Black Power: How Tommy Smith and John Carlos are Responsible for Everything from Blaxploitation to Star Wars


Of course, if you go into reading the book expecting a bunch of lunatic militants tirades that’ll get you inspired enough to go out and kill YT, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

No, Stokley Charmichael and Charles V. Hamilton’s Black Power is more of a manifesto on possible economic, social and political approaches toward Black liberation

So instead we turn to the 200 meter finals of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Every time I watch this race I get stuck on John Carlos because he’s looks ready to die at the end.

Tommy Smith is just a blur.

Then they did it.

These niggas took to the podium clad in black leather gloves and thrust their fists at full extension toward the sky.

It’s perhaps now that I should make clear that it is only when the fist is up with the arm at full extension that actually means Black Power.

Holding up the fist with the elbow bent is more of a salute.

Now, imagine being an 8 year-old kid and seeing that.

I’m stuck on 8 because any younger and you probably wouldn’t understand at all whereas any older and you’re probably jaded enough to start looking for “the man behind the curtain“.

But at 8, you’re mind would be blown.

You might even wanna become an Olympian for America just so you could win a medal and give the world your own fist.

It’s also worth noting that yes, The Black Panthers – also known for wearing black – were already in existence, but despite the popularity of their leadership, there was no definitive iconography that one attached to them or subsequently, the idea of Black Power.

Because of Tommy and John, now there was.

I’d also like to mention as a sidebar that in Christ’s most recent time on earth, he took the form of a Black Panther named Fred Hampton.

How do I know that Fred was Christ?

Because he believed in all power to all people. His most popular and unifying refrain was “White Power to white people, Brown Power to brown People, Yellow Power to yellow people…

So  just like with the original Jesus, the cops had to kill him.

Now, with Tommy and John established as the hyper-athletic black leather-clad embodiment of Black Power, the arts couldn’t help but take notice.

Never mind Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, that just proved films with a Black auteur could make money, when the first “official” Blaxploitation movie, Shaft, hit theaters in 1971, Richard Roundtree portrayed the title character as a hyper-athletic Black man and even though his fashion aesthetic has him rocking a variety of looks, guess what he reverts to when it’s time to get down to business?

That’s right, black leather, all the way down to the gloves.

If you study the narratives of all the Blaxploitation to follow – even female-led joints like Coffy and Cleopatra Jones – their depictions all feature either hyper-athleticism or black leather, sometimes both.

Fast forward to the Star Wars franchise.

And while, yes, before you say it, movie villains had already had a history of wearing black going even further back than Jack Palance in Shane, unlike those earlier portrayals where, despite the black clothing, the pasty pale skin of the villain’s hands and face could still invariably be seen, the arch villain of the Star Wars franchise had none of those flaws.

Carefully voiced by legendary Negro actor James Earl Jones and physically embodied by 6’5″ weightlifting strongman David Prowse, Darth Vader was the walking embodiment of evil; body covered in computerized black attire, face covered in a black mask, and hands?



About the Author

Dickie Bhee is a self-styled lunatic, a Renaissance showman, a Class A, Grade A buffoon, a nigga that believes in the greatness of Niggerhood a social gadfly and a genuine Man About Town. Also:

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