Give Me Liberty
Part I: False Greatness
Part II: Cast Down Your Soul
Part III: The Carternick Compromise
Man vs. Nature
Booker T. Washington vs. W. E. B. Du Bois
Jay-Z vs. Colin Kapernick
I. False Greatness
MYLo, forbear to call him bless'd
That only boasts a large estate,
Should all the treasures of the west
Meet, and conspire to make him great:
I know thy better thoughts, I know
Thy reason can't descend so low:
Let a broad stream, with golden sands,
Through all his meadows roll,
He's but a wretch, with all his lands,
That wears a narrow soul.
So might the ploughboy climb a tree,
When Croesus mounts his throne,
And both stand up, and smile to see
How long their shadow's grown:
Alas! how vain their fancies be,
To think that shape their own
Thus mingled still with wealth and state,
Croesus himself can never know;
His true dimensions and his weight
Are far inferior to their show.
Were I so tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean with my span,
I must be measured by my soul:
The mind’s the standard of the man.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth abides for ever.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit...My mind has absorbed great wisdom and knowledge. But when I set my mind to understand wisdom, and also to understand madness and folly, I realized that this too, is a chasing after the wind.*
Achievers hate to settle.
One is down to Earth
and one is on a higher level.
Success is in dispute
if we dispute on what's successful.
Each presumes himself a savior.
Each assumes his God his Devil.
II. Cast Down Your Soul
They are the music of an unhappy people, of the children of disappointment; they tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world...Through all the sorrow...there breathes a hope--a faith in the ultimate justice of things....the meaning is always clear: that sometime, somewhere, men will judge men by their souls and not by their skins.
DuBois's "Souls of Black Folk" came to me as a bolt from the blue. It was the rebellion of a fearless soul, the protest of a noble nature against the blighting American caste prejudice. It proclaimed in thunder tones and in words of magic beauty the worth and sacredness of human personality even when clothed in a black skin.
Cast down your bucket where you are.
Read the full transcript from the Library of Congress here.
(Source: Library Company of Philadelphia)
The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.
It startled the nation to hear a Negro advocating such a program after many decades of bitter complaint; it startled and won the applause of the South, it interested and won the admiration of the North; and after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the Negroes themselves.
If our Colored fellow-citizens do not from your utterances gather new hope and form new determinations to gain every valuable advantage offered them by their citizenship, it will be strange indeed.
The Colored people and the Colored newspapers at first seemed to be greatly pleased with the character of my Atlanta address, as well as with its reception.
But after the first burst of enthusiasm began to die away, and the Colored people began reading the speech in cold type, some of them seemed to feel that they had been hypnotized. They seemed to feel that I had been too liberal in my remarks toward the Southern Whites, and that I had not spoken out strongly enough for what they termed the "rights" of my race.
As soon as I read Mr. Washington's famous Atlanta speech I was dissatisfied with it...(etc)
He ridiculed the higher aspiration and spiritual strivings of his own people and asked his own people to cease contending for their manhood rights, which things the Anglo-Saxon race has held dear and sacred in its own history and for which he sacrificed ease and happiness, yea life itself.
Did not President Eliot of Harvard University in his "America's Contribution to Civilization" mention "The Development of Manhood Suffrage" as one of the five American contributions to civilization?
And yet Dr. Washington in his Atlanta speech said:
"We began at the Senate instead of at the plough. The wisest among my people realize that agitating questions of social and political equality is the sheerest nonsense, etc."
In that celebrated Atlanta speech we behold the spectacle of a Negro leader saying the things the Georgia White man desired him to say. The South hailed him as the Moses of his people. Then Dr. Washington lectured in Northern churches and imported into the North the South's estimate of the Negro.
He minimized the intellectual achievements of the Negro and cut the foundation from under his civic privileges and political rights.
The North soon began to think and feel that it had forced the higher education and civil and political rights upon the Black man before he was ready for it and silently acquiesced in the South's practically undoing the work of Sumner, Garrison, Phillips, Thaddeus Stevens, Roscoe Conkling, and George Boutwell.
What more natural than that the dammed up waters of Negro striving and Negro aspirations should burst the dam erected by the Alabamian and swell into a formidable protest against the stifling and smothering teachings of Booker T. Washington.
[The] reactionary ones seemed to have been won over to my way of believing and acting.
Is it possible, and probable, that nine millions of men can make effective progress in economic lines if they are deprived of political rights, made a servile caste, and allowed only the most meager chance for developing their exceptional men?
If history and reason give any distinct answer to these questions, it is an emphatic No.
Behold the suicide of a race!
The Souls of Black Folk rallied opposition to Washington in Black intellectual circles. Leaders of the Black community were polarized into two camps: the "conservative" supporters of Washington's accomodationism, and the "radical" critics of Washington.
That was a fatal day for the race when it lowered its equal rights flag, thus saying to the world that the Negro's contention was not for equal rights, but that he was willing to accept an inferior place, social equality, whatever that might mean to the race, was completely surrendered; from that fatal hour until now, politically we have been losing ground.
Prior to that time, we were advancing rapidly in our struggle for equal rights, overcoming race prejudice, by a persistent and courageous stand against it.
Suddenly, to the surprise of the courageous leaders of the race, our rights were bartered for a mess of material pottage; the white flag of surrender was hoisted and a place of political inferiority was accepted.
My indignation overflowed…to treat as a crime that which was at worst mistaken judgement was an outrage.
Racism is not a question of attitude; it's a question of power. Racism gets its power from capitalism. Thus, if you're anti-racist, whether you know it or not, you must be anti-capitalist.
Dr. King's policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for Black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That's very good.
He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience.
The United States has none.
From birth till death enslaved; in word, in deed, unmanned!...Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not [that] who would be free themselves must strike the blow?
III. THE CARTERNICK COMPROMISE
I understand [his] book because I am a Negro. White people put it down, surprised that a Colored man's soul should be so sensitive to slights and insults.
Carping critics pronounce a Negro who does not become wealthy or famous within five years after his graduation from college, a failure.
But notice: Hawthorne, the Beethoven of English prose, was not able to buy a house of his own until he was forty-seven years old; Bancroft, a failure as an educator, afterwards wrote the prose epic of America; Motley, a failure as a politician, wrote the immortal work which chronicled Holland's struggle for liberty; Irving was a failure as a hardware merchant, but won a world-wide reputation as a man of letters; Cooper was an indifferent lawyer but a brilliant novelist; Patrick Henry failed as a farmer and merchant, but succeeded as a lawyer and became the fiery, impassioned Revolutionary orator, whose name is indissolubly linked with that of the American Revolution. Shakespeare, a failure as a wool merchant, a poor actor, became the world's dramatic poet.
What a loss the world would have sustained if Jean Millet, when struggling in poverty, with a wife and children depending upon him for support; if Richard Wagner, when his musical dramas were being hooted off the stage and his materialistic wife was rebuking him; if Carlyle, when facing hardships and the trials of a literary career, on the fens of a Craigenputtock; if Verdi, on the verge of starvation and suicide, a seeming failure as a composer; if Milton, writing "Paradise Lost," when poor and old and blind; if Hawthorne, dismissed from the Custom House in Salem, often making his dinner on chestnuts and potatoes, because too poor to buy meat, when writing the "Scarlet Letter," — had listened to the advice of some ignorant and materialistic friend and renounced their divine aspirations and their strivings in the world of art, music and letters?
Please don't die over the neighborhood
That your mama rentin'
Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood
That's how you rinse it.
Gentrify your own hood, before these people do it
Claim eminent domain and have your people movin’
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
It's time for us to get on with actionable items.
Should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities?
So you passed on performing at the Super Bowl. And then, you rapped about passing on performing at the Super Bowl...What-What changed? What was the impetus for this partnership?
As an artist, I've always held myself in high regard and respect and if I'm in a position or in a space where I feel like my...[notices Goodell watching him]...the level of respect that I earn as an artist is being compromised, I'm gonna speak about it. Ten times out of ten.
And...Then after that, you know...there's conversations that - that happen. You know......criminal justice...
Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice, correct? So uh...in that - in that case, right? This is the success, right? This is the next thing.
This reformist or bourgeois nationalism-through its chosen vehicle of Black capitalism-may line the pockets and boost the social status of the Black middle class and Black intelligentsia, but it will not ease the oppression of the ordinary ghetto dweller.
I support any protest that's effective. You know?...I'm really into action. You know? I'm really into real work. I'm not into like...uh, how it looks.......I've been in this position many times where people be fighting and saying [here's] what I'm about to do or [here's what I'm thinking and how it's going to turn out...and...you know, I just show up and do the work. I'm not interested in how things look on the outside.
Kwame wonders: isn't there a better way?
70% of NFL players are Black; 0% of NFL owners are Black.
Closing the gulf requires dealing with inequities in housing, employment, investment, and assets.
I would love for these platforms to be more inclusive of our music and...um...you know just to have a place where we can have these conversations...everyone can talk......what are we doing?
The Negro race is the greatest race of natural talkers that ever appeared upon the stage of history. It is preeminently endowed with the gift of gab. It has its oratory on tap. All you have to do is to turn the faucet and a copious stream of oratory will gush forth.
On election days, in the large cities of the North and East, every street corner is a rostrum, every barber shop a forum and every bar-room a free lecture platform.
We think then of that brilliant epoch in Greek history, the days of Pericles, when the Athenian orators made the market place ring with their eloquence, when the peripatetic philosophers discoursed of high things in the grove of the academy and Socrates held his divine conversations in the streets of Athens.
The Greeks were a race of talkers. But they could not compare with the Negro race.
The Negro is more of a dreamer and an idealist than a doer of deeds. Consequently the contribution that the Negro will make to civilization will be in the realms of music, oratory, literature and art. Partaking of the Greek temperament, rather than of the practical phlegmatic temperament of the Anglo-Saxon, who, at his best, resembles the stern old Roman, the Negro, as a rule, will be distanced by his Anglo-Saxon brother in the world of science, business and politics.
Do not despair if the Goddess of Fortune does not at first smile upon you and if prosperity does not at the start crown your efforts, but persevere, persevere, plod on, plod on.
Remember that the race is not to the swift nor to the strong, but to him who endures unto the end. Go forth to make your contribution to civilization and success will finally perch upon your banners. And the world will at last give you the recognition that she withholds now.
To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.
Work, culture, liberty,--all these we need, not singly but together.
While we are emphasizing the industries, and material wealth and prosperity, we should not overlook the fact that all this is useless and impotent unless backed and supported by strong moral and religious character.
The power of the ballot we need in sheer self-defense,--else what shall save us from a second slavery?
Scientific Researcher, Independent Historian, and co-Founder of Black Research Central
Black Research Central
When Negritude Meets Pettitude.