The Back Room

With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.

Black Prophetic Fire Part 3


Part 3

Welcome back again, Brother West.  I so enjoy this discussion.  Let me first say, thank you for bringing such important and forgotten pioneers like Ida B. Wells who was known to me until I read your book.  And the same goes for Miss Ella Baker.  So, back to it.

Yes, indeed.  Yes, indeed.  What existential truths will be unearthed today, deep sea diving into the bowels of society?

As we ended yesterday, given the tumultuous story of blacks in America with faithful activists fighting for justice every step of the way, where does that leave us today?  What does social change look like?   Is it like an Occupy Wall Street Movement with no discernible leader, in the mold of Sister Ella Baker or do we still believe in the charismatic leader, the Martin, Malcolm, having been recently burned by the promise unfulfilled of President Obama?

That’s a good question.  A cursory glance around the room unfortunately proffers no charismatic leader or organization that could lead the next movement.  Most organizations and their leaders, or leaders alone have been strangled by political machinations or by their own ambition for that mess of pottage.

I agree, Brother West.  Last night, I was thinking more about what unites us than divides us in this country.  It’s diversity.  You spoke about it in your book, the clash between nationalism and internationalism.  Back then, when the nationalist Martin Luther King Jr. of the Civil Rights era ran right up against the international King speaking out against the Vietnam War he was deemed a radical.  Now, the country was not as diverse as it is today, and I wonder if having international views could unite us once again.

I couldn’t agree more, Brother Davis.  In fact, in my book, I laid out the evils of nationalism, as akin to such idolatry as careerism, individualism, hedonism and narcissism.  It’s what keeps us from becoming a United States.

Now, I’m not saying blood needs to be shed again but going back right before the Jim Crow laws, before the government hastily washed their hands of the Civil War, there was truth in what Frederick Douglass was saying when he said “the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress”.  His words were prescient, even if he was speaking about another country at the time.  This country was formed by shaking off oppression, how things may have been different if we had only turned the mirror onto ourselves.  But it was that nationalist pride breeding those other isms bringing us right where we are today.

 The Fourth of July is yours… not mine, Brother Douglass said.  Instead of integrity and introspection we have hot dogs and parades.

As it was in 1857, it remains in 2015.  You’re either for us or against us.  Douglass was talking about the Struggle.  How blacks only chance for survival was endurance and fidelity to freedom, no matter how long it took.  The battle now is nationalism vs. internationalism.  And it is about change.  This country’s cultural landscape has changed but the laws of our country have not.  And that is my final thought.  Religion, universalism and now, governmental reform in the changing of our U.S Constitution to accommodate a vastly different population than one from the 1700’s.

I applaud the assertiveness, Brother Davis, though I would caution you in spouting such ambitious rhetoric without a plan.  I think we need to be more like Socrates and question more.  Continue to be philosophical and inclusive before we rush to judgment.  More discussions need to take place that are not taking place.  But I’ll keep doing my part.

Thank you for your instruction and your time, Brother West.  We need more questioners like you.  More than ever.


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This entry was posted on May 11, 2015 by in Race and tagged , , , , , , , .

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