood out of me. It felt like I would die, but he owned us, body and soul, and there wasn’t anything we could do about it. When the master died, we were called in to look at his coffin. We all marched by him slowly, and I just happened to look up and caught my sister’s eye, and we both just naturally laughed. Why not? We were glad he was dead.
Slaves began running away in the sixteen-hundreds, but the principal method of escape wasn’t formed until the eighteen-hundreds. It was called the Underground Railroad, though the journey was usually on foot. Harriet Tubman, the railroad’s outstanding conductor, would walk innocently past a plantation singing “Steal away to Jesus”, and the slaves would literally steal away, to Philadelphia or Boston.
Wherever there was slavery, there was also resistance. The revolutionary movement among Blacks began long before the “Spirit of ’76”. Until 1800, slavery was legal in the North. New York City had a massive slave insurrection in 1712. There were at least 250 recorded slave revolts in America. The most effective insurrection was led by Nat Turner in Virginia in 1831. Turner and his fellow revolutionaries killed 60 White people before they themselves were captured and executed by state and federal troops. The South was terrified. Owners decided they had better be protected from their property. Slave laws became more severe.
In 1850, Congress lent the South a hand by passing the Fugitive Slave Law, allowing Southerners to come North to reclaim their Runaways. But resistance had its own momentum too. It was articulated fiercely and with finality in the famous appeal by David Walker, a free Black man living in the North.
I ask one question here. Can our condition be any worse? Had you not rather be killed than to be a slave to a tyrant who takes the life of your mother, wife and dear little children? I speak Americans for your own good. We must and shall be free in spite of you! You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery, but God will deliver us from under you. And woe, woe will it be unto you, if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting. Throw away your fears and prejudices, and we will love you more than we do now hate you. What a happy country this will be if the Whites will only listen.
On the site of an old church in Charleston, the most daring of all slave revolts was planned by a freed slave named Denmark Vesey. With nine-thousand supporters, Vesey intended to capture the entire city of Charleston. But. he was betrayed by a house slave.
The Reverend Henry Butler inspires his congregation to be proud that slavery was met by insurrection.
Rev. Henry Butler:
So Denmark Vesey, an anti-slavery leader, 1767, 1822. He was an insurrectionist, so they tell me. He organized an unsuccessful slave revolt here in Charleston, South Carolina. He and 34 other Negro conspirators, so they call them, were hanged. But it was here, on this spot, in a little old wooden structure downstairs that Denmark Vesey planned his insurrection. And then, as now, some of the people could not keep a secret. And I can sympathize because our forefathers were taught not to keep anything secret from the master, and there was a servant who told the master of Denmark Vesey’s insurrection and of his plan. And, of course the plan was broken up, and then South Carolina passed a law closing all (our) schools and daring Negroes to be caught reading. And this place was closed.
When we think of those that were hanged, those that were persecuted, those that were killed, those that have had hoses and water poured on them, those who have had bloodhounds on their trails, those that have been mistreated and, in the midst of of it all, somehow they stood up, because they had a spiritual backbone that called them to look beyond the temporary things of life. If we are to move in this new day, we cannot have backbones like a jellyfish. What is man? Man is a part of God! Each man is a thought of God. Each man is entitled to be recognized. And, we trust that in the future we do not have to do what our fathers had to do, but if necessary, we have to do what has to be done!
Doing what he thinks must be done in Charleston is what Bill Saunders, a Black activist, worries about. He finds the past too close for comfort. Although it is more than 100 years since the end of legal slavery in America, Saunders believes too many Whites act like masters, and too many Blacks feel like slaves.
Old slave master and slave conditions that existed, hundred, 200 years ago, are still here in Charleston. We as Black people were brought into this country for slave labor, and we have worked as slaves from the time that were brought into this country until the present time. I’m fighting so hard for Black survival, because I believe that this country is getting to the place that they don’t need that labor anymore. And, since they don’t need that labor anymore, they don’t need Black people anymore.
The has past taught me that I got to do something to survive here, and I feel like a lot of us will have to start adjusting exactly how we feel about the situation. We really got nothing to lose, really. We ain’t got no jobs to lose, we ain’t got no business to lose. The only thing we have got to lose are our lives, and the man been taking that any time he want it.
The thing that I am saying, that I’m preaching, that instead of going to jail for the man all the time, for nothing, if you gonna go to jail, go to jail for something. Have yourself a plan and make something, when you do go to jail. this is the just the type of program, you’ve got to, you got to. The thing that we don’t have, we don’t have no program to go to the man and say “”This is what we want”.
I did a lot of things in my past that I’m guilty of . First, my parents were Black and then I was born Black. You’re not guilty you know of no crime at all except for being Black. The White man is my oppressor. He’s the one that
controls the jail. He controls the hospital. He controls the army, he controls the Navy, controls everything, and he’s the man and I have to fight. White America got to wake up and realize and listen and understand that not only Black folk got to make sacrifices, but White folks gonna have to start making sacrifices, some sacrifices to make this country what it’s supposed to be. Other than that, there’s not gon’ be no country.
Every man, woman and child in Mississippi can rationalize how they have always been friends to the Colored man. All of a sudden, they wake up here one morning and are told that what the way they’ve operated for the last hundred years is wrong. This is a hard thing to just tell a man that he’s spent his life doing something wrong. He doesn’t have to believe it. And, then all of a sudden, we’re some kind of demon. If you if you live in Mississippi and run a cotton plantation, you”re supposed to be some kind of demon. This is the national image of cotton plantation operator in the Mississippi Delta.
Humphreys McGee owns a 25-hundred acre plantation in the Mississippi Delta. His mother’s family has been in the state for seven generations. And, on his father’s side, the McGees moved the Delta from South Carolina. Charleston was the elegant capital of Southern culture in the 19th century. Mississippi was the frontier. Attitudes hardened early. The old way of life has endured in Mississippi longer than anywhere else. Whites and Blacks in the Delta look at he past from different angles, but it is a shared past.
See the Civil War’s over, and regardless of the evils of slavery, these people understood each other. It was not some sort of medieval torture for a person to be a tenant farmer on a plantation. And, I don’t know anybody that is ashamed of the system the way it worked. It’s an impossible system to return to. With that mechanical cotton-picker, one man can do what 150 men had been doing. This was the crown and blow to this system. Everything is geared to machinery. And where I used to have 83 families on the plantation, I have 15 boys working machine operators. But I will say, that the system we had was a system that, on the surface, developed a very outgoing happy group of people. They’re old people now, but these are the people that that I grew up thinking I knew.
Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
I work hard and she work hard. (Show’l did.)
Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
I work hard, hard, hard. I get out, get up at four-clock and get my breakfast done., just at the dawn of day, I go to the field and be pick cotton.
Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Jenkins of Sharkey County Mississippi have, between them, picked cotton for over a century.
Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
The boss man came along and he says, “Mary Jane”, and I say, “Suh?”, and he says, “I say, when you wash?” I say, “I washed last night”. And he say, “I don’t want you to do that no mo’. That’s my agent, you know.” He says, “Every Friday morning or Friday evening, you wash. And let all the children stay there with you ’til you get through. And, when you get through, then ya’ll can go back to the field and work” Now the agents was mean, some of ’em, some of ’em was mean. They wanted to whoop the Colored people. And that kind of White man come along and he says “Haywood, you ain’t in the field, yet!” Hay just had started the plowing, he said, “Yeah, I just now got to eat my dinner.” He say, “Gotdamnit, you ain’t doing a gotdamn thing! Gotdamnit, I oughta take this damn stick at frail the hell outcha.” Hay say “If you frail the hell outta me, gotdamnit ,I’m gone flail the hell outta you.!”
It make me feel bad, if we was under him, how mean he was to treat us like that.
In the frontier days, slaves begged not to be sent to Mississippi, where the work was almost as harsh as the overseers. Resistance was often subtle, but seldom absent. A runaway slave said that each so-called happy song was a testimony against slavery and a prayer for deliverance.
This system in its best sense was based on noblesse oblige by the land owner. But I don’t have 83 families anymore that I feel like I’m the daddy of. I do not expect to ever have this relationship with the younger generation, the children of these men. They are oriented entirely differently. They grew up in the Fifties. They’re a conscious of the change in the status quo. They’re fairly confused about what their position is. They don’t want to be subservient.
Young Black Man in Mississippi:
From what I saw my mother and father and my brothers do, while I was growing up, I feel that I don’t want my kids growing up in a world like this. Because I know some days I saw my mother slaving from six in the morning in a hot sun, hundred-degree weather, from pulling a hoe in a field from six until night, with about a hour’s break between all this time. My father doing labor that machines wouldn’t be made to do, hardly. The labor was that bad. And, I feel that if we’ve been working this long and we can’t even own the shirts on our backs, I feel that we have to take some drastic steps, some drastic steps, to make something happen, to make a change come about. Because Mississippi is going to either have to change or there can be no more Mississippi. And we have to do this by any means possible. Through our parents, we’ve earned Mississippi. It’s no question about it, brother. I mean, if my mother got out there and sweated from morning until night and you tell me I don’t own anything she sweated on! How can that be! How can it be?!
The White man does not want to give over his institutions. And that’s what people fear will happen. Give up control, who wants to give up control? You just don’t want to turn over the reins of everything, and give up control. Who wants to give up control?
(Okay guys get in the car . Let’s go.)
So White supremacy is, undoubtedly, a feeling that White people have all over the world. Of course, how the Black man and the White man would live together has been the paramount concern of people ever since the Mississippi Valley was settled, especially when the greatest number was the Black people. The problem is that I don’t need the men I used to need.
Humphreys McGee can run his plantation with machines now, and the government takes care of surplus cotton. That leaves surplus people and no one does anything about them. They cluster in shanty towns like this one in Cleveland, Mississippi, and they wait for something, almost anything, to happen.
First as slaves and then as tenants and sharecroppers, Black Mississippians turned the Delta swamps into the richest plantation soil in the world. Now the soil and the crops no longer need the people. the mechanical cotton-picker, an instrument of agricultural efficiency, became also an instrument of history.
In many Mississippi counties, Blacks have always been in the majority, which means Whites have had a problem. If you’ve got the land and the money but not the numbers ,its natural, as Humphreys McGee says, to want control.
In Mississippi, White control has made the past hard to distinguish from the present. More than anyone else, the spirit of resistance to this control has been Fannie Lou Hamer. At the 1964 Democratic convention, Mrs. Hamer was a leader of the attempt to unseat the regular Democratic delegation from Mississippi.
Fannie Lou Hamer:
Mississippi is still a very rough place. No, people is not just walking up like they used to do in the past, walking out and you know shooting a man down, or getting, maybe, two or three-hundred, people carrying ya out and lynchin’ ya, but it’s in a more subtle way. You know, they let you starve to death, not give you jobs. These are some of the things that’s happening right now in Mississippi.
You see Mississippi is not actually Mississippi’s problem. Mississippi is America’s problem. Because if America wanted to do something about what has been going on in Mississippi, it could have stopped by now. It wouldn’t have been, in the past few years, 40, between 40 and 50 churches bombed and burned. You see, this lead me to say, you know, all of the burning and bombing that was done to us and the houses, nobody never said too much about that, and nothing was done, but let something be burned, you know, by a Black man, and then my God! You see the flag is its drenched with our blood. Because, you see, so many of our Ancestors was killed because we have never accepted slavery. We’ve had to live under it, but we’ve never wanted it!
So we know that this flag is drenched with our blood, so what the young people are saying now “Give us a chance to be young men, respected as a man, as we know this country was built on the Black backs of Black people across this country. And, if we don’t have it, you ain’t gonna have it either, cause we gone tear it up,” that’s what they’re saying, and people ought to understand that. I don’t see why they don’t understand it. They know what they’ve done to us. All across this country, they know what they’ve done to us. This country is desperately sick and man is on the critical list. I really don’t know where we go from here.
Where many Black Mississippians are going is North. Over 400,000 since 1950. What is finally
breaking up the old relationships in Mississippi is not enlightenment nor revolt nor the Civil Rights Movement. It’s just machines, and when the machines came, many of the Blacks had to go.
What the past all adds up to, is the present. Chicago is the present for as many as 1,000 Black immigrants each month. The railroad isn’t underground anymore, but the objective is still the same. Nobody seems to migrate anywhere without some combination of hope and bewilderment. After 300 years, the huddled masses are still looking for what eluded them in the South, jobs, freedom, a different way of life.
But the migration itself has created tensions and the polarization of attitudes.
White Chicago Man:
Well bigotry means that you believe in the creator cultural stem of life, a way of life. And this I do believe in. I believe that we have communities here, that we’ve developed in our country, that we have to protect. And I believe a community way of life has been developed for 75 years, and I don’t believe it should be broken up. And, I think that this is the way we’ll have to fight for it, from now on in. It’s going to be a community life versus those that want to come into it. And that’s gonna be rough. And, if this means racism, its going to practiced on both sides.
You’re a practicing bigot, then?
Middle-aged White Man in Chicago:
I’m practicing bigot. I believe in my way of life.
Young Black Man in Chicago:
As far as I’m concerned, things are getting worse in America. I haven’t seen where America have did anything for Black people. What have American did ? You give a few Negros with a higher position a higher job. That’s still not helping the grassroot. I’m in the grassroots. My lil’ brothers ,around here, are in the grassroots. My sister is living in the grassroots. She still living in the grassroots. As a young Black man, I feel that I have a obligation to my race of people, not to no other race, no other nationality, just to Black people.
The South Side of Chicago is not a nice place to visit and it isn’t easy to live there either. The situation is not new. Over 100 years ago, a brilliant Black abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, escaped from slavery to come North. Douglas found that Black people were already being crowded into large urban slums. Today, eighty-five percent of Chicago’s Black population live in ghettos.
What the Black man who leaves the South faces when he comes to Chicago is described by the Midwest Director for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, John McKnight.
In the South, he knows who the “man” is. The “man” is up there on a hill, in the the big white house. When he comes to a city like Chicago, its’ much harder to determine who that “man” is, such a complex society. It’s a different man who controls the house, from the man who controls the job, from the man who controls the welfare, from the man who controls the hospital, from the man who controls the school, I think what’s happening is that he quickly comes to the conclusion that the man is all the White men. Not being able to discern his specific captor, he decides that all people with White faces are his captors. And, to the degree that all White people are engaged in supporting the systems of separation and racist institutions that we have in the North, that judgment is basically accurate.
How do these institutions function in a racial way?
When we develop any kind of a system that, by definition, excludes people who are poor, inner-city, limited- education people, we are saying “Black” on them. We might as well put the sign back up, because it’s the same thing. Same bag.
The problem that we have in White America is that most White people when they hear about White racism almost most White people say, “ Man, that’s not me. I never discriminate against anybody, never did.” And in their
sense of what discrimination means, or what racism is, they may be right. But, they sit residing in a system from which they take full benefit, a system that defines them in, and and defines Black people out.
We are going to have to face the fact that we are not a community. A community is where a lot of people develop mutually beneficial relationships with each other. And, our racist institutions and the political boundaries of our cities define Black people out of the community.
White people who sit in their suburban homes and watch a television programs and hear about all of these laws that are being passed. Many of them are beginning to wonder, “What is it with those Colored people on there? Why are they so upset, all this wonderful stuff we’re doing for them.” But, we aren’t focusing on the Black man living on the block. He lives in a in a in a two-flat on that block ,and he knows what the circumstance on that block was 10 years ago. And, he knows what it is today. And, he, too, has heard about all of those programs and laws being passed. But the hard fact of the matter is that things are not changing for him.
It’s no wonder that the White population and the Black population are pitted against each other, when the Black man knows that the change is not coming, and the White man thinks that major efforts are being undertaken, when they are not. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised when one sees the Black people in open attack on the system. Because, I suspect that they don’t see that there is any other realistic alternative.
James Turner, an instructor in Political Sociology at Northwestern University, also teaches a summer study group, What Black Patriotism Means to Him. Denmark Vesey, the insurrectionist of Charleston, is Turner’s lesson for the
What Denmark Vesey did in Charleston, South Carolina is very much related to Detroit and to Watts and to Newark. It is very much related to Black men saying, “Tanks be damned! I’ll have my freedom!” The price of freedom is not cheap. Denmark Vesey was very mindful of this. So, it’s very important for us, the lessons of Denmark Vesey. A lot of us like to think that the effective thing is to whop the man, to get up and blow our whole game to him. That somehow the revolution will come through oratory. The unique thing about Vesey is that he was a quiet man, which is oft the mark of determination.
Study Group Participant: (How come this was’t taught in our schools? )
I think that this is a very good question. Why it is that Denmark Vesey doesn’t stand beside Patrick Henry. Because they’ve never wanted us to come to the kind of position and the state of mind that those of us, who have gathered around this table, have come. Because Denmark Vesey released in his time, as he has done for us now, a whole force of Black resistance and struggle. We have not been able to talk about, because they’re nameless and faceless, the thousands of Black people who fought in a more quiet way.
Those Black women, who, consigned to cook in the kitchens of the slave master, who ground-up glass to very fine bits, and put it in the master’s soup. And, then asked the master, “What’s the matter, boss? You seem like you’re not well.” And, the White man was tricked by his own notion that our people were just silly as he bled internally to death.
As well as the brothers in the field who set fire to the cotton. The brothers who set fire to the cotton when the master came with his whip and said, “Boy what’s going on?”
“I don’t know master. Somethings a’taken place strange”. And brother went on to burn more cotton. Black people have resisted. We have determined here today that we are going to free our people.
Denmark Vesey is alive. Denmark Vesey is alive and among the brothers today in Oakland, California with the Black Panthers. Denmark Vesey’s a young Black man named Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton in Oakland, California. Denmark Vesey is personified by another courageous Black brother named H. Rap Brown. Denmark Vesey is the guiding life that inspires and gives incentive to brother Stokely Carmichael. Denmark, Denmark Vesey was the father of brother Malcolm X. Denmark Vesey walks the streets of the Black community today. He is in the minds and the bosoms of young Black men, who stride now with pride and dignity in the Black community, who say that they will no longer reside in the hell of the ghetto, but will struggle to transform their plight to a community. They will do it, or die trying.
Calvin Lockridge :
There is a fever of revolution in America. And it’s a Black revolution. The only thing that is hanging us up, that we must clear, we must sit down and continue to analyze and discuss what our particular role will be in the revolution.
Calvin Lockridge, a young ghetto leader, moves his training group toward confrontation with a system he
finds oppressive. For Lockridge, the heritage of slavery is insurrection.
Calvin Lockridge :
We talk about it all revolutions are lead by a hard-core disciplined group. I think this is where we have to start. We have to start organizing that hard-core disciplined group of people. And, then we pyramid ourselves. Then we move, we move the masses of people, around an issue, when we’re ready to move.
Masculine Group member (speaker 1):
You have to have your own communications.
Calvin Lockridge :
Well this is how the rebellions during slavery was able to move to action. It’s because of the fact that we have members of the revolution, or the rebellion, who would move and communicate through the Black grapevine, because you never knew how many people were actually involved, because it meant death if you were ever found out.
Feminine Group Member:
A lot of Negros, they might have thought they were given a chance but they weren’t. There is going to have to be some bloodshed in the revolution somewhere.
Masculine Group Member (speaker 1) :
I think that Black people have always had justification for insurrection, rebellion, revolution, whatever word you want to call it. You’re talking about guerrilla warfare.
You’re saying we should start the preparing to guerrilla warfare?
Masculine Group Member (speaker 2):
Guerrilla warfare is extreme, and I don’t I don’t know of any Black person around who has done any type training
to prepare himself for guerrilla warfare.
Masculine Group Member (speaker 3):
If one prepares himself for guerrilla warfare, that you wouldn’t know. I would hope no one would know. Guerrilla warfare is not the training in the use of weapons. It’s a training in the use of the mind.
It’s a revolution going on. Anyone who doesn’t join in, who is in the way, you treat him as a traitor or a spy. If he doesn’t sympathize with you, can’t help you. You have to treat him like a traitor or a spy and that means you kill him.
It’s an American Revolution. It’s happening here on the American soil. And a Black and White are caught up in the revolution, but Blacks the spearhead of the revolution.
Neither James Turner nor Calvin Lockridge could win any elections today. So far, they represent only a minority of a minority. Yet their potential constituency can be found on any sidewalk, in any slum. Among youth and among Black opinion-makers, even a minority is many thousands. The question posed by increasing Black activism is will White America respond before the few become the many.
Chicago is 30% Black, but less than 1% of the city’s businesses are owned by Black people. This is hardly a revelation that economic bondage produces social revolutionaries. The future may not work, but if you’re Black, neither did the past .
The pressures that bring about rebellion are defined by the Senior Editor of Ebony magazine, historian, Lerone Bennett.
Men fight when they reach the wall, not because victory is sure, but because their manhood demands that they
that they act in this way. And, therefore, I’m not at all sure what is the proper measure of success when you’re talking about a rebellion of an oppressed people. one might almost say that it is normal for an oppressed people to revolt, and is abnormal, really, for them to accept the oppression which is forced upon them. Any oppressed people, when they revolt, revolt really in the ultimate sense, even in the name of their oppressors. Because they’ are re-establishing a reciprocity between man and man, and re-establishing the bonds of humanity which must govern men if they are to live together in a the common climate.
I just ask you to visualize a room, you know where all the goodies of the world, all the material goodies of the world. And there are people in that room, and all of those people are White. And the door to that room is locked. And, that room is in a building with a hall. And, in that hall, are people. and all those people are Black. Black people have been standing in that hall more than 200 years knocking on that door and they’ve been saying, “please let us in. you know we want to be with you. we want to be like you. we love you.” And that door is never opened.
One of the men in the hall say you know what I think I’ll do so I think I will go outside get me a brick
throw it through the window and take some of my things out of that window, because he’s never going to open the front door. And, another man in the hall says that “No , I tell you what I’m going to do. What I’m going to do, I’m going outside and going under the house and I’m taking a match and burning the whole house up and everything in it, including me. And a third man says, “Wait brothers, you know, it might become necessary to do that, but it
has not become necessary, yet. See, the problem is we’ve been standing here for 200 years knocking on that door and he hasn’t opened the door because we haven’t been speaking his language. His mother tongue is power. And, that perhaps, if we take all of toothpicks of power and put them together and create a whole huge battering ram, then the door will open one way or another. I think history has arranged it that ,eventually, America would have to face itself through Black people, or go under. And I deeply believe that this is the point we occupy now in time.
A suburb of Chicago, July fourth, this year. If you’re White, try to think Black. For 200 years, Black’s have watched White parades roll by. For most Americans, the past itself has been White. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are the champions of American independence, but they were also slaveholders. Patrick Henry wanted liberty or death, just like Denmark Vesey and the young men in the ghettos today, but Patrick Henry was also a slaveholder.
Freedom, like history, is not supposed to have a color, but when America institutionalizes freedom and history, all of the symbols are White. Black America is still waiting for the parade to open its ranks and let in Frederick Douglass, Denmark Vesey, Malcolm X and other heroes of a Black fight for freedom.
Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, was once invited to celebrate July fourth with White people. He told them, “This fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice. I must mourn.”
When White people celebrate Black heroes as Black people have celebrated Washington and Jefferson the battle for the past will be over. And when the past belongs to everyone, so will the present. Most Black people still don’t want to wreck this parade. They want to join it.
In the heritage of slavery, there are plenty of heroes, just like in any other tragedy. Deep in the wasteland of Chicago’s Southside, embedded like an emerald in an ashcan, is an immaculate wonder called the Wall of Respect. Black artists painted Black heroes. On this wall, men and women willing to liberate themselves, in Malcolm X’s words, “by any means necessary.” They are individuals who will either have respect or will die trying to get it, and some of them have.
It’s a long way and a lot of years from the slave market in Charleston to the Wall of Respect in Chicago, but neither distance nor time has yet entirely separated the Black man from bondage. No one needs to inflame the Black race against these realities. The fire of rebellion started burning a long time ago. but these travels in Black America
have shown is that White racism created the need for Black power, just as slavery bred insurrection.
If a country can be a collective, now in America is mad at each other right now. We Blacks and Whites are
plotting separate courses with great skill and cunning. You can’t have oppression without rebellion, and you can’t have either in a country that belongs to all its people.
But Black Americans are telling White Americans today is that this land is ours too. plaintiff question the slaves used to ask am I not a man and a brother has been replaced by an affirmation that a challenge I am a man and a brother. Black men are saying and if you don’t think so then this country isn’t big enough for both of us.
This is George Foster at the Wall of Respect.
“The global interest in this conflict is not a contemporary phenomenon. The Middle East, as we know it, was created by western imperialism, specifically by Britain and France, which divided the region into protectorates after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. France took over what would become Syria and Lebanon. Britain took the future Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Many of those countries gained independence during and after World War II, only to see themselves become pawns of the U.S. or the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Our involvement in the Middle East is nothing new. But the question remains, are we going to war? ” ~ Melissa Harris-Perry
(Transcript coming soon)
From “I have a Dream” to “I have a Drone”
Instead of non-violence and compassion shown,
Assata Shakur and Edward Snowden are hunted down.
And the “evils of racism, militarism and economic exploitation”
have been taken to new heights in this fractured nation.
Add to those triple evils, the evil of legalized misogyny,
and fifty years since Martin’s Dream and we still ain’t free
to have affordable housing and just work for our labors
or to walk while black without fear from our neighbors.
Instead of emulating the content of character of MLK,
President Obama models the hate-mongering of J.
Edgar Hoover who created racist sexist watching in secrecy,
Condoning killing and jaling of activists, manipulating with money.
As former Prez Carter sez of these times, the U.S. has lost
( the illusion of ) democracy, military corporatism’s final cost,
The only growth is in jobs in surveillance and supposed security
Long gone the democratic republic and economic stability.
THERE CAN BE NO CHARITY FOR JUSTICE.
Compassionate people have no need of celebrity
making appearance as philanthropic charity.
The glamorous Obama, Beyonce and Jay-Z
have shown no allegiance to those living in poverty.
The capitalist systems they serve and represent
are the reason Z-man will not repent
for killing in cold blood Trayvon Martin.
Martin. Martin. Martin.
President Obama rides on black folks backs,
our emotional allegiance to Martin and Malcom X.
He is both grieving father and sacrificial son
in every regard to Trayvon,
the Nobel Peace laureate in Washington.
Why now call on the blood of liberationists so hard?
The global Bank Masters finally playing the race card?
The P.R. man in residence, an 8 year term as President
spreading the messages of global banksters so eloquent,
from the mouth of handsome brown intelligent
spokesperson for the Real “Leaders of the (un)Free World”.
Liborg what? Is that a Star Trek episode?
‘Coal is Clean and Keystone key to independent oil energy.
Ah, yes, and Jamie Dimon is the best in the finance industry ,
so must have been unforeseeable for a bank like JP Morgan Chase
to lose so catastrophically the money which is tax payer based.
Pensions, education, healthcare must suck it up and tighten belts.
Detroit? Well, be realistic in expecting federal government help.
Private Manning and the tortured hunger strikers held in unjust jails
Risk life and liberty revealing war crimes and the inhumanity of solitary cells.
Assange proves that journalism is a courageous libratory profession
As the Wiki-Leaks vetted through media war crimes and confession.
Presidential lips don’t speak the names publicly of those who speak honestly.
The people under arrest are the ones telling truth and acting with conscience
While those who commit crimes against Earth and humanity go free.
Truth-tellers called Whistle-blowers reveal global war crimes
From “Collateral Murder” to the “Kissinger Papers”
involving branches of government from finance to judiciary corruption,
now with Snowden we know that the War Criminals are watching everyone else.
Their names fail to come off the President’s lips publicly,
while we hear of secret calls to governments “urging” them to deny
asylum to someone the U.S. deems criminal, against corporate interests.
Keep funding Egypt to buy weapon manufacturers tools.
Forget that President Obama also called the South African President
to dissuade him from providing safe passage home to Haiti for the Aristead’s
after years in exile following U.S. backed coup, so in Egypt, “who knew?”
that the aid money from U.S. would not support the people but a military coup.
DREAMS, he sells the substance of their lives
to support the shadows of imperialist lies,
Liberty and democracy, a hollow hypocrisy of morality,
bankrupt hearts and debt labour econnomy.
Dr. King was in Memphis in in solidarity with the working mai’n.
It was striking sanitation workers that brought him to the Lorraine.
Exactly a year earlier at the Riverside Church in New York
King had denounced war as an enemy of the Poor
And proclaimed his fight to “attack it as such”.
But war profiteers were not having as much.
They killed the Dreamer and Never the Dream
This systems uses capitalist shadows
to sell the substance
of those dreamers willing to put their lives
on the line for everyday justice.
“Longevity has its place”,
but the soul leaves an immortal trace.
And in these times of “moral crisis” for humanity
Hell is “reserved for those who maintain neutrality”
The legacy of fighting to end poverty
Requires more than wearing a mask.
Labor rights are human rights
from Memphis to Bangladesh.
And a minimum wage is not a living wage,
As all deserve dignity at any age.
From states like Wisconsin and Michigan
the corporate government legislates unions away,
then from companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s
workers rebel against bosses without union sway.
Actions speak truer than words.
Edward Snowden revealed the truth
of the massive surveillance coup
where every intimacy is filed and known
just like the F.B.I. tapping every phone
of Malcolm and Martin and Kwame Ture
The watching and stalking of truth tellers continues this day.
The wages of Truth and Justice will be Paid.
A. Phillip Randolph was born in Florida
and fought hard there to change and create
the laws that would change
the U.S. apartheid state.
Black folks and anti racist allies
whom I love still live there,
where in “solidarity forever”
with their struggles, I will NOT despair.
We are boycotting militarized capitalism everywhere!
The global Stand Your Ground mentality
crosses state lines and even nationality.
You gonna cut off North Carolina for Amendment One?
or Egypt for the military slaughter of protestors unarmed?
Malcolm and Martin took the cause to the global stage,
shouting out to the world with compassionate rage,
They made an appeal to international conscience and minds
Who were not fed their stories from corporate media lines.
Calling out this country’s un-just-u.s.
revealing the contradictory moral practice
of torturing for truth and policing for security
all the activists in the social justice community.
The government planted bugs,
drugs, guns, bombs and spies
To control and catch activists
in a manufactured web of lies.
Divide and conquer.
And now busting called “right to work”.
Dear Mother Jones would be heartbroke.
Workers began to stripped of union powers early in 1980’s
By President Reagan threatening to fire striking airline workers, union reps.
then every President after followed in his footsteps.
And how would the Union of Train Car Porters feel
after all their courageous work to repeal
the laws of economic and employment Jim Crow?
A. Phillip Randolph & Zora Neal Hurston know.
They were from Florida
and I will not cut off their stories and forget
their struggles to stand on just free ground
with full dignity, humanity and no regret.
To leave a legacy of love
from every unnamed slave
That refuses to be erased
in an unmarked paupers grave.
When asked what stories
and legacy you will leave behind
for the next generation
of liberationists to find,
will you answer with integrity
of soul heart and mind?
Like Nina and Pauli and Octavia
James, Sojourner and Frida
Like Bayard and Audre and Marsha
Sylvester, Langston and Zora
showed me how to imagine Dream and Do
Call out to the Ancestors who Love and Inspire YOU
To “Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly”
bell hooks Ending Domination-The Struggle Continues
New College of Florida March 1, 2010
22: 20 Even though origins which see the invention of patriarchy as the root of domination seems inaccurate, what is true is that the family in dominator culture is often the primary pedagogical location for the teaching of dominator thought and practice via the acceptance and perpetuation of patriarchy. Hence working to challenge and change patriarchy continues to be essential to any effort to transform dominator culture.
23: “cognitive dissonance between what you believe and what you are willing to take action on”
23:33 Progressive folks especially prominent black male thinkers and activists on the Left openly denounce imperialism racism and capitalism but rarely talk about the need to challenge patriarchy. And while all people of color, all black people are socialized to embrace white supremacist thinking few if any of these individuals from these constituencies openly advocate racism. Individual black people who straighten their hair because they’ve been taught to believe that their natural hair texture is ugly are perpetuating a white supremacist aesthetic even as they may be adamantly anti-racist.
“Watch what people do not what they say” quote from therapist. We often say one thing but our actions are constantly saying another. And I think Chris Rock in the film “Good Hair” tried to show that whole distinction between saying why don’t black kids love themselves and at the same time putting little kids through that torturous process. What little kid who is five, who’s being put through some torturous process of burning their head is going to feel like “Oh yeah, I should really love myself and I should really love my hair” I think that one of the best bell hooks books is “Happy to Be Nappy”. Grew out of my concern that a lot of the books that tell black girls and black boys that we should love our hair starts off telling us how awful our hair is. “And by the way, it’s awful, but you should love it.” So I wanted to write a book that would actually just stay in that place of …..coming from positive affirmation not negative affirmation. These contradictions in our lives reveal the myriad ways dominator culture shapes our thoughts and actions in ways that are unconscious. It is precisely because dominator thinking is so deeply embedded in our psyches that efforts to acquire critical consciousness so that we decolonize our minds need to be an essential aspect of resistance struggle, of education as a practice of freedom and a liberal arts education. When individuals who are psychologically confused engage in resistance struggle they often are dysfunctional and act out in ways that negate or undermine their efforts to create constructive change. Since dominator culture relies on interlocking systems to sustain itself it seems to cover up the connections between these systems or it allows for one aspect of the system to be challenged for example, challenge racism while silencing anti-capitalists or anti-sexist voices. Many more citizens of our nation question white supremacy and certainly white supremacists efforts to exert imperialist control around the world that question patriarchy. And while religion was once a major tool pushing racist thought, it is no longer an accepted norm. many Christian white people are not overtly taught in church settings that god has ordained that they are superior to an inferior people of color and should rule over them. What’s amazing that if you study the development of Christian cults in the U.S. and look at the black people and people of color who joined those groups like Jim Jones… Many of those folks testified that it was the only time in the United States that they felt they were not among racists. So I find it really interesting that the notion that while we sit around in the academy, I was asking my ride over here about diversity. If you go to any fundamentalist Christian conference they don’t have the same problems with diversity. Because the message that they are putting out like the black people testified about Jim Jones,
Nowadays many of our nation’s citizens do not attend church, so the family still remains the primary institution for the dissemination of patriarchal thought to children. Patriarchal females as primary care-givers to children are the people who teach patriarchal gender roles. Yet most males and females in our society rarely use the word patriarchy or understand its meaning. Patriarchy is a political and social system that insists males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak as well as the right to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological abuse and violence. As I said earlier no contemporary movement for social justice in the United States has changed the nature of how we live as much as feminist movement. Acknowledgement through law and public policy that women are the equals of men and deserve equal rights changed the nature of work, economics, home-life. And while much is blamed on feminist movement, the truth remains that females and males have greater access to gender equity in all spheres of our life as a result of feminist struggle. It is precisely the myriad successes of feminist reform that lead to anti-feminist backlash.
Challenging and changing patriarchy threatens a core foundation of dominator culture. If boys are not socialized to embrace patriarchal masculinity and its concomitant violence then they will not have the mindset needed to wage imperialist war. If females and males are taught to value mutuality then partnership will be valued and not the ethics of domination. 31:10 Since patriarchal thinking creates psychological dis-ease; new models of partnership offer the promise of well-being and therefore undermine the capitalist consumer culture which exploits psychological pain. The positive changes created by feminist movement were so widespread that the backlash has been fierce. Mass media, especially media targeting young children teenagers and young adults continually re-inscribe sexist thinking about gender roles just as it has been the primary tool for portraying feminists and/or powerful women in negative ways. I think it’s hard sometimes for feminist women to even go to the movies. I just saw two films that just blew me away with their anti-feminist thinking. Sandra Bullock in both of them, The Proposal and All About Steve. The proposal, she is big corporate executive who is the boss, but how she ends up being humiliated by the guy she’s going to marry and when’s she’s being humiliated, he says “oh she’s a feminist” to his mother. It’s just very interesting. And that wacky movie All About Steve, so once again we have the idea that if you’re really smart as a female, you’re not going to get your man, no one is going to like you, remember that when she allows the guy to have the kudos for what she has designed, that is the escape out of the hole, I don’ know if you remember. I don’t know if you guys watch these, lots of people do. All About Steve was really popular. Think about how re-tro that message is. But who is that movie being targeted to? A lot of those movies are being targeted to the 12 to 16 year old crowd, who watch them over and over and over again. Mass media continues to portray feminists that are powerful women in negative ways. In “the power of Partnership” Riane Eisler emphasizes that one form of antifeminist backlash that media has taken is promoting domination and submission as the only possible relation between parents and children and between women and men, explaining further she contends that the reason is that these intimate relations is where we first learn to accept domination and control as normal inevitable and right. This is why many of our most repressive modern regimes have sprung up where family and gender relations based on domination and submission are firmly in place. It’s also why, once in power, these regimes have vigorously pushed policies that have as their goal the reinstatement of a punitive father in complete control of his family.
Riane Eisler Mass media promotes the idea of a punitive family relationship
34:50 We see this pattern all too clearly in one of the most serous aspects of the dominator regression of our time, the rise of so called religious fundamentalism I say “so called” because if we look closely, it’s clear that what many fundamentalist leaders preach be it in the Middle East or the United States is not religious fundamentalism but domination and control models with a religious spin. Given the role that patriarchy plays as a system exploiting familial relationships to teach dominator values there are clear benefits of everyone, female and male, adult and child, when patriarchy is challenged and changed. Yet changing patriarchy will not bring an end to dominator culture as long as other interlocking systems remain in place when feminist movement began and when it began to bring revolutionary changes in the status of women and men girls and boys , imperialism capitalism and racism were all gaining strength globally. When I first began to use the phrase imperist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy to characterize the interlocking systems that shape the dominator culture that we live in individuals would oftent tell me that they thought that it was just too harsh. In the past ten years, when I use the phrase at lectures more often than not, audiences respond with laughter. Initially I thought this laughter was an expression of discomfort that the true nature of our nations politics was being exposes. But as the laughter followed me form talk to talk from city to city, town to town and college campus to college campus, I began to see it as a way of deflecting attention from the seriousness of this naming.
Time and time again critical theory has told us the power of naming correctly what we are challenging and hoping to resist and transform. But one way to silence accurate naming is to make it appear ridiculous too strident too harsh. Rarely am I asked the value of calling attention to interlocking systems, yet when we examine the cultural circumstances that lead to the ground work for fascism in the 20th century, looking particularly at the roots of fascism in Germany Spain and Italy, we find similar traits in our nation today, patriarchal nationalistic racist fundamentalism in religion economic power and control by a minority in the interest of wealth. In fascist regimes teaching populations to fear terrorism is one way the system garners support. We all know that that’s what we have been doing for the past few years being told how much we have to protect ourselves from terrorists. I remember protesting at the airport about the i.d’s and being told sternly “this is because of terrorism and we are keeping you safe” and of course being the bright critical thinking that I am I was like “oh, so you’re telling me that the terrorists don’t have i.d.’s?” Think about the wackiness sometimes of the culture we live in that we went through that whole process of how we were to arm our selves against terrorism at the airport, but now we can just go stick our little id’s in those kiosks and there’s nobody checking you if you have a an id. After this whole thing about how crucial it was to have this direct examination. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
Most recently in our nation, the use of media to suggest that anyone who criticizes government is a traitor deserving of condemnation and even arrest, effectively silences many voices. Concurrently dissonant voices challenging the status quo tend to be silenced by varied forms of censorship. Meaningful resistance to dominator culture demands of all of us a willingness to accurately identify the various systems that work together to promote injustice exploitation and oppression. To name interlocking systems of domination is one way to disrupt our wrong-minded reliance on dualistic thinking.
39:23 Highlighting these interlocking systems tend to indict all of us in some way. Making it impossible for any of us to claim that we are absolutely and always victims, calling attention to the reality of our accountability however relative. I think that feminism constantly amazes me because it is the one movement , radical movement for social justice, that when a major critique was brought to bear upon it, i.e., the racism of white feminists, people actually went back and began to re-do work and to re-think that work non-violently. That’s really awesome when you think about it. Can we look at any other radical social movement and talk about how they went back to the table and said the way we were constructing our theory was inaccurate and we have to change it. I can’t tell you how much I admire all the feminist thinkers.
4144 When we are accountable we eschew the role of victim and are able to claim the space of our individual and collective agencies. For many folks, especially those who are suffering exploitation and or oppression, that agency may seem inadequate. However asserting agency is always the first step in self-determination. It is also the place of hope. As we move away from dominator culture towards a libratory culture where partnership and mutuality are valued. We create the culture wherein we can all learn to love . there can be no love where there is domination . And anytime we do the work of ending domination, we are doing the work of love.
Nina Simone on the Role of the Artist
Interviewer: You want your art to live on long after you
Nina: Oh yes.
I: And your music says this, and it speaks to Black people. I want you to tell me what your gut feeling is about.
NS: Well, look, off the top of my head, as far as I’m concerned, thousands and thousands of years ago, we were, for lack of a better expression, “on top”. If there were oppressors, they were me and you (laughs). We were not being oppressed, we had kings and queens. We had civilizations that we don’t know very much about. So as far as I’m concerned, my music is addressed to my people, especially to make them more curious about where they came from and their own identity and pride in that identity. That’s why in my songs I try to make them as powerful as possible, mostly just to make them curious about themselves. We don’t know anything about ourselves. We don’t even have the pride and dignity of the African people. We cant’ even talk about where we came from. We don’t know. It’s like a lost race. And my songs are deliberately to provoke this feeling of like “who am I and where did I come from? Do I really like me, and why do I like me? And, if I am Black and beautiful, I really am and I know it, and I don’t care who cares/says what”. That’s what my songs are about, and it is addressed to Black people. Though at times, the songs, I hope, that in their musical concept and in their musical form and power, that they will also live on after I die in as much that they are universal songs.
I: I don’t think that an artist should be involved in these kinds of things.
NS: An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when everyday is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.
James Baldwin: Who is the Nigger?
Well, I know this, and anyone who has ever tried to live knows this: what you say about somebody else, anybody else, reveals you. What I think of you as being is dictated by my own necessities, my own psychology, my own fears and desires. I’m not describing you when I talk about you. I am describing me.
Now here in this country we’ve got something called a nigger. There’s not such term, I beg you to remark, exists in any other country in the world. We have invented the nigger. I didn’t invent it. White people invented it.
I’ve always known, I had to know by the time I was seventeen years old, what you were describing was not me and what you were afraid of was not me. It had to be something else. You had invented it. So it had to be something you were afraid of and you invested me with it. Now that so, no matter what you have done to me, I can say to you this, and I mean it. I know you can’t do anymore and I got nothing to lose. And, I know and I’ve always known, and really ALWAYS, that’s a part of the agony, I have always known that I’m not a nigger.
But if I am not the nigger, and if it’s true that your invention reveals you, then who is a nigger? I am not the victim here. I know one thing from another. I was born, I’m going to suffer and I’m going to die. The only way you get through life is know the worst things about it. I know that a person is more important than anything else, anything else. I learned this because I’ve had to learn it. But you still think, I gather, that the nigger is necessary. Well it’s unnecessary to me so it must be necessary to you. And I give you your problem back. You’re the nigger baby. It isn’t me.
Take This Hammer filmed with James Baldwin in the Spring of 1963 was produced for National Educational Television by the KQED film unit San Francisco.