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Saturday, April 16, 2016


Now that I've read David Hilliard's and Elaine Brown's books on their experiences as Black Panthers, I wonder... 
Into the limelight
1967 Sacramento Protest

What would the Black Panthers have been like
if the male leaders of The Black Panther Partyhad put the same genuine effortinto changing their attitudes towards women
that they put into learning
Marxism and socialism,
helping create the 10 point program,
and doing honest work to help black people?

Didn't the Black Panthers
wind up hamstringing themselves
by layering
all of those positive ideals and effortson top of the same old poverty-side,
materialism based, object based masculinity?


A False Masculinity 
If the male Black Panther leadership
had changed their attitudes towards women
which necessitates 
an elimination or reduction of false masculinity,
wouldn't The Black Panthers still be here? 

Poverty Side Material Masculinity Says

-- the strongest man should lead
--tough guys with guns are real men
--men who answer nobody and have sex with multiple women at once are the "real men" (so long as "his woman" doesn't do the same.)

These measures of masculinity are still used today by too many men who think being masculine is all about competition. And a good percentage of black men wind up going into an underground economy (work at things not quite legal or illegal) to get the objects they need to materially prove masculinity. Sometimes the underground economy is about survival, eating sans welfare and having a roof over ones head. But sometimes underground economy jobs that require a gun are strictly about proving masculinity--- at the expense of everyone around him.

These actions by black men
are what happen
when a man is sans the money
to buy himself an education
that will get him enough money
to buy the things
that white men buy 

to prove their masculinity,
which would include houses, cars, boats, and enough feelings of personal worthiness to commit to another person in marriage.

It seems to me that this competition based model of masculinity is ALSO why ex-convicts and gangsters were some of the first men attracted to the Black Panthers.

Of course all black people wanted the white foot off our necks. Of course, we have had an adversarial relationship with white people. But wanting to end racism is not the same as wanting to replace white people as the people on top. And that's what a lot of the gangsters that initially joined the Panthers wanted-- to be the oppress-er instead of the oppress-ee. They had little or no interest in a better society.

As much as The Panthers sought out coalitions with white groups, it's clear replacing white men as the oppressor was not the organization's goal. But patriarchy, a competition based model of masculinity, attracted too many of "the wrong element" to the Panthers, the element that saw shooting whitey as the only goal worth pursuing.

Keep in mind that The Panthers were a lot more accessible to poor black people than some other black civil rights groups of the same era. 

The NAACP and other middle class black organizations had college educated members and leaders. Martin Luther King, for example, was giving sermons at a church that supposedly served the highest and mightiest of black people in the mid 1950s, even before he was a civil rights leader.

Of course, high society black people weren't very high, overt white racism being what it was at the time, but Martin King's class of people had a lot more than the paycheck-to-paycheck money. They had a lot more money, class, and status than the people who gravitated toward The Panthers. King's class of black folk were not looking for underground economy type work. 

Sans a protest, SCLC and NAACP members were not the kind of people that wound up in jail trying make money any which way they could for want of a straight job.

So it's not surprise that a lot of the men,  poor men that got caught in the prison system, that first flooded into the Panthers wound up being the ones Eldridge called "jackanapes."

These were the men that Eldridge planned to use as cannon fodder in his crazy gun-to-gun overthrow whitey revolution --despite being so outnumbered. Eldridge's "jackanapes" weren't just black men trying to make money on the fringes of society, they were the out of control men fresh out of jail that got guns and wound up in the news, robbing people while using the Black Panther van, making the Panthers look like they were mostly about being gangsters?

Eldridge himself was out of control. It was his idea to fire on white officers the day 17 year old Bobby Hutton was killed. This means that first Black Panther casualty, was actually part of an actual criminal act led by Eldridge Cleaver, the admitted and convicted rapist. 

Kathleen Cleaver, wife of Eldridge Cleaver - routinely beaten by Cleaver
Elaine Brown - slapped by Huey, whipped upon orders of Bobby Seale
Angela Davis - never formerly joined the Panthers, reportedly due to the sexism.

Not pictured. Regina Davis.
The woman that most responsible for the running of The Panther School, the Oakland School who was beat up by black male panthers, breaking her jaw, because she dared give orders and issue reprimands
per her position.

From where I sit, if the National Headquarters of The Black Panthers in Oakland had actually made an effort to live up to their ideals of equality with black women first, women would have been half of the BPP leadership. And with women as half the BPP leadership, the Black Panthers might still be here.