where are we? / caution & the celebratory instinct

exclusive feature
Brian Hughes Kasoro
The Liberator Magazine

"The way the people who still remembered talked of them, these had been festivals made for keeping a people together. They were not so much celebrations as invocations of wholeness"
(Armah, The Healers, 1978).

Where is our popular social movement for Africana Studies? Our enslaved ancestors and those who organized together for human rights, Black art, Black power, and Black studies are ashamed


Humans who commune and study with their African ancestors will win authentic (read: Black; like Haitian independence) liberty and justice, healthy family and education — in community context. That is the only way to win. All other movements have already been assimilated; thus defeated.

How about an example.

Where is our popular support for Black screenwriters?; as a "voluntary minority" (choosing to stay "safely" within our colonial borders) we can't just apply "The Secret" and mimic a narrow celebratory culture and claim progress lest we be liars and hypocrites before the world and history.

No, if we want to control our destiny we must intelligently, collectively organize — meaning speak out, push our friends and family — regarding where our support goes and does not go (mainly on the mainstream level, and on the daily subliminal level, with our choices of what we share and promote). Social networking is the television, and thus advertising network, of the new millennium and we are now our own advertising, programming, and network executives. The wager is that we are sufficiently trained to not divert from idol worship and advertising ("sharing" and "posting" spectacularistic content) even though we've been given new democratic tools.

Religiously rooting for pretty black faces and bodies slowly destroys the idols we worship (look at what D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill said y'all did to them; before Facebook and Twitter dominance) and retards our group progress.

We are failing to peer behind the curtain that sits just to the side of the hologram. We must be vigilant in our support of the art and reject the worship of, and even participation in, the spectacle if we want to win now.

White Capital will simply give us an infinite amount of black faces to clap for, cheer for, and "feel good" about while White Intellect drafts our narratives (The Butler, Long Walk To Freedom, The Help, 42, Mother Of George, Newlyweeds, Winnie, Gimme The Loot). Add to that, 12 Years A Slave was written by a black man who wrote an article for Esquire called "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger" (I'm not even going to link to it).

So that leaves us with the limited portfolio of... Terence Nance? (An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty) — a narcissist black hipster riding Michel Gondry's you-know-what — and the great Tyler Perry (Madea ad infinitum); with honorable mentions to the fledglings Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow, Middle Of Nowhere).

Wake up already. Coogler and DuVernay are a good start, but our level of ogling is like throwing up the Black Power sign an eighth of the way through a marathon.

Either way, the era of Obama is about to be over and we are about to be snapped back to reality real quick. Organize, organize, organize: meaning, we all need to be a lifetime member or active supporter of at least one multi-gendered familial Black community-centered institution (in addition to whatever special interest groups we join) in combination with making the personal political as executives of the neo-network. If you aren't then you need to start looking and stop worshiping images and momentary emotional highs. We should actually be considering organizing boycotts of black moving images controlled by White letters. We might also consider being greater promoters of work than of artists; "liking" albums on Facebook rather than living musicians (brands), for example. This might, in turn, give artists space and encourage them to take part in the community as normal people expected to take in the canonical works of the African diaspora intellectual tradition just as anyone else would be expected to.

If this were 1963, our ancestors might understand us viewing the ascendancy of Negro faces as real progress. But this is 2014; the new millennium is all about taking advantage of our celebratory instinct. Black art, power, and studies exist and we are supposed to be sophisticated enough to decipher between real and simulated progress.

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