Part 23: My Friend the Devil
After seven months on the road with Cleaver, I was exhausted from travel and the stress of dealing with the Born Again racists who could justify the cross and the lynching tree by claiming to be saved by grace. When Bill Moyers asked Rev. Cone how can your people still love God, Rev. Cone flipped the question, "That's not the question. The question is how can they still love you!"
And so I departed the Cleaver Crusade, a little wiser on what's really going on in the deep structure of America. I was thankful for the experience but it was time to move on, although I would hook up with the devil again before too long. Jet Magazine did a story on my departure from Mr. Soul on Ice. Khalid Muhammad and other radical friends were horrified to discover I had worked for Cleaver, they thought I had gone stone crazy. But I knew God had taken me down into the devil's dungeon for a reason and I appreciated the knowledge. How many other so-called Negroes had the opportunity to associate with the likes of Charles Colson, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Baker? And there would be more to come when I reconnected with Cleaver further on down the road.
Meanwhile, if the devil wasn't through with the Born Again crowd, they were surely through with him after he declared his independence from them by designing and marketing his infamous "dick pants."
Eldridge clearly had a fixation with the penis or phallus. He saw the gun as the extension of his phallus, some would say. But taking a page from fashion history, he designed pants with the codpiece, emphasizing the area of the male sexual organ. Believe it or not, after all the hoopla was through, he had revolutionized fashion history because thereafter there would be more focus on the genital area in fashioning men's briefs and pants. Of course Frederick's of Hollywood stole his idea and ran for a touchdown.
Truth is that traditional Western men's pants are uncomfortable in that area as they lack a resting place for the genitals. Cleaver's pants provided that space, but the Born Again crowd went berserk. They sent Watergate crook, now Born Again King, Charles Colson, to consult with Cleaver. But by this time it was too late, Cleaver had made his decision to separate himself from the Christians. And his pants symbolized his defiance and freedom from them.
Around this time or soon after, Kathleen separated herself from her loving husband, eventually enrolling in Yale law school. After graduation, her first case was divorcing Eldridge. It was after a visit with his children in New Haven that Eldridge told me about a Negro intellectual at Yale, Skip Gates who would describe the Black Arts Movement as the shortest literary movement in history. He failed to add that it was the most powerful, radicalizing the teaching of not only black literature but ethnic and gender literature.
For sure, Eldridge was a media master and his pants were the talk of the nation if not the world. When he moved his fashion operation out of Hollywood back to the Bay, I spend a little time with him. He hired my friend, Cynthia Mack, to help manufacture the pants. I'd hired Cynthia to work with us during his Born Again days. She was a beautiful black woman who had been taught to hate herself by, among other people, her grandmother who told her she was black and ugly. Eldridge loved Cynthia and tried to hit on her, being the sexual psychopath that he was. Now if I had hit on Kathleen that Negro would have killed me.
When Cleaver tired of his fashion trip, he gave Cynthia the four industrial sewing machines he owned. Cynthia deserved them as she was a designer herself, she made her own clothes since childhood. Cynthia had been helpful on the road with us since she was psychic and could tell when "somebody" had been in our hotel room and searched through our luggage.She was our intelligence officer, plus the white Christian women could not stand her because she matched their racism with her unforgivable blackness and hatred of white women. We can imagine what white women are going through now that a black Gullah woman is in the White House.