Pathological Nigg*s Part I



Life has a way of revealing itself to you.

Saturday Birkhold was cautioning me about thinking about Black people
and violence in a pathological way. I was reading a book by Jawanza Kunjufu
and he remarked that Kunjufu is one of those people who is SURPRISED
when a young Black person is in a CAR and it ain’t spinning rims.

He went on to say that Kunjufu is one of those people who thinks
that Black people are as jacked as mainstream, academic white
folks think they are.

I disagreed.

But this conversation was important for two reasons.

First. It helped me see the pathological tendencies in
Meredith Mays piece on Oakland.

She quoted saying that

“There are more and more families where there’s less and less structure,” he said. “Talking to these suspects day in and out, there’s a higher percentage today with no sense of right and wrong. It’s frightening, but we are creating super-criminals.”

And that

“In these neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, all the doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, architects and postal workers have left,” said Richard Miles, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.

“The kids have nobody but drug lords to look up to.

And finally that.

Many of the convicted killers were quasi-homeless in grade school, moving every 90 days on eviction cycles, or bouncing between friends’ and relatives’ homes, where they slept on recliners and couches and floors.

Inside the home is pure chaos. Typically, they live with a third-generation relative, an elderly grandmother or aunt, who also opens her home to several other wayward relatives. They all pile into one home, bringing their boyfriends and girlfriends and their children. There’s no particular person in charge, no house rules, and people come and go.

I mean, reading that, you would think that babies in East Oakland
pop out with 9mm’s, born ready to kill.

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Why to writers think that it is tolerable to write about
Black people this why?

*** Plays Illmatic.

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Pathological Nigg*s Part II.

“Ain’t No UZI’s made in Harlem”.

There is nothing quite like a moment of clarity.

The second reason why Birkhold’s statement was important
is that it helped me look at another article with a clearer set of eyes.

For the past couple of days I have been e-mailing with Barry Michael Cooper,
the screen writer of New Jack City. Birkhold learns this and says,

“Ask him for a copy of the article he wrote in the Village Voice.”

“The one that New Jack City was based on?”

“Yeah, that one.”

So I get it this morning and I can’t believe it.

I realize that HIS PIECE and it the complete antitheses of Meredith’s.

It was published almost EXACTLY 20 years ago, on December 1st, 1987.

And it is about how young Black men in Detroit
were killing each other the way folks drink Kool-aid, reflexively.

The distinction between Barry’s and Meredith’s piece, is that
Barry provided the historical context in which the murders
in Detroit were taking place.

He mentioned how in 1943, this countries bloodiest race war
up until that point took place in Detroit.
34 people lost their lives, 25 were Black,
and over 1000 were wounded. (But wait. What about the
Tulsa Race Riots?)

“If you failed to inspect the political underbelly of the community
during that period, a riot in 1967 Detroit would have seem
outlandish….Detroit was one third Black, and
Blacks made up a substantial portion of the workforce.”

All these folks, with these good jobs, needed doctors, and lawyers.

The 1967 riot in Detroit changed everything.

Barry asked, “Why didn’t Detroit recover? “

The Black and White middle class left and the ones that
remained installed gates and bought guns.

He answers writing that,

” Conventional logic doesn’t force the city’s political
power to admit that the bounty of the 60’s wasn’t equally distributed.
Conventional logic doesn’t scream out that the riot wasn’t why Detroit
unravels. It merely burned away the facade that had hidden
Detroit’s invisible society, the invisible underclass.”

Upon reading these words I realized that the Oakland, Jersey, Philly murder
rate served the same purpose.

And for that matter so did Hurricane Katrina.

They serve as events that burn away the facade.

Barry describes the precursor for all the Black youth killing each
other in ’87 when he describes “how 30 year old man, John Leroy
was shot by a National Guardsman at a roadbock in Lycaste street.”
in Detriot 67. And now we find ourselves in ’07.

Leroy is barefoot, and chest down, bleeding profusely;
he looks like he’s treading concrete.”

So, pre-riot the Black working class the Black Elite flourished.

Post riot. Not so much.

Reading it, I heard Birkhold’s words in my head saying, “if you don’t
provide the historical context for a current situation, you risk making it
sound pathological.”

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Why is it that when writers talk about Oakland, Jersey,
Detroit, Philly, that white flight, black flight and factory job
flight and just garden variety racism is either NEVER mentioned
nor meaningfully considered and analyzed?

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Pathological Nigg*s Part III



“You Gotta Rob to Get Rich in the Reagan Era”

Now that I had crystallized the notion of post migration,
pre-crack Black folks, I wondered what work did Black
people do in the Bay when they migrated from the south?

What work did the men DO before crack invaded?

And I found my answer.

During and post WWII they held lucrative, prestigious war time jobs
at the navy ship yards, as longshoreman, bellhops and shipbuilders.
They also worked as Pullman Porters. In fact the policy stipulated
that Pullman porters could only BE BLACK MEN. Real talk.

The war drafted largely white men, Black folks stepped in, and BOOM,
Black working middle class is created. As a result,

Richmond, DEADLY ass-d Richmond was like Harlem ’32.

Bay View, DEADLY ass-d Bay view was like Harlem ’32.

Oakland
, DEADLY ass-d OAKLAND was like Harlem ’32.

Detroit, ……. was like Harlem ’32.

When my grandmother came here from TEXAS she worked at the Kaiser
Shipyard in Richmond. I have always known this, but put into this context
it takes on a different significance.

So. Of course, now I am obsessed with learning which industries exsited
in the cities that now have these egregious murder rates.

Philly.

Jersey.

Oakland.

New Orleans.

Baltimore.

Compton.

I see a pattern. And it’s making sense.

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Why did Black Civil rights leaders drop the Ball when it came
to Post WWII job advocacy?

Why does the boomer generation blame hip hop rather than
the systematic elimination of jobs that brought Blacks to these
urban centers in the first place?

Why isn’t there ever any mention of how different our lives would
be with 40 acres?

Why do people have such a hard time looking at history, recent history,
50 years ago history?

Why is Styles P going so hard lately?

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