Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tea Baggers: The New Black Panthers?

Y'know, I don't really think so. Neither does anyone else who truly understood the Black Panther Movement.

But that didn't stop a dickweed named Cord Jefferson from making the comparison on a website called The Root.

The comparison kind of stretches credulity for anyone who actually lived through the heady and revolutionary 1960s. It basically reminded me of those earnest and scrub-faced college undergrads who used to come to me when I was a teaching assistant in English Lit with a terrific idea for a senior thesis, usually something that had been done to death, such as a comparison between the social mores of Dickens' Oliver Twist versus those found in the Victorian underground classic My Secret Life ... Actually, never mind, that would have been a good one, but you get the idea...

Anyway, I'm not the only one who thinks that Jefferson is a dickweed. Crystal Hayes, the daughter of Black Panther Robert Seth Hayes, agrees with me:
My father, Robert Seth Hayes, was a member of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and ever since that day some 37 years ago, he has been a political prisoner in the state of New York. So when I read Cord Jefferson‘s article, “Is the Tea Party the New Black Panther Party?” on The, I could not help but remember, and relive, the pain and trauma of that day. I also became frustrated and angry because Jefferson’s article is ahistorical and continues the tradition of attacking the Party and misrepresenting its history and legacy. What’s more, it does so in a forum that prides itself on getting African American history correct.
Jefferson begins his piece predictably, by drawing on caricatures of the Party – images of armed, angry, Black men going to war against the US government. But the images that are used aren’t even of Panther members. His opening lines are accompanied by a photo of Malik Zulu Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), an unaffiliated group founded in 1989 that has no connection to the BPP other than the name that it appropriated.
In fact, original BPP members openly reject the NBPP because its ideology promotes violence, separatism, and nationalism, values my father and other BPP members have long abandoned as part of an effective political ideology and strategy. In fact, the NBPP was successfully sued by Huey P. Newton’s foundation in an effort to keep them from calling themselves the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the BPP’s original name.
There's a lot more to this, all of it worth reading. If your concept of the Black Panthers was similar to that of Jefferson, i.e., it had been leavened into your brain through the distorting lens of the CPM*, then you need to get up to speed on a little-understood and much-vilified group.

[* CPM=Capitalist Pig Media]

1 Comment:

Labrys said...

Ok, the headline of your post alone made me burst out laughing and splort coffee all over my much-abused keyboard! Have you no shame? Nor pity for keyboards?