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.
I’m reading Joe Clark’s book titled Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools, and I came across an interesting dialogue he had with a former male student of his where the young man referred to one of his teachers as racist. [If you work in the schools in practically any fashion, or if you observe the sentiments of Black America closely enough, you’ll find that this type of race-baiting is all too common and usually used as a cop-out or excuse for inexcusable behavior as opposed to holding oneself accountable for said behavior(s).]
Anyway, so Mr. Clark sat down with this young man and his first question was, “Tell me, Lester. Tell me what a racist is. What is a racist?” The boy responded, “Someone who hates Black people.” Clark jumped down his throat, “WRONG! A racist is someone whose words and actions are destructive to a particular race, any race!” Mr. Clark proceeds to ask the boy to describe what a Black dope addict is. Of course the boy is confused and doesn’t really know how to respond to his principal’s peculiar question, so he stutters and fumbles along trying to find the right response to such an seemingly assinine query. Mr. Clark fires, “A Black dope addict, Lester, is a racist! Yes, a racist! Because his actions are destructive to a particular race. His own! The Black dope addicts are destroying themselves and bringing down shame, degradation, and ill-will upon their people. They are racists, real racists. And if you become like one of them, you’ll be a racist too!”
Many may disagree with me, but I stand firm in what I believe is an accurate depiction of what I think a slither of Black America has become. But let’s think back a few hundred years and explore this in a historical context: What’s the difference between the Africans who got rich by selling their countrymen–their own tribesman, in some cases– to the white slavers for guns and jewelry, and today’s drug dealers who get rich by selling poison to their own for guns and jewelry? What’s the difference between the young brothers in the ghettoes of Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, L.A. who are killing each other for drugs, guns, jewelry, and territory? To me, that’s racism, practically genocide, in fact. I can go on and on. What about the number of Black men killed by the KKK versus the number of Black men killed by other Black men? It’s documented. A study by the Tuskegee Institute cited that KKK killed 3,446 Black people in a span of 86 years, whereas Black men in America, on a national scale, kill that many in a matter of six months. We continue to blame “whitey”, but he is not our problem. We are our problem. We’ve all heard the mantra, “Crabs in a barrel”, right? If you’re Black, I’m sure you’ve experienced this a time or two in your life. In the workplace, in the school setting, or wherever, we continue to sabotage, bring shame and denigrate our own before we do that same to anyone else. No, I’m not saying we should begin disrespecting anyone who isn’t Black, but what I am saying is that we’ve done a poor job at uplifting one another, so bad, in fact, that we’re aiding and abetting in, as Clark says, “words and actions [that] are destructive to a particular race.” Our own! And because of this I feel we have failed miserably in creating positive, upstanding, stable and successful Black men.
We only refer to one another as b**** and h****, n***** (without the ‘er or with an ‘a’; it’s all the same to me; its just a different connation and urban linguistic spin to it). We’ve been killing each other, disrespecting one another and pulling each other down for centuries, but yet have the audacity to blame the white man. So who’s the racist here?