Black History Month 05: By Any Means

February 5th, 2008 by | Tags: , , ,

from marvel comics’s captain america and the falcon, words by priest, art by dan jurgens
malcomxm1carbine3gr.gif We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.

It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.

There are no happy accidents. If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. Asking and suggesting and cajoling and wheedling only goes so far. Sometimes you have to pick up that pistol and turn your idea into reality.

Sometimes you have to pick up that pencil and turn your idea into reality.

That isn’t what this one is about, though. It’s about protection.

The Black Power movement was, at its heart, about protection. It was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, not the Black Panther Party For Killin’ White Folks. The BPP was formed in response to police brutality. They were a force to protect people. This is evident in their Ten Point Program:

1. We want power to determine the destiny of our black and oppressed communities.
2. We want full employment for our people.
3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black Community.
4. We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.
5. We want decent education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.
6. We want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people.
7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people, other people of color, all oppressed people inside the United States.
8. We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression.
9. We want freedom for all black and oppressed people now held in U. S. Federal, state, county, city and military prisons and jails. We want trials by a jury of peers for all persons charged with so-called crimes under the laws of this country.
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people’s community control of modern technology.

Key words: “We want.”
Key ideas: Safety, equality

How do you respond when you’re unable to gain ground against a system that has been built off your backs with the intent of keeping you down? You burn it down.

Malcolm X said that it’s “a corrupt, vicious, hypocritical system that has castrated the Black man; and the only way the Black man can get back at it is to strike it in the only way he knows how.” When you don’t have a choice and can’t find a legal way to protect yourself, you’re going to pick up a weapon, be it a gun or a stick, and take protection into your own hands.

That’s a large part of how I view the idea of Black Power. “We are not getting protection. We are being actively refused protection. How can we take it?”

There’s another Malcolm X quote. He said that he never meant Dr. King any trouble, but he had no trouble showing people what was waiting in the wings if they didn’t embrace Martin Luther King’s way of doing things.

“We’re giving peace a chance for right now… but I wish you would keep pushing us and then you’ll really get a piece of our mind,” so to speak.

Protection, change, the future: by any means.

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4 comments to “Black History Month 05: By Any Means”

  1. I’ve found that an interesting exercise is replace the words “Capitalist” with “Royalist”, “Black” with “American”, and “Community” with “Colonies” and it all sounds a lot less radical, and a sounds like demands that could have easily been written in the 1770’s as opposed to the 1970’s.

    I think it’s always easy for people to marginalize the Black Panther Party, but they actually *were* targeted by the government.

  2. You haven’t really made it until the FBI starts investigating you, really 🙂

  3. I’m in a Multi-Ethnic American Literature class right now, and we were reading up on Malcolm’s autobiography a few weeks back. What really surprised me about the man was how much he changed later on in his life. History and the media like to paint him as the “mean Dr. King” but his trip to Mecca really changed his outlook on world brotherhood. He still believed that blacks needed a strong community structure, but his “kill whitey” rhetoric really softened before he died.

    Malcolm X backed up equality with real, passionate threats, but I think a lot of people ignore the inquisitive, evolving side of Malcolm in the view of history.

  4. The best thing about black comic heroes who espouse Black Power is that they’re interesting: provocative and uncompromising.