Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Frederick's Eyes (The Rapper)

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Frederick Douglass
Now, THIS was a rapper!!!
He rapped lyrics of eloquence and truth

that will reverberate across the ages.

As long as there's a such thing as humanity,

his words will be recited by posterity.

He had to escape slavery to educate himself,

and then he went on to become one of the most knowledgeable,

and brilliantly eloquent writers, rappers, and thinkers

that this nation has ever known - that MAN has ever known.

He showed the world what we were made of,

and every Black person in this country, and beyond,

should familiarize themselves with his story, and his legacy.

Look at the seriousness and fierce determination in that brother's eyes.

That's the look that EVERY Black child should have

when they walk out their parent's door into adulthood.

I look into this brother's eyes every single morning

before I pickup my pen and begin to write,

because the fierce determination,

Knowledge of self,

and unshakeable confidence in personal manhood

reflected in that brother’s eyes,

represent who we are as Black people,

and bringing that side of our nature back to the surface,

defines my mission.

Because those are the eyes that will look upon freedom, justice, and equality.

When asked what he though of

the Fourth of July Celebration, Douglass said,

It’s a "mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -

a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages!"

We thought Malcolm X defined what it meant to be militant during the 1960s,

but Douglass told America he considered Independence Day

a celebration that would "disgrace a nation of savages!" in 1852!

That was nine years BEFORE the Civil War.

Back then, even "nice" White folks would lynch a brother given sufficient cause.

So how's that for keeping it real,

For love of people,

For confidence in self,

and a willingness to speak truth to power?

Douglass came straight from the shoulder,

and without any hesitation or equivocation.

That's what manhood is about,

not struttin' about on stage in saggin’ draws,

a thousand miles and a century away,

from the nearest rope, lynch mob, or Poplar Tree,

But Douglass was willing to confront those horrors,



My young brother,



A hundred and fifty years ago Frederick was everything

that we try to pretend to be today - and more.

He epitomized what it meant to be laid-back and cool,

but with one big difference,  it wasn't contrived,

and he had the powerful, focused,

well-trained, and very serious mind

to go along with his suave demeanor.

This former slave, had the kind of powerful intellect

that would allow him to sit with presidents as a peer.

He convinced Abraham Lincoln

to enlist Black troops into the union army

and helped to organize the famed

54th Massachusetts Regiment,

for just a little payback.

But he did much more than just spit lyrics,

he was also both a musician, and a ladies man,

and he was sought after with great affection

by many of the sophisticated and highly placed

White women of the time.

Historian and scholar Playthell Benjamin describes Douglass

as "six foot four and over two hundred pounds,

with a the well muscled body of a blacksmith
and the handsome countenance of a leading man of the theater,

a gift for language, and blessed with a marvelous vocal instrument which,
when wedded to his mastery of rhetoric,

had the power to move masses to action in behalf of his cause,

a cause that included the emancipation of women.

Frederick Douglass was a sexual magnet to the ladies,

especially educated white ladies.
And none was more enchanted with Douglass
than Ottilie Assing, who described him as ‘magical.’"
So what we have in Douglass is a 

handsome, suave, and debonair Black man,

living in pre-Civil War America,

yet, had the knowledge and intellect

to command enough respect to live life exactly the way he saw fit.
He counseled the President of the United States,

he 'dated' who he felt like 'dating' (Black or White), 

and he had the courage to tell White America 
that their celebration of the Independence Day was
"a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages!"

So Douglass was one hell of a guy,
and we could learn a lot about
what it means to be a true Black man by studying his legacy.
In order to command the kind of respect that Douglass enjoyed
during a time when other Black men
were looked upon as scarcely more than animals,

he had to be a unique man among men - and,

have some serious 'street creds.'

Because he was a Black man in a racist world

who lived his life the way he wanted to live, 

and said exactly what he wanted to say -

and without looking down at his feet.
He dealt with every man eyeball-to-eyeball,

and he didn't care who they were. 
Yet, he had no posse, no crew, and absolutely no backup.

It was just Fred, and his manhood, against the world. 

But obviously . . . 

The manhood reflected in his eyes,
was enough.

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them."
Good Old Soul

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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