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Anonymous asked: How do you feel about black love?
I feel that it’s the most revolutionary thing that a Black person can do. It’s beautiful.
Brothers and Sisters,
This is a revolutionary love story.
It’s time to open our eyes.
Times are continuously moving backward.
When will the day come that we recognize our greatness?
When will the day come that you embrace the little light that you carry inside of you ; inside of your heart?
When will you recognize just how beautiful black is?
Colors of molasses, colors of honey, colors of cornbread and colors of toffee.
Despite your delectable coloring, don’t let this world eat you.
You are beautiful. Wear your aesthetic like a crown on your head.
Black sisters embrace your black brothers.
Black brothers embrace your black sisters.
Let us not close our eyes to the pain and suffering that we face.
Let us be communal.
And through community let us stand out as individuals.
Let our chains be broken by the hammers of truth.
May our love be everlasting for one another.
May our adversaries choke on truth
And our lost brothers and sisters find their way back home.
We are the ones that we have been waiting for.
Those distorted images of black bodies must go. It is time to lift the veil. We must see ourselves as who we truly are and stop looking with the eyes of those who oppress us, because those eyes tell lies.
Assata Shakur once said, “I have been locked down by the lawless. Handcuffed by the haters. Gagged by the greedy. And if I know anything at all is that a wall is just the wall and nothing more at all if you be broken down.”
Lastly Shakur said:
I believe in living
I believe in birth
I believe in the sweat of love
And in the fire of truth.
Let us not forget this. I love you.
Melanie “CoCo” McCoy
I am NOT Ruined.
- The Black Woman
Black Brothers and Sisters,
In the tradition of Assata Shakur, and many others, I have written a letter to you. Growth is part of liberation. I had to look within myself and ask myself a few questions. What is growth? And what is liberation? One can not be liberated without experiencing growth. So if my message like the rest of my brothers and sisters is that Black people need to start getting free, I must start with the Black person who is inside of me.
So often as Black women we have experienced so much trauma and so much pain that it has become so normative to the extent that it feels almost as if life should be this way. With that said somehow, this doesn’t negate that we do not feel comfortable. As Black women sometimes we are so afraid to be associated with a stereotype that we begin to become that stereotype.
I say to death to the notion that Black women are not allowed to feel enraged. I say death to the notion that Black woman are not allowed to have human reactions.
This is the time that I’m finally noticing what Black men are also experiencing internally. Like Black women, they are also feeling the effects of trauma which has translated into pain.
So what do we do brothers and sisters? We look to one another. We need to look at our naked truths in all of it’s ugliness search for that element of beauty; that element of goodness. When we finally see that, we must accept it and never accept it as an illusion. The truth will never come to us as mirages and illusions, only lies will.
I said to someone, “Actions speak louder than words.” They told me that I was right but they also said, “Watch me. Watch my actions. Are they not speaking for their self?”
So I urge you Black brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid. Lean on each other, embrace one another and seek truth. That is what being African is all about.
Brothers accept the embrace of your sisters. Sisters, allow for your brothers to wipe those tears from your eyes. We are not very different. Africa has been born inside of us.
This is the only way that we will become liberated as people, and that is through growth. Growth comes to is in many forms. Growth comes to us as love, affirmation, beauty, understanding, agency and truth. God be with us all. Ase.
Melanie “CoCo” McCoy
bell hooks, Homeplace: A Site of Resistance
"P" (2014) by Melanie "CoCo" McCoy, 12" x 16", Acrylic on Cotton Canvas
Reverend Paul Washington, a black priest in the predominantly white church in Philadelphia, Church of the Advocate said, “Those who are cowards will ask, ‘Is it safe?’ Those who are political will ask, “Is it expedient?’ Those who are vain will ask, “Is it popular?’ But those who have a conscience will ask, ‘Is it right?’.” In the early 1960’s, North Philadelphia residents also proposed the same question of morality or if the circumstances that they were facing right. The Northern city story of the Columbia Avenue Riots in 1964 often begins with the misinformation of the unjust police brutality of a black pregnant woman and white police in, but frustration and rage began to boil over and build up. The black population in North Philadelphia was not only the poorest, but also lacked decent housing. The black residents were angry, because of the visible racism and disparity. Those who were supposed to serve and protect, such as the police department, were becoming the enemy of Blacks. Racism was negating safeness and peace. Black people in a Northern city such as Philadelphia banned together in solidarity like other regions, against their white oppressors by way of both peace and violence in order to negate any further racial injustice.
Author, Hillary S. Kativa in her essay entitled “The Columbia Avenue Riots (1964)” states, “Indeed. Life in the area known as “the Jungle” was markedly poor in August 1964, as thousands occupied a marginal existence amidst the city’s worst housing and highest rates of unemployment and crime.”
Kativa also states:
Out of an African-American population of approximately 530,000, a little less than half lived in North Philadelphia, where youth generally completed only eight years of schooling and the average income, $3,352 per year, was about thirty percent lower than the city average. Furthermore, unemployment ranged between thirteen and twenty percent and was persistently high among young, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers. In addition, resentments and distrust between black residents and police fed discontent in North Philadelphia and left many residents searching for an outlet for their frustrations.
North Philadelphia residents to date are still down on their feet as many black residents are being displaced out of their homes as their homes are being placed on higher market values. North Philadelphia has always been a place for Black people that instead of outsiders considering the property blighted; they are actually referring to the Black people of the community. What happens when property owners, buyers and realtors see fit to do something humane as clean up and fix up a street, but acknowledge the most human individuals as nonhuman properties who need to immediately be vanquished?
Author, Kristin Koptiuch acknowledges the downward spiral of North Philadelphia in a reading entitled “Third-Worlding at Home” (p.90):
A quarter century ago, violent struggle wracked a North Philly African-American community reeling from the first flush of deindustrialization and the initial throes of what has by now become a wholesale extinction of labor-market options for young blacks (cf. Davis 1988). Thus was the 1964 Philadelphia riot on “Jump Street,” the once-lively business district along Columbia Avenue. The area has yet to recover from the devastation that seemed like a cancer to engulf ghettoize, and significantly depopulate it, but this lack of improvement has not been the result of self-inflicted wounds. Instead, it owes much to bankers’ redlining, realty disinvestment, middle-class black exodus, and federal cutbacks that Republican administrations have used since 1980 to starve the cities and thus undermine the traditional power base of the Democrats
In many ways, Kativa failed to mention the boiling point of the riots. The Columbia Ave. riots did not start because of false information, but started because Black residents were outraged about the police brutality and injustices that they were facing within their communities. Anything could have ensued a riot in the area, because people were that broken down and torn up.
In July of 1964, President B. Johnson, signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The overall goal of the Act was to ban discrimination in “employment practices and public accommodations” (Civil Rights in a Northern City, Temple University). In no way could a bill stop discrimination or racism. The bill was simply a written bandage. The bill was used as a protective measure and caution for the people, Blacks in particular, but it was not going to cure society or negate discrimination. In less than three months, a riot took place at the corner of 23rd and Columbia Avenue. The riot was not about looting or taking something from an individual because these Black residents wanted or desired, but it was more about the individuals to who it belonged. When considering the riot, the underlying significance of why must be examined. These individuals were being robbed of not only their safety, but also being robbed of their humanity.
Research professor at the Graduate School of Social Work, Dr. James Jones, offers insight on the subject matter of race riots in the United States by way of author, Lenora E. Berson’s pamphlet “The Case Study of a Riot: The Philadelphia Story.”
Berson states (p.7):
Dr. Jones distinguishes a race riot from the other forms of violence in that “it is a clash between members of two ethnic groups in which the people on both sides are attacked solely because of their ethnic identification, and/or property is destroyed because it belongs to the members of a particular ethnic group.”
Black philosopher and writer, Frantz Fanon, argued in his book “Wretched of the Earth” in a chapter entitled “On Violence” or “Concerning Violence” that violence is a necessary evil for anyone trying to fight an oppressive system. In On Violence: A Reader, by editors Bruce B. Lawrence and Aisha Karim, Fanon’s “On Violence” has also been published.
“National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever may be the headings use with the new formulas introduced, decolonization is always a violent phenomenon,” states Fanon (p. 80).
Fanon also states:
The naked truth of decolonization evokes for us the searing bullets and bloodstained knives which emanate from it. For if the last shall be first, this will only come to pass after murderous and decisive struggle between the two protagonists. That affirmed intention to place the last at the head of things, and to make them climb at a pace (too quickly, some say) The well-known steps which characterize and organize society, can only triumph if we use all means to turn the scale, including, of course that of violence.
Although peaceful civil rights organizations such as the NAACP under the leadership of Cecil B. Moore did exist, Black North Philadelphia residents were becoming restless.
Author, Matthew J. Countryman of Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia speaks of how Black North Philadelphia residents were becoming skeptical of civil rights movements and the civil disobedience campaigns, especially after the 1964 riot.
By the mid-1960s, many residents within the Philadelphia movement had begun to question the efficacy of civil rights protest and the desegregation agenda,” says Countryman (p.2). “Even Leon Sullivan, the driving force behind selected patronage, decided to shift this focus from protest to self-help strategies.”
During the latter part of the 1960’s a realization came to the younger Black population internationally that maybe the fight to negate racial injustice was not by creating self-help strategies. Instead of asking for justice, many came to an understanding that Blacks should take it by force, because nothing was working. The next phase of the civil rights era was the Black Power movement.
Countryman states (p.7):
The third aspect of the civil rights narrative that is transformed by community 1study the Philadelphia movement is our understanding of the reasons for the emergence of Black Power its impact on the civil rights movement and the broader context of racial politics in United States. In both popular memory of the historical literature of the civil rights movement, Black Power is usually depicted as an outside ideological influence whose incursion into the civil rights movement disrupted the movement’s sense of common purpose and goals. Often Black Power activists are described as sacrificing the movement’s commitment to mass protest and organizing strategies for the sake of ideological purity and an expressive politics of race pride and unrestrained rage at all things white.
Editor, Peniel E. Joseph and various other writers in The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era, address the writer, Walter Mosley’s perspective about the riots that were effecting the nation in the preface. “The riot was a rebellion,” says Mosley. “…a naturally formed revolution, an unconscious expression of a people who had lived entire lives, many generations, in a state of enforced consciousness.”
Radical political organizations such as the Black Panther Party, were surfacing all over the nation, including in Philadelphia. According to a conversation between Harold Treegoob and Nathan Agran in 1970, Philadelphia’s Black Panther Party had a chapter located at 35th Streeet and Haverford Avenue. The Black Panther Party was under the watchful eye of arguably racist, former Police Chief and Mayor Frank Rizzo. According to Koptiuch, the “era succeeding the 1964 riots witnessed both an emergent national movement for the extension of civil rights and, in Philadelphia’s urban jungle, an intensification of repression under the direction of police chief/mayor/ party turncoat (now Republican) Frank Rizzo)” (p.90).
The 1964 Columbia Ave. riots were a cry of distress for unjustly discriminated against Black North Philadelphia residents. The residents had enough of what little assistance they were being offered. They were going ignored and attempted to make themselves memorable through acts of violence. The Black United States as citizens were going through this together and it was only a matter of time before people started to rise up. Whether it was by way of peaceful protest, civil disobedience, or violence, Blacks shared the same goal, which was and still is to negate racial injustice.
- Berson, Lenora E. Case study of a riot: the Philadelphia story. No. 7. Institute of Human Relations Press, American Jewish Committee, 1966
- Civil Rights in a Northern City, Temple University
- Countryman, Matthew. Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia. Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.
- Joseph, Peniel E., ed. The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era. CRC Press, 2006.
- Lawrence, Bruce B., and Aisha Karim, eds. On violence: a reader. Duke University Press, 2007.
- Kativa, Hillary S. “The Columbia Avenue Riots (1964).” Civil Rights in a Northern City. N.p., n.d. Web. 2013. http://northerncity.library.temple.edu/content/collections/columbia-avenue-riots/what-interpretative-essay.
- Koptiuch, Kristin. “Third-worlding at home.” Social Text 28 (1991): 87-99.