If I was getting trolled before, it has increased 10 fold after my post: Why Nicholas Payton Refuses To Boycott Israel. I really addressed everything I needed to say in that post, but I’ve learned rather quickly that in the struggle for freedom, you have to repeat yourself over and over again. This is a lesson in patience, because I absolutely abhor repeating myself or having others repeat themselves to me—unless it’s music. I love repeating notes, ideas, and phrases.
In case many of you missed it the first time, I think what the Palestinians suffer under the hands of the State of Israel is wrong. It is morally offensive and culturally reprehensible. As a Black man, I am sympathetic to oppression of all types. All one has to do is Google me to see where I stand on such issues. However, I’m not interested in revolution for revolution’s sake.
Most so-called revolutionaries suffer from a myopic mindset. They are just looking for something to rail against rather than solve problems. I’m interested in progress. Typically what ends up happening in the struggle against the system is that folks wind up shaking all the leaves off of the branches without ever addressing the root. We should learn something from our ancestors so we don’t wind up repeating the same mistakes hoping it yields different results.
A big hindrance towards forward movement is a binary aesthetic of judgment: Democrat/Republican, Democracy/Socialism, Black/White, Israeli/Palestinian, People/Government, Good/Evil, Peace/Violence, God/Devil, Day/Night, On/Off, and so forth. . . . There’s a wide parameter to be negotiated in between the illusion of these manmade extremes. Yes, manmade, because the establishment of these constructs are designed to keep those who are unable to think for themselves in a mental gridlock. They distract you from observing the real issues.
Just because I don’t support the boycott of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, does not mean I’m against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement or pro-apartheid Israel. I’m pro-people. I’m not a tourist traveling abroad, spending money in systems, fueling racism with my capitalist dollars; I’m a cultural diplomat who gets out of bed every day, I practice my craft, and bear my soul on stage with the mission of imbuing more truth, pathos, and beauty in the world. I was born to do this. By denying myself or my audience the authentic expression of my life through words and music, I am not fulfilling my purpose.
When I don’t play, racism wins.
— Nicholas Payton
Through the sounds of King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, etc., the hearts of the White Supremacist structures around them had to at least address the humanity which was embodied in the power of their artistic expression. When being flesh and blood was not enough, the music brought them a little bit closer to freedom. They played in places their own people were not allowed to go, performed in hotels they were forbidden to stay, and gigged in restaurants at which they could not eat.
Through the power of the drum, from Africa to America, the song lived within these individuals, and they shared that song with most anyone willing to listen. There is a time when boycotting works and there is a time when it does not. Becoming fixated on one way to do things, is death. One must diversify their tactics if they are to have a lasting impact.
So when we talk about sending a message to Israel by boycotting the Red Sea Jazz Festival, to whom are we sending a message, and what is that message? US Imperialism and Zionism are in bed with one another, but the real oppressive force is White Supremacy. White Supremacy is the governing force of the world. This is the force that controls all the injustice we see in society. Everything of consequence in this life is marred by the power of racial segregation. The whole world is apartheid, and unfortunately, Palestine is no exception.
Israel is not the central force of White supremacy, America is. No empire kills more people, erects more walls of division, or marginalizes more people of color than the United States. So it makes no sense for me to boycott Israel if I’m still going to perform in America, the country that has refined apartheid to its apex. And not just parts of America, but all of it. And unlike Stevie Wonder, I don’t think boycotting Florida and other Stand Your Ground states is going to make the lives of Black people more valuable in the eyes of the oppressor. Let’s not forget when Stevie was about to do a benefit concert for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) not too long ago, or Stevie’s close association with President Obama—a self-proclaimed Zionist. And how dare Alice Walker call out Alicia Keys for performing in Israel, when she’s waged apartheid against her own daughter, and now granddaughter, for decades. She has no moral ground to stand on against Ms. Keys.
It makes no sense to boycott the kingdom (Israel) unless I’m willing to boycott the empire (America).
— Nicholas Payton
So, the real issue here is White Supremacy. You cannot dismantle White Supremacy. It is impossible. At this point, not even White people can do it. The only way to empower minority peoples is to encourage them to be autonomous. And being a minority has nothing to do with how many of you there are and everything to do with how much control you have over your situation. But you can’t have control over your situation if you exert all of your energy fighting against something.
Resistance is not the answer. When you resist, you react—thus—you give away your power to the oppressor. Resistance begets friction, and friction begets dissension, and where there is dissension, there can be no peace. Acceptance is the answer. By accepting an opposing force, you’re not saying it’s okay, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to redirect the energy in a more fruitful way. You can’t free yourself from servitude until you first accept that you are a slave.
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Only when you all are ready to erect and have established alternative systems, do you have the power to effectively boycott everything oppressive. And unless you’re ready to take on and boycott the center of White Supremacy and oppression, there will be no significant change.
- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop