Photo Bio Series: Black Power Revisited (cont.)
The following is the continuation from part IX of the Black Power series published Friday, August 4, 2006. This excerpt is taken from literature written over 40 years ago. I hope the reader finds the articles as interesting as I have found them.
Fear of Isolation
Then there is the fear of isolation of our movement. The perceived go-it-alone attitude of Black Power advocates frightens many Black people. This attitude is expressed by Loren Miller “To liberals a fond farewell with a thanks for services rendered. Until you are ready to enlist as foot soldiers and subordinates in Negro lead, Negro officiated armies under the badge of freedom.”
What does this mean?
First, it expresses a healthy distrust of whites. Black Power is cognizant of the fact that whites have seldom acted on their behalf from purely altruistic motives. Most of the time paternalism, duplicity, love of the game, nothing-else-to-doism and self-interest.
“Indeed,” wrote Charles E. Silberman, “whites have decided everything-sometimes in malice, sometimes with the best intent, frequently because Negroes were unable or unwilling to decide for themselves.” He went on to say, “Even those actions which advanced the Negro cause, the Emancipation Proclamation for example were usually taken for reasons having little to do with Negro interests and needs. Hence, they tend to heighten, rather than lessen the Negro’s sense of anger and dependency.”
“The tragedy,” wrote Saul Alinsky, “is that Negroes lacking the opportunity and trapped by insurmountable circumstances, could not themselves come to grips with issues of equality; that none of the issues were resolved on their merits or by the power of the oppressed. They were always a by-product of something more important. This series of situations left many Negroes more or less as by-products of themselves and inevitably diluted their dignity and strength.” Wendell Phillips observed that the Emancipation freed the slave but ignored the Negro.
Even the most venerated of our white helpers were and are not free from the contamination of the prevailing prejudices.
The radical abolitionist, Lloyd Garrison, expressed his conviction that the freedman was not ready for political rights and realities.
Abraham Lincoln, the first of our Great White Fathers, expressed his view this way: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the racial and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry in addition, to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe forbids the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And, in so much as they cannot so live there must be the position of superiority and inferiority, and in as much as any other man I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
In our day, we heard Jacob Javits call upon Negro leaders to denounce Black Power advocates – and some readily obeyed- as he had done to Ku Klux Klan and Birchers. Javits equation of Black Power with Klans and Birchers is an indication of his misunderstanding of black aspiration. Klan and Birchers contrive to deny rights to citizens. Black Power would deny no one his rights, but seek to secure the rights of Black people.
But this distrust of whites has been with us a long time. When the NAACP was being born, one of the organizers said, “They are betraying us again, these white friends of ours.” Silberman was right again, when he observed, “Negroes never really trusted their white allies; they had always a nagging suspicion that the whites were holding them back; that they could gain more and faster, if they were only free to act on their own.”
What we sometimes have thought to ourselves, and talked about in privacy-but for various reasons never would talk open; we are bold enough to shout from the housetops today.
Secondly, it, the desire to do for self, expresses a healthy desire for independence. One of the most-if not the most - abysmal effects of sustained suppression-is the servile dependence on the oppressor. It is the deliberate design of the oppressor to instill a servile submissive dependence on themselves- the oppressor. It is literally caressing and clinging to the hand design of the oppressor. It is the literally caressing and clinging to the hand that is smiting and smothering.
Someone has written, “The Negro has been subject to a system designed to destroy ambition, prevent independence and erode intelligence, for the past 3 ½ centuries.”
“Slavery has emasculated the Negro males, had made them shiftless and irresponsible and promiscuous by preventing them from ever assuming responsibility, negating their role as husband and father, and making them totally dependent on the will of another. And servile and dependent-always servile and dependent!”
“On this, the Southern whites were insistent. For it, they were willing to pay a heavy price. For the constant expression of humility and servility and dependency by Negroes-Southern whites were willing to put up with inefficiency and indolence.”