Parable of the Pan African Hood
By Marvin X
"The reactionaries will never put down their butcher knives,
they will never turn into Buddha heads."--Mao
We are talking about a condition in the hearts of men, an evil sore festering and stinking like rotten meat, to use that Langston Hughes metaphor. It is a spiritual disease more prevalent than HIV, for it consumes whole countries, not only Pan Africa, but it may be said to originate in Europe because lying and murder is the great theme of this culture, and Africa and Africans throughout the Diaspora are victimized and suffer this malady equally with their colonial Mother. See how Europe butchered the butcher's sons in Iraq, or is this the democratic way of life she is bringing to the sand nigguhs?
The problem is how to throw off the vestiges of colonialism to become the New Man and New Woman. Of course, we must first recognize how sick colonialism has made us throughout Pan Africa. Somehow we must bow down and ask forgiveness of our Higher Power, the ancestors, the living and the yet unborn. There must be a cleansing ritual performed until the mud and slime of Western culture is purged from our minds, bodies and souls.
The Western gods must be destroyed, crushed to the earth and stomped into eternity, for they have blessed us with ignorance, superstition, greed, lust and pure evil, allowing us to become worse than beasts in the field, committing the worse atrocities, yea, even worse than all the teaching of our colonial masters.
No doubt Africa is paying for the great sin of sending her sons and daughters into slavery. Has Africa asked forgiveness of herself, yet she wails for apology from the slave master's children. Has she given reparations to her descendants lost in the wilderness of North America? Has she ever sent a symbolic ship or plane to bring them home? So Pan Africa lives a slow death because she allows corrupt, boastful, arrogant leaders to control her nations, her leaders shelter each other, covering their multiple sins, protecting themselves from people's justice who would rightfully hang them like Mussolini and his wife.
Like jack in the box, Pan Africa must jump out of her iniquities, she must call forth the divine energy within the bowels of her soul and step into the New Day of light, breath and health. She cannot allow her children to devour her from coast to coast, sea to sea, from America to Africa, but children only mock the behavior of adults, so we cannot blame them, children are children, so adults must step to the front of the line, no matter how busy they are doing nothing, for they are surely doing nothing if the village is in chaos, security being the top priority of civilization.
Everyone must become the central command, every man and woman must be about the business of teaching new values, new ways of thinking and acting that are not harmful to the human soul and the human condition.
The world is so full of wisdom it escapes us because our quest is for the trivial, the low things of life, not the things in the upper room, but those in the basement, in the gutter of our minds and hearts, that is were we dwell, that is our focus and this is why we suffer. Kobe gives his wife a four million dollar rock, but will it placate her soul, will material things correct a spiritual problem of faith and trust?
The West has a sordid history buying people as Pan Africa can attest, but everyone is not for sale, those of integrity will jump ship, will eat the whip and the gun, for persecution is worse than slaughter, the Qur'an teaches.
No, physical weapons cannot solve the problem. Look at Israel, she has the all the modern weapons but she cannot defeat the spirit of a people determined to be free. So Pan Africa's children can and must be disarmed by a new consciousness. Even Fidel Castro has said the new weapon is consciousness!
Like Johnny Apple Seed, we must go about spreading consciousness, teaching unconditional love and forgiveness, sharing knowledge and wealth with the poor and ignorant, the brokenhearted and oppressed. I am not trying to be sentimental, but we can and must flip the script as they say in the hood.
Again, like Jack, we must jump out the box of mental and physical oppression by taking a new look at reality, by stopping a moment to wonder at the pleasure in the sun, the trees, the sea and mountains, the glory of being alive each moment to share human love, being grateful we have a moment on this earth to whisper truth to children that they may rise and be a pleasure to the ancestors watching from everywhere. Yes, we must transcend block man and block woman, the block within ourselves even, and reach forth into the realm of new possibilities, not allowing evil and her brothers and sisters to control the air and sun that comes each day blessing us with another moment to walk in the light, escaping the darkness of ignorance, greed, lust and violence.
Black men, go into the hood and take the guns from your sons, yes the sons you abandoned, neglected and rejected, the sons who look like you although you deny this, the sons who walk with sad hearts, hardened because they long for you, for your love and guidance, for your wisdom and strength, after all, Mama did all she could to raise her manchild in the promised land.
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A Response to "Killing in the Pan Africa Hood"
By Rudolph Lewis
Marvin, there is great wisdom that should be heeded in your essay "How To Stop The Killing in the Pan African Hood." I am aware that a new set of values (though possessed by our enslaved ancestors but now abandoned under the "new world order") and a new perspective of our place in the world, of our past and future are earnestly needed in these dire times.
The most important of these new perspectives is couched in your paragraph that reads as follows:
Has Africa asked forgiveness of herself, yet she wails for apology from the slave masters' children. Has she given reparations to her descendants lost in the wilderness of North America? Has she ever sent a symbolic ship or plane to bring them home? So Pan Africa lives a slow death because she allows corrupt, boastful, arrogant leaders to control her nations, her leaders shelter each other, covering their multiple sins, protecting themselves from people's justice who would rightfully hang them like Mussolini and his wife.
In short, you suggest our critical sword should have a double edge -- that is, the slave trade was African nations and European nations collaborating for the purposes of wealth and power. They got rid of their "niggertrash."
Many of those descendants of the tribal kings and chiefs who sold millions of slaves still play significant roles in the politics of today's African nations. And they will sell us again and their people again in the 21st century, if the World Bank and other internationalist (globalist), corporatist agencies offer the right price. (Check out Paul Kingsnorth's essay on South Africa and the ANC A Shattered Dream.)
In the contest for wealth and power, black and white, however, are not real distinctions but illusions, a means for escapism or sidetracking those who wish to do the "good." I know "evil" has become a popular theme in the discussion of international politics and the resistance to corporate imperialism, especially from the bully pit of the presidency. I hope we do not become a mirror image of such trite rhetoric -- it indeed will lead us astray. It is necessary that we keep on the straight and narrow and keep both edges of our sword whetted sharp.
At no time must we sink back into mythologizing the world for the sake of political convenience. Beneath most Pan-African rhetoric (from the 19th century to the present), there is this underlying notion of Africa as paradise into which Satan (the white man) introduced evil. I recommend strongly that all pan-africanists and sympathizers and all other petty-bourgeois, pseudo-revolutionaries read the Malian Yambo Olouloguem's novel Bound to Violence . Or any non-romantic account of Africa before European trade began.
There was more evil in Africa than one could shake a stick at. The process of empire building in Africa by Africans themselves and the perennial struggles for power and the retention of power included the wholesale slaughter of tribes (genocide), butchery, debauchery of every sort (religious, political and social), cannibalism, incest, and so on. -- all these acts of evil existed before modern Europe stepped onto the soil of Africa or worked out its first deal for a cargo of slaves.
The emperors, kings and queens, and chiefs -- to which we have become so inured (and want to imitate by dress, manners, and religion) -- did not achieve those aristocratic titles by their sweetness and benevolence but by the same means we are familiar with today in those who strive to rule and conquer. That is, they did it the old-fashioned way -- by violence, exploitation, and oppression..
The aberrations we see in Africa and at home are not new. This violence for wealth and power is just as old as the first time one brother killed another for his wife or his ass. This contest for dominance has always been bloody and this violence and evil were not invented by Europe or whites. We must do away with this myth. Otherwise, in a perverse way, we make Africans less than human -- we make them into corrupted angels.
There is no sanctity in having a black skin or in Africanity. This type of mythologizing gives our leaders too much credit and too much room for collaboration with corporate power and a means of duping the masses of the poor and the black working classes. It is no longer sustainable that we ask or recommend that the masses of "Pan-Africa" live vicariously by distant observation and/or proximity to power and wealth.
That an elite should live in comfort and security while the great masses attend them hand and foot with all their hearts and souls is no longer acceptable if we truly have egalitarian goals for our society....
That kind of barbaric nobility is no longer proper in a civilized world in which democracy and human rights have been given revitalized meanings in which every man is a king and queen, or at least be acknowledged with that kind of respect, integrity, and dignity.
Our critical sword should not only land on the heads of the great aberrations of society -- the likes of a Idi Amin, a Mobutu, a Bokassa, or a Sgt. Doe or a Charles Taylor, but also those respectable heads of state like Mbeki, Obasanjo, and the other African leaders who smilingly welcomed Bush to Africa and are ever-ready to make their deals with globalization. Such African leaders with such narrow interests sold our ancestors into the Americas.
And not only those African leaders there, but also here at home, we should do some swinging at our black elected and appointed officials (city councilmen, legislators, cabinet secretaries), yes and also corporate and ecclesiastical functionaries, and other notable heads, such as the leaders of civil rights organizations like the NACCP, whose board is ruled by corporate executives or such flunkies and running dogs. They too must be made to pay for their sins of neglect and moral blindness.
If we lapse into the anti-white, anti-American, anti-Western rhetoric, we will sorely miss the point and provide more fuel for these black elites to further misdirect the energies of the masses of Pan-Africa along lines of escapism and support for the status quo.
If we are to make real changes within our communities some of our petty bourgeois aspirations must be abandoned. We can no longer naively defend black middle-class sellout politicians and preachers. We must recognize a real change in the face, rhetorical aspirations, and the present corporate ties that our leaders have established. It is fine to cite Walter Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, as some pan-africanist marxists tend to do. That is well indeed. I am far from a white apologist -- a corner in which some may want to paint me. But I do not want to be a black apologist, either -- I was not taught that way.
The NAACP is headquartered here in Baltimore and they just had a conference and they had nothing to say about the 40% unemployment rate here among black males (18-35); the high murder rate (about 300 a year, mostly young black males); a 50% drop-out rate from high school; neighborhoods in which only 25% of adults have a highschool diploma. Brothers and sisters are paraded to jails like our ancestors to Goree Island!!!
Whatever the justification for their apprehension is inadequate and should cause some shame of those who run this city and those who support the powers to be -- which here in a majority black city, means a black middle class and those who work government jobs or receive money from corporate elites.
Damn, brother, we have grown ass men on the corner selling single cigarettes for 35 cents a piece. What kind of enterprise is that? And it is not just a few. Is that any way to gain a livelihood? And our shit-head leaders are worrying about whether Bush or democratic presidential candidates come to their meeting. Ain't that a matter to be indignant and upset about? But it seems we are so spiritually sick we take it as a norm the misery and the downtrodden state of the poor (black and white). That the oppressed are overlooked and allowed to continue to sink into the abyss is a grand betrayal by our leaders. Murder and mayhem is not just coming from the bottom dregs of society. We have a general slavery and devastation in which silence and passivity is imposed by poverty, the gun, and prisons?
With these reservations, I support heartily the sentiments contained in your plea for earnest black work, black renewal, and black progress.
Marvin X has taught English, African American literature, journalism, creative writing, drama, technical writing at various colleges and universities, including: University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, San Francisco State University, University of Nevada, Reno and elsewhere.