Kill them all!
Khalid Muhammad possessed amazing oratory skills, skills that still resonate across the years. Performance is not power. In following up on our conversation about Farrakhan and the Culture Wars, I had to return to Khalid Muhammad's legendary promo where he suggested "killing them all!" Here, "all," is white people.
It is easy to dispense with, ignore, and mock 1980s Black Nationalists such as Khalid Muhammad. For me, the more interesting question remains, what is the social context which made such voices resonate, what are the demographics of race and power that would compel some black and brown folks to support such rhetoric?
At the time, Khalid had "juice." With the wisdom gained by time, he is revealed as a clown. What does this mean? Were young folks like me who were captivated by him just desperate and weak? Caught up in the performance? Or was their something to his particular vein of Black Nationalist agitprop that was compelling across the generational divide?
As I have come to understand years later, bluster and words and rage and witty word play are not power. For that reason, I laugh at white conservatives' fears of human props such as the New Black Panther Party. The latter and their kin bark and snarl. They do not kill anyone. They do not have real power. As a group, and trust, many white Americans who are ignorant of their own history do not understand this most basic of facts, it is they who comprise the largest group of terrorists in United States history.
For example, "riot" is a word that was originally and almost exclusively used to describe anti-black violence by white people. The KKK is the largest terrorist organization the United States has ever known, with approximately 10,000 black people were killed by White Americans under the regime of lynch law.
Ultimately, a black man or woman pleading for the murder of white people is an "entertaining" curiousity; in reality, the history of black humanity in the United States has been one of peace and acceptance. Black people have never killed white people in mass...even when such retaliation and struggle could have been easily justified. African Americans have only wanted to be accepted as full and equal citizens. This was done through protest, pressure, resistance, the politics of respectability, service, and civic virtue as a means of advancing a claim on American expectionalism (and ownership of that creed).
In all, I still wonder why any white American would ever be afraid of jesters such as Khalid Muhammad or the New Black Panther Party. Is power that insular, narrow and precarious?