My New Black Messiah

My New Black Messiah

by: Julia 

Are you familiar with COINTELPRO?

This was the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program. In the 60’s, the program was used to monitor the activities of the communist party, eventually diversifying its bonds and expanding to include domestic groups like the Socialists Workers Party, Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers. During it’s 15 year reign, under the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, various social and political movements were disrupted, misdirected, discredited, and icons targeted.

Do these names sound familiar: Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Stokely Carmichael, Elijah Muhammad?

All targets. All a “threat” to American Domestic security.

Why? Because Hoover deemed these men as men of influence within the black community. He wanted to stop the rise of a “Black Messiah” – defined as someone who could unify the black nationalist movement.

Are you following me?

It was deemed dangerous for black people to unite and fight for basic human rights. It was “terroristic” to think that we deserved to be treated with the same respect as the privileged race. It was “terroristic” to think that we should have access to the same opportunities. It was “terroristic” for us to find common ground, tell the United States to go f*#k itself, and develop opportunities for ourselves. That wasn’t in the nation’s plan, because those on “top” would have far less backs to stand on in their pursuit for wealth and power.  

These men and women were Not terrorists. They were Revolutionaries.

When your people are hungry, tired, and scared, you fight. You fight to feed them. You fight for shelter. You fight for freedom. You fight so that your loved ones have opportunities, and a future.

We are still in need of Revolutionaries.

We need a Black Messiah.

It is a daunting job. It is a job that could cost you your life in this country.

Stepping up and into the spotlight on behalf of human rights for people of color, especially black people, takes conviction.

I am hoping that Barack Obama will feel that conviction. I am hoping that he will not fade into the sunset as he leaves office. I am hoping that he will see the need for a leader in our community who has the political influence to unite people of color from all walks of life.

I have a sneaky suspicion, that during his last term Barack has been laying the groundwork for such a move. He has been called the most consequential president in American history, and while many may wish to debate the issue, you cannot deny he has used his position to turn attention to issues that affect marginalized groups of people.

He has publicly acknowledged that race is a HUGE issue in this country. He is the first President to step inside of a federal prison and visit a mosque. His code-switching and the calculated way in which he effortlessly pays homage to black culture and history is a joy to watch. Whether he is quoting Al Green at the Apollo, hosting pickup games at the White house, ensuring that all Americans have access to reliable and affordable health care, or planning to work at Columbia University after his term ends, it is clear that he is a man with a plan.

There is purpose in moving to NYC. There is purpose to the pardons of nonviolent drug offenders. There is a purpose to starting My Brother’s Keeper. That purpose surpasses “community organizing”….or at least I hope.

Everytime I watch OUR president speak frankly to the American public I get goosebumps imagining the possibilities. I imagine a space where black people have a clearly defined agenda, with a clearly defined leader, who has the power and influence to make s*#t happen! I imagine a world where privilege is confronted and challenged daily. I imagine a level playing field.

Barack is my Black Messiah…I just hope this isn’t a dream deferred…

For more information on the Black Panthers, check out the documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

For more information on COINTELPRO, visit Democracy Now! At present, similar tactics are being used against political activist and those willing to stand up to the status quo.

A Response to, “I Deliberately Provoke White People.”

I’ve watched my friend deliberately provoke white people on several occasions.

And, by provoke, I mean to “question thoroughly” with an intent or purpose.

I haven’t always known what Julia’s internal struggle and intent has been. By listening to her line of questioning or her comments or the personal thoughts that she speaks aloud in certain situations, I can ascertain that her agenda is to name the privilege that white people live with every day and speak into existence equity and justice for the black race.

To that – I commend Julia for provoking white people in order to effectively initiate change.

I don’t know that I effectively provoke and encourage reactions to inequities from the people around me on a regular basis.  Though, I make a conscious effort to do so. The difference, however, is that my approach may not be with as much powerful tact as my good friend.

One of my downfalls is that I’m not always comfortable being uncomfortable. For example, if I’m having lunch with a white friend, and the wait staff fails to acknowledge my existence (which happens often), I may have a full blown fit. And by fit, I mean, immediate discussion and discourse with the person with whom I dine. If I’m having lunch with a colleague or someone who I don’t know as well, I will be silently annoyed and possibly angry.

Julia is good at naming those ideals that are circumstantially unjust, regardless of what other acts are taking place and who is around. So, more likely than not – Julia can’t be silently angry.

And, this is the exact resilience it takes to effect change.

Being silently angry didn’t earn us the right to vote.

So, I challenge us all to provoke each other. Be like Julia. For only provocation can lead to discussion. And, only with discourse can we fulfill Martin’s complete dream.

I want so badly to always always speak up like Julia.

I’m warming up my vocals, but on a whole, I’m still finding my voice.

by: Shamira

*Read Julia’s piece: I Deliberately Provoke White People here: https://parlae.org/2016/02/06/i-deliberately-provoke-white-people/

 

I Deliberately Provoke White People

Don’t freak out. I’m not saying I walk around harassing the privileged race on the regular. What I mean by this is, I say and do things to deliberately provoke a reaction. Why do I do this? For starters, I feel entitled. I believe I should feel shame for thinking this way, but I do not. I believe that I am entitled to say what I want, when I want to white people.

My reasoning?-history, and a deep mistrust that I have only recently realized exists within myself. Does this mean I dislike white people? – no. Some of my best friends are members of the privileged race. It means that I say and do things to constantly remind them of their privilege. It is very arrogant of me to take this position. However, we live in a society founded and governed in arrogance, so I guess you can say I am a product of my environment.

It is also a test. I am always curious as to how my comments will be responded to and received. I have to observe EVERYTHING. I pay attention to body language, facial expression, tone, etc. I place white people under the same scrutiny black people are faced with daily.  I want them to feel some small semblance of what it is like to be judged based on the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

At times I feel my profession as a teacher places me smack in the middle of a setting ripe for discerning the content of character. My colleagues and I often discuss student achievement and growth. I am always intrigued by some of the surprise at the performance of specific students. It can be frustrating to watch a student perform at their best inconsistently, because as their teacher you know what they are capable of achieving. I often probe my colleagues in conversation, challenging their surprise. If I suggest poor performance is due to a lack of effort or possibly environmental factors, I watch to see how quick they jump on my bandwagon. Whether I believe this to be true or not is irrelevant. I am interested in sifting out how they really perceive that student, and students of color in general.

When I notice something stereotypical of people of color, and I comment, I wait with baited breath…will this privileged person agree/disagree? Will they join in and comment on the stereotype? Do they seem confused or shocked at my comment? Do they seem hesitant to respond? Do they think before they speak? Do they laugh nervously? I pay close attention to these reactions and responses, because I believe they will show me WHAT and WHOM I am dealing with.

It isn’t fair that I test people and make judgements, but it also isn’t fair that I feel like I have to in order to keep myself safe. At the end of the day, this is how I assert power in a world in which I feel powerless most of the time. So, at the risk of being viewed as “angry” or “sassy”, I just say “anything” to keep an unseen enemy off balance.

You may be wondering how this affects my personal relationships. I am wondering the same myself. I have several close relationships with white people, people whom I trust deeply. I still provoke them; however I think that overtime this provocation has created space in our relationships to discuss the disparity between various groups in this country. Yet, I must admit that while I trust these individuals, I do not always feel safe. It becomes evident to me every time social or political issues arise, and I began to feel anxiety at the thought of these issues coming up in conversation. I worry that the conversation will come when I learn they are not who I thought they were, and I am reminded that there is a great divide between our worlds. It really stresses me out! With every interaction I feel as though I have to calculate risk- what to say, how to say it, when to speak up. I censor myself because I worry about their feelings if confronted with the bias and underlying prejudice in their statements, thoughts, and actions. This is irony at its best. And all the while I wonder, are they doing the same? Are they saying what they really mean, think, and feel?

So, I provoke, I observe, I reflect, and then I do it all over again. It is a necessary cycle, a necessary evil; because by any means necessary I will protect my HEART, BODY, and SOUL against anyone or anything that marginalizes any part of me…

by: Julia

Please, Call me Angry

Once upon a time, I was afraid of being an angry black woman because, like everything else black, it wasn’t cool.

And, though black lips and hips and skin have become more a thing than not, I’ve since grown up. I haven’t grown up, in the sense that, now I’m all about what is inherently mine, because cultural appropriation deems it so.

I grew up because I woke up.

And, now I’m afraid of being perceived as not angry enough.

And, if you aren’t calling me angry, then truth be told. . . maybe I’m NOT angry enough. Or, loud enough. Or articulate enough.

And, I could never be angry enough because there are way too many things to be angry about.

And, because there is far too little time for miscommunication. . .

 

Please, somebody, ask me why I’m mad.

Please, somebody, explore where the idea of angry black woman comes from.

Please, somebody, watch the news and think about it from a black man’s perspective.

Please, somebody. Just, please.

Please ask me why I’m mad.

 

I’m mad first and foremost that there is such a stereotype as “angry black man” or “angry black woman.”

I’m mad that I searched angry black woman, just because, and a wikipedia article popped up titled “stereotypes of African Americans.”

I’m mad because they brought us to America as goods and have since deemed that we’re not worthy.

I’m mad because separate but equal, as silly as it was, still exists.

I’m mad because I want to be proud to be an American – but, that’s weird because America has shown time and time again that she’s not proud to have people like me.

I’m mad because there are so many stereotypes about black people floating around the universe – and so many systemic injustices that will them true.

I’m mad because Philadelphia is called the city of colleges and universities, but has a 70% high school graduation rate.

I’m mad because one of the lowest ranked primary schools in the city sits just feet, feet, from one of the best universities in the city.

I’m mad because I help students with their homework, and they can’t find the missing side of a triangle because they can’t properly add/subtract.

I’m mad because I walk through the airport with people giving me the side eye, because I’m one of few.

I’m mad because my white friends sometimes don’t get it. Any of it. And – how can you not?

I’m mad because sometimes they get it — but, it doesn’t impact them and so, life goes on.

I’m mad because writing this article may not  change a single reality.

I’m mad because there are too many of us who are mad – and too few who care enough to notice.

 

Madiba said, it’s a long walk to freedom.  

It feels like the only way to get there is to be angry enough for someone to notice.

I’m mad because until a white man or woman deems an issue worthy – that issue will wilt and die along with the black men, women, and children who had been begging and pleading all along.

I’m mad that we still have to beg and plead for help – food, water, shelter.

Please master, please.

I’m mad that we have to prove ourselves worthy.

 

Please master, please.

Because, I did the best that I could.

So, please master, please.

Call me an angry black woman.

Then, ask me why I’m mad.

 

 

by: Shamira

Read Julia’s response here: https://parlae.org/2016/02/20/a-response-to-please-call-me-angry/

Parlae: Shamira

Parlae, To Me

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Shamira O’Neal

The systematic inequity that black people face every single day in America should seem both foreign and unfathomable. Unfortunately, it is a reality that has gone on so long that is silly to be surprised by the continuous injustices.

Notwithstanding, I find myself marveling at the idiocracy of our nation and at times completely confounded by the lack of empathy and respect. It’s easier to understand when I’m being real with myself; for I know that there are far worse things that have happened to our people than the atrocities that we hear/see/read about and/or fall victim to today.

Malcolm preached that if you’re black, you were born in jail.

Jail being representative of the slaughtering of Tamir Rice, Freddie Grey and Sandra Bland.

Jail being representative of mass lynchings that took place in the south in the 40s/50s/60s.

Jail being representative of what the white people called sharecropping.

Jail being representative of slave ships that docked on the Native Americans’ land in the 1800’s.

And, truth be told, right now feels like the worst. But I guarantee that nothing can be worse than being dragged from one continent to another, in shackles, forcibly sold and then working til death.

So maybe there’s light at the end of the dark, scary, and sometimes lonely tunnel that we call life in the United States of America.

Harriet saw the light.

Rosa saw it.

Malcolm and Martin saw it.

Barack saw it.

ParlEy by definition means to discuss. ParlAy by definition is a stake that is groomed and grows into something worthwhile. Parlae provides opportunities for productive discourse on the daily iniquities of marginalized groups of people.

Parlae is an opportunity for discussion, an outlet for frustrations, and highlight of shortcomings. It is an avenue for wanting something greater – and willing it true.

In order to “be the change,” you have to address the change.

Find the light; be the light; be the change; parlae the change.
In a world filled with injustice, hate, and false hope – Parlae is the light.

Parlae: Julia

My Parlae

Julia Arrington

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Fact – the social, political, and economic systems of this country are inherently racist.

Our societal constructs consistently trivialize the lives of millions based on race, gender, and sexuality. This land of the “free” and home of the”brave” runs on justice for some, while others fight daily to be heard and truly seen. I admire the acts of those who fight to ignite consciousness in the vast majority of Americans who are blind, ignorant, naive, or uncaring of the lack of  justice rampant in these “United” States of America.

I myself fell prey, for a time, to apathy concerning this topic. I thought because I was highly educated, from a “good” family, and “well-spoken”, that this issue did not truly affect myself or effect my everyday life. However, when I began teaching, I realized how wide the venom of iniquity has spread throughout our social fabric. I watched as young children of color were taught to assimilate to a culture and society that repeatedly rejects their very essence.

My gaze has since shifted inward, and I feel ashamed. I know that I am aiding the process of indoctrination and brainwashing. I am tired of seeing young black children cooped up inside of dark buildings all damn day, forcefed the history of other cultures, and receiving watered down versions of who and what they come from.

Just like their black identities, the reality in which society lives in is absent of equality. The notion of equality, in and of itself, is a myth. It is a story that reflects the values that shape a culture or people. This culture, this people – they look nothing like the children I teach.

My children are more than the pacifists we celebrate one month out of the year. My children are more than Jim Crow and Black Face. My children are more than the “first” Black president. My children are descendants from great empires that sparked life, created language, and touched the stars. Yet, their story is written by the descendants of those whose used chains and force to snuff out their existence.

The problem is that millions of Americans believe the myth of freedom and equality.

I can no longer live within this lie, and thus Parale is born.

Parlae is important to me because it means that I am joining the fight that ignites consciousness. As an educator, it is my hope that through continued discourse around the debilitating assumptions we make about each other, ourselves, and this country, this lie will be exposed. Knowledge is and always will be power, and is spread through the exchange of ideas, and I am beyond ready for that exchange.