13 October 2006

More Mixed-Theme Pics(Sort Of)

Shot and edited these to-day, with the first set of pics below, "Auto Repair Shop, Las Vegas, 2006", being an attempt of mine to present a kind of image of African-Americans that isn't that often seen, a positive or at least neutral image of working-class African-Americans.

Yeah, we've come a long ways since the days when African-Americans were portrayed as servants or ne'er -do-wells, and the range of African-American portrayals has broadened somewhat since the 1970s.

However, for all the African-American gangstas, cops, lawyers, doctors and business-people one see portrayed in most media outlets, there's rather a dearth of portrayals of working-class and poor African-Americans that don't involve crime, drug addiction and the like.

Ain't sayin' that these things don't happen in working-class and poor African-American communities.

They do, but so do a lotta positive or at least neutral events as well.

So, this is kinda my tiny contribution at remeding that imbalance.

By the way, the same could be said for European-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans, of working-class and poor origins, too.

Working-class and poor people's lives in general tend to be given rather short shrift by the mainstream media, unless they involve something sensational. That's why the former, whenever possible, can't afford to wait 'round for the MSM to discover their lives and issues, and that's why I thank God for the Internet, 'cos it at least allows some working-class and poor people to show how they see the world.

The second set, "Female Black Panther Militant, Oakland, 1967" is a kinda bittersweet tribute/portrait of a female member of that group, and, in a way, of the Black Panther Party itself.

It started out in Oakland, California in 1966-67, with the idea of preventing the kinds of police brutality and intimidation of Oakland's African-American community then going on.

The movement spread very rapidly nationwide, especially after tv news footage of a shotgun-wielding demonstration held by the BPP at the Capital Building in Sacramento, California in 1967, in which both male and female BPP members, dressed in roughly the same kind of outfit as shown here, carrying (un-loaded)shotguns appeared, made speeches, and proceeded for the next few years to galvanise many in the African-American community, and scare the shit out of many in the European-American community.

Eventually, the BPP, despite its vigourous early start, was worn down to a nubbin by a combination of FBI, state and local police harassment, and, in the case of Fred Hampton in Chicago in 1968, out-right murder of BPP leaders, factional in-fighting, and drug abuse, especially true in Huey Newton's case, and the flight into exile of some of its most prominent leaders, like Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton, and, although the BPP was still around in 1981, it had pretty much shot its bolt.

There may have been other factors, like the end of the Viet-Nam War, which took the wind out of the sails of a lot of radical causes in the States, and especially outta the New Left's sails, and a kind of longing for escape from politics and causes, especially radical ones, by many Americans of various backgrounds in general, that contributed to the BPP's decline and dissolution.

However, from the extremely little I know about the BPP, it would seem that the first-named causes were the ones that got the Panthers in the end.

However, the Panthers' verbal and visual rhetorical style lived on, and still does to-day, long after the BPP closed up shop in the early '80s, and can be seen and heard in the way that many rappers and hip-hop artists present themselves and their views of politics in their work.

The American Left in general still reflects a strong dose of Panther influence in much of its rhetoric and militancy even to-day, as well.

In pop culture, the BPP's style, as well as the prominence of some of its female members, as well as figures like Angela Davis, set much of the tone for many of the various blaxploitation movies made by Hollywood(often with European-American producers, directors and writers at the helm)in the early and mid-'70s, and especially in the kinds of roles given to Pam Grier in those films.

Finally, in 1992, a New Black Panther Party was formed again, and is still in operation.
However, the NBPP's views are much more similar to those of the Nation of Islam than the original BPP, which tended to mix African-American nationalism with bits of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideologies, and wasn't about racial separatism, as are the NBPP and NOI.

The Black Panthers were a pretty heady mix of those influences, and probably more that I don't know about.

It's a pity that, between the FBI/state and local police harassment-murders of its leaders, the factional disputes, and exile of its most prominent leaders, the Panthers succumbed, as, perhaps, it might have been a means for the African-American community to express its grievances and a non-separatist form of African-American nationalism to win the power to determine its own affairs.

But, since events went the way they did, we will never know if that could have happened or not.

Hope you like the pics.

Be seeing you.

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