Listen to Nicholas Payton and The Music Snobs sit down to discuss everything you wanted to know about “Numbers” but were afraid to ask…
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop
As usual, it’s open season on the Black male, but the media has been relentless about who they choose to focus on within the past month or so. From the indefinite suspensions of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, to the police murdering more than a few unarmed Black men in broad daylight, this shit happens everyday. But why is the media focusing on it? Perhaps to divert your attention from our Nobel Peace Prize-winning Black President declaring war? Maybe to incite a race war so they can lockdown every Black person in this country? Who knows? What I do know is this narrative is 500 years old.
In other news, Hope Solo is still playing sports with pending domestic violence charges. Is it because as a White woman she is the prize of the White man? I don’t believe White women are protected or valued as a whole by White men. If they were, patriarchy wouldn’t exist and there would be no need for a feminist movement. Perhaps many are under the belief that somehow the White man values White women because how so many of them have killed Black males for even looking at a White woman. That isn’t because he wholesale values that woman. He isn’t protecting his woman. He is protecting his interests. A farmer who kills wolves so they don’t eat his chickens isn’t doing so to protect the livestock, for he is raising chickens to kill them himself. He is killing the wolves to protect his interests so he can kill his chickens when he gets ready.
The White man needs the White woman to keep his seed on the planet. Without the White woman, everyone will return to being colored, as we all once were. And that would end White Supremacy. The whole reason marijuana is illegal in America today is because the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger, thought weed gave White women a propensity for sleeping with “The Enemy.”
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
– Harry J. Anslinger
Ray Rice would be playing football right now if that video hadn’t gone viral. The folks at the NFL saw the footage months ago. The NFL doesn’t care about Janay Rice, they care about making money, and Ray Rice was cool with them as long as you were cool with him. At the point of which they would lose support or viewership because people threatened to ban the NFL if Rice played, he had to go. I don’t support any man closed fist cold-cocking a woman under any circumstance, except for maybe saving a life if she’s armed and dangerous, which I don’t think was the case. But the details are not the public’s business. Every couple has a right to their own struggles, the Rices not excluded, and it’s unfair to volunteer someone against their will to be a poster child for your cause, as many feminists attempted to do with Janay Rice.
There is enough of a history of domestic violence in the world to prove your case against it without making examples of those who choose not to take a stand. By browbeating the abused, you add to their misery, further marginalizing them, and undermine your so-called desire to set them free.
Domestic violence is not gender specific. There are plenty husbands getting their asses beat by their wives, but are not taken seriously. There are plenty mothers who abuse their children. Most male abusers have been childhood victims of abuse. It’s cyclical. So, take these football players who we pay millions of dollars to annually to be violent on the turf, but we expect them to know when to shut down the barbarianism off the field of play. Add to that, many of whom come from poor, disenfranchised backgrounds where they were nursed on diets of political, economic, social, and physical violence from the womb. Living in an environment of state-inflicted poverty is violence. There is no such thing as natural poverty. Nature provides all of the resources we need to live. It is man who fucks up the environment and creates constructs that endow privilege to some and denies others.
So whereas Black women may face a greater risk of being abused by their same-raced partners than White women, those that abuse are far more likely to have come from an household with very little resources. We know that people who have less in a world that celebrates having more are prone to be more hostile to one another. People tend to take out their anger on who they see most, not necessarily on those that deserve it.
Hostility within the family unit may share a similar root cause across racial lines, but not for the same reason. Problems are problems, but there are White people problems and Black people problems. White people problem: “What, the only white wine you have on this flight is a chardonnay?” Black people problem: “What, you don’t carry the new Jordans in half sizes?”
If I may speak to the Black woman, there is no place for you in feminism. Feminism is the White woman’s response to how she is oppressed under patriarchy. There is no place for the Black woman in feminism. As a response to feminism, some of you have embraced “womanism,” which is cool, but I feel it’s still a response to a White construct. If Black women return to ancient thought they would find that the ancestors revered the divine feminine spirit. Of course, most of those people were killed in wars and colonization, but there are still those who are left.
I encourage all Black women who feel lost to return to African thought where you have always had a home as goddesses.
Devil In A Blue Dress
There’s a difference when a White male Hiphop artist wears a dress versus a Black male Hiphop artist. That White artist can seek solace in knowing that no matter what someone may think about them for doing so, they own the music business. The mainstream community will view them as bold and outrageous for not subscribing to gender norms. Rewind to when Madonna did that book breaking every imaginable sexual taboo and was lauded for her edginess. Fast-forward to when Beyonce gave her husband a lap dance and was slut-shamed all over the Internet the next day. I guess that’s what they mean by the Madonna/Whore syndrome.
I have nothing against men who want to wear dresses, or anyone else, but when it becomes a marketing tool in a Black music that is male-dominated, it distorts and suggests that men should be girls. Go ahead and be gay and a rapper, but so-called straight males masquerading as women feeds into the coon stereotype of castrating the Black male to make White men more comfortable. There are few strong Black males as it is out here.
It’s not the male artist in a dress part that I have a problem with. It’s the idea that it’s attached to masculinity within Black music. What you do in your life is your business. There’s a place for all of that, just not within the visible ancestral lineage of Black American music.
What say you? Bobby Marchan? Little Richard? Sure, there’s a history of cross-dressing in Black music, but this was a niche thing. It was never meant to be normalized in the mainstream. That’s not to say those who push gender boundaries should be shoved in the corner. I’m saying that its proper perspective within the African tradition are that such people are special, not the norm. In many cases, two-spirited people are regarded as more evolved than their sexually monolithic counterparts.
You don’t see male pilots, doctors, or lawyers wearing dresses to work, do you? The dress code serves a purpose. I don’t have a problem with a loincloth or a robe. Wearing a dress for a man in a professional context? Yes. This perspective is not informed of patriarchy or oppression. It has to do with hundreds of years of tradition by Africans. There’s a time to wear a robe and there’s a time to wear a suit.
I can’t demand anything, but some people should be ashamed of wearing certain things in certain contexts. On a certain level, even women wearing dresses and polishing their nails is conforming to patriarchy.
This is not a homophobic stance or a gender bias, but if we continue to encourage this type of behavior, they’ll be no Black men left. They are already on the verge of extinction. So when you talk about patriarchy or gender biases, these are White problems. Africans don’t traditionally have these issues. And the ones that do are just mimicking their oppressors.
In ancient culture, there is a space for those who blur the lines of gender. They are known as “gatekeepers.” They have prized positions in the community. What they do sexually, however, is not forced upon others, nor are others who don’t share their aesthetic made to feel they must participate in their rituals.
“I don’t know how to put it in terms that are clear enough for an audience that, I think needs as much understanding of this gender issue as people in [America] do. But at least among the Dagara people, gender has very little to do with anatomy. It is purely energetic. In that context, a male who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa. That is where the real gender is. Anatomic differences are simply there to determine who contributes what for the continuity of the tribe. It does not mean, necessarily, that there is a kind of line that divides people on that basis. And this is something that also touches on what has become known here as the ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ issue. Again, in the culture that I come from, this is not the issue. These people are looked on, essentially, as people. The whole notion of ‘gay’ does not exist in the indigenous world. That does not mean that there are not people there who feel the way that certain people feel in this culture, that has led to them being referred to as ‘gay.’”
— Malidoma Patrice Somé
The emasculation of the “straight,” male Hiphop star is marketing. And it also appeals to the mainstream idea that is constantly suggesting that Black men need to alter their behavior and dress to make White people feel comfortable. Those who conform are celebrated and get to live, those who don’t are vilified or killed.
“It’s these emasculated young boys who don’t have no father figure in the hood and who’ve been sometimes oppressed by their mothers, who now go out here and disrespect women and trying to prove their manhood. Out here running around having mad babies with different girls and all, not taking care of ‘em, thinking they’re being a man. All because they were emasculated in the beginning. Like, this shit affects everyone. It affects us. What another man wears, it does affect you, ’cause it affects his mind and what he does in society. It affects what happens in society, and what happens in society is going to affect you, either directly or indirectly.”
— Lord Jamar
All of these “straight,” male Hiphop artists who wearing nail polish and calling each other, “bae,” “hubby,” and the like, are preemptively castrating themselves. If you are two-spirited, there is a place for you. But it’s disingenuous for you to pose as a straight male but outwardly adorn yourself in feminine attire.
Gender and biological sex are not the same thing. Gender is a societal construct. Biological sex is the equipment you are born with. If your male kid has an energy where they want to play with dolls or want to wear a dress, then perhaps they are of two-spirit. No judgement. But I feel modern parenting and modern thinking pushes males against masculinity and force effeminates them. It’s like telling Black males they’re not forward-thinking if they’re not gay.
Patriarchy is nothing but a sub-genre of White Supremacy. Worship of the divine feminine energy is well documented in African folklore. These Nigerians who are kidnapping and killing girls are mimicking their oppressors. Nigeria was a different place before the White man came in, especially with what the oil has done over the past 60 years. It’s polluting the country politically and environmentally. Most current African issues are post-colonial. Granted, Africa was no perfect place pre-cololnialism or else a lot of Black Americans wouldn’t be here via enslavement, but many African issues today are White issues.
I do not judge any gay man, lesbian woman, transgender, pansexual, queer, boi, ladyboy, or any other shade of gender. I think the world would be a better place if those enlightened souls wouldn’t be forced to identify within the dualistic gender roles the White man has subscribed everyone to.
The King and Queen of Rap
Hiphop is the last cry of the masculinity of Black America. Hardcore Hiphop was, in part, a response to the feminine spirit of the Jheri curled male crooner. And no one outside the Black race has the right to appropriate it for their personal or social platforms. Nor should those of the Black race water down the Black aesthetic with European principles. It is the last unapologetically Black, male-dominated art form that has impacted society. We lost it over 20 years ago. Hiphop is dead. It now belongs to the White man. He has successfully colonized and castrated it, like they did George Washington Carver, like virtually everything else in ancient society.
I would love to live in a world where I don’t have to be raced Black and I can solely belong to a culture and a community of ancestors, but I don’t live in that world and neither do you. Until then, we have to do certain unintuitive things to protect that which we value or all is lost.
Being a Black man, it’s my duty to look after the vestiges of what’s left until we evolve past all of this bullshit or until I transition, and even then my work will not be done.
Real Niggas are hard to come by these days. That causes the few that are left to be constantly on guard for the next mothafucka tryna test them. It’s sad that a Nigga can’t just chill and get about the business of their evolution without someone wanting to test their level of Negrity. Then when the Nigga goes crazy something’s wrong with him. Like The Meters say, “Same Ol’ Thing.”
A Black man has a right to be angry, be at peace, have a chip on his shoulder, chill, have zero chill, give a fuck, or give none. “To each his own,” but let a Nigga be a Nigga. That’s the only way the Black man will survive out here. If as a Black male you don’t like the gender box you’re put it, fine. Create an artistic expression that reflects your lifestyle, but don’t tamper with what Black males have erected to sustain their livelihoods.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop
In the wake of the events in Ferguson, two videos got released by a couple of females in the business: Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I don’t believe in coincidences. Whether conscious or not, everything is connected. The imagery in these videos speak to a mounting racial tension that has been getting a lot of media attention lately.
I thought she was classin’ it up, but naw, she assin’ it up.
Post the shooting of Michael Brown, the conversation has been conveniently diverted from one of yet another murdered unarmed Black person by the police, to the profiling and criminalization of the victim and their community. We’ve seen this same script play out many times with some of the same actors. It’s the same narrative: the respectability politics surrounding what Black people must do in order to not be shot in the streets. And we see the same race pundits on CNN and Twitter talking about how much Black-on-Black crime is or isn’t a factor.
At the risk of sounding like some of these Uncle Tom-assed Negroes who seem to think the solution to unarmed Black people getting murdered in the street is pulling their pants up, I think it’s foolish to think that how we treat one another on a daily basis isn’t a factor in the constant devaluing of Black life. No matter the race, people don’t fear killing Black people because the overwhelming sentiment from society at large is that Black people don’t matter. Our status in this world has been one of expendability and replaceability for at least 500 years. Regardless of what anyone has done to or thinks of Black people, at some point, it all comes down to us.
People are not property. We are not to be raced, traded, or trafficked. Those are things you do to commercial goods, not human beings.
Had Black lives mattered to other Black people 500 years ago, Africans wouldn’t have been complicit in the colonization of their African brothers and sisters. Sure, we all make mistakes and can be fools from time to time, but you should learn from experience not to repeat the same fuck ups over and over again. I get that Europeans may have had the advantage as far as gun power, but I don’t think that’s why we ultimately lost to them invading Africa. Because we were weak as a nation, outsiders we able to take advantage of infighting within the ranks of African leaders. Because we lack whatever some Europeans have in their DNA that makes them feel entitled to capture, torture, and rape a people of their land and their humanity, we have a hard time fathoming the sociopathic mind that could so freely do that to another. 500 years later, and we still expect the oppressor to acknowledge their wrongdoing and give us justice. As if the powers that be know or care anything about justice.
“The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny, and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust.”
The Wolf and The Lamb
Regardless of whose fault it is, the only way Black people are going to move ahead in this world is to first respect themselves. As long as we continue to see ourselves through the lens of the oppressor there won’t be peace or justice. Not because the oppressor is the arbiter of either peace or justice, but because when we are disconnected from who we really are, there is no chance for evolution. What does not evolve, dies, and what is dead, deteriorates — which is why we find ourselves doing exactly what we did 50 years ago.
I’m not surprised we are here, because we never finished what we started 50 years ago. The Civil Rights Movement was about a change in policy. The subsequent Black Power Movement is really what was supposed to set things off. We must remember that we didn’t drop the ball. We were fired up and ready to take action. Yes, some of us were guilty of assimilating once we were given a chance to live in White neighborhoods, eat at White restaurants, and take part in all of the trappings of the capitalist system that became a symbol of world domination from the sweat off of our Black backs. But there was a growing number of grassroots activists who were feeding and educating our marginalized Black youth — people like Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, all of whom were either killed, arrested or exiled.
Again, tactics of intimidation and fear were used as a means of keeping us in check. We’re told not to forget the names of your Trayvon Martins, Mike Browns, Renisha McBrides, Jordan Davises, and Ezell Fords — but the list is getting too long. We can’t remember all the names of the Black people who have been killed within the last 5 years, much less the last 500 years. We must not forget the murder of our ancestors, but we must remember why this happened to us and is continuing to happen. The thread that ties all of this together is that murder of Blacks is justified because we are not civilized. And according to the self-appointed majority race, when you are not civilized, you are not human — you are savages. That makes us disposable and unworthy of justice in the eyes of the status quo.
You see, the real war is not against Black or White. The real war is culture versus civilization. My question is: Why should we expect liberty under the same statehood which profits from our servitude? I think a more effective use of our energy would have been and still is to build a Pan-African communal support base around the world. This is the work that Malcolm X was doing before he was set up to be assassinated. Marcus Garvey is also to be commended for being one of the pioneers of Pan-African thought.
If all people of African descent respected and acknowledged that we are part of the same family, we could reverse and repair the effects of 500 years of colonization. The problem is that many of us who are blessed enough to have a voice and have built enough riches in the ways of this world to make a difference are too busy being drunk in love or twerking to speak up and do something to propel us forward. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for lap dances and asshakery, but when the only picture of Black women you get in the media is this, it’s a problem.
Two hundred years ago…
Josephine Baker shaked her ass so you don’t have to.
When we mimic the distorted views of those who oppress us, we relinquish our right to rail against the system when they minstrelize us. You can’t be mad at Taylor Swift for appropriating Black culture when Nicki Minaj dual-plagiarizes the appropriation by telling Massa his story back to him.
What’s more offensive than any sistas shaking their asses in the videos, is how lame both “Shake It Off” and “Anaconda” are musically. The greatest crime in both of these so-called songs is that you’re being sold a stereotypical imagery of Black culture with a sound that is stripped of that which makes Black American music what it is. Neither is even remotely funky. It makes me wonder how anyone gets inspired to shake anything upon hearing that. Both diminish the code which exists in all great Black music. Perhaps because Taylor has more to prove, and though a complete rip from the ’80s favorite “Hey Mickey,” Taylor’s song has more of a groove than Nicki’s.
“Now you take the little baby that’s layin’ in the cradle — kicking and hollerin’ and goin’ on and tearin’ up the lil’ baby bed — can’t get that milk bottle fast enough. It’s got The Blues.”
— Albert King
To be completely honest, I wouldn’t have that much of a problem at all with either song if they were soulful. I cannot stress enough the importance The Blues plays in the liberation of The Souls of Black Folk. Because we were not allowed to speak our Native Tongues, The Blues is the new language we invented for ourselves. Sometimes the only way to get the masses aboard is by tricking them into doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Within this context, using the gloss of entertainment propaganda to get the message to folks is completely acceptable. When you give people That Rhythm, you give them That Life. At which point, the glorification of debauchery becomes a vessel for the deeper message you’re attempting to deliver.
Though everything in the media tries to convince us otherwise, Black people are a community. Not only are we linked to each other as people of African descent, but we are linked to all indigenous people the world over. Native Americans, Asians, Palestinians, Aboriginal Australians, and others, have a shared history in the destruction of our cultures by means of civilization. And to show you how the oppressor uses language as a tool to brainwash, when someone’s being “civilized” the connotation is one of peace, when we know the irony is that all state-sanctioned civilizations are born of violence and destruction.
The first tool of oppression is language. When you control someone’s speech, you control their thoughts.
What I think Black Americans need to reclaim first and foremost is our indigenous Black American language, The Blues. Any gains we have made in this society as a people has been through The Blues. Be it Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues,” Charlie Parker’s “K.C. Blues,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times,” Lauryn Hill’s “Every Ghetto, Every City,” as Miles Davis said, it’s “All Blues.”
The message is in the music. And it’s not so much what you’re saying as it is how you are saying it. We need to make each other responsible. We should hold our leaders and artists to the high standard of expression our ancestors set. Blacks call adopting a mainstream sound stripped of Blues “crossing over,” when by doing so, we still stuck on the wrong side of the River Jordan. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Peace and justice won’t be ours until we reconnect to the way we communicate with The Universe.
We need to be able to decipher the subliminal messages underneath what’s being sold to us. On the surface, Taylor and Nicki’s songs appear to reinforce the “Hottentot Venus” syndrome of the Black female body only being of use for shake dancing and for people to ogle over. And in Nicki’s case the “Anaconda” serves as a symbol reinforcing society’s fear and fascination of a large, Black penis. It would behoove Black people to develop their sense of hypersensitivity in order to counterbalance the imagery of hypersexuality. We have a tendency to get all up in our feelings about stuff and reacting as opposed to sitting still and thinking for awhile before we respond.
In light of all of this, though we have struggled, I am proud of my heritage as a Black American. This has all happened for a reason. I think we have an opportunity to be better Africans than we were 500 years ago, but that would require us to remember. With all that we’ve been through, we should be better than our ancestors. But as long as we continue to suffer from cultural amnesia, we could find ourselves on the news again 50 years in the future, fighting the same fight. Or worse, we will have no historical memory at all of who we were before we were enslaved.
Once you get past the imagery of appropriation, the lyrics in Taylor’s song are quite affirmative:
I never miss a beat
I’m lighting up my feet
And that’s what they don’t see
That’s what they don’t see
I’m dancing on my own
I make the moves as I go
And that’s what they don’t know
That’s what they don’t know
But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off
And in an earlier essay, I conveyed that in ancient African mythology snakes were deities. A snake or serpent often represented fertility, which is not too far off from the big, Black dick Nicki is alluding to. In the Hindu faith, Shesha was the king of all Nagas (serpent gods). Nagas are gods, so are Niggas. And then there’s the sacred snake dance of the Hopi Indians. There is no end to the allegorical connection to all of these things if we take a look through our Third Eye.
I, IV, V
I know, for some, the events in Ferguson are cathartic and necessary. I just hope that after they return home they remember what brought them out into the streets this time. Those who are lost know most the beauty of being found. When you’re playing a Blues progression, it always goes back to One. As James Brown, Bootsy, and George Clinton have all said, ain’t no funk without The One. I. Eye. The Amen Cadence is IV — I (four to one). Four: IV — intravenous. Amun, the Egyptian God of the poor and downtrodden, became one with the Sun (or Ra) and representative of transformation of self. Amun as a god was hidden, but through Ra, was revealed. Amun-Ra, revelation of The Seen and The Unseen. Amun-Ra was adopted by Greek mythology in the form of Esus, or Zeus, which eventually became adopted by Christianity as Jesus. E-SUS in musical terms is a chord, so is G-SUS — Jesus. What’s interesting about SUS chords, short for suspended chord, is that the chord is built from the first, forth, and fifth degree of the diatonic scale. The traditional blues form in Black music is built upon the I, IV, and V chord.
It all goes back to The One.
Everything is connected.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop
Why are we in the streets getting shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed? How long are we going to stay out there? Until Darren Wilson is charged, or until there is justice for Black America? Why are we so easily provoked by the same story time and again to the same end? It will not bring back the lives of the murdered. Marching on the government is an antiquated thing of the past. We’ve done that already and we’re still here. They’re repealing the same laws we marched for 50 years ago and we’re out in the street again.
No human being is capable of serving justice. No government department is capable of serving justice. Marching on the police for use of excessive force does nothing but give them license to use more excessive force. Don’t play that game. You can’t win. It will only result in more dead, Black bodies. You are worth more to Black America alive. Don’t needlessly sacrifice yourself for a lost cause.
Support your community. Learn your history so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Don’t react; take action. It’s what we do everyday that counts most. Vacillating between states of either survival mode or crisis mode is no way to live. If we did the daily maintenance that it requires to sustain a community, we wouldn’t find ourselves doing damage control in situations of disquiet.
All of this railing against the system is bringing us nowhere and is expending energy that would be more useful in other spaces. Why do we keep fighting the oppressor’s war, on the oppressor’s terms, on the oppressor’s turf? To continue to have your buttons pushed and getting agitated about the same thing year after year is not what’s up. This is getting us nowhere. In order for something different to happen, we have to do something different. When is it going to be time to be reflective and meditative and create from a calm, cool-headed state of mind?
A mass movement is not going to work. Be a movement of one by living the values you espouse. Be an asset to your community by investing in yourself daily to be the best you you can be. The only person you’re guaranteed to affect change within is you. You can’t make your kids do anything. You can’t make your family do anything. You should not waste your time appealing to anyone who refuses to accept you. They have the right to feel how they want about you, just like you have the right to feel whatever way about them.
It’s all energy. When you oscillate on a certain wavelength, you will attract other like-minded spirits who oscillate on that same wavelength. But as long as you continue to be sucked in by oppressive forces, it takes you out of your bandwidth and puts you in somebody else’s. The distraction of this media narrative is as destructive as any military-grade weaponry, tanks, bombs, or the like. The external battlefield is just the physical manifestation of the inward war. If you stay tuned, you don’t have to be alarmed every time someone changes the channel.
To have peace in one place, there has to be war in another. “Peace” is just a piece of the story. If everything was good, nothing would be good. This isn’t a race, it’s a journey. Operating from a state of angst just creates more angst. Culture is our respite. The Blues is a cry of those silenced. Speak your native tongue, and if it’s been taken from you, grow another one. There is no end to the wellspring of art that exists inside your soul. Those who have no soul have a right to be as they are. Don’t trouble yourself trying to cultivate the spiritually challenged. Every moment away from nourishing your roots, your ancestry, is time you can’t get back.
Be like the drum who sings when beaten. Be like the owl which hoots in the night. Mourn like the river, and rise like the sun. The language of the ancestors reverberates like a constant vowel underneath the surface of this mirage of calamity. Tap in. They are speaking. Those notes unlock the mysteries of things seen and unseen. Those melodies are a gateway to freedom.
Colonialism is deafening. Don’t let your hearing become eroded by the static and spastic rhythm of false societal constructs. The boots on the ground approach to resistance will get you a kick in the head. The real march is a step inwards. Burning buildings is one thing; igniting the fire between your eyes is another.
Drum is life
Marching always towards
The Symbol of Light
— Nicholas Payton
There is no liberty for Black people under the American banner. We needn’t look to the Department of Justice, democracy, or the police to protect and serve. We should trust what has worked for us: The Drum and The Blues — our Black American Language. Justice is not the domain of man, but the domain of The Universe. We must align ourselves with the universal law through the power of rhythm and song. Rhythm is song and song is rhythm. There has never been somebody who could swing, yet couldn’t play the blues. Nor has there been someone who could play the blues, yet not swing.
Blues and swing are the same thing, and that’s no jazz.
— Nicholas Payton aka The King of Research
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.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop