My mama always says that all black people need therapy and in some respects she's right.
She's right in respect of the massive inferiority complex black Americans deal with from the day they are born, bombarded with images to reinforce the "black bad, white good" paradigm. From intellect to beauty to passion to charm to grace to femininity to strength to power we are portrayed as the losers, the lessers, the lamented, unable to shake the "beasts of burden" status we were branded with when we got off the boat in shackles. The status that has clung to us like a funeral pall, darkening our view of everything -- even each other -- often bubbling and burning to self-hatred.
That self-hatred is buried so deep that even if your parents try to fight it by educating you about your history, by telling you that you are loved and beautiful, by telling you that opportunities are limitless if you make the effort and reach high, even if they tell you that we are not the losers, the lessers or the lamented, that we are the triumphant, the survivors, the strivers, the heroes of our own lives, there is still a seed of doubt, planted years ago when as a child you wished for a smaller nose, lighter skin, blue eyes, straighter hair and thinner lips.
Where you said you wanted to be a little less black when you really didn't want to be black at all.
That kernel of doubt that made you pine for what you could never have and never be and if not fought against diligently this seed could grow into an all consuming kudzu of hate, suffocating you from the light, obscuring your view, leaving you with a mental illness where you look at the world, the racism, the negativity from the media and even other black people as a cancer.
Some channel this self-hatred into an abandonment of blackness. For others it becomes a paralyzing identification of permanent victimhood. They only know how to operate against racist phantoms, real and imagined, but are frozen when dealing with internal issues, reluctant to "put a brother down" even if they're in the wrong.
For the worst it becomes an all consuming fire destroying out what they think is love. Incineration out of what they believe is the salvation of the race -- masochistically massacring the sinful, damaged black body with a Baptism by matches and kerosene.
This is the story of a man who believes in the theory that we must be torn down to be built up.
On Friday last week Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama gave a speech at rally in Coral Gables, Fla. and he was interrupted by 20 black men shouting "Barack go home," carrying signs reading that "Blacks Against Obama," "Jessie [sic] Jackson hates Obama for Federal Child Support Act," and "Obama is endorsed by KKK."
These men were part of a group, Blacks Against Obama, lead by "Mike the Black Man" aka Maurice Woodside, Maurice Symonette, and Mikael Israel, schooled by former "cult" leader Yahweh ben Yahweh, nee Hulon Mitchell Jr.
Yahweh founded the Nation of Yahweh in 1979. The group "emphasized that God and all the prophets of the Holy Bible were black and blacks would gain the knowledge of their true history through him. He also emphasized whites and particularly Jews as infidels and oppressors."
To become part of the inner circle of the group members had to kill a white person and bring Yahweh a body part (an ear or nose or finger) as proof. Several white vagrants were murdered. In 1992, Several members of Yahweh's church were prosecuted for murder and Yahweh himself was prosecuted under RICO charges and served 11 years of an 18 year sentence, then died in 2007 of prostate cancer.
Mike the Black Man was charged in this case, but acquitted.
Unperturbed by what happened with the Nation of Yahweh, Michael lives on with the new goal of ushering black people from "Demon-crats" and launching into anti-abortion tirades, arguing that that the DNC is a pawn of the Ku Klux Klan.
"(John) McCain's the closest thing to God, so I'm going to go ahead an encourage my people to vote for that guy," Michael told reporters after the protest at the rally, according to a reporter from the Miami New Times.
The reporter, Gus Garcia-Roberts, provided some background on Michael.
In our 2002 story on the tempestuous and racially-charged history of the little village of El Portal, we ran into Michael, who at that time had commandeered an illegal but popular radio show and was lambasting the town's Democratic black mayor, Daisy Black, as a "devil" and encouraging that she be "set on fire".
It all stemmed, it seemed, from Michael's obsessive and Old Testament-fueled quest to convert blacks to Republicanism. He would refer to democrats as "Demon-crats" and "slave masters", and, yes, accuse them all of being in bed with the KKK.
Blacks Against Obama appeared to oppose the candidate for his Democratic Party membership and his Liberal stances on reproductive rights, including being for the right of women to have an abortion. Michael flung out the unfounded statistic that 35 percent of all abortions are of black males.
As the protesters ranted and the Obama supporters in the crowd railed back I cringed. As some long-time readers my know, I don't always agree with black Republicans but I do agree that alternative views are needed and should be studied and applied in our community. But I winced for every rational black conservative who may be anti-abortion but are loathe to have this self-destructive malcontent braying in front of TV cameras, ripping nonsensical rants for FOX News.
He was a sideshow, a freak who delighted the white gawkers thinking they were getting some inside view into the secret life of black Americans.
I couldn't see anyone wanted to be associated with that, to be included with that vitriol, burned by that oxygen devouring funeral pyre.
On Michael's Web site, Michael Defeats Satan, he gives Obama the mark of the beast, listing reasons why he is the devil and shouldn't be supported, including his support for gay marriage (Obama supports gay rights, but is actually against gay marriage, preferring civil unions.) and abortion rights. (He was also touched by the "devil" that is Oprah Winfrey, another target of his damnation.)
Michael also goes into screeds over women, accusing 33 percent of black woman of being worshipers of the "Devil Lilith" and expressing outrage over women being given the right to vote, saying women outnumber men 40-to-1.
This sounds all the more insane given that as of 2002 women make up a 51 percent majority in the United States. The ratio is a bit larger for blacks with black women making up 55 percent of the black population.
This is where the hatred leads to lunacy. Any rational argument dissipates in haze of judgment and fevered revelations. How can you take him seriously? How can you take his 20 man protest seriously?
The truth is, no one did.
The print media only did some cursory coverage and cable news was more interested in playing the drama of the event rather than explaining it. Blacks Against Obama was just another blip the cycle, a star in the dope show. Look at the picaninny carnival booing Obama. Gaze at the YouTubed spectacle drowned out by Obama's devoted supporters, black and white. There was nothing deeper to divulge here, yet I wanted to know who and why. I wanted to know if there was something tangible, such as an earlier protest from a group wanting Obama to address more "black" issues. But instead I discovered what Gil Scott-Heron sang years ago.
Home is where the hatred is.
The hatred lives inside of us. It lives in Pastor James David Manning who went on a rant this month about perceived "attacks" on Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter Bristol. Rather than simply call for family members to be off limits, Manning went into a vile diatribe about Obama's white mother being "trash" because Manning's "Mama" taught him that any white woman who was willing to go off with a black man in the 1950s and 60s was trash, the worst of the worst.
The whole rant is offensive on multiple levels, dripping with hatred for Obama, Obama's Kenyan father, gays, the perceived sexual aberrations of black men and white women and media commentators with a heavy focus on the most prurient side of human sexuality. He was obsessed to a near J. Edgar Hoover level of perversion, projecting his own lustful heart onto others he hated.
While most of us won't fester and run like a blister, the roots of self-hatred are there. There is the voice in our heads telling us we are everything "they" think we are. So with the devotion of a true believer we adopt behavior and mannerisms meant to tear each other down in an effort to rebuild someone else in your place.
But when rebuilding out of hate, Lord only knows what monsters could be unleashed, what perversions of blackness could become portents of misfortune and pain.
*Thanks to reader Deidre for the tip and links!