Let’s keep it real, everybody in the Black Panthers was crazy.
For you to found and create the Black Panthers, join the Black Panthers or endorse the Black Panthers, you had to be crazy.
Sanity is maintaining the status quo.
Thinking or realizing there’s something wrong with the status quo and advocating for change?
So in one sense, while I agree with Elaine Brown’s recent criticism of Stanley Nelson Jr.’s mostly-brilliant documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, which aired Tuesday, February 16th as being perhaps excessively severe in reducing Black Panther founder Huey Newton to little more than a madman, the reality is, the truly sane Black people of that time were simply bowing, scraping and trying to get by.
And Ms. Brown did get jerked in her portrayal.
I read A Taste of Power and realize that she was, for more than a hot second, the actual de facto head of the entire party. This should have been included in the documentary.
A lot should have.
It’s impossible to render a period of time within a period of time.
The two seconds you just spent reading that sentence was spent in different ways by everybody on the planet and entire books could be written just about that moment by everyone who can write.
But one of the things I’m glad that the documentary showed which may have otherwise escaped the notice of people that have been so recently critical of the Black Panther movement in rendering it along the lines of a “Black KKK” or some type of terrorist organization was that, aside from the lunatic and suicidal mission that Eldridge Cleaver took poor Bobby Hutton on that ended up with young Mr. Hutton getting killed, almost all the other violence that occurred between the police and the Panthers happened at either the homes or the headquarters of the Panthers.
In other words, the Panthers didn’t go out and attack the police.
No, in the two main scenes that featured violent confrontations, one showed what most of us knew all along, that Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton was simply and explicitly murdered in his bed; and that the shootout at the Panthers’ headquarters in Los Angeles was police-initiated.
Just like the term “over-paid” was invented to describe Blacks that make any kind of money whatsoever because the legacy of slavery has left so many incapable of imagining us doing anything that’s actually worthy of earning compensation, the image of the “non-violent Negro”, iconic because of what was believed to be our passive acceptance of slavery and then exacerbated by the effectiveness of Dr. King’s movement, suggests that a Black person that even lifts a finger in his own defense is some sort of deranged animal.
That’s why there’s an overabundance of fools that can somehow still blame Trayvon Martin for his own demise, as if by having the good sense to lose that fight to George Zimmerman he might have otherwise survived.
So it’s not just the Panthers who were crazy.
It’s American society.
To offset this madness, Fred Hampton himself countered the age-old notion that you fought fire with fire by sagely stating that you actually fought fire with the “water of unity”.
And you see what happened to him.