Sunday, March 4, 2012

what does it mean to be RADICAL?

i was watching a lecture from Melissa Harris-Perry she gave at a university about her book, Sister Citizen, where she talked candidly about the plight of Black women and what it feels like to be in our position in this society (if not all universal political spheres). i agree with everything she had to say, and i have a lot of respect for her.

recently, Harris-Perry snagged a spot for a new show on MSNBC where she talks politics and other social issues with a Black Feminist edge. doing a little research on her, i see that her first book, which received little to no recognition was followed-up with Sister Citizen : Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America in September of 2011. prior to that, and currently, she is a professor of Political Studies and African American Studies.

my question is : how is it that Harris-Perry has been able to rocket to the top of the media, become a political analyst, and be rewarded with a show of her own on a major news network so quickly? not only that, but she doesn't seem to be saying anything other Black Feminists haven't said prior to her. she has not produced any shocking statistics or studies or theories on the struggle of Black womanhood in this country, yet MSNBC is asking her to tweet her opinions on The Help?

this is not a criticism of her. the fact that a Black woman is actually speaking to our realities is radical, in and of itself. her metaphor about 'The Crooked Room' (in the first link above 12:50 in) is so on point and true. however, these are not things i have not read somewhere in the pages of a bell hooks or Toni Cade Bambara piece. she is radical, in that she speaks. for a Black woman, in a post-colonial (arguably) society, that alone is radical.
however, i personally have a narrower idea of what radical is. radical, to me, is scaring white people. it seems to be very easy, and for some whites, it is. but to scare even the liberal white people who date Black people, love Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles and listen to Wu-Tang and Outkast is a feat upon itself.

take the slight dichotomies of the past and present. W.E.B. DuBois experienced so much animosity that he retreated to Ghana. whereas, Booker T. Washington was sharing crumpets and tea with Alabama political figures who probably lynched and castrated Black men on Saturday afternoons. although he was assassinated, white people LOVE Martin Luther King Jr. so much so that they even have a holiday reserved in his honor. Malcolm X, on the other hand is still regarded as a militant, violent, racist who hated white people. even on a global scale, in Africa, many who posed a geniune threat to the white supremacist platform, have been assassinated : Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sankara and The Mau Mau. Obama-not a threat. Louis Farrakhan-a threat. Henry Louis Gates J.r-not a threat. Assata Shakur-a threat. bell hooks-a threat. the education of Black youths-a threat. an African American/African connection-a threat. solidarity amongst all people of color-a threat. John Africa-a threat. Michael Steele and Herman Cain-about as much a threat as Taylor Swift.
those who talk about whiteness, white supremacy, and colonialism and even suggest resistance and/or self-defense are the real threats to white people. and off that, it is clear to see why Harris-Perry received a show so quickly from MSBNC - because she isn't a real threat.

from now on, i'll be looking for the people that scare white people. white people love Obama just as they all love tokens that pose no threat to them. i can't wait for the person to run for president, write a book, become a professor who's dodging bullets and has to hire Suge Knight as a bodyguard. maybe we shouldn't wait for someone to do be that, and should just be them ourselves.

and i think, most importantly, we have to be aware of these things and learn to question and criticize those people that are picked to be our representatives by white people. we have to ask ourselves, whenever someone Black wins a political position, gets a television show, or gets national recognition for something, what have they sacrificed or diluted or stay silent on and why are white people okay with them?

with all that said, i have yet to read her book. i plan on doing it soon and maybe writing a review about it. if anyone has read her book and would like to give some insight, feel free.

"He got the peace prize, we got the problem. ... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over." - Malcolm X on Dr. Martin Luther King after he received the Nobel Peace Prize

comment. think. criticize.

1 comment:

  1. as usual excellent points. this is the kind of insight that black people need to have when they assess the leaders that claim to represent our interests. The malcolm x qoute in the end was so spot on and its still relevant to this day funny enough malcolm was correct and the proof of this is that before he died martin was talking about economic change. as a matter of fact he is quoted to have said that he intergrated his people into a burning house, all of this was said before he died. the point is that we need to be the radicals we want to see. and we also have to communicate our goals at the same time.
    as always its a pleasure