What’s in a name – everything or nothing? Who knows, but I was pondering words, words and their potency or lack thereof.

African-American is a bitch-type name, I’ve decided.  Political/politically correct, but neutered, de-nutted, pasteurized, absent power, energy.  Muthafucking Kryptonite.


Say it with me: “Baa-laaacckk…”  Now, there was a word with testes, with mother’s milk, estrogen and testosterone shrink wrapped ‘n mainlined. This is a word that could and did revitalize, regenerate, rejuvenate. I can hear Malcolm X’s voice thundering, echoing in “Message to the Grassroots”: “You catch hell because you’re a black man; all of us catch hell for the same reason. We are all black people…”

I can see the Black Panthers, before Co-Intel-Pro, before the internecine warfare created/exacerbated by the FBI infiltratorsI can see the big, brown Afros and the black berets and the black fists raised and the social medicine they prescribed for our communities. I was black and I was proud. Once.

Yes, we ARE!!!

African American is an ‘Ofay’ effete name somebody else gave you, some white person, or some well meaning, cocktail hosting, bougie, Negro bigwig – and you took it. The difference between African-American and Black is like the difference between a triple A battery and the Third Rail.

Hit the switch, beotch!

And look at us: no cohesion, no connection, no agenda, no collective agency – even in the glorious era of “Jesus Christ, The Obama.”  Ineffectual and obtuse, passive and puny, WE are a threat to no one, least of all our oppressors. Nope, we are most deadly, when we are deadly at all, to our own, leashed, “African-American” selves.

I remember…

…I remember the ’60’s. I remember the energy, the energy of possibility, of optimism, the creativity, the self-assertion, the full embodiment of so many beautiful, natural wearing Black people. A nascent consciousness was brewing, I remember it as an imperfect, yet powerful epoch, filled with potential, brimming with energy. Today, that energy, our life blood, has been discharged, dispersed, sucked and siphoned out of us – accidentally and on purpose.

Its like a black bomb exploded and all that was left were brown figurines, automatons, wind up toys who do what massa say do under the illusion that they are “free.” Nigguh-puhleaze!!

Anyone for “Black Power?”

We have corporate African-Americans, bohemian African-Americans, conservative African-Americans, Democratic and Republican African-Americans, even straight gangsta African Americans. We even have African-American giants – the Jessie’s, Oprah’s,  HNIC Gates’ and the other corporate handkerchief heads – who lead us like cattle down the primrose path.Yet, all of them are domesticated beasts that share a collective un-consciousness, hydrated at the same watering hole, full of fluoride, bile and adverts that teach black folks how to hate each other and themselves better, more professionally… AND be “Slaves to the Rhythm of Capitalism,” nikkuh.

Where, oh where are the black people, the tru black giants, the black soothsayers, the socio-political-spiritual architects of real liberation?!

Where is Malcolm, Miles, Charlie Parker, Billie, Chester Himes, Ellison, Fannie Lou (Lawd, how I miss Fannie Lou)…Ella Baker…You do know who Ella Baker is??????????????

When we were black…we spoke and sometimes we shouted, but often intelligently. We made music that was intelligent, danceable, and sometimes reflected the breadth of the black experience and not just some cooked up/cooped up, low down, gutter life.

21st centuryAfrican-American music, in the main, ain’t chicken soup, but e coli for the soul.  Garbage. Worse, its mind control. Do you ever think about the repetitive images – of guns, of “clothes, bankrolls and hoes” – jackhammered into the brains of our youth. I see us on city buses, on the streets, in cars, injecting suicide, unrighteous homicide, gang bangin’, depravity, stupidity – into our most delicate organ – at obscene volume levels. And we follow orders don’t we.

African American culture today is the equivalent of a conk, only its not just our hair that gets lathered in lye, but our brains that have been burned, scorched, relaxed. Ooh, yeah, your hair lays down…but then, so do you.

We used to be leaders; we used to set trends. Now, we follow trends to the insane asylum, to the graveyard. I see grown “African-American” men stumbling around wearing diapers, legs locked like Harry Houdini, shuffling like the lobotomized sheep that they are.

I’m not saying that all the ills of the people are the outgrowth of the grand renaming project that we last undertook (and will likely do again real soon). But, African-American, uh uh. I’m reminded of something an old friend noted a while back? “Why is there that little dash between African – dash – American?!” We thought and thought but couldn’t figure it out.

Perhaps that little dash, that tiny break, that division, means nothing. All I know is that the word African-American, to me, reflects a little dash, a tiny break, a division that exists within the black body. Something is dying in black America and it is us. Its sometimes easy to confuse symptoms with causes and if so, so be it…

Once upon a time, Miles Davis, when asked about a new tune he was working on said, in his wheezy rasp, “call it anything.” Upon semi-deep reflection, if you gotta call me something, I want my name, like my coffee…

…Black Power!

12 Responses to “Black-POWER!”

  1. How do you follow that with anything but applause?

  2. “slaves to the rhythm of capitalism”

    Is that not the real problem, my brother? Are we not ALL “slaves to the rhythm of capitalism”, whether someone has labeled us “African-Americans”, whether we be Canadian-Americans (I am originally from Canada – the 51st state to the north of the USA, home of the free, etc., etc.), whether we be whatever “Americans”. whether we be black, white, purple…. Africa is now my home, and all around me I see Africans rushing to become Americans, anxious to buy the latest western clothing styles, or to emulate the most recent gangsta-rap artist, or to eat some knock-off on a non-nutritious western fast food. The unconsciousness of which you speak is everywhere, my friend, and as you have pointed out, it goes far beyond the colour of anyone’s skin. The board rooms of the big multi-nationals are now populated with people of every colour – even the real power brokers have figured out that skin colour is not a factor in making corporate profits.
    The Sankofa bird moves ahead, looking back where it came from, egg in beak, and always moving ahead. I was a naive first year student when four members of the Black Panthers came from Chicago to tell assembled students on our university about the situation in which they found themselves. I struggled with what they told us, because they were telling of a reality which I did not know or understood. Within 3 months, all four had been gunned down by police and I had no choice then but to believe what they had told us.
    We do need to know the truth about where we come from if we are going to move out of this unconsciousness into a better world for people of all colours. Keep speaking your truth, and let each of us make sure that you keep it real. Only by insisting, each of us, on truth will the dream of freedom become reality.

  3. YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeOWWWW! Now that’s that old time religion, right there!

    As someone who hails from the Hip-Hop generation though, I guess I should add that there’s still good creative rappers out there, its just that its all but BANNED from exposure in the traditional (read: dying) media structure.

  4. BlackPower in New Zealand, obviously some of you Black Bro’s have seen or heard of this movement and been surprised ta see a dark skinned polynesian race lookn like Hells Angels sporting proudly on their backs the fist and Black Power emblems if not go to YTube and type in Black Power New Zealand.Ok just to clarify…yes it was born out of the race stuff of the 50 60s and mainly because young Maori at the time identified with people such as M.L.King and Malcolm X etc.We took on facets of other cultures,at the time Hells Angels USA/Britain and These men mentioned above,our young brought these two different cultures together to form what is still current today. However in a spiritual, historical and psychological sense it was more about our history of being colonised, hypnotised,assimilated and urbanized and by the 50s and 60s our youth were lost.We saw things that we identified with, and eagerly took took them on. In essence Black Power to us is about the processes of colonisation assimilation and urbanisation its about how a people survived trial by fire,of how some its children remain affected by this being blackened as is coal,by the proceess, not so much the skin but the spirit. Hence we took on the name Blackpower…a statement to NZ and the world..hey we survived..we’re here and we’re angry dont fuck with us!it is still this way.

  5. The above link is a clip from you tube.the film was made during the 80’s. The group involved is only one of the chapters of Auckland city, there are four in Auckland itself, there are also a huge number of youth gangs affiliated to these.Most of these guys are now grandfathers their sons and daughters and granchildren have also become intergrated into the groups involved. Blackpower New Zealand began as soon as the media gave exposure to Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King our youth at the time readily adopted the cause…in their own way. We have been a part of the New Zealand way of life now for 50years some of us are engaged in crime some politics, some social services but one element remains the same the sense of comradeship and of family we have learnt to trust no one and even our own. We now learn and educate ou own of our own culture and history as you see in the clip… a haka or war chant. we are not going to disappear for a long long time.

  6. Okay. I get why you stopped. I’m reposting this next week. Hope you don’t mind. Kick ’em down, my brother. I’ll miss your words for now, but I’m right behind you. You’re a Black man if ever there was one. I’m glad to know you’re out there.

  7. don’t be mad a white people for being more civilized, educated and decent. I never owned any slaves and don’t feel bad you your problem, i grew up in Boston, went to public schools just like the Blacks and i ended up in college with a degree not a rap-sheet. stop blaming other

  8. don’t be mad a white people for being more civilized, educated and decent. I never owned any slaves and don’t feel bad you your problem, i grew up in Boston, went to public schools just like the Blacks and i ended up in college with a degree not a rap-sheet. stop blaming others

    PS learn how to fuck spell all of your computer come with spell-check installed

  9. The black people could listen to black metal; those are perhaps the angriest musicians on the face of the planet.

    Except it’s all made by Europeans. Strange, non?

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