Bobby Seale – still alive

‘Still Alive’ is a fairly nascent series I have been doing for years.  Too often, we only stop to realize and appreciate amazing people after they died.  I have tried this here, here, and here.  Let’s not wait that long, shall we?

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That picture above isn’t Bobby, it is Huey.  He is important.  Huey and Bobby are the closest our culture has to Nelson Mandela.  We aren’t going to talk about Huey, though.  Huey really did the heavy lifting.  However, he is tough to lionize since we know he killed a lot of people… personally.  So if this is a story about of Bobby… why the picture of Huey?  Because it is a great fucking picture.

Bobby Seale is still alive.  You don’t know that name, but you need to.  Bobby is a founding member of the Black Pathers.  They were a militant black right’s group from San Francisco. ‘Isn’t that a black supremacy group?  Where they terrorists?  No, you racist.  They began as a free range legal activist group.  See, in the late 60s (like everywhere, and every time in America) black folk were getting pulled over and harassed.  For being black.  Huey would follow the cops around, and when they pulled someone over, Huey would get out, too.  When the cops began harassing or beating these black motorists… Huey stood there with a shotgun in one hand a law book in the other.

Let’s just for a minute and realize how great that image is.

He would shout to these motorists ‘you don’t have to answer that’. And stuff like that.  As word got around, their numbers grew.  Pretty much if you were a black person in San Francisco, you were a fan of the Panthers.  The work they did was human rights, very simply.  When there was no stop light in a dangerous traffic neighborhood, the Panthers engaged city council and asked for a stoplight.  They were, of course, ignored.  So, the Panthers took control of the intersection and have volunteers man it to make it a 4 way stop.

From my white, privileged, background… I see 2 main schools of thought in 60s black rights struggle.  the MLK non-violent ‘love your enemy, and forgive him’ tact… and the Malcolm X ‘by any means necessary’ fight back tact.  The Panthers were decidedly of the latter… and I agree.  They mindfully chose the name Black Panthers because ‘a panther will not attack unless it is cornered, and then it will viciously defend itself’.  How great is that?

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There are too many stories like that to tell.  I want you to know, most importantly, that these men (Bobby Seale, Huey Newton… and to a less degree Eldridge Cleaver) are heroes.  Yes, Nixon called them public enemy #1.  He also killed them all, and the ones he couldn’t kill he framed for jail.  Example – Geronimo Pratt.  He was convicted for murder, and spent 27 fucking years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  How do we know?  Well, the assholes who convicted him as eyewitnesses to the murder… turned out to be undercover cops.  Yeah, it took 27 years for that to come out and for him to be released.  Now do you get why black people are so angry?

There is SO much more I want to tell you, but there isn’t the time.  Plus, I am a privileged white guy… so I feel it isn’t even my business to tell their story.  I will, though, from the mountain tops.

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Here is some reading.  First off, Bobby is miraculously still alive.  There are 2 great books on the Panthers, written by the men themselves

Bobby Seale – Seize the Time

Eldridge Cleaver – Soul on Ice

What about Huey?  It is, really, his organization.  He also has a book.  Problem is, Huey isn’t half the writer that Bobby or Eldridge are.  In fact, their writing ability is inverse to their significance to the movement.  Eldgridge was a very gifted writer, which is how he became ‘minister of information’.  Bobby, lesser so.  As for Huey, he was more action than words.  Also, Huey is a lot more complex.  Huey was no angel.  Lets not dance around this, Huey killed people.  Probably a lot.  We’ll never know. Ever heard the term ‘power to the people’?  Even see the ‘black power’ fist?  The Panther’s invented that! ***

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See, we have this black lives matter movement.  That’s nice, and I agree.  However, it doesn’t seem organized or purposeful.  The gist is ‘hey cops, stop shooting black people!’.  Well, that is implied.  If it isn’t, then a catchy slogan isn’t going to keep you from shooting black people.  What the Panther’s did is the ORIGINAL ‘black lives matter’ movement.  They had a plan, and a communication strategy, and their plan didn’t depend on the white man helping them… or forgiving them.  The Panthers, wisely, realized that white society wasn’t going to do anything to help them.  So, they set out to help themselves.

I want to celebrate Bobby for a few reasons.  He is still alive.  His story of the Chicago 8 is incredible and terrifying.  He didn’t kill as many people as Huey.  In fact, I don’t know that Bobby killed anyone.

ok, that is all for now.  This wasn’t meant to be even a tiny bit comprehensive.  It is meant for you to say ‘wow, what a story.  I can’t wait to learn more!’  There is a cool frontline documentary on them I just bought last week, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Ordering that it was reminded me to tell you this story.

Just today I heard an amazing story.  A young fella came to join the Panthers, and serve the righteous cause.  He expected to get a gun, but instead they only filled his arms with books.  The kid said “I came here to get armed, man!”  and they replied “and now you are.”.   Ok, I added the ‘man’ part to the anecdote, but it still beautifully speaks to greater good the Panthers were doing.

Power to the People.  ALL Power to the People!

  • I use the term ‘black’ instead of ‘American American’ simply because the latter takes WAY too long to type out. Plus, back then, they were referred to ‘colored’.
  • *** ed: no they didn’t.  That goes back to ancient Assyria, racist.  something interesting and true, though?  They came up with ‘pig’ as slang for police
  • Also ‘still alive’ is Kathleen Cleaver, and is a legal professor still teaching in Atlanta.  Perhaps initially, she came to fame for being ‘Mrs Eldridge Cleaver’.  Go ahead and say that to her now, cracker.  She is STILL telling the stories and fighting the fight.  God bless her!  All Power to the People!
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The Eddie Murphy Archetype

Is there a better picture than above to celebrate Black History month.  That is Angela Davis giving the black power salute as she is being taken away in court.  For her fight, I am coining a new phrase here.  It’s the one above. I am here to tell you that the ‘Eddie Murphy Archetype’ thrives because you are racist.

Slowly I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give each other things for free

– Eddie Murphy as a white man in SNL’s brilliant ‘White like Me‘.

The Eddie Murphy Archetype (we’ll call it EMA for short) works because you get to laugh at a black guy who says all the things you so badly wish you could say, but don’t.  He is a black man who you are not afraid of.  You love the EMA because to you; it means you aren’t racist.

How could you be racist?  You own every Eddie Murphy DVD, even those super bizarre ones he has been doing for the last twenty years.  Now would a racist person have that much Eddie?  Yes.

Your racism isn’t what fascinates me, though.  It is how replaceable that guy is.  After Eddie just dropped off the earth, we were issued Martin Lawrence.  Yes, he was issued to us.  Since we didn’t have Eddie, us whities needed a new black clown  to dance for us… so that we would feel ok about the whole slavery thing.  You think “well, this guy is funny and rich.  So, clearly he isn’t being oppressed.  Heck, without me, the white suburbanite, this guy would be dirt poor.  Really, I am a hero here.  No more white guilt.

I guess we don’t want the blacks to get too uppity, because you only get about a five-year run at the top.  Then, we tire of your schtick.  Every five years (approximately) we get a new black guy to say those zany racist stereotypes.  “why can’t you white  people dance?  Y’all got no groove!” and we laugh because it’s so true.  The character has bonded with us, and let us know he doesn’t hate us for slavery.

After Martin Lawrence, we were issued Chris Tucker (from Friday), and he had a good give year run doing nothing but Uncle Tom bits that pretty much mirror “Mr Robinsons’ Neighborhood”.

So, he left us after about a five year run.  Then, we were issued Will Smith.  I know you think of him as a great and thoughtful actor, and he is.  It is how he lasted so long.  Remember, Will Smith wasn’t always doing super thoughtful biopics.  Check  out his IMDB page, it isn’t all Oscar material.  So, Chris Tucker faded and we were issued Chris Rock.  He faded after a great five year run and then Dave Chappelle jumped in just at the right time.

Now we know Chappelle is gone.  I mean, he meant it, and did it on his own terms.  He walked away from a 50 million dollar contract with Comedy Central.

So, that brings us to Kevin Hart.  His roles are SO close to Chris Tuckers, for the first few movie previews I thought it was Chris Tucker.  They are playing the exact  same characters.  To prove the concept that Kevin Hart is nothing but a flavor of the month, watch this clip.  The whole gag, in its entirety, is Hart yelling over and over again “you’re white!  You’re White!  You don’t fight!”  What kind of patronizing shit is that? What makes it hilarious is for that gag to work, we have assume every black man knows violent struggle in life that we couldn’t imagine.  So, the violence inherent in the racial divide is owned solely by young black men.  If you look at prison stats, you might conclude they are right.  For the gag to work, it pre-supposes you think most (or all) blacks are violent thugs.  This character takes the spit out of it by letting us know it’s ok.  We will always be fortunate and safe from street violence just because we are white.

Even after analysis, I still love the clip.  I think it’s great.  But, on many levels it is also degrading to the black man.  This is no different from a hot girl in a beer commercial.  Yes, I know she is being exploited for sex and that is simply to get my to lock into that product.  However, I still watch and drool.  For me, it’s a fair trade-off.

I don’t think for a second anyone of these actors wants to be a disposable dancing clown for the white man.  But, it pays well.  So, keep an eye here.  We’ll watch Kevin Hart have a great five-year run and disappear.  He will have a very public tax problem, most likely, and then we will be issued a new guy to mirror our best guesses of what life must be like to be black.

I think Chris Rock nailed the barrier between races.  He explained, rather thoughtfully, that:

“None of ya would change places with me! And I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white!”

In writing this, I don’t mean to denigrate the actors.  Clearly, some of these actors are brilliant and funny and talented.  They deserve recognition for being more than a trope.  Yet, what else could explain Martin Lawrence?  How did he make the cut?

Here is further proof of my concept.  (Black) Comedian Jay Pharoah does them all in 2 minutes.  (there are two different clips above.  Watch both, it’s dope!

Being wrapped up in the EMA is lot like being an NFL running back.  You get five great years – and then you are dunzo!  By 35 years old, you are no longer needed by society.  That is what makes you racist.  That is what makes it so funny.  Power to the people, ALL power to the people – Bobby Seale.  Black Power!

 

*** bonus feature.  WTF is the deal with all these?  Eddie made at least 11 of them, Tyler Perry has made even more.  They are so patronizing to the black experience I can’t even discuss them.  Why is every black woman over forty played identically teh same?  She is fat, and has a huge ass, is over-nurturing, and says thinks like “whoop your ass” every 40 seconds she is on screen?  I blame the Jerk.  It started there.