Black Resistance As An Act of Love…

“We represent historical forces and it is really these forces that are coalescing and moving toward each other. And it is not a fraud, forced out of desperation. We live in a disoriented, deranged social structure, and we have transcended its barriers in our own ways and have stepped psychologically outside it madness and repressions. It is lonely out here. We recognize each other. And, having recognized each other, is it any wonder that our souls hold hands and cling together even while our minds equivocate, hesitate, vacillate, and tremble?
Peace. Don’t panic, and don’t wake up.
Dream on. I am
Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice

Written in 1968, a good chunk of this book could have been written this year. There’s also a lot of nonsense in it. To me, the most remarkable part is the correspondence between Cleaver and his lawyer, Beverly Axelrod. It’s not surprising that their relationship fell apart, mostly due to politics and greed. What is notable in this passage is how their passion grew out of their mutual recognition of each other’s humanity.

This is the core of all resistance; we see our own humanity as worth fighting for, and demand others see that worth. When the acknowledgment comes, no matter where it comes from, it resonates in our souls and lights fires…

Siege in Boston…

“The city was thrown into a frenzy of activity a few days after the Faneuil Hall meeting, when two slave-catchers arrived from Georgia, claiming the Crafts. The black community and the vigilance community promptly marshaled their forces. Ellen was taken to the safety of Dr. Henry Bowditch’s home in Brookline and a week later was transferred to the Reverend Theodore Parker’s. William, meanwhile, armed and barricaded himself in his shop while friends stood watch. “No man could approach within 100 yards of Craft’s shop,” one reporter observed, “without being seen by a hundred eyes, and a signal would call a powerful body at a moment’s warning.” As tension mounted and it appeared the slave catchers were determined to test these defences William was taken to Lewis Hayden’s, where kegs of gunpowder were placed in the basement in anticipation of an attack. According to an observer, black homes on Belknap and Cambridge streets, the main thoroughfares, were fortified and the occupants well armed with guns, swords, and knives: “The colored population are really roused in this matter and are making their houses like barricades.” R.J.M. Blackett, Beating Against the Barriers

Too often, we forget that Black resistance existed long before the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s. This passage describes the events in Boston circa Oct, 1850, involving Ellen and William Craft, who escaped enslavement in Georgia, only to be followed by politics (Fugitive Slave Act of 1850) and vengeful slavers.

Black Rebellion and Trickster Gods…

Adinkra symbol, Ananse ntontan, or the Spider Web. It is a symbol of wisdom and creativity. Often used to represent the trickster god Anansi. Br’er Rabbit is rooted in this West African folktale tradition.

“I know that I am playing with fire, and I feel the thrill which accompanies that most fascinating pastime; and, back of it all, I think I find a sort of savage and diabolical desire to gather up all the little tragedies of my life, and turn them into a practical joke on society.” James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

This is my favorite form of rebellion…the trickster rebel…”I’ll use your sickness against you, and mock you with it…”

Competence and Humanity…

To be honest, that’s a low bar for Presidential qualifications. And yet, here we are. One day, maybe, we’ll get back to looking for excellence. Did we ever? You could say Obama was the most qualified to serve since… Well, Bush Sr had a full CV. It’s overwhelmingly clear that resume doesn’t count for shit. Otherwise, Hillary would be getting sworn in for a second term. And yet…

So what’s a reasonable expectation for a Biden-Harris administration? Folks on the Left have been yearning for a return to FDR; sweeping social programs and a patriotism rooted in serving the common good. Now they have their chance with COVID. It’s their BIG PROBLEM THAT REQUIRES BIG SOLUTIONS.

There’s not much chance they’ll get far because on the Right, Communism lurks in every shadow. And just like The Great Pumpkin, it never appears. Conservatives look like Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch, angry and afraid because someone “stole” and their security blanket. Never mind, that’s an insult to Linus. At least he believed in something.

Am I clownin’ on Republicans? Yes. They deserved to be roasted for selling their party out to a game show grifter. Someone should’ve told them about Lonesome Rhodes. Too late.

Meanwhile, folks in the middle just want to get out of the house again. And everyone is tired of losing family and friends.

Here we are. At best, we’ll get a return to something that resembles functional, boring, governance. I’ll take it. Where’s my Joe Cool sticker?

Some light packing before we move on…

Most important book I read this year:

Despite the fact I’m still reading it, The New Jim Crow is my filter for everything 2020. It feels like homework though…Black Homework.

The book I should be talking about here is The Nickel Boys. Another time…

My adventures in viewing and listening..

For the record: album plays 2020

I was particularly obsessed with the work of Abel Ferrara, specifically his movies with Willem Dafoe. That then morphed into a mild fixation on Dafoe’s work.

I finally started to explore the Studio Ghibli library. That was a wonderful way to spend time with my daughter.

For the record:

Letterboxd Highlights 2020

Like most everyone else, I found it necessary to distract myself with endless hours of television. That will be corrected.

I May Destroy You had the most impact on me, and is the one show that I will carry with me into the future.

I also can’t stop thinking about Ted Lasso.

I don’t have time for distractions. I’ve got too much to get done…

Adios, see you down the road.