Part II: An Honest Look at Black America

The way we view ourselves and treat each other does impact how others view and treat us. Justice put another way is simply cause and effect. The actions we put into play will have a reaction. It may not be equal, and it may not be opposite, but it would behoove us to accept that the Black community is not exempt from the universal laws of nature.

By now many of us have seen the video of Mike Brown allegedly robbing the store just moments before he was murdered by Darren Wilson. I am not saying that he deserved to be executed, but to pretend that his theft is in no way connected to the murder that followed is denial. The Ferguson police chief admitted that the officer had no idea Brown robbed the store before he gunned him down. I get the sentiment that the introduction of this video to the narrative makes the subsequent shooting justifiable in many people’s minds, but it is a part of the story. Just like Black folks want the world to look at the larger picture when members of our community are breaking into stores, we should likewise not exclude details and refuse to give context in other instances of unfavorability.

As unfortunate as it is for Mike Brown’s physical presence to have come to such a sudden and tragic ending, we must stop using the lives of our youth as poster children for justice. Our liberation does not hinge on any one case. The life of Mike Brown should not be viewed as our ticket out of oppression. It’s unfair to his mother and father, and it’s unfair to him. I understand that blood — metaphorically and literally — often has to be shed in order for great change to occur, but I think we’ve shed enough over the last 500-plus years to last a lifetime. Why must we feel the need to martyrize ourselves or our brothers and sisters to get ahead?

Black people have gotten death down to a science, but we have yet to master the art of living.

Everything is connected. To continue to disassociate ourselves from the ugly distortion of Black life in America does a disservice to the beautiful reality of our existence here. A holistic approach is the only thing that can bring about a true and lasting healing. This is not an issue of respectability politics as much as it is universal law. We didn’t create racism, therefore we can’t dismantle it. We don’t control the mainstream media, therefore we don’t get to control that part of the conversation. What we do have control over is how we treat another and how we value our community.

Though you may not have deserved the intrusion, those who rob and ransack your house are not likely not repair it. You must fix it.

Outsiders can infiltrate a family and turn them against one another, but they can’t restore justice and put that family back together.

As long as our cultural relevance is subject to the approval of our oppressors, we will never know what it is to be free.

We cannot afford to waste anymore time waiting for the Department of Justice to deliver us. What right does any state-sanctioned organization of this oppressive country have to claim itself to be the arbiter of justice? Unless we mean in the way that British forces distributed justice along with smallpox blankets to the natives. Or justice in the way that the Portuguese erected Elmina Castle — the fort which held Africans until they passed through the “Door of No Return” to be sold into slavery.

So when we say we want justice, just whose concept of justice are we talking about? This America works just fine for those it’s supposed to work for. Those in control have it better now than ever. They’ve had centuries to refine their imperialistic tendencies to the point where it’s imperceptible to the masses.

Justice is the opposite of racism, and as long as the American policies reflect the views of the racists who created them, there won’t be justice for Black people — just this. It is imperative that Blacks rebuild the love within their community that legislation has destroyed. No law can fill that void. We must invest in our culture and stop looking to our oppressors to instill what they’ve worked hard to exterminate. Only then we can sit in peace at the table of justice.

Justice is not our domain as human beings. Justice is not a system of rewards and punishment. Justice is how the universe responds to our actions. Sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not. Bad shit happens to good people all the time, and the undeserved often gets pleasant things bestowed upon them. It’s not for us to decide what is or what isn’t just. Do the work necessary to build a healthy community and just let it happen.

Instead of worrying about what the Department of Justice has to say, we need to pay more attention to our Black government, our gods, our royalty, our ancestors. King Oliver, Ambassador Satch, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson — these are the people who paved the way for you to enjoy what freedoms you have as Black Americans.

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

Part I: The Rise of Capitalism and The Fall of Culture

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There is no such thing as racial equality, because race is a false construct designed for the specific purposes of ensuring inequality. And though the concept of race may be false, the consequences are very real. It is because of race that we’re always plagued with concepts of superiority and inferiority. Culture has a natural respect for other culture. The powers that be don’t want us to exist on a cultural plane because no one can dominate there. Culture is fluid, expressive, artistic, and most of all, human.

When Christopher Columbus introduced capitalism to the New World, it signified a shift in world thought. The age-old defense for racism is that people were enslaved before European colonialism, but it was a different type of slavery. It wasn’t the brand of chattel slavery that was introduced around the middle of the 15th century. The mass genocide of ancient peoples of indigenous cultures changed the tenor of society at large. We are not born a race, we are raced.

Another excuse for the perpetuation of racism is that the very discussion of race is racist, which is plausible. To talk about something is to acknowledge it, and has the power to be spoken into existence. The flip side is that there is no way to dismantle racism without discussing it. We live in a world of words, and those words are attached to thoughts and create ideas. The first rule of colonization is to change the name of that which you wish to have control over. The next thing you do is disallow those you wish to oppress from speaking their native tongue. Not only can they not communicate with one another, but they have to change how they communicate with themselves. Next you force them to speak your language, worship your God, and so forth.

“So, if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity — I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.”

Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Steal Away

When you take away a people’s ability to communicate with one another in their language, you take away their humanity. They can no longer see themselves as they were or as they are. They are forced to see themselves through the oppressor’s lens. Our relationship with one another is what makes us human. English has become the international language, and because the most powerful English-speaking nation is America, American thought has become the most pervasive. That’s what’s so important about Congo Square — one of the only places in America where the enslaved Africans were allowed to practice drumming, dancing, singing, and other rituals. Because their oppressors underestimated the Africans’ spiritual practices as simply a way for the enslaved to amuse themselves, the Africans developed a new language, The Blues.

This is not to be taken lightly. Long before there was a Civil Rights Movement, The Blues was the first liberator of the displaced African mind. It is through The Blues that our African ancestors reconnected to their memory of who they were before they were slaves. And though they were forced to believe in a god that looked nothing like them, they were able to see the biblical allegory in how the story of the oppressed children of Israel related to their current situation. And even though Europeans created God in their own image by making Jesus a White man, Black people strongly identified with his loving, yet persecuted spirit. What many of the slaves probably didn’t recognize at the time was that this Jesus they were worshipping shared many parallels with the gods of their ancient African mythologies, which predated Christianity by centuries.

Ismology

The word “ism” often implies a condition, category or doctrine, whereas “ology” denotes the science or study of a particular subject. When an “ism” is involved, it’s typically something that’s been defined which someone is trying to put on you. With an “ology,” there’s usually room for exploration.

The All-Seeing I of Whore Us, Sun of God

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Horus is a mythological Egyptian god born of the Virgin Isis on December 25th in a manger. Being known as “lord of the sky,” Horus was considered a sun god. Over time, the name was abbreviated to Hor. Isn’t it ironic that “whore” in English is a disgraceful word, which is a great example of how colonization through language can blaspheme the spiritual practices of the oppressed and make what was once profound, profane. It’s akin to how the English language bastardized the Latin word for black, “niger,” which shares phonetics with the Sankrit word “naga,” which means snake. Snakes, or nagas in many ancient cultures, were gods. In English thought, a snake is typically a lowdown being which can’t be trusted. Just goes to show how language can transform a deity into something dirty. So the next time someone calls you “whore,” “Nigger,” or “snake,” don’t get upset. They’re just acknowledging the God within you.

Blame It On The Son

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“As long as you think you’re white, there is no hope for you.”

— James Baldwin

Black people are a resilient people to have survived the atrocities they have over the last 5 centuries, but it’s time to stop getting by and start living. Black people can’t end racism because Black people didn’t create it. This is something White people must resolve amongst themselves. And being Black is not the same as being White. Black is just another word for African. White specifies no cultural ties in particular. It is merely a social title whose sole existence is for the perpetuation of an idea of superiority in the race totem pole which engenders the White race with dominion over all others. There was a time where you had to at least have white skin to be White, and even then that wasn’t enough. Now Supremacy is doled out to anyone who worships at the White altar.

So when you attack race, you’re not attacking people, you’re attacking an idea — and a false one at that. And it doesn’t make you racist for talking about race. It makes you human.

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of #BAM

Message To Black America via Ferguson, Missouri

Message to Black America: It’s unlikely that the lawmakers or their agents will ever admit when they’re guilty of a crime. Just us.

Message to Black America: It’s unreasonable to think that a system which profits from your ignorance will ever invest in your enlightenment.

Message to Black America: It’s foolish to expect that the oppressor will ever value your community as much or more than you.

Message to Black America: Until you believe your gods to be as powerful as White people’s god or Asian people’s gods, there can be no peace.

Message to Black America: Republican or Democrat doesn’t matter. White Supremacy is President regardless of who’s in office.

Message to Black America: Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump can’t assure justice for Michael Brown any more than they could for Trayvon Martin.

America built its democracy by looting the world, but let Black people bust into a store which robs its own community and it’s a crime.

So what I want to know is: What’s going to be different this time?

We can’t only care about building our community when someone tries to tear it apart. It’s what we do every day that counts most.

And it’s because Black people never do anything differently as a collective, that people have no fear doing whatever they want to us.

Black people’s greatest enemy is not the White man; it’s our short historical memory. We don’t remember till it’s too late. Then we forget.

Black people suffer from CDD, cultural deficit disorder. We only get together for Christmas and lynchings.

We can’t look for the American justice system to declare our humanity. We must claim our own.

Message to Black America: The most rebellious thing you can do as a people is invest in your community, daily. Build truth; destroy the lie.

Black jesus 4

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

On The New Yorker “Satirizing” Sonny

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Charlie Parker died to play this music. Bud Powell died to play this music. After suffering through the worst holocaust in human history, these brilliant Black artists gave the world a gift. This gift was so potent that not only did it help them leverage some modicum of autonomy, but helped other oppressed peoples of the world find themselves. It even freed the souls of those who uprooted them from their homeland of Africa and enslaved them for centuries in a land not theirs. It is through Black music that White America began the process of healing itself.

I didn’t think back in May of 2005 when I was generously quoted in Stanley Crouch’s piece entitled, “The Colossus,” which extolled the virtues of Master Rollins, that I would have to sit up here today and call out the same publication for attempting to besmirch his character. I hesitate to write this piece because I don’t think this drivel posing as satire deserves any more attention than it’s already garnered, but as Bishop Desmond Tutu has said:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins is no mouse. He is a man. A man who, like Bird and Bud, has also given his life to Black music that has been categorically reduced to a little thing called “jazz.” Calling Black music “Jazz,” is the oppressor’s way of being able to put on white gloves and sing “Mammy” in blackface, while saying don’t get offended because it’s just “satire.” You might say to yourself that was 100 years ago, but the trend still continues as a more subtle head game in today’s media. As the article says, “Jazz might be the stupidest thing anyone ever came up with.” I agree. It’s the spirit of “Jazz” that allows some people to think it’s funny that some 83-year-old Black musician spent 70 years of his life playing an instrument that sounds like a “scared pig.” Perhaps he did so not because he loved it, but because he was so stupid “he never learned the names of the other instruments.”

Here’s one of the most respected American periodicals posting a picture of a somber-faced Sonny with a piece “in his own words,” rhapsodizing about how he hates music and he’s wasted his life. Where’s the humor in that?

Of course Black people aren’t capable of contributing anything to society more than “noodling around” on their instruments. I mean, according to The New Yorker:

“I really don’t know why I keep doing this. Inertia, I guess. Once you get stuck in a rut, it’s difficult to pull yourself out, even if you hate every minute of it. Maybe I’m just a coward.”

Wow, that’s funny! It’s about as funny as some White people think it is to let their kids run wild in a restaurant or on an airplane terrorizing the other patrons. It’s about as funny as how those kids grow up to be government officials who terrorize Africans or Palestinians. It’s about as funny as that writer in The Onion who called 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis a cunt on Oscar night.

It is no irony that this “Django Gold” who wrote this piece is a senior writer for The Onion. And it doesn’t matter to me what color this Django is, it’s nerdy White boy humor. Someone at The New Yorker shouldn’t have left that Django Unchained.

I get that White people and Black people have cultural differences and thus a different sense of humor. Given that to be the case, White people: stick to satirizing those who get your sense of humor. Leave Black people be. You’ve done enough over the past 500 years. Black life in a world of White oppression and supremacy is satirical enough. We don’t need your help adding to it.

Meanwhile in Rolling Stone magazine, a real article came out that reads like satire. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are doing a “Jazz” album. Tony goes on in this piece to say about Gaga, “She’s as good as Ella Fitzgerald…”

Nigga, please?! Lady Gaga ain’t fit to wear Ella’s dirty draws.

To top it off, the album has the nerve to be called Cheek to Cheek. How apropos for two people making an ass out of themselves caricaturizing Black music. All due respect to Bennett, but he’s never been a great. He was just lucky enough to outlive all the true greats of his era.

“Jazz is a marketing ploy that serves an elite few. The elite make all the money while they tell the true artists it’s cool to be broke.”

— Nicholas Payton (from On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore)

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a White publication like The New Yorker would take veiled shots at Sonny posing as satire. Isn’t that the point of White media? It’s a tool by which to sustain their supremacy and privilege by subjugating all others to the minority class. Blacks have been satirized in the media as Niggers for years. I find it a bit interesting that this week on August 3rd, 1492, Christopher Columbus set out on the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria to begin the age of capitalism and colonization.

Perhaps Christopher Columbus is the greatest satirist of all time. Isn’t he responsible for promulgating the idea that non-Christian people of color were just pawns in the White man’s game? Here’s a dude who’s proclaimed to have discovered America while trying to reach Asia, but actually landed in the Bahamas. Hell bent on selling the narrative that he’d landed in Asia he called the inhabitants, “Indians.” Furthermore to solidify his story, he made the other voyagers sign an oath promising to lie, and if they broke that oath they would have their tongues cut out.

How’s that for satire?

Let me tell you what Sonny really said in his own words:

“I was born black. That means in this world I’m going to have problems. That’s what I have to deal with in this life: being born black.”

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop