Posts tagged black power.
I do not give up Black
for ‘African American.’ I remain connected to what the term signifies for me as a participant in the late 1960s Black consciousness movement in the USA. Blackness -that reclaiming of culture, that will to revolution; embracing the remarkable and violated past, the very tenuous present, and the unpromised future as an African in diaspora, an ex-slave, lesbian poet.
— Cheryl Clarke, Living the Texts Out: Lesbians and the uses of Black women’s traditions, from Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women
Visions of black liberation which exclude lesbians and gay men bore and repel me, for as a black lesbian I am obligated and dedicated to destroying heterosexual supremacy by ‘suggesting, promoting, and advocating’ the rights of gay men and lesbians wherever we are. And we are everywhere. As political black people, we bear the twin responsibilities of transforming the social, political, and economic systems of oppression as they affect all our people -not just the heterosexuals -and of transforming the corresponding psychological structure that feeds into these oppressive systems. The more homophobic we are as a people the further removed we are from any kind of revolution. Not only must black lesbians and gay men be committed to destroying homophobia, but all
black people must be committed to working out and rooting out homophobia in the black community. We begin to eliminate homophobia by engaging in dialogue with the advocates of gay and lesbian politics, confronting and educating ourselves about gay and lesbian politics, confronting and correcting homophobic attitudes, and understanding how these attitudes prevent the liberation of the total being.
— Cheryl Clarke, The Failure to Transform: Homophobia in the Black Community, Home Girls: A Feminist Anthology by Barbara Smith, 208
The expression of homophobic sentiments, the threatening political postures assumed by black radicals and progressives of the nationalists/communist ilk, and the seeming lack of any willingness to understand the politics of gay and lesbian liberation collude with the dominant white male culture to repress not only gay men and lesbians, but also to repress a natural part of all human beings, namely the bisexual potential in us all. Homophobia divides black people as political allies, it cuts off political growth, stifles revolution, and perpetuates patriarchal domination.
— Cheryl Clarke, The Failure to Transform: Homophobia in the Black Community, Home Girls: A Feminist Anthology by Barbara Smith, 207
In order to participate in this movement one had to be black (of course), be male-oriented, and embrace a spectrum of black nationalist, separatist, Pan Africanist sentiments, beliefs and goals. Rejection of white people was essential as well as rejection of so-called white values, which included everything from reading Kenneth Clark’s Civilization
to eating a t.v. dinner…
It is ironic that the Black Power movement could transform the consciousness of an entire generation of black people regarding black self-determination and, at the same time, fail so miserably in understanding the sexual politics of the movement and of black people across the board.
— Cheryl Clarke, The Failure to Transform: Homophobia in the Black Community, Home Girls: A Feminist Anthology by Barbara Smith, 198-199
my heart beats
as my eyes open
as my hands move
as my mouth speaks
As Black lesbian women,
we are the daughters of Black fathers,
the mothers of Black sons,
and the sisters of Black brothers.
Therefore, we stand on the front lines and all sides of Black liberation movements.
Simply, because we are not lovers of Black men, does not mean that we are against them.
“I think what you’re trying to ask is why am I so insistent upon giving out to them that BLACK-ness, that BLACK power, that BLACK pushing them to identify with black culture; I think that’s what you’re asking.
I have no choice over it; in the first place, to me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, black people. And I mean that in every sense, outside and inside. And to me, we have a culture that is surpassed by no other civilization, but we don’t know anything about it. So again, I think I’ve said this before in this same interview, I think, at some time before: My job is to somehow make them curious enough or persuade them, by hook or crook, to get more aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there, and just to bring it out. This is what compels me to compel them and I will do it by whatever means necessary.”
Let’s create New Years Resolutions, not only for ourselves, but New Years Resolutions for us as Black people. Let our resolutions read:
1) In 2014, we will do more to protect our rights
2) In 2014, we will do more to protect the lives of our Black brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons who are terrorized and murdered in the streets by White “vigilantes” and the police.
3) In 2014, we will do more to protect our cultural spaces and put an end to the appropriation of Black culture…
Mother and child at pre-rally in Defermery Park for the Constitutional Convention, held later that year in Philadelphia. 1971
Credit: Stephen Shames