The danger of depoliticising Black Power activism - Bryan Knight
"Black Power!" was an utterance popularised by radical Black activists in the 1960s and 1970s.
Although often ignored ideologically, the iconography of Black Power continues to be circulated in popular culture - without a thorough engagement with the politics that led to its creation.
The glamorisation of Black Power imagery is a phenomenon that stretches as far back as the 1960s. However, with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is time that we move beyond our obsession with revolutionary aesthetics and engage with its politics.
In recent weeks, artists Ciara and Teyana Taylor have posted images of themselves on Instagram wearing Black Power-inspired costumes, replicating a 1968 photograph of Black Panther Party (BPP) co-founder Huey P Newton that showed him sitting on a wicker chair wearing the party's outfit. Both artists were dressed in all-black leather with black sunglasses to match - the only difference being Taylor's beret and rifle. Despite Ciara and Taylor using their images as symbols of Black pride, they failed to recognise or critically engage with the history and ideology of Black Power.
A post shared by Teyanataylor_ (@teyanataylor.fp) onAug 2, 2020 at 7:20pm PDT
Formed in 1966, by Newton and Bobby Seale, the BPP was a revolutionary self-defence organisation formed to safeguard the Black community from police brutality and America's ubiquitous racism. Members of the party quickly assumed a uniform, which included black leather jackets, black trousers, black berets and black sunglasses. This outfit was adopted due to its militant appearance and its similarity to those worn by revolutionaries such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
As frequently expressed in its organisational newspaper, Black Panther, the BPP believed in Black self-defence, self-reliance and self-determination. The organisation placed itself in opposition to white imperial capitalism, which it saw as the cause of societal inequality and racial brutality. Despite communicating their objectives through traditional political avenues such as demonstrations and manifestos, the Panthers were aware of the political uses of imagery and fashion.
The iconic black uniform served as a visual representation of the organisation's objectives and principles, as it not only presented the BPP as militant, powerful and revolutionary, but it also gave them visibility at a time when the Black community often felt ignored. Such clothing also served as cultural capital within Black radical circles as it affirmed one's refusal to assimilate within the dominant white culture. Party members, identifiable by their distinct outfits, were frightening to many white Americans, as the authorities deceptively began presenting Black Power advocates as dangerous and violent extremists.
Black Panther Party members demonstrate outside the New York City court on April 11, 1969 [Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images]
Black Power iconography was not only about clothing but also the natural afro hairstyle. The afro became a symbol of the 1960s' "Black is beautiful" cultural movement. It expressed pride in one's African features and challenged social norms which largely pressured Black women to conform to Western beauty standards by straightening their hair. During this era, young men and women began wearing their afro despite pushback from those in mainstream society and even some conservative members of the Black community.
Black American radical Angela Davis became the embodiment of Black Power after the FBI issued a search warrant for her, falsely charging her with conspiracy to murder. While hiding from the authorities, Davis became a recognisable figure as a mugshot of her wearing her afro was broadcast not only in the US but internationally. In the eyes of the state, Davis represented violent radicalism, but for many in the Black community, she became a heroine and a representation of Black Power in action.
In the aftermath of her acquittal, Davis became a revolutionary style icon and, consequently, her image was reproduced as a fashion symbol within radical and mainstream circles. This, as Davis criticised in a 1994 essay, was a disturbing exploitation of her image which erased her radical politics from popular discourse. She noted that there was a "danger that this historical memory may become ahistorical and apolitical".
An FBI 'Wanted' poster for Angela Davis [Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images]
Despite, her protestations in the 1990s, images of Davis and her afro continue to be co-opted and manipulated today, with fashion label Prada producing a $500 t-shirt, in 2018, with an illustration of Davis shouting "Right On!". Similarly, the British government chose to use images of Davis in their controversial counter-radicalisation campaign, Prevent.
The irony of an anti-capitalist and communist being selected on both these occasions appears to have been lost on the organisations.
Glamorising Black Power images not only erases the radical politics of the movement, but also leads to a sanitised and inaccurate retelling of the past. Romanticising Black Power icons and their aesthetics without critically engaging with the reality of this history often results in a narrative that only recognises the successes of the movement and overlooks the lasting pain and trauma of that generation of Black radicals.
In recent interviews, American former Black Panther Denise Oliver-Velez and her British counterpart Beverley Bryan spoke to me about the harsh realities of the Black Power movement. Bryan spoke candidly about the many young people who became "casualties of the movement" and were subsequently left "broken". Likewise, Oliver-Velez raised awareness of the older "brothers" who are still being incarcerated for their involvement in Black radical politics.
Instead of merely focusing on Black Power visuals or nostalgically fawning over its fashion, people should explore the ideologies that underpinned the movement, such as anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and pan-African solidarity. Such ideas helped form an international movement and provided radical alternatives to the pre-existing systems. The Panthers succeeded in raising Black consciousness, challenging police racism and bringing Black struggles to the forefront of political discourse.
However, despite these gains, Black communities around the world are faced with similar issues of institutional racism, police brutality and societal marginalisation. Only through serious engagement with the radical politics of Black Power will we be able to draw on our revolutionary predecessors and come up with creative solutions for our current struggles. It is time we focused on politics and not just spectacle.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.
Like our page on facebook @ Info4everybody Last Wednesday, we published the success story from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a board-certified family practitioner in New York, after he successfully treated 350 coronavirus patients with 100 percent success using a cocktail of drugs: hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin (Z-Pak), an antibiotic to treat secondary infections, and zinc sulfate. Dr. Zelenko said he saw the symptom of shortness of breath resolved within four to six hours after treatment. Do you know that the ancient Egypt were civilized by architects from the (500,000 - 4000 BC) Nsukka Civiliation? Now, Dr. Zelenko provides updates on the treatment after he successfully treated 699 COVID-19 patients in New York. In an exclusive interview with former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Vladmir Zelenko shares the results of his latest study, which showed that out of his 699 patients treated, zero patients died, zero patients intubated, and four ho
Copied from the book, Reality as Myth by Onyeji Nnaji . The influence of the Akan on their content nations lies on their population and commonwealth of their sister nations. The Akan are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. Their population is scattered across West Africa and beyond. Origin of Africa Among this huge population of the Akan, the Ghanaians are more popular, perhaps because of the political influence of the Ashanti Empire in the area. Not much is heard or known about other Akan settlements like the Akwamu, the Akyem , the Akuapem, the Denkyira, the Abron, the Aowin, the Ahanta, the Anyi, the Baoule, the Chokosi, the Fante, the Kwahu, the Sefwi, the Ahafo, the Assin, the Evalue, the Wassa the Adjukru, the Akye, the Alladian, the Attie,the M'Bato, the Abidji, the Avikam,the Avatime the Ebrie, the Ehotile, the Nzema, the Abbe, the Aboure, the Coromantins, t
Copied from the Book; " Reality as Myth " by Onyeji Nnaji The beauty of the discovering of the Radar Rivers and their channels is that it disproves the western hegemonic claim of the Euphrates valley being the position of the birth of the great river, all the points that opposed their claims notwithstanding. Even God himself was very perfect in His creation by placing them in their positions, hierarchically, according to their birth. The first river that flowed located the Havilah land where there are good quality gold, bdellium and fine onyx stones. Pison was the oldest of the rivers and it flowed through the land of the southern Africa. The second river flowed northward to Ethiopia. It was when Africa had been overtaken by virtue of her proximity to the Great Water that other parts of the world began to encounter the remaining river; remarkable with Hiddekel. Subscribe to ajuede.com to be updated on our posts on dailies. The major problem towards
Taylor Swift says she is focused on the 2020 election but ‘I do feel that the celebrity involvement with Hillary’s campaign was used against her’. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV After years of keeping herself at a largely indifferent remove, Taylor Swift has elaborated on her political ideology in a new interview with Rolling Stone. Harkening back to the perceived better times of the Obama years, Swift said, among other things, that she regrets not getting more involved in the 2016 election, and the way her allegiances or lack thereof have been manipulated by bad actors. For years her reluctance to stake out a claim one way or the other made her something of a useful political totem, including, notably, when neo-Nazis and alt-right trolls adopted her as an Aryan ideal. “Firstly, Taylor Swift is a pure Aryan goddess, like something out of classical Greek poetry. Athena reborn,” Andre Anglin of the white supremacist blog the Daily Stormer wrot
INTRODUCTION In the history of syntax, prepositions alongside other parts of speech are considered as one of the esteemed contributions of the sophists (the itinerant teachers) to the development of the human language. Etymologically, the term “preposition” belonged to the group of word class Aristotle, the founder, referred to as “syndesmoi”. Others in this group are conjunction , article and pronoun . They were thus grouped by Aristotle because they were found to be performing related functions that are summed up in binding terms and exposing the gaps amidst sentences when they are not included. As a plural term, “syndesmoi” is a collective noun that stands for the group while, conjunction , the part of speech that binds together the discourse and finds gaps in its interpretation was called “syndesmos” (see Robins, 1968). Indicating the function of prepositions, Aristotle called it “Prothesis” (a part of speech placed before other words in a composition
There are four generations…, and the fourth generation, which is the most exalted, is kingless and perfect. These people will enter the holy place of their Father and they will reside in rest … They are kings. They are the immortal within the mortal ( The Nag Hammadi, 219 ) O ne of the African homes that colonialism has completely deformed beyond certain level of recognition is Nsukka. Colonialism apart, the most affecting factor to the survival of the meaning which the rich cultural enclave, Nsukka, carries will best be blamed on postcolonial political structure. The biggest harm all these have against Nsukka as a people is that they rubbed her of the meaning of her name; their place of origin; how their fathers managed to come into their present abodes and who their ancestors were. A profound understanding of the excerpt above will open the door towards deciphering the meaning and origin of the people called Nsukka. Also read Nsukka Civilization: The Peoplin
STRICTLY FOR COUPLES … You will know that the man is the head while you are his neck. As such, you direct his focus and make him fixative Our series include the following : * Show him what he looks out for from other women * Teach him like he knows nothing * Learn to play naked games with your husband * Learn to package yourself * Learn to work on your husband M y neighbour had v owed never to let any girl survive as a salesgirl in my shop. This thing has happened for over three times. Each time we brought a new salesgirl, the girl would stay for two or three months; and suddenly she would end her contract with us. In all these, my husband did not know. So, being that the girls usually stole money and other items, the reason for their departure became genuine, thus: they ran away to avoid being punished for their actions. But behind this, the underlying truth is that the girls had been embarrassed by my neighbour who would warn them to leave her loosed husband. Re
Marine lieutenant colonel initially jailed for posting videos critical of the U.S. military’s leadership regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan will go to trial on Oct. 14-15 at Camp Lejeune near Jacksonville, North Carolina, the Marine Corps announced on Friday. The special court martial hearing for Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller regards the six counts he was charged with on Wednesday, a day after he was released following more than a week of pre-trial confinement. Scheller, an Afghanistan veteran, is accused of: disrespect toward superior commissioned officers; willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer; dereliction in the performance of duties; failure to obey order or regulation; and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The first count — contempt toward officials — was dropped. Scheller was released from pretrial confinement on Tuesday after spending more than a week in the brig. The release followed intense public criticism and rebukes from several members of C
Copied from the book, Reality as Myths by Onyeji Nnaji T he world of the Bantu travellers shows the walls of the migration that recorded the highest population among the African settlement. Originating from the largest population among the four races that settled in the east before time, all Bantu travellers were pygmies; for that was the nature of the Umudiala, the generation that gave birth to them. The Wikipedia map for Bantu migrations shown below will be of help towards digesting our descriptions of the Bantu people. Bantu migration was rated the third earliest migration of the Negro race from the east. In this regard, all their movement had involved great population of people compared to the number of people involved in the two earlier populations that gave birth to Ethiopia, Nubia and Egypt: the Walker Traveller, and the Race of Anu. Bantu population as we have identified in the third chapter above outweighs the rest of the population of the ancient fathers