Mr. David: Blackness in 5 Points

During my junior year at Benedict College, me and my man Joe Black went down to 5 Points with the Dance teacher. I think his name was Mr. David( not sure if that is his name). He was a new instructor, because Mr. David Odom (the legend) had retired, and he was new in town. Joe and I, were a part of the new dance production as extras and went to chill with him in 5 Points.

Now, this was not our scene, but he was the new cat in town and we were just hanging. As we pulled up to the bar, we are rushed by two police officers. Joe and I, knowing the procedure and protocol throw our hands up and started to play the wall. But, the good brother Mr. David told us to put our hands down a told the cops to step. Saying, ” what have we done and who have we bothered.” The cops continued to harass us and Mr. David stood his ground. They finally left when he said,” We have been standing here just like those white people over there, and you have not said a word to them. So, step off and leave us alone.”

When we got in the bar I was bugged out, but not surprised. Because this was normal and we had been through this too many times to count. But, I had never seen a brother stand up to the cops without popping the cop in the mouth. I remember Mr. David saying to Joe Black and I, ” Yo, if they are going to hurt, beat or kill you, then you speaking truth to power will not change that. Stand up for your rights, young brothers.”

That episode changed me, and Blackness, Black Power became a reality. I was 22, and I started speaking up for myself with a fierceness. It was because of the Dance teacher from Benedict College. I think his name was Mr. David.

Emerging with A Love Supreme

One thing that I am finding out during this pandemic is that love is necessary. Though it is necessary, at times it functions as a messy instructive. As we are parsed off in our spaces, we are forced to deal with all the incompatible realities that have plagued us for years. Racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty and islamaphobia and a host of other contrived fears manufactured by white supremacy in order to maintain its grip. The pandemic allowed white supremacy a platform, an excuse, to terrorize through political urgings pushed from the ultimate bully pulpit.

But love when pushed into a corner never concedes death but refocuses; and, waits, builds and reemerges as solidarity in transition.

A love orchestrated in the obscure but willing to die for the common.

Songs of Protest

21 After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old. (Acts 4:21-22)

Peter and John on their way to the temple encounter a lame man and, ultimately, become conduits for healing. This man whom many had passed by numerous of times, on their way to whatever pressing “Godly matters” is now in the presence of two concerned brothers. Peter and John dapped the brother up and encouraged him to “rise up and walk” in the name of that Black Messiah from Nazareth.

Because they had invoked the name of the Black Messiah, Jesus, and stood against the status quo they were unjustly arrested. Their legal protest for free health care got them placed in jail and brought before the corrupt and misinformed rulers. These corrupt rulers did everything in their power to get them to concede and change their talking points. Recognizing that these men had definitely been with the Black Messiah, the rulers made all matter of threats, but, eventually, yielded because the people’s praises were of such a rebellious vibe, it disrupted their desired intentions. These were not just praises of euphoric emotions, these songs of protest appeared to have activated strategies for change. The scripture denotes that the rulers “finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising.” The songs of protest were such a disruption of resistance that all plans were averted.

Nigger, Shut Up and Play

The brilliance, honesty and reserved anger in which W.E.B. Du Bois summons in “The Souls of Black Folks” is magnanimous. There is a passage where the Judge unleashes his racism, through what is deemed as charity, when he speaks to John. Demeaningly, he says:

“You know I’m a friend to your people. I’ve helped you and your family, and would have done more if you hadn’t got the notion of going off. Now I like the colored people, and sympathize with all their reasonable aspirations; but you and I both know, John, that in this country the Negro must remain subordinate, and can never expect to be the equal of white men. In their place , your people can be honest and respectful; and God knows, I’ll do what I can to help them. But, when they want to reverse nature, and rule white men, and marry white women, and sit in my parlor, then, by God! we’ll hold them under if we have to lynch every Nigger in the land.”

These very sentiments are echoed weekly, if not daily, by the sitting person in the white house. They are often camouflaged in coded language for white supremacist, but they “present” just the same . Oddly, but not surprisingly, many have chosen to agree with him as he speaks disdain against athletes choosing to protest. You read the comments: these athletes need to appreciate that we buy their merchandise and afford them the opportunity to have their lavish lifestyles.

Ultimately, what this translate to is : Nigger shut-up and play.

Du Bois was right when he said there was this “amused contempt” that was connected with double consciousness.

DuBois and Cee-Lo: The Fence

Me and my family moved in our apartment complex

A gate with the serial code was put up next

The claim that this community is so drug free

But it don’t look that way to me cause I can see

The young bloods hanging out at the store

24/7 Junkies looking got a hit of the blow

it’s powerful Oh you know what else they tryin to do

Make a curfew especially for me and you

the traces of the new world order

Time is getting shorter if we don’t get prepared

People it’s gone be a slaughter

My mind won’t allow me to not be curious

My folk don’t understand so they don’t take it serious

But every now and then,

I wonder If the gate was put up to keep crime out or to keep our ass in. – Cee-Lo

I think I never before quite realized the place of the Fence in civilization.”- W.E.B. DuBois

The differences between Du Bois’ ideology of fences and gates, retrospectively, is strangely just a means of time and space with Cee-Lo’s perspective in “Soul Therapy.”

Cee-Lo identifies the gate as a mechanism of enslavement or control. Nonetheless, he understands that the gate works the same from both sides: it keeps crime out or keeps our ass in. The gate symbolizes that we are the crime that needs to be held captive so that crime does not get into the greater public. Or, the gate was simply placed there to keep our ass in—locked down.

What Du Bois supposes is that the fence is only for the places that are deemed as valuable. Those space with fences are white Kelly Brown Douglas call cherish spaces. These spaces are places where Black bodies are unwelcome and it is god’s will that white people do whatever it takes to protect those spaces. DuBois notices that the fence is an indictor of privilege. When there is a fence placed in front of the “ugly, one-room, cheerless and dirty” shacks lived in by the poor Black tenants the rent is increased because of the fence.

What DuBois appears to surmise is the objective of the fence changes when you own the land. And not just land, when you own whatever, it makes a difference in driving perspective.