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Now Can We Celebrate Some Dangerous Black People?

Another Black History Month comes and another Black History Month goes. The 29 dreary days of the year when we reduce the history of the people who built this country beneath the weight of the whip to extra crunchy peanut butter. I’m not a black person, so every word of this rant may very well come across as politically incorrect and racially insensitive, but I am a history nerd, and as quite possibly the queerest person on this side of the rainbow, I do know what it’s like to have my tribe’s history hijacked and commodified by the same capitalist cunts who once conspired to have us annihilated. Truth be told, growing up as a freak, I often found it a hell of a lot more easy to relate to black historical figures than white ones. Malcolm X may have peed standing up but something tells me he knew more about being the straight man’s faggot than the Kennedy’s.

But Brother Malcolm isn’t an official fixture of Black History Month. Oh sure, you’ll see a picture of him here or there, but he’s always seen but not heard. That’s because Black History Month has less to do with black people and more to do with white guilt and jingoist propaganda. The entire ark of black history is reduced to crass pop culture and a constellation of events designed to prove the ultimate benevolence and superiority of the American system. According to Black History Month, black people were freed by the white establishment with the Emancipation Proclamation, made equal by the white establishment with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and officially accepted into the white establishment with the election of Barack Obama. And that’s where history just sort of ends. According to this narrative, black history is defined almost entirely by the state, the same state that brought these people over here in chains. You would think Abe Lincoln was a fucking negro himself, rather than a well established racist who used a group of people he didn’t even believe were human to justify consolidating his power with a bloodbath.

Sure we celebrate black people in February, but we prefer to the celebrate the safe ones, and when they’re not safe, we make em safe. One would be forgiven for suffering under the delusion that Martin Luther King was some roly-poly statist push-over rather than a pistol-packing anti-imperialist who was so frightening to the feds that they devoted thousands of manhours to see him ruined and more than likely got him and his comrade, Brother Malcolm, killed. It’s telling that we only celebrate the pacifists, and even then, only the most passive aspects of said pacifists get celebrated. The message being, just keep your hands in your pockets and sing about Jesus and the state will come around to recognize your right to exist once they can capitalize on it to prove their benevolence to those bastard commies. And the rest is just peanut butter. As a kid, this month was a fucking bore, and I’m pretty sure that was the point. I found it hard to reconcile the banality of my history books with the wild images of gloved fists, M1 Carbines and afros that tantalized me in the pages of those old magazines in my mom’s vintage clothing shop. There’s nothing wrong with Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver, but if you’re going to spend a whole month celebrating safe black people cant we spend another one celebrating the dangerous ones?

We can start with the father of dangerous negroedom, Nat Turner, a seemingly well behaved preacher who used his status as an Uncle Tom to organize the greatest slave revolt in American history, lopping off the heads of some sixty white devils and setting the table for the Dixieland uprisings which gave Lincoln’s Civil War some much needed street cred. While we’re celebrating Rosa Parks, why don’t we also celebrate the equally courageous Lucy Parsons? A triracial anarcho-feminist born into slavery who went on to help create the most dangerous arm of the Labor Movement in the International Workers of the World and was once described by the Chicago PD as “More dangerous than a thousand rioters.” And how about the Black Power Movement that terrified racist shits like LBJ into signing off on civil rights with one hand and arming J. Edgar Hoover’s glorified Klansmen with the other?

It was the Black Power Movement that taught a frightened little girl like me to reject her body and embrace her status as a Rock N Roll Nigger. It was Robert F. Williams building black militias and advocating a Dixie uprising from a radio station in Havana during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was Huey Newton policing the police in Apartheid Oakland with the black leather clad spectacle of the Black Panther Party. It was Ahmed Evans who saw the pigs put a bullet in a black man’s back just like Michael Brown and responded by taking on the entire Cleveland Police State single handedly in the Glenville Shootout. It was a queer Panther named Kuwasi Balagoon who got so good at busting out of the white man’s prisons that he turned it into a calling and helped free Assata Shakur, who’s still sitting free and pretty as we speak in Cuba long after the AIDS virus claimed her brother and millions of others. It was his fellow black anarchists Martin Sostre, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin and Ashanti Alston who fused black nationalism with stateless resistance long before anyone had even heard of the concept of national anarchism that would inform my own brand of radical queer tribalism. It was wild cards like John Africa who survived the ableist confines of compulsory schooling and the mental health industry to advocate a return to primitive values back when Will Shatter was still porking John Zerzan’s mistress at the Mab. It was Storme DeLarverie and Miss Major who defined black femininity on their own damn terms while throwing the first brick in the police state’s face at Stonewall.

These were the dark skinned heroes who gave me the strength to take the razor blade from my wrist and put it to Uncle Sam’s throat. And that is precisely why most of you here have probably never even heard their names. Dangerous people of color have always lead the fight against the American Empire. It’s in their blood. The same blood that watered the crops on the Founding Fathers’ plantations. This is why armed white men tremble at the sight of unarmed black children. This is why an entire industrial complex had to be built to contain them. As Vladimir Lenin and J. Edgar Hoover alike observed, if America has a revolutionary class, it is the dangerous negro. Men like Huey and Malcolm inspired a thousand tribes, from the queens of Stonewall to the Young Patriots of Appalachia, to take up arms and define themselves by resistance rather than assimilation. The least we can do is take March to remember these revolutionaries that February forgot.

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Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.

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