I’m not a chess player, but the game, as we all know, is a game of skill and of strategy; it is, above all things, a game of the mind. The main objective is to “checkmate” the opponent’s king, forcing it into an inescapable threat of capture. Each player is desperately trying to out-wit and thrawrt the other’s goals, and as you can see here in this picture, you have a member of the KKK robed in his traditional garb, and beside him is his weapon of choice–the knife (I’m sure there’s a rope nearby somewhere). Across from him, we see a young African-American male robed in a hat turned backwards, black garments, and of couse, his weapon of choice–the gun. I’m not too certain of the artists’ intended message, but I can only ascertain that the chess board itself would symbolically represent American soceity in general: economics and employment, struggle and progress, education, healthcare, the interrelatedness and dependency of one upon the other (or the lack thereof). I can further assume the klansmen represents the power structure, or the oppressor. The klansmens’ objective, as we all could guess, is to thrawrt the young African-American male from achieving the prosperity that is his to claim while the Black man is manuevering to outwit his oppressor and gain what he feels is owed to him, but by his own terms which is symbolized by the gun.
Most of the comments I read on Facebook about this pic sort of mentioned “the Black man needs to wake up; ‘they’re trying to keep us from blah blah blah; the klan will use the rules against us and to his own advantage to keep us down yada yada yada.” I think this is the type of bull-crap race-baiting that is a cancer on the intellectual and even social progression of the African-American male. For one, the gun-toting Black male in the picture is a stereotypical representation. For me, it conjures up images of gang members, thugs and hoodlums and I think that’s the wrong message to convey if this is meant to be positive or thought-provoking. It is not picturesque of our plight nor progress. The klansmen, even symbolically, is fallacy. The Ku Klux Klan or any other racist, for that matter, I feel are in no way the biggest threat to present-day African-American males. It’s no secret that the biggest threat to the Black man is just that–another one. I may have posted about this before, but the number of deaths due to black-on-black violence has more than exceeded the number of Black men killed by the Klan. Now had this picture been of one that excluded the hooded white vigalante and inserted a Black vigilante hooded in gang colors on one side, and on the other, a Black “school boy” trying to avoid those same pitfalls made by the gangmember, then to me, that would make more sense. Or what if that “school boy” dressed in shirt and tie armed with a book is pictured making a move against American society in general–a man hooded in the American flag, symbolic of the socio-economic, educational, and political struggle? I don’t know. I’m just throwing out ideas that would make this pic a lot more powerful. We have to eventually move beyond “victimologist” and thought processes.
“Whitey” does not affect my day to day struggle, and he does not have a direct hand in my plight. What I’m worried about most is myself or my family being gun-downed by another Black man. I’m worried about the ever-increasing achievement gap that eventually puts the gun in the hands of another young brotha that will eventually land himself in prison. I don’t wake up each morning worried about what “whitey” is going to do to me next. I worry about the outcome of me failing at getting these young brothas to value an education; I worry about failing to empower these brothas and not giving them the life skills they will need to succeed in this world so that they do not have to “play chess” with America armed with a pistol. I want to teach them to arm themselves with their best “weapons”: family, education, whatever spritituality that rests within their souls, and brotherhood. That’s my vision.