Sunday, June 18, 2017

The cult of Black and white cinematic symbolism (Part 11)...Tupac Shakur, Assata Shakur, the Black Panthers and Luke's cage...

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born Lesane Parish Crooks in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, New York City on June 16th, 1971. His mother Afeni, and biological father Billy Garland, changed his name in 1972 to Tupac Amaru II, which paid homage to the 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous (Black) uprising against Spanish oppressors.

Now, I think we all know of Afeni Shakur's illustrious legacy as a member of the Black Panther Party, but what's lesser known is Tupac's biological father Billy, and his step-dad, Mutulu, were also leaders and active members of that cadre as well. Moreover, Afeni, while pregnant with Tupac in prison, acted as a legal attorney in a court trial that get herself and 20 other members of the Black Panthers acquitted of charges that would've resulted in decades-long jail sentences.

At the age of 12, Tupac enrolled in Harlem's 127th street Repertory Ensemble, and was cast as Travis Younger in the Ensemble's production of 'A Raisin in the Sun'. It was during this performance at New York's Apollo Theater where Tupac would later admit to being bitten by the acting 'bug'.

In 1986, Tupac's family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. There, Tupac would attend Paul Dunbar Lawrence High School until his sophmore year. Afterwards, he'd transfer to the Baltimore School for the Arts. And it was there
that he'd start and build a life-long friendship with a young Jada Pinkett.

We all need to keep in mind, that when Tupac was 13, someone asked him what he wanted to be and he replied, “A revolutionary”. Meaning, the seeds that Afeni, Billy and Mutulu had planted in him were taking root, and they'd dictate the course of his life, and ultimately lead to his early death.

In 1988, Tupac's family moved to Marin County, California, located five miles north of San Francisco. Once enrolled in Tamalpais High School, he was active in their drama department and performed in several of their productions. He also began attending the poetry classes of a teacher named Lisa Steinberg, who organized a concert featuring one of Shakur's musical groups called 'Strictly Dope'. And it was at this performance where the manager Atron Gregory signed him to be a roadie and back-up dancer for the group, 'Digital Underground'.

Needless to say, once Tupac found his voice on the Digital Underground record, 'Same song', it wasn't long before those around him saw he was more than just a back-up dancer. The cream of his genius began rising to the top of the group, until he landed his own record deal with the label Interscope. And in 1991, he released his solo debut album '2Pacalypse Now'.

And even though this album didn't generate any Top 10 hits, it displayed Pac's penchant for politically-tinged lyrics, and the songs 'Trapped' and 'Brenda's got a baby' showcased his socially-conscious bent early on.

Later in his career, the songs 'Keep ya' head up', 'Dear Mama' and 'So Many Tears' would show the world where Pac's heart really was.

Assata Shakur was born Joanne Debra Byron in Flushing, Queens, New York City on July 16th, 1947.

She lived for three years with her mother, her aunt Evelyn, and retired grandparents Lula and Frank Hill. In 1950, Assata's parents divorced and her grandparents moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where she spent the majority of her childhood with her younger siblings, Mutulu and Beverly.

Assata's teenage years were riddled with the twin difficulties of her disliking for the american education system and her being shuttled from household to household. Eventually, her aunt Evelyn, who lived in Manhattan, New York City, took her in. And these years shaped her post-adolescence and introduced her to the stability she so often craved. Additionally, her aunt inspired her mental curiosities with trips to museums, libraries and trips to other cultural events.

After quitting high school, Assata got her equivalency diploma and enrolled in the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). While there, she took part in many protests, sit-ins and political activities which put her in touch with members of the Black Panther Party in the mid-1960's. In 1967, she married fellow BMCC student-activist Louis Chesimard, and took his last name. Three years later, they divorced. And this ultimately happened due to their coming from unstable and abusive households, where they never learned how to form solid relationships.

At 23, Assata graduated from BMCC and officially joined the Black Panther Party. She eventually became a leading member of the Harlem, New York branch and coordinated a school breakfast program for students in need.

Mind you, J. Edgar Hoover (FBI leader) had openly declared that the most dangerous initiative of the Black Panther Party was the 'free breakfast program'. Now, with the Black Panther's assortment of firearms and manpower, you may ask, why would sexually conflicted J. Edgar be so concerned about a breakfast program? That's an important question, I'll answer later.

Assata left the Black Panthers saying they weren't knowledgeable enough about Black revolutionary history. She declared that members of the Black Panthers were reading the 'Red Book', but didn't know who Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner were. After leaving the Panthers, she joined the Black Liberation Army (BLA) which was described by american periodicals as a 'radical and violent organization of Black activists'. Alternatively, the BLA described itself as an organization dedicated to 'the fight for independence and self-determination for Afrikan peoples in the united states'.

Between 1971 and 1973, Assata was targeted by the american government's 'Counterintelligence Program' on Black revolutionaries, and charged with several bogus crimes, most of which she would later be acquitted of in american courts.

The culmination of these trumped-up charges came to a head in May of 1973, when Assata was pulled over in a car by New Jersey State Troopers. One of the troopers later said Assata and her car-mates, which included BLA member Zyed Shakur, were pulled over for slightly exceeding the speed-limit (wink, wink). Long story short, a shoot out ensued when cops pulled guns on Assata and Zyed, and this resulted in the state trooper Werner Foerster and Zyed Shakur being killed. Assata was also wounded in the encounter, but survived.

In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Werner Foerster resulting in Assata getting a life sentence.

On November 2, 1979, three BLA members posing as prison visitors, drew pistols and took two corrections officers hostage. They then proceeded to break Assata out of jail by seizing a prison van. Once they were outside of the federal prison, they switched vehicles and let the corrections officers go free. The C.O.'s were unharmed.

After escaping prison, it's believed that Assata lived as a fugitive in the u.s. until she fled to Cuba, where she's remained ever since.

Now, let's fast forward to 2017...

On the 16th of this month, the Tupac 'biopic', 'All Eyez on Me' was released in american theaters. Mind you, Pac's birthday is on June 16th.

To top this off, the american presi-dunce, I mean president, Donald Trump, said he would not lift sanctions off Cuba, until Assata Shakur was returned to america.

Now, the logical question in anyone's mind should be, why the hell would Trump care about Assata's return to america some 40 years later? Does he even really know who Assata Shakur is?

And here's the answer—No, he doesn't really know about Assata, but what he does know is, the entire Shakur family represents the revolutionary spark that could possibly rally Black people to unite. And like I said in my post about Tariq Nasheed, any organization (or icon in this case), that has even the slightest chance of uniting Black folks, must be destabilized, dismantled and destroyed. Period.

The reason that pansy J. Edgar Hoover was so adamant about Assata and the Black Panther's 'free breakfast program' being so dangerous is, he knew they could condition hundreds of young Black men and women with revolutionary mind-sets in that situation. See, once the youth sat down to the Panther's breakfast, they would partake in sing-a-longs that told them, 'Black is beautiful' and 'Free Huey', which served to indoctrinate them into the Party's ideologies. And Hoover knew that out of one of those young minds, would come the 'Black Messiah' that he and his organization were dreading.

And my generation's last best hope for a Black messiah did come out of those free breakfast programs—and that messiah's name was Tupac Shakur.

Understand, on the down-low, Tupac was the national chairman of a group called 'NAPO', which stood for the 'New Afrikan Panthers Organization'. And this cadre was dedicated to replicating what the Black Panthers had done without making the same mistakes they'd made. Mind you, Tupac took on this title right out of high school. So all through his career he carried those manifestos and mission-statements with him. And when Pac became head of NAPO, they were already active in 8 american cities.

Now, as for the east coast/west coast rap war that the movie All Eyez on Me, will tell us was wholly responsible for Pac's death, I'll say, I'm willing to bet money that what won't be shown is how prisoners in jail told Pac that Notorious B.I.G. had him set up to be shot. And how those prisoners turned out to be FBI agents. And this was proven in the Nick Broomfield documentary, 'Biggie and Tupac'.

Also, in the 1970's, FBI infiltrators had east coast factions of the Black Panthers battling west coast factions of the Party. To the point where they termed these battles, the 'East Coast versus West Coast Panther War'. Google it sometimes.

And speaking of Black Panthers, the movie trailer for Marvel's 'Black Panther' was released this month as well. And while all the special effects of the trailer looked exceptionally well done, we still see Black folks (in the most advanced country on earth, 'Wakanda') holding spears, wearing plates in their lips and grass skirts on their hips.

And while I'm on this subject, let me tell you what I though about another movie adapted from a comic book series, 'Luke Cage'.

I'll confess that one of the reasons I got a subscription to 'Netflix' is because so many people were talking about the Luke Cage series. So when I first sat down to watch the premiere episode of this show, I thought, I'm in for a real treat.

What I saw a few minutes into the first episode was Mike Colter, who plays Cage, working a menial job sweeping up hair at a barbershop, even though he knows he possesses super powers. After that, I saw Alfre Woodard playing this crooked politician who works with this local gangster to garner funds for her campaigns. And in one scene, Alfre is attending some community organizational event where she's endorsing the 'new' Harlem Renaissance, i.e. the gentrification of Harlem (meaning they're kicking the Black folks out). And then she boasts about opening some affordable public housing complex called the 'Crispus Attucks complex'. Mind you, Crispus is renowned for being the first person to die in the 'american revolution'. So, what the show is really saying is this complex, and the new Harlem Renaissance, is suppose to kill off, or get rid of the Black residents there.

But what really made me wanna' punch my TV screen was the moment at the end when Cage decides to be a crime-fighter. Cause the first people he decides to save are a fair-skinned asian couple. And after he saves their lives, the asian man says to Cage, “You cause more trouble, now they are gonna' come back.”

Essentially, this korean guy (or whatever kinda' fair-skinned asian he was), told Cage, thanks for saving us, but you're still a negro.

So, I've said all that to say this, these films are engineered to make us feel one way—inferior to whites.

More specifically, they're saying even though you come from the most advanced country on earth (Wakanda), and even though you have super-natural powers (Cage), and even though your parents brought you up with the virtues of helping your people (Pac), you're still nothing but a bunch of dumb savages who are predisposed to hurting and hating each other.

And that's why I canceled my subscription to Netflix and I've sworn off superheros movies.

But if I ever do wanna' see some brother with super-natural powers get his scrap on...I'll just watch 'Blade' one mo' time.


MontUHURU Mimia

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