If you’ve been following us closely here at CREAD then I’m sure the main conclusion you have drawn is that we are BLACK. Not just Black Black. But like “Blackety Black Black Black”; we BLACK y’all. Not just because our team is made up of Diasporic Black people. But because here, we champion any and everything that embodies Blackness so that our contributions don’t go unnoticed.
Damn. That first paragraph got more Black in it than Rachel Dolezal.
Our goal here is always to learn the masses on Black Folk and all of our complexities(for those of y’all asses who think we are all the same,)while simultaneously giving you the glorious history of Africans both here and abroad.
I gotta be honest and say that this shit be exhausting y’all. LOL! No, like it’s a tiresome process preserving your Blackness in a White supremacist culture hell bent on denigrating Blackness at every turn.
Our team is constantly involved in a process of learning and then teaching the rich cultural heritage of diasporic people. We are constantly growing and expanding our own stories of knowledge in order to keep you and ourselves up on game.
That being said, how many of y’all heard of Black August before this week??….. I’ll give you a moment…… Um…… Yea….I thought so.
Don’t feel bad though, good people, because like you, I was also oblivious to this holiday and the collective movement as a whole. Like dawg, where was this spoken on in my history classes?
And if it was in the curriculum then they definitely didn’t teach us that section.
See. Ain’t y’all happy y’all got CREAD? 🙂
As the the team has highlighted all week:
Black August “is a month of meaning … of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice, of repression and righteous rebellion, of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.” -Mumia Abu-Jamal
My first time ever hearing about this holiday was at our team meeting/blog-in last week, and so I knew I had some research to do. I had no idea about it’s origins, and the larger context behind it.
I did what any logical millennial looking for information would do. I consulted the Google; the poor man’s dictionary, and YouTube, the poor man’s university, as Queen Khalilah so affectionately terms them.
So I’m on the Google just googling, getting my life together, trying to learn myself about this movement and the first image that pops up:
Now I don’t know about y’all but for me YouTube is my go to spot for relevant media, from the most academic to the most ratchet of content. But I won’t lie. When it comes to films I’ve never heard of or seen trailers for, I just assume the movie is trash. It’s either some shitty director, script, actors, or some combination of the three. When I tell y’all that this low budget movie was fire. I’m talking about Paid-N-Full, Belly, Madea, when it was the blurry play version on tape type of fire. The lead actor who plays “George Jackson” is my guy Gary Dourdan. You know, the pretty eyed dude from CSI and star of the ratchet hood classic Trios; no ladies, not Michael Ealy, the other guy. I have to say, my dude gave such a profound performance and embodied this man so well, it left me hungry to know more about George Jackson.
Formatively, the only time I’ve encountered the name George Jackson was in relation to gang terminology and street culture. I’d always known him as “Badazz George Jackson” in the lingo but never understood who he was, or even why he was being immortalized by gang members as a part of gang and more specifically prison lure.
Who is George Jackson?
He is an activist, author, member of the Black Panther Party and one of the founders of the Black Guerrilla Family, and one of the theoretical leaders on the liberation of both free and imprisoned Africans in America; Jackson was truly a remarkable young man. Sentenced for a crime bro didn’t even commit, Jackson spent the next ten years incarcerated in the California correctional system.
In his highly acclaimed book, Soledad Brothers Jackson explains:
“Later, when I was accused of robbing a gas station of seventy dollars, I accepted a deal — I agreed to confess and spare the county court costs in return for a light county jail sentence. I confessed but when time came for sentencing, they tossed me into the penitentiary with one to life. That was in 1960. I was 18 years old. I’ve been here ever since.” –George Jackson
First housed in the San Quentin State Prison, he honed his military acumen and theoretical framework; studying everything from Marxism to Maoism. You know, a who’s who of communist all stars, introduced to him by the Black Guerilla Family’s co-founder W.L Nolen. It’s here where Jackson endured cruel and inhuman physical and psychological torture at the hands of prison guards, White supremacists, and the cold, dark desolate isolation of solitary confinement.
After the torture and horrid treatments brought upon by multiple violations to the disciplinary code, Jackson and Nolen were transferred to Soledad Prison. In a questionable, and by questionable I mean bullshit, set of events that would lead to a prison riot; Nolen and two other Black inmates were both gunned down in cold blood.
Read deeper so y’all can feel me.
There was a yard full of rival gang members; on one side Black Guerilla Family and on the other The Aryan Brotherhood. You mean to tell me these three Black brothers got gunned down exclusively? Were they special or extra dangerous? Did the bullets just have their name on it?
I mean come on.
The tension and frustration that built up in the Black prisoners population, brought on by the cold blooded murder was followed up with a White prison guard being stabbed and tossed off a tier in a wing of the prison. The act was pinned on two other inmates and George Jackson, which resulted in murder charges against all three. This was based solely off the word of prison informants who were offered time off of their sentence as recompense.
This infamous incident afforded the trio the name of “The Soledad Brothers.”
At this point in the film, I was hooked and had officially made Jackson my unofficial Big Brother. But then it broke my heart to realize the fate that would befall his own little brother Jonathan Jackson. Yoo this shit had me sadder than when they killed Rickkyyyyyyyy.
Jackson’s little brother, Jonathan, was a young revolutionary in training. He decided to take part in this daring kidnapping of a Judge, District Attorney, and three jurors in an attempt to negotiate the release of the Soledad 3. The event ended in a bloody shootout, which took the lives of Jonathan Jackson, the Judge and the DA.
A year later, after returning from a meeting with his lawyer, my boi Bad Azz George Jackson decided to take fate into his own hands. He pulls out a pistol, all Mcguyver like and attempts to escape from the prison, which results in the murder of two guards and the injuring of others, as well as the shooting death of George Jackson Himself.
Growing up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, all I’ve ever heard about men that get incarcerated were horrible things. Different members of my immediate and extended family have been incarcerated and I remember personally dealing with the absence of my own father during his bouts with the legal system. These messages were only compounded by White media images, which sought to double down on this portrayal of Black men who were imprisoned in inhumane ways.
“Black men born in the U.S. and fortunate enough to live past the age of eighteen are conditioned to accept the inevitability of prison. For most of us, it simply looms as the next phase in a sequence of humiliations. Being born a slave in a captive society and never experiencing any objective basis for expectation had the effect of preparing me for the progressively traumatic misfortunes that lead so many Black men to the prison gate. I was prepared for prison. It required only minor psychic adjustments.” –George Jackson
The media, as well as the greater part of society does a remarkable and intentional job of dehumanizing the individuals that pass through the prison industrial complex. While I’m sure some of the occupants of these facilities are amoral people, my experience and knowledge informs me that not all of these people are bad. Even more concerning is the way in which people of color are treated in in our prison systems. By now you’ve read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and if not you can check it out.
Either way, I expect that you are somewhat aware of the status of Black and Brown people and their outright oppression in the penal system from slavery until um…… well you get the point.
You know of the:
- The over representation of Black and Brown bodies in prisons
- Lengthy jail sentences as compared to White counterparts
- Trauma and mental abuse suffered
I mean the list goes on and on. What’s more important and what’s most unknown is the fight for liberation. The resistance of oppression and the resistance of White supremacist ideals. White institutions don’t tell of us the brilliance and legacy of some of these men, men who gave up their freedom in pursuit of the collective fight against tyranny and marginalization faced by our Black brothers in America; those who are incarcerated in prisons, and those free from those cages but incarcerated in their minds.
“I was captured and brought to prison when I was 18 years old because I couldn’t adjust. The record that the state has compiled on my activities reads like the record of ten men. It labels me brigand, thief, burglar, gambler, hobo, drug addict, gunman, escape artist, Communist revolutionary, and murderer.” –George Jackson
When I got put on to George Jackson I was hooked. I ordered the physical copy Soledad Brothers on Amazon and struck Google gold when I found the entire text online at History is a Weapon. When I tell you that this man and his “rational rage” as he coined it, touched every part of me. I mean, throughout all of my academic career, I had never been taught about his legacy and now as an adult, I’m just stumbling onto a model for Black Excellence.
“We attempted to transform the black criminal mentality into a black revolutionary mentality. As a result, each of us has been subjected to years of the most vicious reactionary violence by the state.” -George Jackson
How we enrich diasporic students and ourselves.
Wake up people and realize that they ain’t giving us these narratives of our people. The goal of White supremacy has been to subjugate and destroy anything that is Black. They have dehumanized us intentionally, employing propaganda to perpetuate lies that keep Whiteness central. The priming is so real that they impart biased notions about Black people, that make us disconnect from the rich parts of our history no matter how painful.
The story of Africans in America is central to the story of America. Neither can exist without the other. As educators, it is our job to discover this history and teach it to our kids, both Black, White and everything in between.
We must shift the narrative around diasporic people’s fight for liberation. We are not the criminals, savages and monsters that we have been portrayed to be. George Jackson, during his darkest of times, fostered ideals that spark minds that will change the world. Free or not, he should not be ignored or forgotten.
We have not been exposed to the deep and meaningful history of Blacks in America, and until we decenter Whiteness and teach from a perspective that is culturally relevant and culturally affirming; we will continue to perpetuate misinformation.
- Dig deep and get ya study on
- Take that knowledge back to your classroom and your students.
- Celebrate it and have these conversations.
- Don’t ever be scared to learn and grow alongside your students.
Without George Jackson, whose birthday is on the 21st of this month, we wouldn’t have a Black August. We wouldn’t have insight into the multifaceted struggles of Africans imprisoned in America, the long list of ways we have rebelled against White supremacy and we wouldn’t currently be apart of this liberation movement to end the industrial prison complex.
Happy Black August and Hold it down.