Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoned of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter. -Robert Greene (The 48 Laws of Power)

Time and time again we bemoan the absence of true black leadership. It seems that we have the nauseating habit of regressing to comparing every charismatic person to the standard of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Completely overlooking the fact that it was we who simultaneously raised them and ultimately cheered for their crucifixion. While we may seek to avoid accountability for their demise, government records are clear as to our (to borrow an overused term) fuckery towards those advocating for our liberty and empowerment. COINTELPRO was the FBI’s vicious campaign of urban spycraft meant to be used internationally to effectuate U.S. foreign policy objectives. However, in the milieu of the Cold War, any domestic disturbance raised the suspicion of the government. As a result, the program was used domestically against black organizations. Under COINTELPRO, according to the 1970 Church Committee Hearings, the government slandered, sabotaged, conducted illegal break-ins, spied on, infiltrated and even murdered, effective black leadership. How did they do it? Niggas of course! Subsequent government records disclosed in Senate and Congressional hearings revealed the ease by which black leaders could be maligned, isolated, and destroyed. And all of this at the hands of guess who? If one thing was clear, it was that the price of being the H.N.I.C. (Head Nigga In Charge) was excruciating pain, isolation and death. COINTELPRO had as a specific objective to “prevent the rise of a black messiah that could unify the black masses.” The program was successful.

One of the more successful tactics is to play on the jealousies, twisted egos, insecurities and pettiness of group members to sow seeds of dissension. What the FBI’s psychological tactics reveal is that although black people hunger for a black leader, they frequently pose the biggest obstacle to the objectives of black leadership; even to the point of death. What the government records reveal is that deep within the recesses of the collective black psyche, lies a hideous gorgon that poses a grave threat to anyone who assumes the albatross of black leadership around their necks. The ease by which black organizations could be dismantled is bewildering. One peculiar source of resentment among male group members is the sexual attraction of women to a charismatic leader. It appears that the quickest way to incur the wrath of men (in an organization) is to be attractive to women.

Malcolm X was the greatest minister ever produced by Elijah Muhammad. His bold articulation of the frustrations of black Americans made him a magnet for the press. His fearlessness in the cause of the Nation of Islam made him a pariah to the masses of white America. The Late Ossie Davis called him “our black manhood.” And as such, Malcolm X’s evangelical zeal and his analytical ability gave him an undeniable charisma. His rhetorical fury shredded his opponents in televised debates. This also made him a walking aphrodesiac to women. Malcolm X’s success in the Nation created dangerous enemies. His most vocal opponents were Elijah Muhammad’s own family. The Sharieffs, Ethel(Elijah’s daughter)  her husband Raymond (Supreme Captain of the FOI),Elijah Jr, and Herbert were the sources of many of the problems Malcolm endured in the Nation. This is especially mendacious since it was Malcolm who made it possible for them to stop working for white people, by providing the revenue from his efforts, to set them up in Nation controlled businesses. Malcolm’s Former Chief of Staff Abdul Razzaq recalled an incident in which Ethel Sharieff and her husband came to the New York mosque for a lecture. During the lecture, Ethel launched into a tirade about Muslim men being unable to sexually satisfy their wives. It was an odd subject. All the onlookers were confused about the source of this tirade as it was unrelated to her lecture. It was discovered by the FBI then, and by Author Manning Marable later, that the source of Ethel’s crude monologue was a letter that Malcolm had written in confidence to Elijah Muhammad. The source of the letter apparently contained Malcolm’s concern that he could not engage in sexual relations long enough to satisfy his wife. Thus, the purpose of Ethel’s tirade was to emasculate Malcolm and humiliate him in the eyes of his female admirers. Such pettiness was fairly common in his last years in the Nation. The source of this frustration? Malcolm’s notoriety and authority inside the Nation.

As Elijah Muhammad became increasingly ill, many in the Nation believed that Malcolm would be the logical successor. As Malcolm was an honest man, he was threat to the niggas using the NOI as an ATM machine. If he were to be proclaimed as Elijah’s replacement, these people would probably be unceremoniously escorted out of the Nation. Therefore, they spared no expense to undermine his authority. While he was covered in articles by the white press, there was not one article on him after 1962 in the newspaper he founded: Muhammad Speaks. Since 1958, they were constantly complaining about him to Elijah Muhammad. His captain was constantly writing reports about him to the National Headquarters behind his back. In a display of spiteful jealousy, they even began to chastise women who they thought were enamored with him. To the day that five men blasted him into martyrdom, Malcolm was endlessly tormented by not only the FBI, but the Nation. The NYPD, which was also trailing him along with the FBI, discovered that one of his lieutenants was having an affair with his wife. Each town he went to, the FBI would alert the NOI that he was there, and just step back and allow them to do the rest. They launched attacks on Malcolm in Los Angeles where they chased him down the freeway at nearly 100 miles an hour. There was a full blown battle royale at the airport when the FOI attacked the police to get at Malcolm. The shocking thing is that no one was arrested. It appears that Muslims were allowed to nearly kill each other with only minuscule penalties and consequences. As long as they were attacking Malcolm, the sky was the limit.

This is price that one pays to be the H.N.I.C. Similar actions occurred in the cases of Dr. King, Fred Hampton, Fred Bennett, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, John Huggins and countless others. In contrast, how many people can tell you the name of the leader of B’nai’B’rith? The Anti-Defamation League? What about the Jewish Defense League? The Organization of Chinese Americans? The Japanese Citizens League? I Could go on but you get the point. While these racial groups do not have the equivalent H.N.I.C.’s, what they do have for the most part is low incarceration rates, thriving communities, strong economic bases, and political influence inside of state legislatures. The FBI demonstrated the empirical truth of the 42nd Law of Power. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. The Black Community’s childish desires for an H.N.I.C., render it vulnerable to political power. They are easily confused in the absence of a charismatic figure. And easily ignored even with they have one. Who could forget the Henry Louis Gates debacle of 2009. When Gates could not enter his home, he tried to force the door open. Onlookers called the Cambridge Police Department. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The Prosecutor later dropped the charges. But when Former President Barack Obama intervened and stated that the police “acted stupidly” for arresting Gates in his own home, the Police Unions rose in opposition against President Obama, and attacked him inside of every public medium available. Here he was, the most powerful man in the western hemisphere, being punked by the police department. Even though they voted for him to the tune of over 90%, black people could do nothing but watch in silent frustration as he was viciously maligned on thousands of talk radio stations across the country. They were politically impotent in the face of blatant republican obstructionism. It’s little wonder why he refused to be known as the President of Black America. Many criticized him for failing to accept the burden of cultural representation. Maybe he knew that to accept such a burden would require him to be sacrificed to the Gods of Reaction. Thus, it was probably wise of him to forgo laying down on the alter of black authenticity. Better to be a two term president with multi-million dollar book deals than to end up disrespected, maligned, and martyred by the very people you seek to serve. We have seen the last of the H.N.I.C’s and its about time.

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