Saturday, March 19, 2016


“That's just the way it was back to then."

I hate these words. I probably always did. But I remember learning to hate them with specific intensity after hearing them come out a white woman’s mouth so regularly it was like an echo that never ends.

These words were used to justify white racism executed in any time period between 40 years to 400 years ago. She wouldn't use it to dismiss anything she was relatively sure her ancestors had no part in, like lynching. But she’d use it excuse damn near anything else. 

After a while it became clear that she thought that any white adult born 40 years before she was born should automatically be excused as if a child that wasn’t thinking clearly. It was as if she thought a 50 year old white man couldn’t know what he was really doing when

--he stood on picket lines outside elementary schools, hollering epithets at 5 year old black children like Ruby Bridges

-he taught his white son to shame black children by making it obvious he couldn’t bear to touch their hands when making change or passing back the weekly spelling test

-he taught his white daughter that it was perfectly acceptable to invite everybody (white) in her class to her birthday party except the three black kids and the one Mexican child.

“That's just the way it was back then” doesn’t cover a spite-filled heart that beats within the chest of a person that needs to feel more important than another, 40 years ago or 400 years ago either. It doesn't explain: 

        -White bus drivers stomping on the gas and then brakes in a deliberate attempt to make black people standing over empty "white seats" fall to floor --even if one of those black people is a woman holding an infant.
       -  Seeing a peaceful group of black protesters as a violent mob “stirring up peaceful white citizens” (peaceful--for so long as the white supremacy isn't disturbed)
        - Seeing talking back to a disrespectful white police officer as an offense that justifies a beating, arresting, or killing when skin is dark

“That's just the way it was back to then" 
doesn’t work 
because empathy is empathy 
no matter what year it is 
or how primitive the schooling 
or how primitive the technology was, 
40 years ago or 400 years ago.  

I hate this phrase when it comes to racism.

And I hate it just as much when it comes to sexism and misogyny.

This is why I’ve never been able to make myself understand, not even for a second, why Huey P Newton, Bobby Seale, David Hilliard and other “leaders” of the Panthers, would put Eldridge Cleaver in charge an outhouse much less make him “Minister of Information”

And reading Elaine Brown’s "A Taste Of Power"  leads me to believe that they adopted Cleaver BECAUSE OF and not IN SPITE OF Cleaver’s "Soul On Ice" where Cleaver admits to raping black women as practice for raping white women is just galling.

Elaine Brown - top
Huey Newton - bottom 

Elaine Brown, who would eventually be the only female leader of The Black Panthers, read “Soul On Ice” early in her Panther career, went to meet him at a quasi-social Panther gathering and flirted with him, found him attractive. It wasn’t until a few years later in Algiers when Cleaver was threatening to kill her for not agreeing to help him split The Panthers into a *gun war revolutionary camp* and a *reformers survival program camp* that Brown realizes that Cleaver is the predator, rapist, and coward –just as he had announced he was in his book, "Soul On Ice."

According to Brown, after many a macho pissing match between the Newton/Hilliard camp and the Cleaver camp, Cleaver is kicked out of The Black Panthers, taking a large number of people with him and also leaving a large number of members Panther members that remained disillusioned.

Weakened by the battles with Eldridge, the survival programs get primary focus while the FBI, via their COINTELPRO program, is using the police to lock panthers up across the country. The police and FBI are apparently flat out murdering others like Fred Hampton

The Breakfast Program for children, the Health Clinic and the Oakland Schools are Panther survival programs. Money is being gotten for these programs; for bail, and for the defense attorneys needed to get panthers out of jail by any shady means necessary --some of them not legal-- which means the Panthers are picking up black enemies as well as black friends as they go.

During the recent white-washed PBS documentary on The Black Panthers, one woman says that The Black Panthers was like an elephant standing before a group of blind people, some near trunk, tusks, or tail. Instead of saying one’s perception of the Black Panthers depended on where one was standing she said,

A panther’s perception of The Black Panthers

depended on which part
of The Black Panther’s you served in.  

Elaine Brown sounds like she served near the back half of elephant, in Los Angeles, moving further and further back as she got to closer and closer Oakland National Headquarters, where the Black Panthers originated.

During one of Brown’s first trips to the Oakland Chapter, Bobby Seale has a 15 year old girl describe what Panther Womanhood

-        -
"Marsha was a child, maybe fifteen years old...nearly white," is held up by Bobby Seale as a model Panther woman. Seale commands Marsha to
"Tell [Elaine] here what a Brother has to do to get some from you."
To which Marsha responds:

First of all, a Brother's got to be righteous. He's got to be a Panther. He's got to be able to recite the ten-point platform and program, and be ready to off the pig and die for the People.... Can't no motherfucker get no p*ssy from me unless he can get down with the party.... A sister has to learn to shoot as well as to cook, and be ready to back up the Brothers. A Sister's got to know the ten-point platform and program by heart.... A Sister has to give up the p*ssy when the Brother is on his job and hold it back when he's not. `Cause Sisters got p*ssy power

Elaine and some of the other women from the Los Angeles Chapter like Ericka Huggins are horrified by Marsha’s “performance”, and especially horrified by all the men in the room shaking their heads up and down in agreement to Marsha’s theory of Black Panther Womanhood.

Elaine says that she, Ericka Huggins, and two other women get to be known as “The L.A. Clique” due to their objection to this characterization of women in the panthers. She also makes it clear that this unacceptable behavior does not go on in the Los Angeles Chapter. 

However, Elaine seems to act out “P*ssy Power” between this halfway point in the book and the end at least three times. Huey even says she has “a $12,000 p*ssy” after she sleeps with and secures money from another white Hollywood executive.*

"Discipline," Physical Abuse, and Crumbling from within."