Frank Lucas, who was immortalized in the movie 'American Gangster', was born in North Carolina on September 9th, 1930. One detail the film failed to expose about Frank was his baring witness to the death of his twelve year old male cousin at the hands of the KKK. He said his cousin was killed because he stared at a white woman. Frank then told a journalist how this was the incident that steered him towards a life of crime.
Frank was known for being one of the biggest heroin dealers in Harlem, New York, and he famously had a penchant for the finer things in life. This was evidenced by his many estates, the opulence of his nightclub's decor and his club's stylish clientele. The above photo is of him wearing the tawdry fur which ultimately got him noticed by federal officers. And shortly thereafter, he was put out of business for good. The film shows this moment as the one leading to his downfall; but I think something much more sublime and insidious was to blame...I'll share that with you later.
Leroy Nicholas 'Nicky' Barnes, was born in New York City on October 15th, 1933. He like Lucas, was a famously celebrated heroin dealer in Harlem, New York in the seventies. He formed a drug dealing coterie called 'The Council', and it's stated that he made hundreds of millions off the dope trade in a short amount of time. Now, I think pretty much of everyone knows who these two guys are; and their ingenuity around dealing and transporting narcotics is legendary. Nicky was in deep with organized white crime, so he could essentially buy drugs wholesale and Frank cut out white middle men by shipping his drugs via caskets coming back from vietnam; but let's shed some light on the background players who supplied Frank and Nicky for a hot sec.
The picture to your right is one of a mature Matthew 'Matty' Maddona. This guy was working for and with the Lucchese organized crime family, and it was this man who supplied Nicky Barnes with the drugs he distrubuted throughout Harlem. Nicky Barnes himself tells of how he met Matty when he went to prison in Nicky's documentary 'Mr. Untouchable'. One side note about the 'Mr. Untouchable' documentary, I'd like to recommend that you see it, but it really is done by a group of white people who clearly don't know anything about Black culture. And this is quite evident throughout the film. The film 'American Gangster' suffered the same fate. Ridley Scott wanted to create an epic crime or gangster film ala 'Scarface', but he should have stuck to cultures he knows, like italians or other fair-skinned folks who really run the trade.
Anyway, Matty Madonna was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on December 21st, 1976 (just in time for christmas). He served twenty of the thirty; and when he came out, the Lucchese family promoted him to the title of 'capo' for his silence during his prison term.
In December 2007, New Jersey law enforcement indicted Matty again for his involvement with a criminal enterprise engaging in money laundering, racketeering and illegal gambling, their crimes were valued at 2.2 billion dollars...yep, that's billion with a 'b'.
This guy WAS THE 'FRENCH CONNECTION'.
For those of you under twenty-five, google the 'French Connection' movie. The movie's character Alain Charnier is based on Jean. It's funny how just like in the film, when Jean was on the lamb from american cops, he somehow slipped away, avoiding arrest and conveniently returning to france completely unscathed. Interesting.
*Note: I originally wasn't gonna' include the above info. about Matty and Jean, but this post dictated I go there. So, forgive my long-windedness. Let's continue...
Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes were rivals back in the late sixties and for the majority of the seventies, they both jockeyed for the largest piece of the drug pie and many times considered going to war with each other. But they were both under the surveillance of law enforcement, who again, ultimately took them down.
But as different as they were, they both had one thing in common.
In the 'Mr. Untouchable' documentary, Nicky Barnes says..."Thank god we live in america, because we have opportunities here we wouldn't have anywhere else."
In the film American Gangster, Frank says something similar when his woman friend beseeches him to leave New York after an attempt is made on his life. Denzel Washington playing Frank replies, "I've never run from anyone in my life and I'm not gonna' start now...THIS IS AMERICA...and I'm not going anywhere, and you ain't either..."
Now in the Nicky Barnes documentary, Nicky says he knew the DEA was following him, but he still never strayed from Harlem. Frank had similar run-ins with the law but also refused to get the hell outta' dodge.
Whether they knew it or not, what had them both tethered to N.Y.C...and america for that matter, was the dumbfounding effects of american patriotism.
Had Nicky and Frank both decided to flee america...like Jean Jehan, they probably would've had a better chance at avoiding prosecution. I have to temper this statement by saying that Jean probably had some help from american politicians to get outta' this country. But Nicky and Frank never even tried to relocate to Canada or Europe; and I know for a fact that neither one of them ever considered relocating to Africa.
Frank made frequent trips to asia and he STILL never left the u.s. to avoid being arrested.
And what's sad is, they probably could've lived like kings in Africa.
Now, for anyone reading this, make sure you don't misconstrue my message, I am in no way endorsing drug dealing, or fleeing from the cops after the heat is on, I'm simply saying that american patriotism, regardless of what side of the law you're on as a Black person, is poisonous to the Black psyche.
And for anyone disagreeing with me, think about all the times you've heard some criminal act being perpetrated on the news, and how you automatically think a Black person's committed the crime. We've all been conditioned to believe that Black people are the most nefarious and dastardly on earth. While the white factions of this country, who've done the most heinous things to your and my kind, are thought by us to be the most virtuous people in the world.
That's the over-riding message of the american status quo...and that's why Frank and Nicky stayed in New York knowing the heat was on. They wanted to be accepted by white america no matter what the cost. Even if it meant spending the rest of their lives in a jail cell.
So while you bar-b-que hot dogs and do the electric slide on this fourth of july, remember what you're really celebrating. The conquest and torture of Black people's bodies and minds, here, and in the diaspora.
And when you wave the american flag...take that match you're using to light a firecracker, and torch that fascist amer-i-con symbol. Let's show the white elite that what Black people will 'waive' from now on...is our allegiance to the united snakes of america.
Hotep and Kem Wesir,