Source: Digital Vision. / Getty John Lennon and Yoko Ono had a song titled, “Woman is the N*gger of the World” in 1972. The duo expressed they were using the n-word to mean an oppressed person. Given the historical context of the word typically being used as a racial slur against Blacks, what is your…
LOS ANGELES — Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a former Black Panther Party leader who spent 27 years in prison on a California murder conviction that was later overturned, has died at the age of 63 in his adopted home of Tanzania.
Pratt died early Friday at home in Imbaseni village, 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Arusha, Tanzania, where he had lived for at least half a decade, said a friend in Arusha, former Black Panther Pete O’Neal.
Pratt’s name and his long-fought case with its political backdrop became emblematic of a tumultuous era in American history when the beret-wearing Panthers raised their fists in defiance and carried big guns, striking fear in white America.
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Michelle Obama gives the 2015 commencement speech at Oberlin College. Scott Shaw – Oberlin CollegeHi! How are you all doing? Are you sure? Well, let me just tell you, it is beyond a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you today. I want to start by thanking President Krislov for that…
The New York Times’ summer reading list left out a whole lotta blackness. The Times list contained books written by exclusively white authors. There are amazing books that were written and published by black writers since 2013 and they deserve recognition. Here’s 25 of those: (The descriptions below are from the books’ Amazon pages) • Americanah by Chimamanda…
Back in October of last year in response to the non-indictment of the officer who killed Eric Gardner. I wrote for Theology of Ferguson and The Narthex on why it was the church’s responsibility to join in solidarity by crying “Fuck the Police” with the people:
In July 1966, an informal group of clergy met to discuss events that had happened a month earlier.
In June, Stokely Carmichael lit the world on fire with his call to consciousness in his cry of “black power.” Carmichael’s black power cry was the culmination of years of black freedom struggle that endured police and mob lynchings, voting law restrictions, unfair arrests and prison sentences, inequitable education, and separate but (un)equal public accommodations (sound familiar?). Carmichael and his colleagues in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee were fed up and black power was the expression of their anger and frustration. The loosely tied group of mostly Northern male black clergy met to discuss the implications of black power and its meaning for the black church in particular and the universal church in general. This group of clergy, who would later name themselves the National Committee of Black Churchmen (NCBC), released a statement in The New York Times. The statement began:
We realize that neither the term “power” nor the term “Christian Conscience” are easy matters to talk about, and especially in the context of race relations in America. The fundamental distortion facing us in the controversy about “black power” is rooted in a gross imbalance of power and conscience between Negros and white Americans. It is this distortion, mainly, which is responsible for the widespread, though often inarticulate, assumption that white people are justified in getting what they want through the use of power, but that Negro Americans must, either by nature or by circumstances, make their appeal only through conscience. As a result, the power of white men and the conscience of black men have both been corrupted. The power of white men is corrupted because it meets little meaningful resistance from Negros to temper it and keep white men from aping God. The conscience of black men is corrupted because, having no power to implement the demands of conscience, the concern for justice is transmuted into a distorted form of love, which, in the absence of justice, becomes chaotic self-surrender. Powerlessness breeds a race of beggars. We are faced now with a situation where conscienceless power meets powerless conscience, threatening the very foundations of our nation.
The statement released by the NCBC was discussing black power, but they very well could have been talking about recent events unfolding in Ferguson, Shaw, Dayton, New York, and around the United States. In light of the lynching deaths of Mike Brown, Vonderrit Myers, John Crawford, and Eric Gardner, I’m calling for another call-to-conscience-ness and another black power cry. White Americans must again be reminded that they cannot do what they want through the use of power and force. Black Americans must be reminded that we cannot appeal to the morality of people who, as Carmichael once argued, apparently don’t have a conscience. We must demand, by any means necessary, that black lives matter and that we will not wait for justice. We must have justice now…
If we examine critically the traditional role of the university in the pursuit of truth and the sharing of knowledge and information, it is painfully clear that biases that uphold and maintain white supremacy, imperialism, sexism, and racism have distorted education so that it is no longer about the practice of freedom. The call for recognition of cultural diversity, a rethinking of ways of knowing, a deconstruction of old epistemologies, and the concomitant demand that there be a transformation in our classrooms, in how we teach and what we teach, has been a necessary revolution–one that seeks to restore life to a corrupt and dying academy.
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
The Church is on trail. Black collegians reject us, in spite of their recognition that Black people need spiritual replenishment. Black youth on the streets, reject us as a part of the “Slave Church,” which has supported our oppression. Revolutionaries indict us for weakening rather than strengthening our people. Black preachers have, in fact, identified with the white oppressor and have failed to act to end out powerlessness and exploitation.
The black preacher has failed to move Black Brothers and Sisters forward in the liberation of struggle to the formation of the Black Nation! This failure has cost us the lives of those Brothers and Sisters who are fighting daily on the front lines against white oppression.
Black churches must become relevant to the Black Liberation struggle, or we must get rid of them. All institution in the Black community must accept this role or they must die. To the degree that the black church becomes relevant and leads black people to participate–as black Christians– in becoming a new black nation with power, dignity, and self-determination here on earth, the black church will begin to justify its existence in the sight of God. We have run out of time and wasted lives. We re going to be free with the leadership of the church or without it.*
– Albert B Cleage Jr., 1970
*”Blast Black Christian Churches as ‘Irrelevant,'” Chicago Daily Defender, March 19, 1970.