Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eldridge Cleaver and Gender Talk

i'm reading this book entitled Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women's Equality in African American Communities by Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall. and its a really really really really good book. i don't think i can say that enough. everyone should read this book, especially if you're female; especially if you're a person of color; ESPECIALLY if you inhabit both categories. its pretty much just putting out the dirty laundry of the black power movement as well as in black communities. the analyses that these two women make and the diversity of sources they pulled from is something i haven't seen done in a book as of yet.
to me, it's driving home the idea that in the past (as well as present), women of color have had to choose between the good of the race (or oppressed people) vs. the good of the gender- either you're for race equality or you're for gender equality, but you cannot be for both simultaneously. ironically, "they" aren't usually women of color.

but, something that i just read through is an excerpt from Eldridge Cleaver's autobiography, Soul on Ice:
I became a rapist. to refine my technique and modus operandi, i started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto-in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency pf the evil of a day-and when i considered myself smooth enough, i crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. i did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically...Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that i was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that i was defiling his women-and this point, i believe was the most satisfying to me because i was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. i felt i was getting revenge.

this pretty much enraged me. why have a i never heard about this? i googled his name, trying to see where people had criticized, harangued and attacked him for....not only doing it, but making a half-assed attempt to justify his vile behavior and moreover trying to overshadow the torment he's inflicted upon numerous women with the racism he's received. but i found nothing of the sort. i found this on its an article about him after his death which shows a shorter excerpt than the one i showed...interestingly enough it did not mention the sexual abuse he forced upon black women in ghettos.
however, after having to flee for his life to Cuba, France and Algeria, he came back to the United States in 1975 not only a Christian, but one of the Mormon denomination who renounced his "radical" days as a Black Panther (although i saw nothing about him renouncing his rape of women...)(and i say, 'not only a Christian, but a Mormon' because Christians already worship a white god, but Mormons go so far as to say that those of us with black skin are the descendants of Cain...that our skin is a marker of inferior animalistic tendencies...and he was a Black Panther!?).

and where an i going with this? i don't really know. i just thought it was something interesting that i wanted to share with others. i think many of us think of revolutionaries as sometimes infallible. in addition, many of us look at morality through a simplistic frame of reference. of good if they do good; one is bad in a similar fashion. but what if one does good for one movement while doing one of the most wretched things one can do to another human being? what then?
are the individuals who look past these acts and continue to hold him at a highly respectable level in denial or trivializing what he did to women? are those who allow what he did to these women to take precedence over what he has done for the struggle being one-sided? ??

comment. criticize. roll it around in your brain.

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