Nearly 25 yrs ago, South Central Los Angeles, CA., was nearly torn apart from a riot that occurred as a result of the acquittal of 4 white police officers in the beating of motorist Rodney King. Fearing the looters might dare to spread their rage into the Clorox suburbs of Los Angeles, the authorities, using the press as its’ proxy, urged King to come forward and appeal for calm in the City. During his appeal for calm, King posed a rhetorical question to the millions watching from their TV sets, and those within ear shot of his voice: Can’t we all just get along?
This question while asked to the broader sectors of the populace, is even more profound when asked within the confines of the Black Community; especially, among black men. During a Google Hangout on You Tube, Oshay Duke Jackson asked a diverse panel of Black Male You Tubers, What is important to Black Men in America? The question posed was devoid of community considerations, black female concerns, or societal expectations. The discussion hinged on everything but the topic. But was that a bad thing?
The Moderate to Progressive sectors of the panel tended to express opinions that were based on their best hopes and aspirations concerning the community. They made no distinction between their personal desires and those principles which they believed were in the best interest of the collective of the Black Community. However, those that tended to identify as conservative, express opinions about the collective that tended to trumpet their individual concerns. In this way, they were more on topic than their counterparts.
This conflict is not new. In fact, its really old. One of the most telling and in-depth examinations of conflicted Black Male aspirations, come not from Black Men themselves, but from the state. The government initiated urban spycraft program, COINTELPRO, illustrated the same collision between individual interests and collective interests. This is not a diatribe against the state but an examination of Black Male interests through the eyes of the State.
COINTELPRO illustrated just how easy it is to divide black men along the lines of their interests. Those interests weren’t necessarily monetary. They were petty jealousies, personality conflicts, behavioral disorders, meglomaniacal tendencies, personal insecurities, political differences and even skin tones. The panelists discussed everything from white supremacy, to pan-africanism, to black male frustrations with dating black women. The question was never answered. Or was it? At least 2 of the panelists made it strikingly clear that their interests were indistinguishable from the millions of afro-american scattered all throughout the globe. The other side of the panel seemed concerned with issues that ranged from the destructive cultural tendencies of the black community, to the lack of access to, and femininity of, black women. There were no easy answers. And in truth, there should not have been.
While there were diverse opinions from a diverse panel,there was nothing to guarantee that such diverse opinions can generate a uniform solution. While diversity may ensure multiple perspectives for a single problem, it does not ensure that all parties can come to a clear consensus about a direct course of action. Contrary to conventional wisdom, not all opinions are of equal value. There are some suggestions that are completely antithetical to individual interests. Even ones as marginalized as black men. Ask yourself would Julius Ceasar be able to exist with Cassius or Brutus? If the disciples knew of Judas Iscariot’s treachery, would they allow him to sit at the table for the Last Supper under the guise of him having a different opinion?
Chuck D once said that every brother ain’t a brother. He supported his supposition with the examples of the murder of Malcolm X and the shooting of Huey Newton. While it is chic to steer clear of labels that divide black people for having varying opinions, it is not pragmatic to simply accept insidious philosophies that perpetrate black subordination, individually or collectively. So if we answer Rodney King’s rhetorical question (can’t we all just get along) truthfully, the answer would be no! And honestly, i’m ok with that.
TONY MACEO is a Senior Blogger at the Negromanosphere. Please feel free to subscribe to the You Tube Channel or like us on FB at Power & Strategy. Become a patron @ Powerofstrategies on Patreon.