Black Said to the Handyman: Don’t Fence Me In

By Maxjulian

June 26, 2007

Category: Uncategorized


From this post:

“People allow a lot of vagueness, as if what blackness is is understood; its not understood, if it ever was and it must be restated explicitly and repeatedly. Without stating what black is, positing where we should be going, folks can and do excommunicate black folks from the race, out of their own idiocy, for not meeting some phantom, half-baked ideas about race, rooted in insecurity/inferiority.” The FreeSlave

B.Medusa’s retort: “the problem w/ this [to me] is that this leads right back to “authentic blackness”, i.e. whatever falls outside the realm of what isn’t explicitly stated – what black is, where we should be going (& within that how we should be getting there) – isn’t “really” black. someone/some group still gets to define “what is black.” will they include anti-heirarchical structure, atheism, or calling out misogny practiced by woc; if those things aren’t in the place they are coming from? aren’t those of us who want to get rid of “the pie” in conflict w/ those who want a piece of it, or those who want a different flava pie?

regarding the vagueness, i think the problem is our human tendency to want things neatly boxed before we think about thinking outside the box (this would be me too).”

I say AMEN, to that! BIGTIME!!

Blackness is not a shoebox, it is all-encompassing; blackness incorporates and welcomes all who claim it. But some of us, in order to feel, safe, comfortable, strong, secure, demand less freedom and more restriction. All under the banner of “authenticity.” Erich Fromm talks about how many, “Escape From Freedom,” through rigidity of thought and action. They prefer slavery to a dictator (internal or external), rather than the responsibility of “positive freedom.”

Where we are as black people and whether, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, we are prepared to grow and adapt or stay stuck in outdated modes of thought and behavior – are questions in need of answers.

I was reading this book on jazz today, “Blue: The Murder of Jazz”:

“Miles Davis would often talk about taking a musician who was comfortable playing in a certain context and putting him in a very different musical situation in which he was pushed to eschew his easy licks and cliches and discover fresh ideas from parts of his mind and soul previously unexplored…”

We beat each other up with these easy licks, these cliches” that were spoonfed us by the oppressor.Accidentally. We become the apprentice-oppressor. We don’t even know we’re doing it, we’re so programed in hierarchy and the art of the putdown. We’re divided and then try to conquer each other with our super-militance, super black foolishness.

The beauty and strength of blackness, to me, (and I have to credit B. Medusa for reminding me of this) is our great variety, our numerous, creative/non-creative, funky, ordinary ways of being. Blackness is, to quote George Clinton, ”

So wide can’t get around it
So low you can’t get under it
So high you can’t get over it
HIGH you can’t get over IT


One of the interesting currents in jazz history is that one generation’s revolutionaries, often become the next generation’s conservatives. Louis Armstrong was a revolutionary figure in jazz in the 20’s and 30’s, yet, he despised the next movement – bebop – that he created.

When we talk in cliches, we are likely thinking in cliches. If our heads are mired in the cliched past, how can those thoughts lead us to an evolved future?

When we can accept ourselves and each other as the imperfectly black people that we are – we will have grown into a mature people. But we’re a LONG way from there. When we can see the ways in which we hurt each other and own those lashings and those hurts…ditto. When we can disagree with each other without excommunicating each other from the race…then we will have come nearer to what we once were…great.

Bird Lives


7 Responses to “Black Said to the Handyman: Don’t Fence Me In”

  1. […] Black Beauty And the Placebo Syndrome will they include anti-heirarchical structure, atheism, or calling out misogny practiced by woc; if those things aren?t in the place they are coming from? aren?t those of us who want to get rid of ?the pie? in conflict w/ those who want … […]

  2. Free, have you ever read August Wilson’s Fences?

    I feel you on the external, but we erect these walls around ourselves, internally too.

    I wonder if those people who are always pointing fingers aren’t actually overcompensating to cover up their own personal hang-ups, and inability to grow.

    I agree, there is always more that can be done, and it is not wise to ever allow complacency to sneak into our thinking, but at what point in time is it OK to acknowledge that some people, even though they may be falling short, or don’t quite get it yet, are at least trying.

    Too much blame going on in this world.

  3. I have Fences, haven’t read it yet.

    No question we erect these walls, for what we think is protection. Problem is, it prevents good shit from reaching you as well as bad.

    No doubt some people are overcompensating. Me included. I had this moment today of “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK” about all of this. Then, I immediately went back to caring deeply what people think:)) I think I hit a block inside today and crashed through it.

    I’m going to do the work I need to do and allow others to do the same. I waste NO energy on being accepted or understood by anyone who wasn’t meant to the first time I said or did some shit.


  4. […] finally, the freeslave continues to discussion on being boxed into blackness […]

  5. […] Black Said to the Handyman: Don’t Fence Me In « thefreeslave “Blackness is not a shoebox, it is an all-encompassing; blackness incorporates and welcomes all who claim it. But some of us, in order to feel, safe, comfortable, strong, secure, demand less freedom and more restriction.” (tags: authenticity africanamericans) […]

  6. DearBrother Free Slave,

    This discussion is understood but irrelevant. Those who seek to destroy us with drugs, poverty,incarceration etc., dont use the distinctions that you discuss. Im quite positive that all those African Americans who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott(Our grreatest moment in Black History) didnt have the exact same philosophy on what steps we need to take as a people, but they focused on what was necessary to empower us as a people, which WE MUST DO TODAY! We must first form a conscious consortium of like minded individuals to turn our income back towards ourselves, WE MUST OVERCOME DIVISION AT ANY COST! Why? because we know that was willie lynch’s plan that the slave owners followed out to a T that is the cause of our present day conditions. Use this venue to create unity in our community(the only thing we Black People believe that not even GOD can do). It dawned on me that we can always find things we disagree upon, but let us all agree upon one thing and start there. The one thing I propose is this: We Must reverse the tactics implemented against us during slavery to divide and destroy
    us as a people. We have two choices~ Unite or Die!~

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