By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
Another Black History Month comes and another Black History Month goes. The 29 dreary days of the year when we reduce the history of the people who built this country beneath the weight of the whip to extra crunchy peanut butter. I’m not a black person, so every word of this rant may very well come across as politically incorrect and racially insensitive, but I am a history nerd, and as quite possibly the queerest person on this side of the rainbow, I do know what it’s like to have my tribe’s history hijacked and commodified by the same capitalist cunts who once conspired to have us annihilated. Truth be told, growing up as a freak, I often found it a hell of a lot more easy to relate to black historical figures than white ones. Malcolm X may have peed standing up but something tells me he knew more about being the straight man’s faggot than the Kennedy’s.
But Brother Malcolm isn’t an official fixture of Black History Month. Oh sure, you’ll see a picture of him here or there, but he’s always seen but not heard. That’s because Black History Month has less to do with black people and more to do with white guilt and jingoist propaganda. The entire ark of black history is reduced to crass pop culture and a constellation of events designed to prove the ultimate benevolence and superiority of the American system. According to Black History Month, black people were freed by the white establishment with the Emancipation Proclamation, made equal by the white establishment with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and officially accepted into the white establishment with the election of Barack Obama. And that’s where history just sort of ends. According to this narrative, black history is defined almost entirely by the state, the same state that brought these people over here in chains. You would think Abe Lincoln was a fucking negro himself, rather than a well established racist who used a group of people he didn’t even believe were human to justify consolidating his power with a bloodbath.
Sure we celebrate black people in February, but we prefer to the celebrate the safe ones, and when they’re not safe, we make em safe. One would be forgiven for suffering under the delusion that Martin Luther King was some roly-poly statist push-over rather than a pistol-packing anti-imperialist who was so frightening to the feds that they devoted thousands of manhours to see him ruined and more than likely got him and his comrade, Brother Malcolm, killed. It’s telling that we only celebrate the pacifists, and even then, only the most passive aspects of said pacifists get celebrated. The message being, just keep your hands in your pockets and sing about Jesus and the state will come around to recognize your right to exist once they can capitalize on it to prove their benevolence to those bastard commies. And the rest is just peanut butter. As a kid, this month was a fucking bore, and I’m pretty sure that was the point. I found it hard to reconcile the banality of my history books with the wild images of gloved fists, M1 Carbines and afros that tantalized me in the pages of those old magazines in my mom’s vintage clothing shop. There’s nothing wrong with Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver, but if you’re going to spend a whole month celebrating safe black people cant we spend another one celebrating the dangerous ones?