Sunday, April 09, 2006

F--k What You Heard About Black Males from the NYTimes

F--k What You Heard About Black Males from the NYTimes-Steal this article!
By Omowale Adewale (formerly L. James)

I heard y'all bombarding my email with the New York Times' article on the plight of the black male and your own analysis and your friend's analysis, and frankly, it bothered me. I'm good though. I'm straight. I just wanted to enter into the discussion.

They said "he was a case history, as well as an extraordinary and twisted man, turning many true gifts to evil purpose…his ruthless and fanatical belief in violence…marked him for fame, and for a violent end…he did not seek to fit into society or into the life of his own people…The world he saw through those horn-rimmed glasses of his was distorted and dark. But he made it darker still with his exaltation of fanaticism. Yesterday someone came out of that darkness that he spawned and killed him."

The New York Times, "the best daily paper in the country, in the world…urbane, sophisticated, liberal on certain civil liberties and civil rights questions," their mask slipped on February 22, 1964. This is how they described our Honorable Brother Malcolm X, our beloved Black Prince on day after he was shot. The leader of black males, the very working class and poor black males described by the Times on March 20, 2006. The leader in which SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and the Black Panther Party both revere for providing them with their initial political science and courage to organize black people to defend against white American lynchings, fire hoses, dogs, discrimination, and America's systemic attacks. The Times pumped more lead in El Hajj Malik El Shabazz through each line they wrote the very next day after his first assassination. And, I am supposed to take their information packaged and sold to us under the guise of scholarly studies from Columbia,
Princeton and Harvard for gold?

Already, some black intellectual is doing white power's work and dissecting my words and concluding, "Their information is still true." Nah, homey. It's not. Statistics might be, though. Author of "the Debt" Randall Robinson explained so eloquently that "a little learning is, as they say, a dangerous thing, and particularly when it is presented, like a severely cropped photograph, as an independent truth. And I do not believe as a general matter, such truncated analyses are innocently delivered by white establishment academics." Interestingly enough, but hardly coincidental he his commenting on another New York Times article about blacks falling behind in 1998. I believe we see a pattern here, John!

The best tactic the government and media ever used (and I mean they did spend billions of dollars on hundreds of agencies and organizations to complete its strategy) is the strategy of making young brothers feel like they are responsible for their current conditions. 50CENT hasn't been out more than five years in the media and we think he created the black villain in New York. We fault 50CENT more than we turn our waving fingers at the music groups that own the labels that own him. Meanwhile, folks are convinced that a nation, which stole land and murdered millions and enslaved millions for 300 years can't possibly be this diabolical.

Yes, black males are heading to prisons at astronomical rates and unemployment among black men is above the roof. However, I don't buy the ivy-league's solutions or conclusions or the New York Times story because they inexplicably and cautiously relate the reason for black male's crisis to the fault of black men themselves. "In response to the worsening situation for young black men, a growing number of programs are placing as much importance on teaching life skills — like parenting, conflict resolution and character building — as they are on teaching job skills." This quote in the Times article clearly suggests Blacks are messed up because we are bad parents, are irrational people, can't get jobs because we don't know anything, and we are just plainly bad people.

The poor statistics of black men in the US has always been a picture worth strong solutions. The difference was that Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Huey P. Newton, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. never summed up black male oppression as something that we spawned. Not even remotely! Whether they preached non-violence or the right to defend yourself they always gave you clarity on the black current situation in America. They never blamed us for being apart of the poorest and most discombobulated communities. Harriet Tubman saw probably the most backwards of black men in their desire to stay enslaved instead of risking being free. She understood that that backwardness was always connected to white power's attempt to justify black slave's position in society and if it failed, white power frightened you beyond belief. The problem was always summed up as white power is the enemy and that it maintains power at the expense of the African. Whether it's wrestling Hip-Hop away and using it's human and financial resources against us and for themselves, taking advantage of slavery and prison labor, or crushing the urge and the ability for uprising, black people have been the pedestal.

Am I supposed to believe after 300 years of slavery and 46 years of Jim Crow that now I am responsible for black males being 1 million locked up? Am I supposed to think that the reason young black males are mad ass hell and selling drugs because we don't mentor enough black children? Am I supposed to believe that the CRIPS (Community Revolutionary Interdisciplinary Program Service) and the Bloods created the conditions that force me to live from check to check? The fact is that black people were awarded Civil Rights 42 years ago by the same government that launched a war on us.

In the 1920's, remnants of COINTELPRO began forming from the young J. Edgar Hoover. His first task was to crush the Black Star Line and send one of the most powerful black men in America and his African internationalist ideas back to which they came. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, leader of millions in the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) was deported to Jamaica under a form of counterinsurgency used by the United States government. The UNIA had 700 branches in 38 branches.

That same counterinsurgency finally took on the name called COINTELPRO in 1956 and was responsible for the deaths of 27 known Black Panther Party members and several others are still locked up as political prisoners, which are mostly men. The Black Panther Party had taken self-determination into their own hands and into black communities. Lead by mostly black males, but transcribed to me by my mother Cleo Shivers a teenage Black Panther organizer from 1969-1971. She explained to me the daily food being given out to the black community at the Sutter office in Brooklyn and the free clinic that treated the black community. The songs and poems she recited and the rallies described so detailed and vividly made me imagine the greatest zeal and love black people ever had for us in this nation. We were proud, although we were going to jail for our rebelliousness. The difference is we were politically clear on why and how we got there!

The conditions are still the same but black people's political clarity changed with COINTELPRO's successful execution, a US counterinsurgency program that murdered, imprisoned, misdirected, discredited, and disrupted the revolutionary, its spirit and potential revolutionaries to come. In 1969 the FBI special agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party revealed that in his city, at least, the Black nationalists were primarily feeding breakfast to children. Hoover fired back a memo implying the career ambitions of the agent were directly related to his supplying evidence to support Hoover's view that the BPP was "a violence prone organization seeking to overthrow the Government by revolutionary means". J. Edgar Hoover said if you are going to be a revolutionary, you are going to be a dead revolutionary. The very people who admitted to killing our leaders and brandishing them as violent and hateful in our mourn for them now find themselves articulating the depths of our despondency. Find their half attest to these claims in the Freedom of Information Act.

Black men are not in the poor conditions in America because of natural conditions, bad habits, because of fatherlessness, because some are stuck on a sixth grade reading level, or because they are helpless recidivists or even because the US government doesn't intervene effectively. We are facing these very issues because America's imperialism requires young black male's incarceration; it requires the petty bourgeoisie black males to offer up solutions that point to the government as the problem-solvers and the black working class and poor peasantry as the problem-makers. There is a very real and material obstacle preventing black men from becoming Marcus Garvey's, Malcolm's, and Huey's. The reason why black men suffer is because the US government DOES intervene in our community. Everyday, the police squad car patrols the black community waiting for the slightest reason to throw us in jail and extract labor and inject despair. Elected officials in our community get their positions at our expense because they are complicit.

At the juncture in which the black working class and poor begin to show insurgency due to their conditions such as the 1992 rebellion in Los Angeles, CA after the LAPD's beating of Rodney King, the 1996 rebellion in St. Petersburg, FL after the police shooting death of Tyrone Lewis, the 2003 rebellion in Cincinnati, OH for the deaths of five unarmed black men by police in a five month period, and the Benton Harbor, MI rebellion in 2003 after a black motorist was killed when a police car pursued him the government increases counterinsurgency methods. Although, these are sporadic uprisings, it is a strong cause for concern for the government. It is also an explanation for counterinsurgency's maintenance. Yet, they flood our neighborhood because of possible rebellions, they say it's because they're fighting gangs, drugs, or poverty for our own good or for our quality of life. Counterinsurgency carries out in the form of eliminating black youth from the streets at disastrous levels. Right now in the South Bronx you have the poorest congressional district in the nation, in addition to it being one of the neighborhoods in the country with the highest levels of youth incarceration. There is no coincidence between incarcerated youth and its connection to poverty no more than there is a coincidence for rebelliousness found in black youth that live under the harshest conditions in the US. In reality, we've been living under the same climate for 400 years, non-stop.

The New York Times article was an attack. It was a rap sheet on the black male in America executed in public cold-blooded fashion. It spoke nothing of the arrest-quota-driven police targeting black neighborhoods, which has been corroborated by PBA President Pat Lynch. The article spoke nothing of Bill Clinton's dismantling of welfare (less than 2% of the government budget), which systematically separates the black male their families. Not to mention Clinton's heinous sponsorship of the most punitive crime bill in history, support for more paramilitary police, and his administration's investment in prisons that reported an economic boom for whites and a decline for blacks in 2001. Countless black and Latino women have visited my office confiding that their social worker suggested they'd get public assistance if they managed to divorce their husband.

Last year, I went to the Old Navy in Harlem to handle an issue and witnessed almost 20 young black men within an hour, most likely unfamiliar to each other's pursuit, walk in and out looking for employment positions. What they didn't know that some employees are clear on is that you better act white and change your tone when you speak. Have you ever observed black men in Old Navy or other big department stores? It's like seeing the results of American black male emasculation. Either that or find yourself being discriminated against, but given some bulls_it reason on why you're not qualified to sell clothing. Those with criminal records rarely bother in that sector.

As a person who has been to family court countless times for my daughter I witnessed what many will never believe because they continue to retrieve all their information from a racist media. I personally had to fight three years for the system to recognize a costly glitch in the system while hearing other men suffer worse accounts. There are honest brothers overpaying child support by the thousands, as there are definitely some brothers under paying by gross amounts. I was shocked and embarrassed by my own shock that several black men were OVER paying child support that sometimes never reached the mother. In most cases like mine, the Child Support Enforcement agency are never on the same page as Family Court so you are regarded as a deadbeat and end up further in arrears. Luckily for me I had the flexibility and the resources of a government entity to go to court three years to put them on the same page. One non-custodial brother was fired because of this mishap, threatened !
with jail time with only weeks away from homelessness and forced to pay a five-figure amount to Child Support Enforcement. I can't tell you how many times I was hung up on seconds into discussion because I was labeled as a deadbeat. I am reminded of a lawyer that explained that the reason courts started using metal detectors wasn't because of serial killers, gangsters, rapists, but because some fathers who had no visitation rights had a earnest and most brazen-red desire to see their children.

Luckily, for me there is no problem in seeing my child. But, I'll make sure to inform her that you cannot leave it to this current media to explain your husband, father, uncles or brothers. Otherwise, you'll get the most diabolically concocted analysis and racist psychological babble that leaves the black petty bourgeoisie stuck vilifying themselves and other Africans. The problem is not black youth's rebelliousness; the problem I see is that Africans own less than 1% of the entire media and no percentage in the US government, only the appearance. We must learn even as we are under attack daily to stop continuing to sum up our conditions, as not only our own fault but also something new and fresh. Everything, black people and all others peoples are tied to a dialectical and historical process in which eras and events are interconnected even as things die and come anew. Hopefully. A revolution.

Omowale Adewale (27) is the co-founder and executive director of ,G.A.ME. He is a senior staff member for an elected official in the Bronx, member of the Uhuru Movement and FAR Fund Fellow. He drew national acclaim in his first visit to Nigeria in 2005 speaking on issues ranging from Hip-Hop to healthcare to self-determination for all Africans.

Omowale Adewale
Executive Director
G.A.ME, Inc.

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