Knowledge Session: Speech By Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power” (1966)

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Soon after he was named chair­man of the Stu­dent Non-Viol­ent Coördin­at­ing Com­mit­tee (SNCC), Stokely Car­mi­chael began to tout the slo­gan and philo­sophy of Black Power.  In the speech below he explains  Black Power to an audi­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Cali­for­nia, Berke­ley.

It’s a priv­ilege and an hon­or to be in the white intel­lec­tu­al ghetto of the West. This is a stu­dent con­fer­ence, as it should be, held on a cam­pus, and we’ll nev­er be caught up in intel­lec­tu­al mas­turb­a­tion on the ques­tion of Black Power. That’s the func­tion of the people who are advert­isers but call them­selves report­ers. Incid­ent­ally, for my friends and mem­bers of the press, my self-appoin­ted white crit­ics, I was read­ing Mr. Bern­ard Shaw two days ago, and I came across a very import­ant quote that I think is most apro­pos to you. He says, “All cri­ti­cism is an auto­bi­o­graphy.” Dig your­self. Ok.

The philo­soph­ers Camus and Sartre raise the ques­tion of wheth­er or not a man can con­demn him­self. The black exist­en­tial­ist philo­sopher who is prag­mat­ic, Frantz Fan­on, answered the ques­tion. He said that man could not. Camus and Sartre don’t answer the ques­tion. We in SNCC tend to agree with Fanon–a man can­not con­demn him­self. If he did, he would then have to inflict pun­ish­ment upon him­self. An example is the Nazis. Any of the Nazi pris­on­ers who, after he was caught and incar­cer­ated, admit­ted that he com­mit­ted crimes, that he killed all the many people he killed, had to com­mit sui­cide. The only ones able to stay alive were the ones who nev­er admit­ted that they com­mit­ted a crime again­st people–that is, the ones who ration­al­ized that Jews were not human beings and deserved to be killed, or that they were only fol­low­ing orders. There’s another, more recent example provided by the offi­cials and the population–the white pop­u­la­tion — of Neshoba County, Mis­sis­sip­pi (that’s where Phil­adelphia is). They could not con­demn Sher­iff Rainey, his depu­ties, and the oth­er four­teen men who killed three human beings. They could not because they elec­ted Mr. Rainey to do pre­cisely what he did; and con­demning him would be con­demning them­selves.

In a much lar­ger view, SNCC says that white Amer­ica can­not con­demn her­self for her crim­in­al acts again­st black Amer­ica. So black people have done it–you stand con­demned. The insti­tu­tions that func­tion in this coun­try are clearly racist; they’re built upon racism. The ques­tions to be dealt with then are: how can black people inside this coun­try move? How can white people who say they’re not part of those insti­tu­tions begin to move? And how then do we begin to clear away the obstacles that we have in this soci­ety, to make us live like human beings?

Sev­er­al people have been upset because we’ve said that integ­ra­tion was irrel­ev­ant when ini­ti­ated by blacks, and that in fact it was an insi­di­ous sub­ter­fuge for the main­ten­ance of white suprem­acy. In the past six years or so, this coun­try has been feed­ing us a “thalidom­ide drug of integ­ra­tion,” and some negroes have been walk­ing down a dream street talk­ing about sit­ting next to white people. That does not begin to solve the prob­lem. We didn’t go to Mis­sis­sip­pi to sit next to Ross Barnett (former gov­ernor of Mis­sis­sip­pi), we did not go to sit next to Jim Clark (sher­iff of Sel­ma, Alabama), we went to get them out of our way. People ought to under­stand that; we were nev­er fight­ing for the right to integ­rate, we were fight­ing again­st white suprem­acy. In order to under­stand white suprem­acy we must dis­miss the fal­la­cious notion that white people can give any­body his freedom. A man is born free. You may enslave a man after he is born free, and that is in fact what this coun­try does. It enslaves blacks after they’re born. The only thing white people can do is stop deny­ing black people their freedom.

I main­tain that every civil rights bill in this coun­try was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being. There­fore I have the right to go into any pub­lic place. White people don’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a pub­lic place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for the white man, not for me. I knew I could vote all the time and that it wasn’t a priv­ilege but my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or eco­nom­ic­ally deprived. So some­body had to write a bill to tell white people, “When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.” That bill was for white people. I know I can live any­place I want to live. It is white people across this coun­try who are incap­able of allow­ing me to live where I want. You need a civil rights bill, not me. The fail­ure of the civil rights bill isn’t because of Black Power or because of the Stu­dent Non­vi­ol­ent Coördin­at­ing Com­mit­tee or because of the rebel­lions that are occur­ring in the major cit­ies. That fail­ure is due to the white’s inca­pa­city to deal with their own prob­lems inside their own com­munit­ies. And so in a sense we must ask, How is it that black people move? And what do we do? But the ques­tion in a much great­er sense is, How can white people who are the major­ity, and who are respons­ible for mak­ing demo­cracy work, make it work? They have nev­er made demo­cracy work, be it inside the United States, Viet­nam, South Africa, the Phil­ip­pines, South Amer­ica, Puer­to Rico, or wherever Amer­ica has been. We not only con­demn the coun­try for what it has done intern­ally, but we must con­demn it for what it does extern­ally. We see this coun­try try­ing to rule the world, and someone must stand up and start artic­u­lat­ing that this coun­try is not God, and that it can­not rule the world.

The white suprem­acist atti­tude, which you have either con­sciously or sub­con­sciously, is run­ning rampant through soci­ety today. For example, mis­sion­ar­ies were sent to Africa with the atti­tude that blacks were auto­mat­ic­ally inferi­or. As a mat­ter of fact, the first act the mis­sion­ar­ies did when they got to Africa was to make us cov­er up our bod­ies, because they said it got them excited. We couldn’t go bare-breasted any more because they got excited! When the mis­sion­ar­ies came to civ­il­ize us because we were unciv­il­ized, to edu­cate us because we were uneducated, and to give us some lit­er­ate stud­ies because we were illit­er­ate, they charged a price. The mis­sion­ar­ies came with the Bib­le, and we had the land: When they left, they had the land, and we still have the Bib­le. That’s been the ration­al­iz­a­tion for West­ern civil­iz­a­tion as it moves across the world–stealing, plun­der­ing, and rap­ing every­body in its path. Their one ration­al­iz­a­tion is that the rest of the world is unciv­il­ized and they are in fact civ­il­ized.

But the West is un-civ-i-lized. And that still runs on today, you see, because now we have “mod­ern-day mis­sion­ar­ies,” and they come into our ghettos–they Head Start, Upward Lift, Boot­strap, and Upward Bound us into white soci­ety. They don’t want to face the real prob­lem. A man is poor for one reas­on and one reas­on only–he does not have money. If you want to get rid of pover­ty, you give people money. And you ought not tell me about people who don’t work, and that you can’t give people money if they don’t work, because if that were true, you’d have to start stop­ping Rock­e­feller, Kennedy, Lyn­don Baines John­son, Lady Bird John­son, the whole of Stand­ard Oil, the Gulf Cor­por­a­tion, all of them, includ­ing prob­ably a large num­ber of the board of trust­ees of this uni­ver­sity. The ques­tion, then, is not wheth­er or not one can work; it’s Who has power to make his or her acts legit­im­ate? That is all. In his coun­try that power is inves­ted in the hands of white people, and it makes their acts legit­im­ate.

We are now engaged in a psy­cho­lo­gic­al struggle in this coun­try about wheth­er or not black people have the right to use the words they want to use without white people giv­ing their sanc­tion. We main­tain the use of the words Black Power — let them address them­selves to that. We are not going to wait for white people to sanc­tion Black Power. We’re tired of wait­ing; every time black people try to move in this coun­try, they’re forced to defend their pos­i­tion before­hand. It’s time that white people do that. They ought to start defend­ing them­selves as to why they have oppressed and exploited us. A man was picked as a slave for one reason–the col­or of his skin. Black was auto­mat­ic­ally inferi­or, inhu­man,. And there­fore fit for slavery, so the ques­tion of wheth­er or not we are indi­vidu­ally sup­pressed is non­sensic­al, and it’s a down­right lie. We are oppressed as a group because we are black, not because we are lazy or apathet­ic, not because we’re stu­pid or we stink, not because we eat water­mel­on or have good rhythm. We are oppressed because we are black.

In order to escape that oppres­sion we must wield the group power we have, not the indi­vidu­al power that this coun­try sets as the cri­terion under which a man may come into it. That’s what is called integ­ra­tion. “You do what I tell you to do and we’ll let you sit at the table with us.” Well, if you believe in integ­ra­tion, you can come live in Watts, send your chil­dren to the ghetto schools. Let’s talk about that. If you believe in integ­ra­tion, then we’re going to start adopt­ing us some white people to live in our neigh­bor­hoods.

So it is clear that this ques­tion is not one off integ­ra­tion or segreg­a­tion. We can­not afford to be con­cerned about the 6 per­cent black chil­dren in this coun­try whom you allow to enter white schools. We are going to be con­cerned about the 94 per­cent. You ought to be con­cerned about them too. But are we will­ing to be con­cerned about the black people who will nev­er get to Berke­ley, nev­er get to Har­vard, and can­not get an edu­ca­tion, the ones you’ll nev­er get a chance to rub shoulders with and say, “Why, he’s almost as good as we are; he’s not like the oth­ers”? The ques­tion is, How can white soci­ety begin to move to see black people as human beings? I am black, there­fore I am. Not I am black and I must go to col­lege to prove myself. I am black, there­fore I am. And don’t deprive me of any­thing and say to me that you must go to col­lege before you gain access to X, Y, and Z. That’s only a ration­al­iz­a­tion for sup­pres­sion.

The polit­ic­al parties of this coun­try do not meet the needs of the people on a day-to-day basis. How can we build new polit­ic­al insti­tu­tions that will become the polit­ic­al expres­sions of people? How can you build polit­ic­al insti­tu­tions that will begin to meet the needs of Oak­land, Cali­for­nia? The need of Oak­land, Cali­for­nia, is not 1,000 police­men with sub­ma­chine guns. They need that least of all. How can we build insti­tu­tions that will allow those people to func­tion on a day-to-day basis, so that they can get decent jobs and have decent houses, and they can begin to par­ti­cip­ate in the poli­cy and make the decisions that affect their lives? That’s what they need, not Gesta­po troops, because this is no 1942, and if you play like Nazis, we’re not going to play Jew this time around.

Get hip to that. Can white people move inside their own com­munity and start tear­ing down racism where in fact it exists? It is you who live in Cicero and stopped us from liv­ing there. White people stopped us from mov­ing into Gren­ada, Miss. White people make sure that we live in the ghet­tos of this coun­try. White insti­tu­tions do that. They must change. In order for Amer­ica to really live on a basic prin­ciple of human rela­tion­ships, a new soci­ety must be born. Racism must die. The eco­nom­ic exploit­a­tion by this coun­try of non-white people around the world must also die.

There are sev­er­al pro­grams in the South where whites are try­ing to organ­ize poor whites so they can begin to move around the ques­tion of eco­nom­ic exploit­a­tion and polit­ic­al dis­fran­chise­ment. We’ve all heard the the­ory sev­er­al times. But few people are will­ing to go into it. The ques­tion is, Can the white act­iv­ist stop try­ing to be a Pep­si gen­er­a­tion who comes alive in the black com­munity, and be a man who’s will­ing to move into the white com­munity and start organ­iz­ing where the organ­iz­a­tion is needed? Can he do that? Can the white act­iv­ist dis­as­so­ci­ate him­self from the clowns who waste time par­ry­ing with each oth­er and start talk­ing about the prob­lems that are facing people in this state? You must start inside the white com­munity.

Our polit­ic­al pos­i­tion is that we don’t think the Demo­crat­ic Party rep­res­ents the needs of black people. We know that it does not. If, in fact, white people believe that they’re going to move inside that struc­ture, how are they going to organ­ize around a con­cept of white­ness based on true broth­er­hood and on stop­ping eco­nom­ic exploit­a­tion in order to form a coali­tion base for black people to hook up with? You can­not build a coali­tion based on nation­al sen­ti­ment. If you want a coali­tion to address itself to real changes in this coun­try, white people must start build­ing those insti­tu­tions inside the white com­munity. And that’s the real ques­tion fac­tion the white act­iv­ists today. Can they tear down the insti­tu­tions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hun­dreds of years?

Fre­d­er­ick Douglass said that the youth should fight to be lead­ers today. God knows we need to be lead­ers today, because the men who run this coun­try are sick. We must begin to start build­ing those insti­tu­tions and to fight to artic­u­late our pos­i­tion, to fight to be able to con­trol our uni­ver­sit­ies (we need to be able to do that), to fight to con­trol the basic insti­tu­tions that per­petu­ate racism by des­troy­ing them and build­ing new ones. That’s the real ques­tion that faces us today, and it is a dilem­ma because most of us don’t know how to work.

Most white act­iv­ists run into the black com­munity as an excuse. We can­not have white people work­ing in the black com­munity — on psy­cho­lo­gic­al grounds. The fact is that all black people ques­tion wheth­er or not they are equal to whites, since every time they start to do some­thing, white people are around show­ing them how to do it. If we are going to elim­in­ate that for the gen­er­a­tion that comes after us, then black people must be in pos­i­tions of power, doing and artic­u­lat­ing for them­selves. That’s not reverse racism; it is mov­ing onto healthy ground; it is becom­ing what the philo­sopher Sartre says, an “anti­racist racist.” And this coun­try can’t under­stand that. If every­body who’s white sees him­self as racist and sees us again­st him, he’s speak­ing from his own guilt.

We do not have the power in our hands to change the insti­tu­tion of war in this country–to begin to recre­ate it so that they can learn to leave the Viet­namese people alone. The only power we have is the power to say, “Hell, no!” to the draft.

The war in Viet­nam is illeg­al and immor­al. The ques­tion is, What can we do to stop that war? What can we do to stop the people who, in the name of Amer­ica, are killing babies, women, and chil­dren? We have to say to ourselves that there’s a higher law than the law of a fool named Rusk; there’s a higher law than the law of a buf­foon named John­son. It’s the law of each of us. We will not murder any­body who they say kill, and if we decide to kill, ‘were’ going to decide who it shall be. This coun­try will only stop the war in Viet­nam when the young men who are made to fight it begin to say, “Hell, no, we aren’t going.”

The peace move­ment has been a fail­ure because it hasn’t got­ten off the col­lege cam­puses where every­body has a 2S and is not afraid of being draf­ted any­way. The prob­lem is how you can move out of that into the white ghet­tos of this coun­try and artic­u­late a pos­i­tion for those white youth who do not want to go. You can­not do that. It is some­times iron­ic that many of the peace groups have begun to call SNCC viol­ent and they say they can no longer sup­port us, when we are in fact the most mil­it­ant organ­iz­a­tion for peace or civil rights or human rights again­st the war in Viet­nam in this coun­try today.

There isn’t one organ­iz­a­tion that has begun to meet our stand on the war in Viet­nam. We not only say we are again­st the war in Viet­nam; we are again­st the draft. No man has the right to take a man for two years and train him to be a killer. Any black man fight­ing in the war in Viet­nam is noth­ing but a black mer­cen­ary. Any time a black man leaves the coun­try where he can’t vote to sup­posedly deliv­er the vote to some­body else, he’s a black mer­cen­ary. Any time a black man leaves this coun­try, gets shot in Viet­nam on for­eign ground, and returns home and you won’t give him a buri­al place in his own homeland, he’s a black mer­cen­ary.

Even if I believed the lies of John­son, that we’re fight­ing to give demo­cracy to the people of Viet­nam, as a black man liv­ing in this coun­try I wouldn’t fight to give this to any­body. We have to use our bod­ies and our minds in the only way that we see fit. We must begin, as the philo­sopher Camus says, to come alive by say­ing “no.” This coun­try is a nation of thieves. It stole everything it has, begin­ning with black people. The U.S. can­not jus­ti­fy its exist­ence as the police­man of the world any longer. The mar­ines are at ready dis­pos­al to bring demo­cracy, and if the Viet­namese don’t want demo­cracy, well then, “We’ll just wipe them out, because they don’t deserve to live if they won’t have our way of life.”

There is a more imme­di­ate ques­tion: What do you do on your cam­pus? Do you raise ques­tions about the hun­dred black stu­dents who were kicked off cam­pus a couple of weeks ago? Eight hun­dred? And how does that ques­tion begin to move? Do you begin to relate to people out­side the ivory tower and uni­ver­sity walls? Do you think you’re cap­able of build­ing those human rela­tion­ships based on human­ity when the coun­try is the way it is, when the insti­tu­tions are clearly again­st us.

We have found all the myths of the coun­try to be noth­ing but down­right lies. We were told that if we worked hard we would suc­ceed, and if that were true we would own this coun­try lock, stock, and bar­rel. We have picked the cot­ton for noth­ing; we are the maids in the kit­chens of lib­er­al white people; we are the jan­it­ors, the port­ers, the elev­at­or men; we sweep up your col­lege floors. We are the hardest work­ers and the lowest paid. It is non­sensic­al for people to talk about human rela­tion­ships until they are will­ing to build new insti­tu­tions. Black people are eco­nom­ic­ally insec­ure. White lib­er­als are eco­nom­ic­ally secure. Can you begin to build an eco­nom­ic coali­tion? Are the lib­er­als will­ing to share their salar­ies with the eco­nom­ic­ally insec­ure black people they so much love? Then if you’re not, are you will­ing to start build­ing new insti­tu­tions that will provide eco­nom­ic secur­ity for black people? That’s the ques­tion we want to deal with!

Amer­ic­an stu­dents are per­haps the most polit­ic­ally unsoph­ist­ic­ated stu­dents in the world.

Across every coun­try of the world, while we were grow­ing up, stu­dents were lead­ing the major revolu­tions of their coun­tries. We have not been able to do that. They have been polit­ic­ally aware of their exist­ence. In South Amer­ica our neigh­bors have one every 24 hours just to remind us that they are polit­ic­ally aware. But we have been unable to grasp it because we’ve always moved in the field of mor­al­ity and love while people have been polit­ic­ally jiv­ing with our lives. You can’t move mor­ally again­st men like Brown and Reagan. You can’t move mor­ally again­st Lyn­don Baines John­son because he is an immor­al man. He doesn’t know what it’s all about. So you’ve got to move polit­ic­ally. We have to develop a polit­ic­al soph­ist­ic­a­tion that doesn’t par­rot (“The two-party sys­tem is the best sys­tem in the world”). We have to raise ques­tions about wheth­er we need new types of polit­ic­al insti­tu­tions in this coun­try, and we in SNCC main­tain that we need them now. Any time Lyn­don Baines John­son can head a party that has in it Bobby Kennedy, Wayne Morse, East­land, Wal­lace, and all those oth­er sup­posed-to-be-lib­er­al cats, there’s some­thing wrong with that party. They’re mov­ing polit­ic­ally, not mor­ally. If that party refuses to seat black people from Mis­sis­sip­pi and goes ahead and seats racists like East­land and his clique, it’s clear to me that they’re mov­ing polit­ic­ally, and that one can­not begin to talk mor­al­ity to people like that.

We must ques­tion the val­ues of this soci­ety, and I main­tain that black people are the best people to do that since we have been excluded from that soci­ety. we ought to think wheth­er or not we want to become a part of that soci­ety. That’s pre­cisely what the Stu­dent Non­vi­ol­ent Coördin­at­ing Com­mit­tee is doing. We are rais­ing ques­tions about this coun­try. I do not want to be a part of the Amer­ic­an pie. The Amer­ic­an pie means rap­ing South Africa, beat­ing Viet­nam, beat­ing South Amer­ica, rap­ing the Phil­ip­pines, rap­ing every coun­try you’ve been in. I don’t want any of your blood money. I don’t want to be part of that sys­tem. We are the gen­er­a­tion who has found this coun­try to be a world power and the wealth­i­est coun­try in the world. We must ques­tion wheth­er or not we want this coun­try to con­tin­ue being the wealth­i­est coun­try in the world at the price of rap­ing every­body else. And because black people are say­ing we do not now want to become a part of you, we are called reverse racists. Ain’t that a gas?

White soci­ety has caused the fail­ure of non­vi­ol­ence. I was always sur­prised at Quakers who came to Alabama and counseled me to be non­vi­ol­ent, but didn’t have the guts to tell James Clark to be non­vi­ol­ent. That’s where non­vi­ol­ence needs to be preached — to Jim Clark, not to black people. White people should con­duct their non­vi­ol­ent schools in Cicero where they are needed, not among black people in Mis­sis­sip­pi. Six-foot-two men kick little black chil­dren in Gren­ada — can you con­duct non­vi­ol­ent schools there? Can you name on black man today who has killed any­body white and is still alive? Even after a rebel­lion, when some black broth­ers throw bricks and bottles, ten thou­sand of them have to pay the price. When the white police­man comes in, any­body who’s black is arres­ted because we all look alike.

The youth of this coun­try must being to raise those ques­tions. We are going to have to change the for­eign poli­cy of this coun­try. One of the prob­lems with the peace move­ment is that it is too caught up in Viet­nam, and if Amer­ica pulled out the troops from Viet­nam this week, next week you’d have to get another peace move­ment for San­to Domin­go. We have to hook up with black people around the world; and that hook­up must not only be psy­cho­lo­gic­al, but real. If South Amer­ica were to rebel today, and black people were to shoot the hell out of all the white people there, as they should, Stand­ard Oil would crumble tomor­row. If South Africa were to go today, Chase Man­hat­tan Bank would crumble tomor­row. If Zim­b­ab­we, which is called Rhodesia by white people, were to go tomor­row, Gen­er­al Elec­tric would cave in on the East Coast.

How do we stop those insti­tu­tions that are so will­ing to fight again­st “Com­mun­ist aggres­sion” but close their eyes again­st racist oppres­sion? We’re not talk­ing about a poli­cy of aid or send­ing Peace Corps people in to teach people how to read and write and build houses while we steal their raw mater­i­als from them. Because that’s all this coun­try does. What under­developed coun­tries need is inform­a­tion about how to become indus­tri­al­ized, so they can keep their raw mater­i­als where they have them, pro­duce goods, sell them to this coun­try for the price it’s sup­posed to pay. instead, Amer­ica keeps selling goods back to them for a profit and keeps send­ing our mod­ern day mis­sion­ar­ies there, call­ing them the sons of Kennedy. And if the youth are going to par­ti­cip­ate in that pro­gram, how do you begin to con­trol the Peace Corps.

This coun­try assumes that if someone is poor, they are poor because of their own indi­vidu­al blight, or because they weren’t born on the right side of town, or they had too many chil­dren, or went in the army too early, or because their father was a drunk, or they didn’t care about school–they made a mis­take. That’s a lot of non­sense. Pover­ty is well cal­cu­lated in this coun­try, and the reas­on why the pover­ty pro­gram won’t work is because the cal­cu­lat­ors of pover­ty are admin­is­ter­ing it.

How can you, as the youth in this coun­try, move to start car­ry­ing those things out? Move into the white com­munity. We have developed a move­ment in the black com­munity. The white act­iv­ist has miser­ably failed to develop the move­ment inside of his com­munity. Will white people have the cour­age to go into the white com­munit­ies and start organ­iz­ing them? That’s the ques­tion for the white act­iv­ist. We won’t get caught up in ques­tions about power. This coun­try knows what power is. It knows what Black Power is because it deprived black people of it for over four hun­dred years. White people asso­ci­ate Black Power with viol­ence because of their own inab­il­ity to deal with black­ness. If we had said “Negro power” nobody would get scared. Every­body would sup­port it. If we said power for colored people, everybody’d be for that, but it is the word “black” that both­ers people in this coun­try, and that’s their prob­lem, not mine. That’s the lie that says any­thing black is bad.

You’re all a col­lege and uni­ver­sity crowd. You’ve taken your basic logic course. You know about major premise, minor premise. People have been telling you any­thing all black is bad. Let’s make that our major premise.

Major premise: Any­thing all black is bad.

Minor premise or par­tic­u­lar premise: I am all black.

Therefore…I’m nev­er going to be put in that bag; I’m all black and I’m all good. Any­thing all black is not neces­sar­ily bad. Any­thing all black is only bad when you use for­ce to keep whites out. Now that’s what white people have done in this coun­try, and they’re pro­ject­ing their same fears and guilt on us, and we won’t have it. Let them handle their own affairs and their own guilt. Let them find their own psy­cho­lo­gists. We refuse to be the ther­apy for white soci­ety any longer. We have gone stark, rav­ing mad try­ing to do it.

I look at Dr. King on tele­vi­sion every single day, and I say to myself: “Now there is a man who’s des­per­ately needed in this coun­try. There is a man full of love. There is a man full of mer­cy. There is a man full of com­pas­sion.” But every time I see Lyn­don on tele­vi­sion, I say, “Mar­tin, baby, you got a long way to go.”

If we were to be real and hon­est, we would have to admit that most people in this coun­try see things black and white. We live in a coun­try that’s geared that way. White people would have to admit that they are afraid to go into a black ghetto at night. They’re afraid because they’d be “beat up,” “lynched,” “looted,” “cut up,” etc. It hap­pens to black people inside the ghetto every day, incid­ent­ally. Since white people are afraid of that, they get a man to do it for them — a police­man. Fig­ure his men­tal­ity. The first time a black man jumps, that white man’s going to shoot him. Police bru­tal­ity is going to exist on that level. The only time I hear people talk about non­vi­ol­ence is when black people move to defend them­selves again­st white people. Black people cut them­selves every night in the ghetto — nobody talks about non­vi­ol­ence. White people beat up black people every day — nobody talks about non­vi­ol­ence. But as soon as black people start to move, the double stand­ard comes into being. You can’t defend your­self. You show me a black man who advoc­ates aggress­ive viol­ence who would be able to live in this coun­try. Show him to me. Isn’t it hypo­crit­ic­al for Lyn­don to talk about how you can’t accom­plish any­thing by loot­ing and you must accom­plish it by the leg­al ways? What does he know about leg­al­ity? Ask Ho Chi Minh.

We must wage a psy­cho­lo­gic­al battle on the right for black people to define them­selves as they see fit, and organ­ize them­selves as they see fit. we don’t know wheth­er the white com­munity will allow for that organ­iz­ing, because once they do they must also allow for the organ­iz­ing inside their own com­munity. It doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence, though — we’re going to organ­ize our way. The ques­tion is how we’re going to organ­ize our way. The ques­tion is how we’re going to facil­it­ate those mat­ters, wheth­er it’s going to be done with a thou­sand police­men with sub­ma­chine guns, or wheth­er it’s going to be done in a con­text where it’s allowed by white people ward­ing off those police­men. Are white people who call them­selves act­iv­ists ready to move into the white com­munit­ies on two counts, on build­ing new polit­ic­al insti­tu­tions to des­troy the old ones that we have, and to move around the con­cept of white youth refus­ing to go into the army? If so, then we can start to build a new world. We must urge you to fight now to be the lead­ers of today, not tomor­row. This coun­try is a nation of thieves. It stands on the brink of becom­ing a nation of mur­der­ers. We must stop it. We must stop it.

We are on the move for our lib­er­a­tion. we’re tired of try­ing to prove things to white people. We are tired of try­ing to explain to white people that we’re not going to hurt them. We are con­cerned with get­ting the things we want, the things we have to have to be able to func­tion. The ques­tion is, Will white people over­come their racism and allow for that to hap­pen in this coun­try? If not, we have no choice but to say very clearly, “Move on over, or we’re going to move over you.”

Sources:

So Just, “Speeches on Social Justice” http://www.sojust.net/speeches/stokely_carmichael_blackpower.html

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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