Is it just me or has Black History Month become kind of a gross corporate circus lately? Just another banal commercial grab bag of Hallmark moments to peddle the superiority of the American experience. I feel like shit saying it out loud but I can’t be the first asshole to notice this. You know there’s something seriously wrong when poet laureates are subtly peddling Black consciousness for the war machine beneath wailing fighter jets at the goddamn Super Bowl. Where in the Black Christ is Colin Kaepernick when you need him? What’s next, a new Freedom Ride at Disneyland sponsored by Lockheed Martin? Please tell me I’m not the only one? This cannot be Doctor King’s dream.
The stars of this new corporate Blackanalia, naturally, are the monarchs of the New Black Renaissance, Barack and Michelle Obama, because nothing says racial justice like looking glamorous while getting away with war crimes. The new dream is apparently being woke enough to pass mediocre healthcare reform between murdering teenagers of color in Yemen with drone strikes. I need to sit down. No, I need to stand up.
All of this wouldn’t feel so goddamn personal to me if it didn’t all feel so goddamn familiar. I may be but a pale-faced faggot but I’ve witnessed this same damn shit as a Queer person with what those same corporate scumfucks have done to Pride Month. A holiday that began with my people kicking the Queer Christ out of a bunch of roll crazy pigs has been reduced to a photo-op for gangsters like Kamala Harris to pose in front of and cover up the stench of the Prison Industrial Complex on her breath. Maybe this is unfair, but I think all marginalized people, all the ones I know anyway, look to Black Power for guidance and inspiration, like a beautiful Afroed older sister to teach us how to crack wise and beat the man. It fucking hurts to see this badass domesticated into something of value to the people we fight.
I’ve heard it argued that this kind of banal assimilation is proof that identity movements like Black and Queer rights have lost their lethality and no longer pose a threat to the status quo. To this I respectfully say fuck you. If anything it’s the opposite. The American death machine wouldn’t dump so much cash and air time into filing down our teeth if the civil rights movement didn’t pose a threat to their sick way of life. The only thing more expensive than a full tilt appropriation campaign of this magnitude is a literal war and they literally already tried that. Assimilation is what white devils do when genocide fails. It’s why they built Christian schools in every Indian reservation, right next to the liquor stores. If you can’t annihilate, assimilate. Turn the savages into good capitalist soldiers just educated enough to know their place as mascots for the home team.
They don’t target marginalized people simply because they hate us. They target Black, Brown, and Queer folks because the American Civil Rights Movement has always been deeply intertwined with the Global Anti-Imperialist Movement, especially in the case of Americanized Africans. The biggest mistake this empire ever made was taking a chunk of its conquests in the Dark Continent home with them. Slavery affectively had the potential blowback of bringing the war home, and we’ve seen that war explode from Harper’s Ferry to Kenosha, and they have too. That’s why the one chapter of Black History that you will never hear from the status quo is the chapter about this countries proud Black antiwar movement that stretches from W. E. B. Du Bois to Ajamu Baraka, and this history includes all of the biggest names in the narrative of the Black struggle.
In December 1963, Malcolm X gave another fiery sermon in Harlem, proclaiming that “White America is doomed! Death and devastating destruction hang at this very moment in the skies over America.” Just as Vietnam began to heat up. After his sermon, a journalist famously asked Malcolm about his opinion on the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Malcolm had been instructed by the Nation of Islam not to touch this subject with a ten foot pole but Malcolm was never much for taking orders or passing on opportunities for enlightenment. He responded curtly but eloquently, “Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad; they only made me glad.”
The entirety of the white status quo lost their proverbial shit. Even Elijah Mohamed had Malcolm censured and stripped of his position, spelling out the end of Malcolm’s tumultuous relationship with the Nation of Islam. But too few people took the time to contemplate the true meaning behind Brother Malcom’s harsh words of wisdom. He wasn’t gloating but simply stating a fact that leaders who reek racial violence abroad invite violent blowback at home. Kennedy had sent the chickens to do his bidding in the Bay of Pigs and the Gulf of Tonkin, and once he realized the horror of what he had loosed upon the world, those very same chickens returned home to ensure he couldn’t undue that horror.
The American Government and their rats in the Nation got the message loud and clear. Over the next two years Malcolm dodged multiple attempts on his life. He was nearly done in after being poisoned in Egypt during a global goodwill tour to sow solidarity among fellow Third World anti-colonialists. Not long after his recovery, his home was firebombed, and not long after that, Malcom was shotgunnned to death by rogue Black Muslims during his final sermon in Harlem. Brother Malcolm got too loud. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men haven’t enabled them to put North and South Vietnam together again.” He said. “You can’t understand what is going on in Mississippi if you don’t know what’s going on in the Congo.” He said. Malcolm clearly couldn’t be assimilated.
Two years later, his supposed nemesis Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech Malcolm would have been proud of at the nearby Riverside Church. The speech was called “Beyond Vietnam- a time to break silence,” and in it the beloved civil rights pacifist forcefully proclaimed, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death!” The speech made the shocking argument that America was, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and that Vietnam was merely a symptom of the same death machine he faced off with in Selma. Exactly one year later to the day, Dr. King was assassinated by a sniper. The crime was pinned on a petty criminal with familial ties to the White Power Movement. King’s family has never been convinced. Apparently Martin too had become to loud to assimilate, at least in life.
The greatest tragedy of the current campaign to assimilate Black Power is its successful attempts to assimilate historical figures like Brother Malcolm and Dr. King and to render them harmless props by stripping them of their historical significance as leading anti-imperialists. This can’t stand and all Americans shouldn’t stand for it. I believe these great men, like many other great leaders of color, died defying the American war machine. The greatest way for us to honor them and to honor Black History Month is to turn it into an anti-imperialist holiday. Can you imagine Malcolm and Martin’s response if they had been alive to see this country wage a dozen Vietnams at once, from Venezuela to Afghanistan. That must be our response. We must never forget the fallen heroes of the Black movement to end American imperialism and we must honor all Black lives by fighting against these racist wars.
I did what I do best, dearest motherfuckers. I sweared about it on the internet. Now it’s your move.