Saturday, October 5, 2013
The legend of Wesley Snipes...
This is the second part of an e-book I'll be offering for free on Black revolutionaries and their contributions to the diaspora.
The first part of this e-book is a short bio on Dave Chappelle and his refusal to follow the dictates of emasculating white supremacists. I'll leave a link for that post at the end of this one.
And if you're wondering why I'm calling brotha Wesley a revolutionary, especially in light of his recent problems with the IRS, I'm about to tell ya'...
So without further ado...here's Part 2:
Recently, I watched Spike Lee's documentary on the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson's 'Bad' album.
About a third of the way through, Spike showed behind the scenes footage of the 'Bad' video, that aired in 1987.
And in one scene, Martin Scorsese, who I can't stand by the way, told the story of how Wesley was the clear choice for playing Michael's nemesis in the short film. Now, I'm sure Wesley's acting was clearly up to par, but after viewing the video again, I saw that Scorsese gave the part to Wesley because of his darker skin tone.
Remember, the white elite always wants to keep a Black face on crime; and the darker, the better. But if you watch that video, Wesley gives a stellar performance despite Scorsese's ulterior motives.
With this video, in one fatal swoop, Scorsese wanted to portray all of darker-skinned Black men as 'nightmares to humanity' (shout out to Tupac for this term...look this up in his poem 'And Tommorrow'), but what Wesley went on to do was give darker-skinned Black men a sexier image than they'd had in years; and his acting career went much farther than Scorsese, or any of Wesley's peers potentially thought it ever would.
With that said, let's take a look back at Wesley's beginnings...
Wesley Trent Snipes was born on July 31st, 1962 in Orlando, Florida; his father Wesley R. Snipes Sr. was an aircraft engineer and his mother Marian Snipes was a teacher's assistant.
Shortly after his birth, he and his parents moved to the Bronx, New York where Wesley was raised.
Showing an early aptitude for acting, Wesley eventually was accepted into New York's Fiorello H. Laguardia's School for the performing arts...better known as the 'Fame' school, for the movie that was eventually made about it.
After graduating high school, Wesley attended college in Florida; he then moved back to NYC and studied acting at the State University of New York's (SUNY) Purchase College. Shortly thereafter, he also attended classes at Southwest College in L.A.
At 23 he acquired an agent and was cast in his film debut 'Wildcats' with Goldie Hawn. This was a very forgettable film, but it got Wesley's foot in the door.
After appearing in an episode of Miami Vice, Wesley was cast in Michael Jackson's 'Bad' video. And this is where Spike Lee first saw him.
Spike offered Wesley a small part in 'Do The Right Thing', but he declined; choosing instead to play 'Willie Mays Hayes' in the film 'Major League'.
Major League was a hit and went on to spawn a sequel; and this was the first in a succession of mainstream films Wesley was in, like Spike Lee's 'Mo' Better Blues' and 'Jungle Fever'. But it was his next film that cemented his legendary status as a full-fledged star.
New Jack City was the directorial debut of Mario Van Peebles. Mario's father Melvin, gave us cinematic gems like 'Sweet Sweetback's Badassss song' and 'Watermelon Man'; both classics. And his son Mario, hit a home run his first time out with this flick.
Released in 1991, the film got it's name from the screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, who is a New York based journalist. Barry conceived this script from his front page article in NYC's Village Voice newspaper; it's title being: 'Kid's killing kids: New Jack City eats its young'.
Barry says he thought about the 'new jack' gangsters who replaced the likes of Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes in Harlem. He also thought of Teddy Riley's popular music called the 'new jack swing' at the time; hence how he arrived at the term 'New Jack City'.
Coincidentally, Barry also scripted the films 'Above the rim' and 'Sugar Hill'; he's also credited as the first Black scriptwriter in history to have two films produced in one year; those being the ones mentioned above which were both completed in 1994.
New Jack City was the highest grossing independent film of 1991. It was made for approximately 8 million dollars and it grossed nearly 47 million domestically.
I always wondered why Mario Van Peeble's was never able to recreate the magic he'd made with 'New Jack'; I didn't realize at the time that the most important element of movie making, is the writing of the script. I remember Keanu Reeves didn't take the easy payday of 'Speed 2' because he emphatically said that the script was subpar. But back to Wesley...
In 1991, Black moviegoers had basically two choices when it came to cinema fare. These were the stories of self-destructive, gun-wielding, miserably poor and under-privileged tenement dwelling Black people ala 'Boyz in the hood' and 'Straight outta' Brooklyn'; or movies about white male action heros ala 'Terminator 2', Jean-Claude Van Damme's 'Double Impact' or Steven Seagal's 'Out for justice'.
Even the films oriented towards more of a 'mainstream' Black audience like 'House Party 2' and 'Strictly Business', which are good movies by the way, especially Strictly Business...who could forget Wayman Tisdale? These films seemed to have effeminate or emasculated Black men as protagonists.
Wesley's portrayal of 'Nino Brown', while incredibly notorious, was the first time since the halcyon days of 'Black exploitation' films, that we'd seen a mentally strong and powerful Black man at the helm of any organization.
Now, understand, I'm not praising Nino's character being a drug dealer, but it was the first time in a long while that we'd seen a darker-skinned Black man who was hyper-fit, fearless and forward thinking.
And combined with Wesley's acting prowess and charisma, it made Nino's character nothing short of mesmerizing.
Shortly after 'New Jack' became a classic, Wesley's on-screen presence was slowly turning him into a major action star. This was a title usually reserved for white men. And for anyone over 30, you should remember that back in the late 80's and 90's, a Black man had to be lighter-skinned and very european looking to be considered attractive.
Wesley broke down this barrier, the same way Sidney Portier had done decades before. Black people were finally seeing their darker skin as an asset instead of a liability.
Moreover, with movies like 'White men can't jump', 'Rising Sun', 'Demolition Man' and 'Passenger 57', Wesley was becoming a bonafide sex symbol.
I have to include this side note...I remember the scene in 'White men can't jump' when Woody Harrelson's character uttered the phrase, "You'd rather look good and lose, than look bad and win..." pertaining to Black people; and it adversely affected me.
At the time I was an anglophile, so that really reinforced the white supremacist, school system induced self-hatred that our people are kept in.
Fast forward decades later, and I see how white elites have shut down this government because Obama's health care initiatives have become law.
So that says what?
It says that whites would rather lose with a white man (Bush Jr.'s health care system and how it was bankrupting white americans), than win with a Black man (Obama's health care initiatives which would help the majority of poor and working class whites). But I digress...
In 1998 Wesley starred in the movie 'Blade'; and this film showed Wesley at the peak of his powers.
It was his largest success grossing $150 million worldwide, and behind this Wesley received a star on the Hollywood 'Walk of fame' and an honorary doctorate from his alma mater SUNY Purchase college.
Blade combined Wesley's athleticism with his strong acting skills and his martial arts training. This is why his fight scenes looked so believable, even though he was playing a superhero (or super'Heru'...again, Heru was one of our ancient ancestor's deities, and this is where we get the word 'hero' from).
Black people had never had a film's superhero they could relate to, or who our young people thought was genuinely 'cool'; Wesley's Blade changed that.
And speaking of Wesley's martial arts training, I never knew how extensive it was until I did the research for this post. His martial arts pedigree looks like this: Beyond Wesley being trained in the martial arts since the age of 12, he holds a fifth degree Black belt in Shotokan Karate and a second degree Black belt in the martial discipline of Hapkido. His other training includes, belts in Kung Fu, his membership with the u.s. branch of the Shaolin Temple and training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
*One more side note: The origins of 'martial arts' are African. The word 'martial' comes from the ancient African word 'Montu', as in the 'Montu' arts; and this is where I got the first part of my pseudonym (or pseudo-name) from.
The word 'Uhuru' is a Swahili word meaning freedom.
So the first part of my name (MontUHURU) literally means 'fight for freedom'...if anyone wanted to know.
Back to Wesley in 'Blade'...the reason the sequels never lived up to the first movie, is 'cause the white elites didn't want a darker-skinned, hyper-masculine Black man to be that attractive to the youth. We have to be kept loving whites...so the Blade sequels included Wesley joining with white groups in order to fight off vampire plaques.
So much so, that Wesley sued New Line Cinema in 2005 for not receiving his full salary, being kept out of important casting decisions and for the studio's cutting his screen time in favor of his white co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel.
Okay, now let's discuss what everyone's really wanting to read about...Wesley's travails with the IRS.
Firstly, let's start with this preamble: In the 1990's Wesley and his brother started a security firm called 'The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra' which provided VIP bodyguards trained in law enforcement. Mind you, 'Ra' is our ancient ancestor's name for the sun or the Sun-God; so Wesley is very knowledgeable about his/our ancestors.
Amen-Ra was also the name of Wesley's film company, which produced a great documentary about the Black nationalist elder Dr. John Henry Clarke called 'A great and mighty walk'. This doc is on YouTube and is definitely worth a viewing.
The Amen-Ra company has offices in Florida, Antiqua and Africa.
Now, Wesley, along with his tax advisers, were invoking what's known as the '861 Position' as defined by america's Federal Tax Code.
Adherents say this provision, does not list wages as taxable. So Wesley was essentially making a case against having his company's wages taxed.
Now, what he was doing WAS legal; and he had very good advisers processing his paperwork to have this done correctly.
Problem is, no matter how right Wesley and his team were, this government was going to make an example of him, for fear of other people following his lead.
This is why I call Wesley a revolutionary, because he was seeking sovereignty over himself and his wages that people are being unfairly taxed with everyday.
*Side Note: Wesley also bought property in Atlanta, Georgia for the expressed purpose of building a facility where he could specially train security personnel for 'The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra'. After he did this, this government definitely had him under a microscope; 'cause that kind of 'security personnel' sounds too much like an army.
Wesley not only purchased the Atlanta, GA property, but he opened one of his company's offices in Africa (his return to Africa, just like Dave Chappelle).
Wesley did all this to further liberate himself from the government sham of his corporate 'strawman'; and I'll explain what that is in a second.
Now, let's discuss what Wesley was and was not convicted of.
The felony charges of conspiracy to commit tax fraud and failure to file a tax return were dropped in court. Also, three of the six tax fraud misdemeanors he was charged with were dropped.
He was convicted however of three misdemeanors, and he received a years sentence for each one. Mind you, misdemeanor charges don't usually require you to do time, especially if you can post bail. But again, they had to make an example of brotha Wesley, so that's what they did.
Now, in my past posts I've said Black people have lost more to self-hatred than anything else, and Wesley's case is a prime example of that; 'cause it was one person's self-hatred that put this whole witch-hunt in motion. And let me tell you how.
Now, after Wesley's tax advisory team devised a strategy to legally shelter his company from being taxed, Wesley flew the whole staff of his company, Amen-Ra, to the west coast for a meeting.
At this meeting he detailed to his staff how he wasn't going to take taxes out of their paychecks anymore, and his tax advisers listed case study after case study of how and why this was legal.
But there was one anglophilic black person who insisted they wanted to pay taxes. So this person stayed with Amen-Ra, hired a C.P.A. and told that person they wanted to start the process of having their wages taxed. They also mentioned that they worked for the actor Wesley Snipes and he and his company didn't intend to pay taxes. So, this white C.P.A. called the IRS, indictments came down and the rest is history.
Mind you, if this person was so scared of getting in trouble, why didn't they leave the company?
But this person was very vocal about wanting to pay their taxes, so Wesley should have found a constructive way to get them the hell out of his organization. I think this was Wesley's biggest mistake.
Now, I commented on Wesley wanting to gain sovereignty from his 'strawman' earlier. So let me explain what that is.
Ever wonder why your name appears in all capital letters on your social security number, or your birth certificate?
It's because that's NOT you...this is the corporate fiction the white elite have set up that's known to the sovereign community as the 'strawman'.
When you're born, you're a free, sentient being that is not under the elites control. So in order for the elites to be able to levy assorted taxes and fees on your 'freeman', or your free and unbound human body, they've set up this corporate fictionalized version of you, so you in effect can pay this corporation's debts and be under the control of whatever elitest construct your born into; whether it be europrean, asian, american, etc.
This is your 'strawman'.
Remember the whole debacle some time ago about corporations being given the same rights as people...that's what this basically is.
And how do they get you to comply with this elitist sham? Your parents comply as soon as they sign your birth certificate. Which really isn't giving you a choice at all. And, without knowing it, what your parents are doing is signing you, their child, away as a ward of the state. Meaning you really belong to them.
Whenever you register something, your basically transferring ownership of that property over to the government. That's what the word 'registration' really means; and this goes for your house, your car, your child, etc.
And if you remember the 'Wizard of Oz', the scarecrow, or the 'strawman'...had NO BRAIN. This is what white supremacists/elitist governments think of any working class person.
But the real triumph of Wesley Snipes...besides the fact that he was released from prison recently; is that he's heeding the call of our ancestors and showing us the initiatives we need to take to get free from whatever oppressive corporation/country we find ourselves tethered to.
Black men being the most reviled persons in this world have the most to lose when it comes to railing against this white supremacist system. And it's Black men like Wesley, Dave Chappelle and Kat Williams who are the ones defying the elitist status quo.
Wesley not only took the steps to get himself, his company and a lot of his people free, but he's showing us that with careful measures, it's worth doing. Actually, it's IMPERATIVE that we get it done.
Now, I know what you're saying, you're thinking...this guy went to jail, how's he suppose to be an inspiration to any Black person?
And I'm saying the reason he went to jail is because, he's found a way to actually use this government's tax codes against them, to benefit us.
He was incarcerated, because what he did WORKED; and the white elites don't want anyone else to follow his lead.
So it's up to Black people to take up the challenge of owning as much of themselves as possible. To REALLY GET FREE.
Not free to choose between prada and gucci, but free to dig into the guts of this government's laws and really make them work for us.
'Cause if anyone is owed reparations in america, or owed an across the board tax exemption, it's Black people.
And Wesley's actions are reminding us that sheltering our taxes and/or pursuing financial and mental freedom, is something we should be doing everyday.
So let's get to work.
HOTEP and KEM WESIR to the NETJER/NAGA/NEGUS/GOD, and legend, Wesley Snipes!
If you'd like to read the first part of this e-book, which is a short bio on Dave Chappelle, you can find it here.
The white elites aren't just doing this to Black men, they're actually going after sistas too. Read my post on what sista Lauryn Hill is being put through here.