Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Homeless Life

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Life Magazine November edition of 1968-cover page illustrated a portrait of Abolitionist Frederick Douglass. A man born 1946 in a time where he remembers schools would not open when it was cotton-picking time in Mississippi provided this magazine to me. As I sit here imagining a time where injustices were more obscene than those transpiring in the year of 2006, I battle images of men like Nat Turner revolting against all that tried to capture his life essence. To the nomad I watched stand on the corner of an intersection of Grant and Cherokee. He walked in one direction a few steps and returned to his initial position. Next, he walked south stepping out into the street and again returning to his origin. He turned and looked north but he could not determine his destination because his feet failed to follow direction. Or maybe no direction was given because he was missing the instruction from a leader for all Negroes. The article on Frederick Douglas was entitled “For all Negroes, Frederick Douglas was THEIR LEADER.” The title in the magazine actually capitalizes THEIR LEADER. Douglas describes a scene from his young existence as “kept in a state of nudity. My only clothing – a little coarse sackcloth or tow linen sort of shirt, scarcely reaching to my knees, was worn night and day and changed once a week.”

I’m sure the man I watched from my vehicle considers his existence no crystal stairs or probably think he never climbed up from any place to another. But I question if he would base his circumstance due to the color of his skin. Douglass wrote “The fundamental and everlasting objection to slavery is not that it sinks a Negro to the condition of a brute, but it sinks a man to that condition”. In attendance at the Men Are Human Too Part II panel discussion, I proposed the question of how imperative is it for Black men to have passion about their lives and if they lack it what is it a sign of. Brotha # 1 (research name) swiftly refers to the Willie Lynch document, a letter that provides slave masters instructions on how to establish economic wealth via the demise of enslaved Africans. Brotha # 1 reads what Willie Lynch wrote “

I have a fool proof method for controlling your slaves. I guarantee everyone of you that if installed it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. Take the meanest and most restless n-word, strip him of his clothes in front of the remaining male n-words, the female, and the n-word infant, tar and feather him, tie each leg to a different horse faced in opposite directions, set him a fire and beat both horses to pull him apart in front of the remaining n-word. The next step is to take a bull whip and beat the remaining n-word male to the point of death, in front of the female and the infant. Don't kill him, but PUT THE FEAR OF GOD IN HIM, 
for he can be useful for future breeding. Take the female and run a series of tests on her to see if she will submit to your 
desires willingly. Test her in every way, because she is the most important factor for good economics. If she shows any sign of resistance in submitting completely to your will, do not hesitate to use the bull whip on her to extract that last bit of b-word out of her. Take care not to kill her, for in doing so, you spoil good economic. When in complete submission, she will train her off springs in the early years to submit to labor when the become of age. Understanding is the best thing. Therefore, we shall go deeper into this area of the subject matter concerning what we have produced here in this breaking process of the female n-word. We have reversed the relationship in her natural uncivilized state she would have a strong dependency on the uncivilized n-word male, and she would have a limited protective tendency toward her independent male offspring and would raise male off springs to be dependent like her. Nature had provided for this type of balance. We reversed nature by burning and pulling a civilized n-word apart and bull whipping the other to the point of death, all in her presence. By her being left alone, unprotected, with the MALE IMAGE DESTROYED, the ordeal caused her to move from her psychological dependent state to a frozen independent state. In this frozen psychological state of independence, she will raise her MALE and female offspring in reversed roles. For FEAR of the young males life she will psychologically train him to be MENTALLY WEAK and DEPENDENT, but PHYSICALLY STRONG. Because she has become psychologically independent, she will train her FEMALE off springs to be psychological independent. What have you got? You've got the N-WORD WOMAN OUT FRONT AND THE N-WORD MAN BEHIND AND SCARED.”

After Brotha #1 references the letter, he makes emphasizes on the Black Man being scared. Scared was the operative word and 2 years ago it was relayed to me by a student, 13-years old, and a bully “ You can’t be different here” she stated. She was right and wrong. She was right for those men who dared not be anything more than the expectations placed on them by a system not designed for their prosperity, liberation, and/or happiness. She was wrong for the men who didn’t care about being out numbered, who empowered themselves with truth in knowledge applied, and dared to think and act consciously outside the box of provisions made in this country. Brotha #1 also made the point of us….African American, Black, Colored, Negro….not having a nation where all other nationalities have physical continents and governmental systems to lobby and negotiate on their behalf.

Benjamin Banneker, a scientist, architect of the White House, inventor of the Grandfather Clock, and political philosopher argued the contradicting nature of this country when he wrote Thomas Jefferson “How pitiable it is to reflect that you should at the same time…be found guilty of the most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others…”. This living contradiction that stands there in the wing waiting for its debut in the Black man’s life because one day he gambles the Black man will falter and dismiss or give up everything other than himself. But what is left of Black men who do not have the passion to fight for their lives or the lives, securities, and provisions of the Black woman and child? Do they become men that have no homes? Homeless?

My father is homeless, literately. Three times he attempted to establish a home with women who loved him and chose to bare his children. Each time for reasons unknown to me, he left. As I write this article my father sleeps in the doorway of copy machine business on Webster Ave and 14th Street in downtown Oakland. To be homeless was a conscious decision for my father, a man who lived 15 years of his adult life behind bars. He’s not on drugs and has been labeled a schizophrenic because he hears voices and can see spirits. My father has been deemed crazy by his own brethren because they remember not customs of Voodoon, Yoruba or Ife. I never considered my father scared of anything or anyone. He seemed to always be going somewhere and I knew very early in life that he was only stationary enough to serve his purpose. Still I have made attempts to seek permanent shelter for him but he declined. He would accept over night stays in a motel to get a hot bath, wash his clothes, and catch up on current events. After, I reaching my economic limit on what I can expend for his motel stay, he silently requests me to return him to the corner where I found him. Painful is what I described this reoccurring scenario of me saying “I love you” as he walks away. I became that psychological independent woman that Willie Lynch speaks of because I don’t know how many more times I can find my father to never really know him at all. The hope of him rescuing me as a child I had surrendered lifetimes ago. When Donny Hathaway sings Giving Up “My light of hope is burning dim but in my heart I pray that my love and faith in the girl will bring her back some day”. Come back Black Men to your natural uncivilized whole and completely loving selves. For there are no homes for your women and children to dwell in without you and the villages have been abandoned.

Written By Lorraine K. McCall