by James Cook
African-Americans have come a long way since we began to sing our songs of freedom. We've moved forward in this generation so triumphantly that every African in America and his mother claims to possess the master plan for black liberation. If it's not Louie, its Jesse. If it's not Jesse, it's Winnie (well maybe not anymore). If it's not Winnie, it's Speech. If it's not Speech, it's some African-know-it-all-in America. If it's not some it's some African-know-it-all-in America, then it's some punk-ass bitch on talk show and I don't wanna hear it! In most cases, whoever it is, defines the struggle according to some self-righteous, egotistical, hypocritical criteria. They come in all shapes, sizes, genders and degrees of sanctimony. Imprisoned by their own ideas and some whack-ass self-righteous dogma, they never cease to amaze me with plans for a revolution that cannot revolve, evolve, or resolve. It's always more of the same old shit: a constant state of inertia. So what's up with Black Revolutionaries Without A Revolution? They can try to fake the front but we all know what time it is. These motherfuckers are no different than MTV Feminists, Sensitive Pony-Tail Men, Beatnicks Without Rhythm, Republicans, Democrats, Rave-era Anarchists, Unhip Hippies, Nazi Skins, SHARP Skinz, Low Riding Eses and Pour La Raza Mexicanz, Old G's, New G's, The Cat In the Hat, Sup' Lovely Sista, Oh Baby Goddamn, Sam-I-Am's Smokin' Green Eggs and Ham........and so on to infinity.
Three Percent Revolutionaries
Three Percent Revolutionaries are down with the Islamic approach to black liberation. They jock The Five Percent Nation as their primary source of religious creed. For black folks in denial and everyone else, The Five Percent Nation is a group of Harlem youths who've organized an alliance with The Nation of Islam. Hip-hop, graffiti and other art forms are the means by which they communicate the spiritual message of Islam and black solidarity. Unfortunately, Five Percent Nation ideologies only contribute to one percent of the Three Percent mind-set. The other two percent comes from Oprah, Rolanda, and Montel.
Between Holy Pilgrimages, three times daily, to the church of St. Ides, the Koran, Egg McMuffins, and blonde chicks that wear Air Jordans and starter jackets, it's difficult to maintain the type of devotion and discipline that being Muslim demands. Three Percenters kick a slightly modified, government subsidized version of Islam which requires only a fanatical devotion to a no-pork diet. In the name of Allah, Three Percenters feel it is their right to make fucked-up and obnoxious remarks to young white coeds seated nearby on crowded city buses. In the name of Asalaam Aleikum, they preach, the same anti-miscegenation rhetoric that the KKK preaches, to interracial couples minding their own business and enjoying flame-broiled burgers at Burger King. The Three Percenter, who disrupts a four-star drinking establishment with a five-star display of public drunkenness, feels that he should be exempt from arrest. After all, the so-called Negro has been oppressed and under arrest by the white man for four centuries.
The same social energies that produced hippies in white American counter-cultures are responsible for producing Buckwheat Revolutionaries in African America. These dreadlocked or Stevie-Wonder-Style Braids motherfuckers specialize in waxing poetic about African heritage and culture. Their approach to black consciousness is strictly organic (I don't know what this means but it seems like Dreadlocks make black people do some dumb shit.) Buckwheat Revolutionaries repeat urgent requests for Afro-Americans to adopt African values, traditions, clothing, and grow dreadlocks. They believe that celebrating Kawanza, wearing Kente cloth, and bumpin' Arrested Development will prepare black people for the Exodus -- the movement of Jah people throughout the African Diaspora -- back to the motherland, Africa.
Buckwheat Revolutionaries are strict vegetarians who only eat chicken and fish. Edibles that contain lard, chicken broth, and other types of animal preservatives are politely refused while pork is definitely out of the question. Thus, when the Holistic Buckwheat Revolutionary is not feasting on a soft taco (with beans and no meat) from Taco Bell or applying another coat of horsey sauce to a Philly Steak and Cheese from Arby's, he is at the co-op in search of nuts, bean pies, tofu pita sandwiches, organic fruit, celery sticks, and low-fat Doritos.
Buckwheat Revolutionaries are notorious for their competent philosophical skills. Nobody can touch their ability to extract the symbolical and intellectual connection to eurocentric oppression, of all things dark from anything under the sun. Check out just about any street corner or curbside, where Dreadlocked Revolutionaries gather to sell incense and drop serious knowledge. You can always hear the brothas saying some shit like: "Peep this out, Africans! Take any number of simple household objects like pen and paper. Before the ink is applied, your average piece of blank white paper has an infinite number of significant uses. This piece of paper represents the whiteman in America. The black ink pen, on the other hand, represents the black man in America. It relies on the white paper in order to serve a useful purpose. You see how the white power structure conspiratorially conspires to create situations that sublimely suggest the power of the white power structure. It's the same thing for a black street without white lines. Traffic on a black street is chaotic, confused, and incomplete. Until the white lines are added, the misguided flow of traffic is self-destructive and lethal. See where we at black man?...."
I once had the pleasure of spending the greater part of a day with an Afro-American guru on African culture. After about six hours of heavy philosophical lecturing in African-American patios, four cups of Java, a lemon croissant, and an espresso, he proceeded to give me a lesson on how to become as African as humanly possible. I can't even front because I was thoroughly convinced that I too could become one bad-ass black-African-Kunta-Kinte motherfucker. The only problem that I could foresee was that it would cost some serious money to get my fist on a comb. Daily trips to the co-op, new congas, an imported wardrobe from Philly, and Lenny Kravitz CDs, would leave me assed-out and broke on the real. Then out of curiosity, I asked the brotha about his top-ten list of African countries and their major cities. Something strange happened. A white cat must have had his tongue because a long moment of silence passed between us. The next thing I knew, class had been dismissed.
The Yo My Nigga Wassup' Revolutionary
The Yo My Nigga Wassup' Revolutionary is down for the cause because he listens to hip-hop, kicks extra-large almost down to his knees, wears British Knights hi-tops, owns a beeper, and busts the free-style lyrics with a forty-ounce mic. For the Yo My Nigga Revolutionary, if the mind-set can be color-coordinated with the clothes, then why not? In most cases, however, the Yo Yo Revolutionary cannot decide if he wants to be a gangsta and a revolutionary or a High-Rollin'-Motha-Fuckin'-Pimp-Ass-Player Revolutionary.
The Yo Yo Gangsta Revolutionaries is the perfect examples of wasted potential -- "niggas usin' minds wrong when niggas could be great." He lives by the law of the nine millimeter and the Ford Pinto with a cella' phone. In the name of black people, the "G-Thang" can make the "ends" meet. You just have to be dat' nigga with the biggest nuts and the ability move that rock and bust caps in people's asses. However, the Yo Waz' Up Nigga Revolutionary soon realizes that preaching revolution while behind bars is useless. Possessing illegal substances with the intent to traffic may be necessary for some brothas to survive. But committing murder with a deadly weapon is all about some dumb shit. In this case, the only chance for the Yo Yo Gansta Revolutionary to be down for the revolution is a food fight in the cafeteria or a prison riot.
Most Yo Yo Nigga Revolutionaries become Yo Yo Wassup'-Playboy-High Roller-Mackin'-Ass-Chronic-Smokin'-Pimp-Daddy-Straight Up-Front-Like-A-Gangster Revolutionaries. The High Roller-Straight-Up-Player image allows you to take a stand for black liberation at your own convenience. Whenever the Forty-Drinkin'-Playboy-High Roller needs a few extra dollars or the girl that he has been "tryin' to push up on" refuses to give it up, his line is, "C'mon, help a brotha ooout! What a black man got to do to get some respect out this' motha-fucka'? " You hear the same noise, when he is forcibly removed from Kentucky Fried Chicken after starting a fight with the cashier for giving him "Extra Crispy" instead of "Original Recipe. "A black man can't go nowhere in this city without white people callin' the cops. Hey, wait! I wanna speak to my lawyer! Ah see, wassup with the handcuffs. Things ain't changed a bit since the 1950's..Y'all treatin' me like we South Africa....this ain't no South Africa. Don't I get a phone call? Nigga, what the fuck you lookin' at! Ay yo! Mr. officer, Come back..I wanna speak to my lawyer!...Ay Yo Wasssup!!?"
Black Revolutionaries Without A Revolution
by James Cook
This is a true story.
Quite recently I was talking to a second year college student who declared with beaming pride that he was about to become a member of a new black campus group. Congratulations I told him, and asked what student organization had he joined? He scoffed and stated that student organizations weren't for him as they were all filled with "Negroes." I made certain to tuck away the flyer I was holding, which urged students to attend an affirmative action debate, from one such "Negro" infested organization. Having side-stepped that minefield I inadvertently however walked into another, asking the individual if he meant he had joined a fraternity? This resulted in a number of expletives and the declaration of a profound abhorrence for Black Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, denouncing them as elitist, subversive and dangerous elements. I nodded to confirm agreement as I kept a wary eye on the insidious Greek-letter wearing fiends nearby. Even then they were up to no good: putting on a drive for Sickle-Cell Funding and creating a sign-up roster for TASP testing tutors at a local public school. Infidels, I muttered in disgust.
After the brief suspense the student informed me that the group he had joined was both Negro-free and dedicated to the uplift of the black community. It had its own hairstyles, assorted forms of jewelry, slang and other cultural affects. The student informed me proudly that he had come to the realization that he was "conscious" and that this was now the group of which he was a member.
For those outside of black popular slang, "conscious" does not refer to this individual being awakened from the Matrix by the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar---at least not literally. Rather the term "conscious" has taken on a meaning in the black community relating to one who is politically, racially, culturally informed, knowledgeable and aware. As this student had decided (through some form of self-declaration) that he was now conscious, he wanted to know if I had any advice for him - as he suspected that I was an old head/O.G. within the group, despite my mild-mannered everyday posture.
I politely informed the student that not only was I of lesser rank among those who consider themselves "conscious", but that I wasn't really a spokesman. But the student persisted. Surely he said, I could tell him something. He had caught me reading some Franz Fanon before and noticed the Boondocks cartoons plastered in my office. Certainly he begged I could give him some advice on becoming "conscious"---show him the ropes so to speak. No I said, attempting to hide my cowrie shells, I truly had no idea what he was talking about. Yet the student refused to be put off and I realized---like a Beatnuts track---there was no escaping this.
Looking around to make sure there were no prying eyes, I jostled the student hurriedly into a dark corner and put on a stern scowl. These matters were not to be discussed so openly I admonished him! There were rules and protocols to be followed! One didn't just wake up and declare openly that one was conscious! Didn't he know that there were extremist and fringe fanatics in the conscious crowd waiting to snatch him away to some cult compound? Was he not aware that the road he was embarking upon had driven some mad? The "conscious" crowd was filled with insightful, informative and positive peoples dedicated to what they term the "struggle"---but there was a seedy underbelly that preyed on recently opened minds, eagerly waiting to assimilate them into the hive collective. Every community has its fringe. The student stammered an apology, shocked and fearful at my Keyser-Soze-type change in demeanor. Shut up and listen, I told him! A quick backhanded pimp slap across the mouth let him I know I meant business. Leaning in closer, cloaked in the concealment of the shadows, I opened up some files I held and spilled the precious information like that black-ops agent in Oliver Stone's JFK (played by Donald Sutherland), detailing the more extremist factions of the "conscious crowd," their ideologies and suggestions by which to navigate through them.
The following is an excerpt from those files. And I warn you as I warned him, this information is classified Read at your own risk.
Identifying the Fringe in the "Conscious" Community: A Brief Dossier & Guide Manual
The 1960ers: usually consists of leadership by older conscious members with a few young adherents. This group will constantly and consistently stress the importance of 1960s radical Black Power movements, personalities and organizations. Their main goal it seems is to bring about the level of political awareness that existed in the black community near half a century ago.
Pros: means well; are genuinely concerned with the plight of black people; are very good at organizing protests; marches and informing the younger generation on the monumental importance of history from near a century ago (from BAM to the plight of Assata Shakur).
Cons: it was near a century ago; many of the staunch 1960'ers seem unable to deal with the realities of the 21st century; too few understand that different times require different tactics; they mean well but are generally antiquated (i.e., attempting to mimic Mao Tse Tung's disastrous agricultural communal farming ideas, though they caused millions of Chinese to starve to death) and unable to reach the masses.
Suggestions: Adapt and change or perish. As the urban philosopher of Shaolin would say, these analog cats need to get digital.
The Doom Projectors: usually consists of older and younger "conscious" members. Their main focus is to inform us about all that is wrong with black people, in their perspective. Doom projectors know every negative statistic relating to black people and disease, the prison system, homicide, economics, dysfunctional families, teen pregnancies, drug abuse and just about any other social ill plaguing the community. In their estimation nothing is getting better for black people, rather we are steadily marching towards an apocalyptic abyss.
Pros: shock and scare therapy sometimes works; can motivate and spur people into action; are human computers (like black Mentats) when it comes to statistic number crunching and predicting dire forecasts; help inspire really great Hip Hop songs like "Self-Destruction."
Cons: scares the beejeezus outta you; by the time you're finished listening to these horrible statistics you don't want to get mobilized, you want to crawl into a hole and listen to sorrowful songs from 2Pac's "Me Against the World"; can't always trust their stats.
Suggestions: Discuss the negatives with a balance of the positive; point out black achievements and progressive steps. By all means keep us abreast of what work needs to be done. But the world already tells us we ain't s_*t,* another spokesman isn't necessary.
The Conscious Thug Consortium: mostly consists of younger members who have managed to intertwine two seemingly unrelated words, "conscious" and "thug," into an actual national movement. Conscious thugs shun scholarly political work but instead embrace the philosophy of "street knowledge." Believing that no one truly understands the plight of the black masses but the thug, these individuals extol the virtues of the street team lifestyle but lace it with pro-black ideologies. Thus in one sentence they may quote Donald Goines and in the next Malcolm X. Conscious thugs can be found on numerous street corners, where they tend to blend in with the more common thug variety, but "kick knowledge" every now and again. They have proliferated in the modern Hip Hop community.
Pros: unlike regular thugs they can truly see that there is a struggle to be fought; in the current Thug Renaissance" sweeping the black community they are quite relatable---especially to the street crowd.
Cons: being pro-black doesn't always equal being positive"; have hyper-patriarchal ideas of masculinity; they are proud in their sexism; their over-inflated ideas of manhood can't really allow them to accept black women as equals, but rather in stereotyped categories of saints, gold-diggers or freaks; not above reverting to a common fratricidal thug over the slightest beef or insult; their dueling ideologies (thug vs. conscious) makes them seem contradictory and garbles their messages often into incoherence; refuses to leave their limbo state but instead revels in the freedom it creates; the totality of their struggle seems to consist of greater access of every black man to more Cristal, bigger Jesus-pieces, phatter Escalades, even phatter prime choice booty (preferably in a thong) and the really good, good weed.
Suggestions: There's a ready-made place for thugs. It's called jail. Society does indeed help make thugs, who in turn contribute to their own oppression by playing the role and then filling the jails. It's a nice little cycle, but only the "real" thugs (who build and profit from the jail) make a profit. If you know about this pimp-o-logical system, break it. Trim the thug-fat from your waistline. It's unneeded and unhealthy. That would really be revolutionary.
The Lumpen-Proletariat Reformation Movement (LPRM): consists of members who adhere to the belief system that the "revolution" will come not from the upper, middle or even lower class elements of society---but from the absolutely bottom rung: the lumpen- proletariat of Marxist ideology that occupy the underclass of society, often typified by their inability to find consistent legal work and thus resorting to criminal and other undesirable activity. The LPRM can at times be aligned with the conscious thugs, though they do not generally claim the appellation of thug themselves. Rather the LPRM asserts that inside every thug is a revolutionary waiting to be born. In the minds of the LPRM, thugs represent the greatest potential as revolutionaries as their pride in criminal activity is deemed rebellion against the system/society. Furthermore, the LPRM generally accuses anyone who works within the system (from those who hold a 9 to 5 job, to teachers in the school system, to black politicians, to those in academia, to the old woman who calls the police when some thugs break into her home) of being the sworn enemies of the lumpen-proletariat and thus traitors to the "the revolution."
Pros: are following a well-known methodology that is based on some semblance of sound political ideology; highlights intra-racial class issues; speaks up for a segment of society that is often neglected or regarded as refuse or hopeless; is a firm champion of the underdog; advocates many of the positive attributes of visionaries like Huey P. Newton.
Cons: creates enemies out of potential allies by declaring anyone involved in the system (which can again include simply having legal and gainful employment) a capitalist oppressor (not seeming to understand that the owning of capital is rather key in this definition, which the average employed black person does not have); holds thugs accountable for nothing, rather placing the blame for any and all of their actions on society (including black teachers, civil rights activists, etc.), thus negating self-discipline and self-empowerment; often never lived in the hood and have simplistic romanticized ideas of philosopher pimps and accountant wizard crack dealers; when their "noble-savage" fairytale of ghetto hoodlums is shocked into reality (by becoming a victim of crime or the like themselves), there's a serious chance they'll devolve into Black Conservative Republicans.
Suggestions: Realize that the revolution isn't happening over night. Change will have to come from more than the criminal element. If you went to college, lived in the suburbs or hold a respectable job---be proud of it. There's no need to hide or feel embarrassed about those things. If the revolution happens tomorrow I would want a society filled with professionals, scholars and intelligent, strong, moral leadership---not pimps, pick-pockets and hustlers. Ask the criminal element you so love and admire; I bet they want to live in a place like that too.
We Hate Whitey Federation: these individuals don't like white people, white holidays, white culture, white music, white food, white dogs, white umbrellas, etc. This is pretty much the sum totality of their belief system. Often they will get together to discuss all the ways in which they hate whites and a few will even call for white extermination as the solution for all the world's ills.
Pros: can reveal many interesting and bizarre factoids about white people (i.e., white hygiene, or lack thereof, in medieval Western Europe) that can be useful at parties, barbershop conversations, etc.; has found a way to use the rage that society's racism creates within us all and isn't afraid to express it; sometimes, especially against hardcore white supremacists, they're invaluable and indispensable; really cause reflection upon the classic line by Paris, "who's to blame for the hate that hate made?"
Cons: their existence is predicated upon the existence of white supremacy (translation: they hate whites, because whites hate them); they lose the moral high ground by sinking to the level of the white supremacists; hatred eventually leaves them as bitter and hollow as the catalyst they hate; their movement does very little in the way of productiveness for the struggle in the long run; a significant number of them work for white people (including being in the US military) and might probably just be acting out frustrations at a superior/boss rather than actually having concern for the struggle; worse thing about these individuals: you can't take them out anywhere.
Suggestions: Hate is a natural human emotion. It can even be useful and is understandable. However getting trapped at that level of existence only tends to stunt your growth. Though race as a social reality is quite powerful (and I do NOT advocate the false move to some colorblind society anytime soon), at the same time race the biological construct is a white supremacist fallacy. We're all members of the same species, though the way we act sometimes you wouldn't know it. Don't allow white supremacy to turn you into a mirror-reflection in black-face, because at the end of the day you really don't have the stomach to gas little white children or toss them into crematories---and you know it. Save the supremacy business for the folks that do it best.
White Supremacy Analysts: can sometimes be allied with the We Hate Whitey Federation, but really focus more so on the study and power of white supremacy itself than engaging in the hatred of whites. These individuals tend to not only read works by Frances Cress-Welsing, Neely Fuller or Marimba Ani, but make such things their literal bibles---often above and beyond the intentions of the actual authors. They stress the need to critically analyze white supremacy, its affects, mores, means and application. What makes white people tick and do what they do consumes every waking moment of these individuals lives. According to many of these self-professed scholars of Caucasian habits," white people are the most powerful and intelligent force in the known universe (due to their current elevated status in the world) and it is black peoples" weakness in the face of this power that has allowed us to be oppressed.
Pros: recognizes the role of white supremacy and its affects on the black psyche; usually a highly intellectual bunch; seeks out white supremacy in nearly everything for critical analysis; can spot racism from at least a hundred yards; are believed to possess extra-sensory racism perceptions: allowing them to see a racist act, before it is actually committed.
Cons: seeks out white supremacy in nearly everything, to the point of seeming ludicrous; blames black people for being victims of racism in the past, as we were supposedly simply not strong or smart enough to save ourselves; in the end has actually bought into the basic premise of white supremacy: that white people are the most powerful and intelligent force in the known universe.
Suggestions: Gods aren't gods if they don't have worshippers; ergo white people are only gods if you worship them. Don't believe in white supremacy; try believing in your black self; its healthier.
EANS (Extremely Angry Negro Syndrome): it is hard to place this category, because it is more like an affliction than actual type. Symptoms usually include a high degree of anger and the belief that making everyone as furious as they are will bring about mobilization and spark instantaneous "consciousness." Though a great deal of their anger is directed against "the man" (who they take great pleasure in telling off or scaring at any given chance), most of this rage eventually is turned upon other black people. If one does not quickly accelerate to these individuals' level of anger, there is the strong possibility you will be denounced as an Uncle Tom, traitor or "honkie-lover" (the latter is a direct quote).
Pros: a significant amount of these afflicted individuals are new to the struggle (in fact some may have grown up in lily white venues before), and the shock of seeing things through "conscious" eyes causes the onset of disease as their worldview is challenged and thrown into imbalance; most will calm down over time and channel their anger in a more productive means; EANS is a natural phase nearly everyone who becomes "conscious" goes through; though it may cause some to lash out at friends and family members for being "deaf, dumb and or blind," it is best these latter individuals wait out the disease of their loved one as it will normally clear up with maturity.
Cons: if left untreated, EANS can develop into a chronic disability. Some clear cases may include standing with bullhorns in black urban venues and screaming at other black people to get as angry as ones self; verbally insulting and lashing out at black passer-bys for not reaching a desired fever pitch of fury; brandishing weapons (empty) and jumping in front of television cameras at any given opportunity to show white people how angry you are (synonyms include "show-biz revolutionaries);" will more than likely turn off ten times as many black people as they turn on; all this anger will probably result in hypertension and high blood pressure, both of which are deadly.
Suggestions: St. John's Wort, Prozac or anger-management. Perhaps watch or read Malcolm X and see how he channeled anger into pro-active philosophy/action.
The Blackness Gestapo: a rouge and more extremist wing of the Blackness Police whose primary goal is to seek out, expose and verbally abuse other black individuals that are deemed race-traitors, Uncle Toms, etc. What places the Black Gestapo apart from the Blackness Police is the extremely high standard they set for what is deemed appropriate black political and cultural behavior, leaving little room open for deviance from this line (i.e., one offense can render a lifetime of work in the struggle null and void). Their usual targets are black political leaders, black political groups, black entertainers and most especially a black social group called Sigma Pi Phi founded in the 1900s by black professionals and oft-criticized for their elitism (also known as, the Boule).
Pros: highlights elitism in the black community; holds black leaders, entertainers and others socially responsible; not afraid to level criticism.
Cons: their idealistic idea of what it means to be black and proud is unreachable by just about anyone; they focus more attention on harshly criticizing other black people than dealing with numerous other worthy issues; incapable of building any type of encompassing black coalition with anyone outside their grouping; cause more disunity and chaos than anything approaching a semblance of black unity; have created a type of "Black McCarthyism" in their hunts for race-traitors; their dangerous rhetoric can at times often call for intra-racial violence directed against the accused; their focus is rather narrow, somehow only going after politicians, leaders and entertainers for acts of "betrayal" but silent on deeds of black drug dealers, gangs and others who sow seeds of destructiveness in the community; may be afflicted with severe EANS.
Suggestions: The Black world is multi-faceted and diverse. While criticism is certainly valuable, making blanket comparisons of a noted Black Conservative who works on behalf of white foundations to dismantle black progress (Ward Connerly) with a social activist, Pan-Africanist, anti-lynching crusader (WEB DuBois) because of disagreements on some issues (namely the entire Marcus Garvey feud), and thus labeling the latter a "race-traitor" is simply extremist, erroneous and shameful. Try to find what we agree upon before picking apart the differences.
Anti- [Place Word Here]: these individuals are typified by their uncanny ability to be anti- [any and all things]. Their backpacks are probably dotted with buttons detailing mostly what they don't agree with: anti-globalism, anti-war, etc.
Pros: they are public activists and bring issues to light that need to be discussed.
Cons: where they stand on an issue, beyond being against it, is uncertain; and when they do make a firm stand, there's hardly ever a solution offered; when a solution is offered, it is so impractical that it is made moot; often have a "with me or against me" attitude, often failing to entertain or examine shades of grey; they tend to support anyone that is anti- [what they are this week], without at times fully inspecting who they're allying with; eventually their cries become a monotone of rhetoric that no one pays attention to.
Suggestions: Opposition movements work best when viable, practical and sensible alternative solutions are offered.
Black Anti-Intellectualist Movement (BAIM): these are individuals who have adopted the Jacksonian Era philosophy of anti-intellectualism, married them with 1900s positivism and applied them to an ideology of being "conscious." BAIM emphasizes the idea that intellectual pursuit and methodologies used in modern disciplines such as science, history, etc. are the sole creations of whites. Blacks therefore should shun these academic methods of understanding and rely instead on what are deemed "African" or "Black" ways of understanding. Some BAIM adherents even adopt a form of Negritude, declaring logical pursuits the domains of whites and artistic (deemed emotional or spiritual) matters the domain of blacks.
Pros: highlight serious culturally inherent flaws with academia and the scholarly world that should be addressed.
Cons: make white people the architects of everything in the modern world; falsely believe that prior to white people blacks and others were not using systems similar to the modern scientific or historic methodologies; falsely believe that non-blacks have not contributed to what is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding in the modern world; falsely believe that somehow white people "own" science or the like; take non-understanding of a subject as evidence of a flaw in said subject; are clueless as to the nature of evidence as a method of making a case; will engage in debate not by presenting evidence, but speaking from emotion and critiquing any evidence presented, again from a stance of emotion; all conflicts in their mind boil down to "opinion" as to them there are no facts; employ methods and ways of understanding or gaining knowledge that are individualistic rather than collective (in other words, their methods only work for them---you thus can't verify or deny it; it is un-test-able); will try to make others drop out of school or belittle their academic accomplishments as reliance on the white man's pedigree."
Suggestions: Engaging in debate with them is pointless, because you will be the only person presenting evidence while they pull the most improbable opinions out of thin air (without evidence) to present as fact. Best thing to do, avoid them.
Wide-Eyed Religious Fanatics: may come in various spiritual persuasions, though the more fanatical and feverish tend to adhere to specialized and small black sects (often with an established membership merely in the dozens) of the three major Western Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). What separates them from other black religions is an extremist fundamentalist perspective, often declaring their miniscule, minority belief system the only true path for black people to find salvation, freedom and liberty, and denouncing all others as heretical and/or Satanic. They can often be found in the black sections of urban areas standing on platforms/benches screaming verses from a particular holy text. A cult of personality is often established around one individual in the group that borders on the level of cult, if not fully crossing over that line.
Pros: Given that you can hear them screaming from blocks away, they have a good set of lungs.
Cons: Their fundamentalism isolates and prevents them from working with others, religious or non-religious. Their venomous dislike for traditional African religions (calling such things as Ifa the practice of pagan heathens," or declaring they don't worship rocks in the mud" like their African ancestors) competes for something out of a Neo-Nazi handbook. Beyond the self-hate that denigrates Africa and glorifies Western Asia, there's also a high probability that these individuals are certifiably insane.
Suggestions: Don't anger them or make sudden movements in their presence.
Supa-Dupa Afrikans: a segment of the conscious population that has taken the Afrocentric and African-centered academic movement, and adopted these scholarly pursuits as an everyday lifestyle and way of living. Though many have done this, these individuals represent a more extreme caste. Members will usually dress in a mix of African and modern African-American garb; wear assorted bits of African jewelry; make greetings in one or two African words (normally Kiswahili, Pharaonic Egyptian or Akan); sport a claimed "Afrocentric" hairstyle and extol Africa.
Pros: have a devout love and pride about themselves as black people and Africa; may be quite informed on aspects of black history and elements of culture; often push for a healthy dietary lifestyle, fight against racism and more.
Cons: makes everyone else feel they are somehow lacking in their own African-ness; thinks walking around with a licorice stick in one's mouth is acceptable at any venue; have never stepped foot on the continent of Africa but have been planning to go there for the better part of a decade; often think they can out-African even black people who live on the continent of Africa; a lot of what they think is African, really isn't; have grand spiritual, economic and political ideas for Africa but have a general misunderstanding of traditional or modern African spiritual, economic or political institutions; romanticism of pre-colonial Africa may leave them very unaware of political, social and other events in modern Africa; horrific occurrences like Rwanda's genocide completely shakes their foundation.
Suggestions: Africa is complex. Don't treat it like a singular entity. Make the trip, meet some people, get some connections, cause some real change on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fantastical Fact Fellowship (FFF): consists of individuals known for their ability to offer historical facts that often seem quite fantastic. Examples of their work include the now famous Willie Lynch document, the etymological origin of the word picnic" from the common 20th Century American lynch era phrase "pick-a-n*gger," or even the assertion that the first President of the United States was a black man (John Hanson). These types usually occupy online groups, forums and listservs.
Pros: mean well; may often highlight interesting historical matters in the context of their "facts" (i.e., the brutality of slavery associated with discussions of the Willie Lynch letter; the normalization of extreme violence in the lynching era associated with etymological investigations into the word "picnic;" providing insight into the Articles of Confederation that preceded the government structure as we know it when addressing the John Hanson assertion).
Cons: a little research often discredits their claims (i.e., the Willie Lynch letter is not only most likely a modern forgery, but its seemingly well-intentions actually obscure the importance of black resistance to slavery and absolves the role of post-1700s racism in understanding issues of the modern black community; "picnic" is a French derived word, piquenique, that originates in the 1600s and thus some 300 years before the lynching era of 20th century America; John Hanson, the first US president, was very "white" and is often confused by the FFF with a black Liberian senator of another era who shares the same name); damages the work of accomplished African-centered scholars by making fantastical claims of the ancient world (Africans sailed everywhere and built everything---including supposedly Atlantis); will make the most spurious links (often through linguistics) to assert positions that all other forms of evidence deny; all their sources come from 19th Century Europeans but will label anyone who critiques their assertions as Eurocentric, brainwashed by "white" learning, etc. (including other more moderate African-centered scholars).
Suggestions: The drawback of a literate society is that if something is written down we tend to assume it must be true. Any assertion you read should be followed up with research, especially if it sounds overly fantastic. The key tool here is critical analysis; employ it. Realize that no matter how well the intention, misinformation is detrimental in the long run---especially when those who seek to discredit Black Studies (Eurocentrists) seize upon these fringe claims and use them as representative of the discipline as a whole. There are a lot of black facts out there in the metric tons; there's never a need to make up anything.
Black Conspiracy Theorists: generally adhere to belief that any and all conspiracy theories, even when they contradict, are true. [Note: Conspiracies are not to be confused with conspiracy theories. Conspiracies are usually events with evidence that have been revealed often during or after the occurrence (i.e., COINTELPRO under J. Edgar Hoover). Conspiracy theories are more extraordinary claims based on circumstantial evidence (i.e., a secret group called the Illuminati has been controlling world events since the medieval era and caused a tornado with alien technology from Roswell in Kansas last week).
Pros: are natural skeptics of authority; some of their claims make you ponder the plausibility; serve as great fodder for anyone who wants to write speculative fiction.
Cons: scares people into paranoia; evidence for claims are often shaky if not completely bogus; no actual solutions offered (i.e., storming the next board meeting of the Illuminati and demanding redress for a few centuries of wrongs); conspiracy theory scares often turn into a witch-hunt that can become destructive to the black community; with Anti-Semitic Czarist created fables like the "Protocols of Zion," they and David Duke could share a booklist.
Suggestions: Critically analyze any claim and pick sense from non-sense.
Malnutrition-ists: individuals who hold fast to the ideology that the revolution begins in the mouth and ends with the colon. Malnutrition-ists are a more extremist branch of the holistic health movement that espouses a complicated belief system which centers around and ends with food consumption. Among their many assertions are that any type of edible meat is evil; cooking vegetables is wrong; mixing foods of various colors or types is an abomination; liquid-food diets are best; somewhere in India there are humans who live off only the breathing of air.
Pros: are aware that dietary nutrition is important; stress the need for healthy living for longer life; great weight loss plan.
Cons: filled with factual errors about biology, health and diet (i.e., think non-meat eating is a big African trend, when it's really more so Asian; claims humans aren't meant to eat meat, despite the fact that we have canines and the small stomach of an omnivore rather than the large one of a herbivore, etc.); can't eat as much as a single French fry in their presence without enduring a graphic digestive lecture; the more extreme live such rigid dietary codes that they are unable to adapt to a rigorous lifestyle (took one of them with me on a trip to Africa once; his refusal to eat anything made him so weak he had to leave early and fly back home); no good in physical combat as they weigh about a pocket-full of loose change and might pass out from the first blow; often forget the exercise part of diet; Child Protective Services will come and take your kids away and stuff a cheeseburger down their throats if you have them living off is grain pasted onto a stick.
Suggestions: Eat to live and be healthy, not to adhere to some idealistic non-reality based standard.
Space Cadets: individuals who reject most of the earthly matters of the black community and define consciousness" by adherence to a convoluted belief system that claims (among other things) that there are grey skinned extra-terrestrials that chirp like birds and walk on the moon with liquid shoes; that aliens built most ancient cultures; speak in recently created languages with an inordinate amount of Z's" and T's; urge their followers to journey to compounds in certain southern states; believe their leader is from another galaxy and numerous other ideas.
Pros: beyond a form of extreme escapism, NONE! Did you not read what I wrote above or what? Run as far away from these individuals as possible!
Cons: everyone will think you are crazy and brainwashed, but you will think everyone else is crazy and brainwashed; friends will avoid you like you're selling Amway; your leader, your kids and R. Kelly might film a video.
Suggestions: Crack kills. Switch to a big phat blunt of SANITY. Roll it up with some REALITY for best results. Keep an eye on children.
The Blunted: segment of the more extremist conscious community who used to be very knowledgeable and intellectual on matters of politics, society, etc. but was introduced to weed and now views the herb as salvation.
Pros: always got one ready for you.
Cons: 95% of the time you have no idea what in the hell they're talking about.
Blame-Black-Women Foundation: typically males, though a few black women join in (i.e., Sharazad Ali), who lay any and all problems of the race at the feet of black women. According to this philosophy, there is not a problem in the black community that is not caused by black women (typically African-American black women). According to this type, sexism does not exist in the black community. Feminism, woman-ism or any other attempt by black women to assert power, identity and self-awareness is deemed a subversive plot hatched by white women. Some of the more extreme members of this group advocate physical violence against black women for perceived verbal transgressions.
Pros: at least they usually claim to love their black mothers.
Cons: are unable to have healthy, working relationships with black women unless they can control and dominate the situation; blame black women for their lack of occupation, schooling or some other shortcoming in life; jealous of success of black women; some openly promote domestic violence; can't help but wonder if their strong hatred for black women is a projection of some deeply concealed opposite emotion: perhaps a homo-erotic love for white men; will eventually either end up in the clink, on COPS or get their ass beat when the sista they've been abusing sees the end of "What's Love Got to Do With It."
Suggestions: Read some history books on the role of black women in the black struggle. Read a few books on sexism. Get counseling and deal with your issues. You're embarrassing the whole gender here.
Blame-Black-Men Foundation: typically women, though a few black men join in to make blanket apologies on behalf of all members of the racial-gender. Tend to lay any and all problems of the race at the feet of black men. They will use black men as their reason for inter-racial or even mono-gender relationship habits.
Pros: at least they usually claim to love their black sons.
Cons: take out grievances (justified and unjustified) on the wrong black males, usually not the transgressor(s); uses sexism as a shield for any short-coming, thus negating self-responsibility or any level of blame in any conflict with black men; allows one or several black males actions to define her attitude towards black men everywhere.
Suggestions: Even understanding and acknowledging the multi-faceted effects of sexism, blaming all black men for the transgressions of one or few members of the race is about as sensible as racial profiling---in fact it is racial profiling. If one chooses to date/marry/or mate with another black woman or a non-black male, make it ones own choice, not the fault of all black men from here to Borneo.
Conscious Pimp Brotherhood: typically male, charismatic and generally knowledgeable. Unlike many other members of the more extremist and fringe elements in the conscious community, these individuals do not espouse any grand yet narrowly focused political, religious or other platforms/philosophies. In fact their main mission is to spread love"to as many black women as possible, by using the struggle and their "consciousness" as a skillful tool of seduction. They can often be found in coffee shops and can infect minds with the aid of a microphone and a few skillful words. Jill Scott's Love Rain Down" is an ode to this type while Common's "A Film Called (Pimp)"" and The Coup's "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night" parody the concept with symbolism that touches on numerous other matters.
Pros: Ask ya' woman.
Cons: this type trivializes the struggle by using it as a means to achieve some ass; causes massive dissent and eventual dissolution of black political groups/organizations by using the women within as a personal playground; every other brother with dreads and a cowrie shell necklace gets blamed for his actions (though oddly enough we never told anyone to sleep with him); when he gets bored with sistas, he may take the revolutionary-between-the-thigh exploration committee over to Becky (again leaving the rest of us to take the heat); worse still, he might catch something and pass it on; you might be friends with this type, laugh at his exploits and even enjoy listening to them, but one day you'll find out he pushed up on your woman and you'll have to beat his ass---naturally.
Suggestions: None. Ya'll is grown folks. Do whutchalike. Just be safe (physically) and adult (mentally) about it. Note: Contrary to persistent rumors, the author of this article has never been a member of this brotherhood. Any assertions to the contrary will be vehemently denied and result in pending legal action.
On a more serious note:
Okay, okay"this story was kind of made-up in the beginning. And the groups up top may not be as stereotypical as I make them out to be. Yet anyone who hangs around the conscious community knows I wasn't lying about the gist of those beliefs in the least. Does this negate the entire conscious" community? Of course not. Fringe is everywhere---no movement or group is free of it. My long winded point with this bit of satire? Just showing those who say that we "conscious" types can't poke fun and critique each other (or think that we all agree on each and everything), that we have a sense of humor, level criticism and have competing ideologies.
For those in the "conscious" community whose necks may have bulged till ya popped your cowrie shell choker or your head-wrap unraveled as you read this article, try the St. John's Wort prescribed above. To paraphrase the Madd Rapper in 50 Cents best joint to date, don't take this s_*t serious, cause I'm just buggin out but then again"y'all can take it how you want it, word!
that is good