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The Game Black people Play/Trilogy Book One: The Game's Soul
I am a 75 year old southern black man who spent all of my life involved in Black street life; playing the game as hard as I knew how for fun and profit. From my early teenage years I spent my free time reading all kinds of books, magazines, newspapers, and like all Black street hustlers, getting involved with intellectual discussions about what Black’s should do about racism in America.
When Dr. Martin L. King’s aspect of the Civil Rights movement began with non-violent confrontation, from Rosa Parks, to his death in Memphis Tennessee, as a street hustler I didn’t even consider getting involved in that kind of drama. I had strong ideas about Civil Rights since I was a teenager, and had fantasies about confrontations with southern Whites. I could not see how non-violent reactions to being ate up by dogs, shocked with electric cattle prongs, and getting my head whipped with Billy clubs fit into the kind of confrontation I had in mind.
So when the Black Panthers came along with a militant approach and attitude of carrying guns in the name of defending the Black community, I accepted them with open arms. I saw them as the realization of Malcolm X’s teaching, “By any means necessary” in the attack on racism. I didn’t just join the Black Panther party; I became a Black Panther, and knew I would be one for the rest of my life. They became the symbol of the warrior spirit of my man-hood.
The idea that led me to become a Historian was born out of the confusion caused by the breaking up of the Black Panther Party, 1971-72-73. I was frustrated and disappointed with the lack of progress, and the way the Party’s leadership, which was never rock solid, began to fall apart in 1970. We had made great blood sacrifices. Now I saw the leadership throwing it all away through ego-disagreements. They “stopped seizing the time,” and the “times began seizing us.”
We were not only being exterminated by the Police and Prosecutors, but by ourselves as well. By the middle of 1972 the Party, at best, had deteriorated to a kind of umbrella under which everybody went in their own direction, did their own thing by any means necessary, while still calling ourselves Black Panthers. This is what I did beginning the first part of 1971.
The first part of 1973 found me, my 16 year old Son (Orchester Jr.), and my newly-turned-out Ho living in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. My son and I had problems with the U.S. criminal justice system, and we decided to travel around the world while waiting for things to cool down back in the United States. Throughout my involvement with the Panthers, I always had a Ho financing what I was doing inside and outside of the party, and this was still the case.
So while my Ho was working in a whore/house, my son spent his time trying to turn-out one of the local girls I thought Costa Rica would be a good place to stop for a minute and put the Civil Rights movement, especially the Black Panthers, in perspective. Finally I came to the conclusion that to find the answers I was seeking I had to understand Black people. The way to do that seemed to be to study how our minds work; so I used a psychological point of view to seek answers.
Meanwhile, one of the qualities of my new Ho was that she was mission orientated and intellectual, so after kicking around the game for a minute, I ran down this new mission to her. I explained the problem to her in detail, and told her I needed to follow my mind and let it lead me to the answer; supported by her. I trusted my game/mind to produce what I wanted, and I wanted answers.
This approach was not new to me. All of my life I loved experimenting with ideas while looking for answers to all kinds of questions, determined to find a different way of thinking about what was causing the problem for Black people and the Civil Rights movement. Something was missing and it was driving me crazy. Meanwhile my son had gotten close to one of the local girls and married her so he could bring her to the United States, and the four of us returned to Denver.
From mid November 1973 to the spring of 1975, while my Ho worked in champagne clubs, I spent my time trying to learn-by-teaching my children the meaning of the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement; especially my daughters, Linda and Elaine. This I hoped would help me to put it in its proper prospective. When I was unable to get the clarity that I sought, I realized that I would have to change my approach.
From 1975 to 1979 my Ho and I played the escort service game; which is a legal form of pimping a stable as large as you choose, when did right, as a means of finding out what Black people were doing, for instance Black leadership. I spent my free time studying how Black people’s minds worked by trying to figure out the nature of the philosophy we live by. Also, in this time period, my first three grandchildren were born; one each in 1977, 1978, and 1979. Grandparenthood is a very beautiful experience, and added a new dimension to my mind; Grandchildren gave depth and meaning to my family and what I was doing. I established a close relationship with them, and with the future ones when they arrived. This became a world in itself.
From 1979 to 1981, I spent my time traveling and talking with ex-Panthers that I knew had the same questions I had, especially a friend in San Francisco, and another one in Des Moines (including my son who had also set up shop in Des Moines); yet I became more and more frustrated. I didn’t seem to be making any headway in figuring out Black people and why the Civil Rights movement didn’t bring the satisfaction I thought it should. I begin to question whether I was really struggling with a dead issue and wasting my time; yet I could not completely give it up.
From 1981, when I got a real good cocaine connection, to January 1987, when I became a serious cocaine addict, I was deeply involved with standing on the corner in Denver’s Five Point area dealing cocaine with both hands. At the same time, I then became deeply involved in looking for a way to tell my grandchildren a story about Black history in general rather than just the meaning of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As they reached five or six years old, this wonderful relationship between me, my grandchildren, and Black history began.
1982. Tiffany: (My now five year old first born grand daughter). "Grandpa! Grandpa! Tell me a story!"
Grandpa: "I have told you all the stories I know, “Three little Pigs,” “Bro. Rabbit,” and so on. Do you want to hear them again?"
Tiffany: "No, those were little stories,” (stretching her hand as far apart as possible for a five year old), “Last time you promised to tell me a big story.”
Grandpa: "Big as a house?"
Tiffany: "Tell me one as big as the whole world,” (looking like a little woman, with one hand on her hip, and the other pointing her finger like her mama). “You promised."
Grandpa: "I did say that, didn't I? Well, let me see,” (feeling all the warm feelings that grandparents feel while in the presence of their grandchildren, especially the first one); “I guess I will just have to make up a story in my head, huh! What do you want the story to be about?"
Tiffany: "I don't know, just as long as it is big and good."
Grandpa: "Mmmmm, big and good huh? Tell you what, (thinking about my idea of making a commitment to study Black history as a compromise story), Grandpa is thinking about a real big story, and if I can figure out how it goes together, it will be big and good, okay?"
Tiffany: "Now don't you forget, promise?"
1983. DionDi: “Grandpa, I want you to tell me a story.”
Grandpa: “What kind of story?”
DionDi: “Old school game.” (Looking like he had already committed himself to the game).
1984. Rachel: "Grandpa, tell me a story."
Grandpa: "What do you want your story to be about?"
Rachel: "Tell me a story about how to make the world better."
Grandpa: "That will make a great story. (I wondered how a five year old kid could have a heart as big as the world).
1985-86. Then, about the last of 1985, I ran into this book by Edward Hallett Carr, “What is history? (Vintage Books, New York, 1961), Who made the statement “The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which is hard to eradicate.”
As you will see in a minute, this had a profound effect not only on my understanding of the meaning of the relationship between the historian, and the history he produces related to the history books I was reading at the time. It was from that I began to get some idea of a definition of history in general and what purpose it served; it’s all about the Game of survival. This took me to another level, and from that level, I could define what Black history meant to me, and to Black people in general.
However, this insight got put on the back burner of my mind, because by 1986, my cocaine habit had taken full control, and I was broke and reduced to selling cocaine only to feed a ever-growing monkey on my back. But somewhere deep in the back of my mind the idea would not go away.
And by the first of January, 1987, I was standing on my favorite corner dealing cocaine with both hands, and playing the street game a hundred miles per hour. That’s when the idea hit me like a bolt of lightening. It was the Game Black people played that turned the Black world right-side-up, after slavery had turned it up-side-down.
I realized that the lack of an understanding of the role the game played in Black people’s lives, and history was causing the problems I had in understanding Black history, the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panther Party, and my own life. The Story of the Game Black people play is the history of African American’s life, past and present, and the game they played to survive. At that moment my mission in life was revealed to me. I made a vow then and there to become a Historian to teach my family the history of the Game, and an autobiographer to teach them the lessons I learned about living Life.
My life time of experiences on the streets taught me that everybody in the world is playing games with everybody else in the world, and my successes and failures in surviving in the world depended on my ability to see what game they are playing, and counter play it; this means that I have lots of experience recognizing game when I see it.
With those kinds of experiences, I can do research and recognize the games Black people played in history. I have been playing the game since I was five years old and love it, and to do the research, learn, and write about all levels of the game will be my ultimate pleasure, and something I could really get into.
This meant that I had to teach my children and grandchildren about life as well as the history of the game to enable me and them to understand what was going on in the 1960s.
Once I had the answer I had looked for all those years, I got this rush of energy like I had just shot speed into my vein. I walked off the streets with pride in my stride and pep in my step, and didn’t look back.
From that day to this one I have not used cocaine, and that gave my mind the freedom to devote myself 24/7 to researching and writing about my experiences in life, and the Game Black people played in history. I was so energized I knew without a doubt that I would find the answers to the major stumbling blocks slowing down Black people’s progress, as I saw it. My grandchildren played a big role by constantly pushing me to finish.
We walked over to a house on the corner of twenty-fifth and Marion Street and knocked on the door. An older lady came to the door and invited us in. We went inside and sat in the living room, and the older lady was introduced to me as Mrs. Johnson , Betty’s art teacher and Godmother. Betty left and returned with ice tea and cake, which she put on the coffee table.
Mrs. Johnson did not waste any time getting right to the point: “So you are the young man who my little girl is so excited about?”
“I hope so, I like her very much.”
“Why do you like her?”
This was one of those times when, after you have thought a lot about something and you can’t reach a conclusion, but as soon as you try to explain it to somebody it all becomes clear “I like her because we have a good understanding. Both of us know and respect the other's one goals in life."
“What do you mean?”
“Every since slavery ended, each generation of our people has been making steps toward freedom. In my way of thinking, Betty and I have been chosen from our generation to make contributions to that forward progress. Our step is to somehow make White people stop doing the things they are doing to Black people, she as an art teacher and me as a philosopher. We are soul brother and sister.”
Mrs. Johnson thought for a minute, and then asked, “How far did you go in school, and are you planning on returning?”
“I was promoted to the seventh grade, and I don’t like school.”
“Well how do you plan to become a philosopher?”
I went on to tell her about what mom had taught me about traveling and reading books. And I continued with telling her, in a condensed form, the things I had learned from Uncle Poleon about looking at history backwards and forward. Then I told her about the Wise One in San Francisco, who told me about finding wisdom and knowledge by studying logic, philosophy, and human nature, and how I studied logic by talking with people and reading murder mysteries. I also told her about the Williams and how they let me use their library, and some of the books I had started to read. Finally I told her about my people-watching to study human nature. I could see she was impressed, but a small frown appeared on her face when Betty, during the conversation, came and sat by me.
Mrs. Johnson asked, “How long are you going to be in Denver?”
“I don’t know, probably a month or so, or until I learn as much as I can about what I want to know, then I will move on.”
“Then if you two get involved with each other, when you leave somebody’s feelings will be hurt.”
“No ma’am. That is what I mean when I say that we have a good understanding. I know she has to do what she has to do, and I am proud of her for doing it. And she knows I got to do what I got to do, and she is proud of me for doing it.
The only way we could get hurt is if we don’t fulfill our goals; and even if one of us wanted to do that, both of us are too strong for it to happen.”
Mrs. Johnson looked off into space for a moment, and said, “Oh my God, look at the time! I got a thousand things to do before we go over to the church. Maybe if you have time you can come back tomorrow about one o’clock, we can talk more; it is nice to meet you Chester.”
Mrs. Johnson left the room, leaving Betty and me sitting on the couch. Betty proudly told me that her mother and Mrs. Johnson were best friends, and since Mrs. Johnson could not have any children, she had kind of adopted Betty. She had been her second mother every since.
Every since Betty was a little girl she could always draw very well, and Mrs. Johnson had been teaching her about art , while at the same time, buying her school clothes since kindergarten. Plus, had saved up the money to send Betty to college when she finished high school.
We talked for a little while longer, and as I was leaving ,Betty wrote Mrs. Johnson’s address on a piece of paper and told me she would meet me there tomorrow. And she really wanted me to come. She could guarantee me that I will learn something. I said I would and left.
As I walked towards town on Twenty-Fifth Street, I was surprised and proud of being able to put Betty and my relationship into words that I was sure that Betty, Mrs. Johnson, and I understood.
On the other hand, I was upset with myself because I thought that there were other things I could have told her that would have made a bigger impression. Then I began to wonder why I thought it was important to impress her at all.
The following day, when I arrived and knocked on the door a couple of times, I didn’t think anybody was home. Finally I saw the button for the doorbell, and rung that and Betty came to the door.
She took me through to the back of the house and on to a patio, and explained that she thought she heard somebody knocking but was not sure until she heard the doorbell. Mrs. Johnson was sitting in a lawn chair and got right to the point; “Have a seat Chester; I wanted to talk to you again because you are an interesting young man.”
“Thank you Ma’am.”
“I don’t know enough about you to know if you are the best thing for my little girl or not, but I am not stupid. I know there is something going on between you two, she talks about you enough, and you seem to like her.”
Just like the day before, my feelings for Betty only became clear to me when explaining it to somebody. I replied, “Mrs. Johnson you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we have one thing in common, we both want Betty to be a success in life. I know that you think I am too young and wild to be responsible, and in some ways you may be right, but I believe to the bottom of my heart that, like me, she has been chosen by the spirit of our generation to be a part of the “good fight,” and there is nothing I will ever do to harm her in any way.”
“You can talk the good talk, but it is left to be seen if you can walk the good walk. Anyway, that is not all I wanted to talk with you young folks about. The thing that makes me interested in you Chester, is your mentioning the duties of Black generations; you mentioned it the other day and again today.”
“Yes ma’am, my great grandmother told me about it. She said that each generation had the responsibility to take what the older generation knew, and use it to create a way to move Black people forward as far as they can. She also said that the older generation couldn’t tell the younger generation what to do. If they knew, they would have done it themselves.”
Mrs. Johnson said. “I know that to be true, when I was young I felt a strong sense of wanting to do something for our race, and I was disappointed when the older people did not tell me how to do what had to be done. It took me a long time to learn that they just did not know.”
Since I was little, I loved art because it gave me a sense of having the ability to create, so I decided to become an art teacher to try to pass that down to the next generation.”
When I found out that I could not have any children, I became the godmother to my best friend’s daughter. Since she was real small, I noticed that she was a special little girl and had a big talent for art. I became determined that I was going to do everything possible to see to it she had every opportunity to succeed in that field. So it makes sense to me that she is chosen to do something special for our people.”
I was real excited to hear her confirm what I was thinking, and tried to tell her, “I understand, I know I am young but I really understand.”
Smiling, Mrs. Johnson said, “I guess I have taken up enough of your time, I think you were planning to take Betty to the movies. Have a good time and don’t stay out too late.”
“Yes Ma’am, but I can see that you are a thinking woman, and I know you are one of the chosen ones of your generation. Therefore, I know you know something about what is going on in this world that Betty and I should know. So if you don’t mind, I would rather not go to the movie and just listen to you.”
The look that came into Mrs. Johnson’s eyes let me know that I had made a hit with her. She was eating up that compliment like it was her last meal. Her smile got even bigger, and she acted all embarrassed and as an extra prize, I saw that Betty was real pleased about what I had said. Mrs. Johnson, sounding real pleased, “I don’t feel like getting into all of that just now, maybe some other time.”
I counted with, “Well I think we will just hang around for a while and maybe you will feel like talking a little later; if that is alright with you.”
“Of course it’s alright with me. My goodness, look at the time, we had an early breakfast. Are you hungry Chester, I think I will go inside and make some sandwiches?
“Yes ma’am, I could eat a little bit.”
Mrs. Johnson’s whole attitude toward me had changed. I had learned from my grandfathers that old people always think that they have something important to tell, as I was learning the same thing worked with school teachers, and they developed a soft spot for any youngster who wanted to listen and learn from them. This was the game I was playing.
I didn’t think she knew anything that was even interesting much less important to where my mind was at the time. But I thought it was a small enough price to pay if it got me what I wanted. I would listen to her for a while, that would make her and Betty happy, then I would be in control of the situation.
That is what I was scheming about when she called us into the kitchen to eat tuna fish salad sandwiches and drink Kool-Aid, and then we all went back out on the patio. When she said, “So you want to know what I think about the things I have seen going on in this world,” I knew I had taken my scheme to the max.
I sat on the floor by her feet and said I didn’t want to miss a word, while Betty sat on the floor beside her with her head in her lap, with her face turned toward me and her eyes telling me, “Listen carefully, this is a gift from me to you.”
Mrs. Johnson began telling us about her beliefs and questions, “I don’t have many answers to help you young people along, just some things I have noticed and thought about a lot. But I have lots of questions, and I believe if answers can be found for these questions they will go a long way towards dealing with the problems in the relationship between Blacks and Whites.
There is one thing that I have observed, there is a major difference in the way Black and White people think and deal with the things in the world we live in. White people think they can discover all of the answers they need, and Black people think they can create all of the answers they need. Both are half right and both are half wrong. This means that the relationship between the two are of equal value to each other, because each one has the half the other one needs.
However, Whites in general fight their hardest, and use their power in an effort to keep us from this realization. That they are hitchhiking on our backs spiritually, and especially culturally. They don’t want us to know we are creators and they are imitators in this regard. This means that Whites don’t pay Blacks anything whatsoever for the things we contribute. In fact, we are maltreated for our efforts. This is a form of robbery, or is stealing a better word? Meanwhile, isn’t their form of stealing really an egotistical ritual process of internalizing Black values? Or does this mean they are seeking a means of controlling the Black soul? Or maybe both? On the other hand, Whites really believe that Blacks can create things that are too good for our use, only White people should have the benefits of our creation. They believe that the creation is better than the creator. In this way they can hate the creator and love the creation, isn’t this really a case of Blacks indirectly leading Whites culturally when they steal? Now let us add some good old fashion Black common sense and see what we come up with. Isn’t this stealing really a White question, or problem? Why should this concern us, unless we can use that fact, by putting fish hooks in our creations, to further our cause? But in any case, their stealing expands our culture in the sense that all of the people will have our cultural values. In light of this, should we try to stop their stealing? Or should we help them steal? But then again, as far as the members of any society are concerned, what goes around comes around, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction in social relationships. So we must also ask ourselves, what Black people are stealing from White people?
From that point of view, the question becomes, what Black and White people are stealing from each other. Which brings up another question, what does all of this stealing really mean as related to the Black and White relationships? Is this really the definition of integration? Everybody steals things from everybody else. By internalizing each other’s values, in stealing Black values are Whites really fighting to gain control over the spirituality of America; isn’t this our domain? What, if any, kinds of problems this is causing? This leads to another question, what are Black and White people learning from each other, and better still, how are Blacks and Whites using this information as a weapon in fighting each other? Or, are Black people stealing White’s questions and White people stealing Black’s answers; as a means of getting Blacks to tell them how to control us? Or, is it the other way around, are Whites stealing Black’s questions, and Blacks stealing White answers in order to control them?
However, in this balance of values, with Whites having all of the power, they are tipping the scales in their favor. If this is the case, doesn’t this mean we are using our entire creative energy helping Whites reach their goal, and they are using all of their power to keep us from reaching our goal? For example, being as the White’s goals are for Blacks not to reach our destiny to be free; doesn’t this mean our creative power is being used against our best interest?
I want to bring up something we all know, but only a few make use of. White people have a strange kind of fear of Black people. To imitators, creators are totally unpredictable. And because they don’t know the process of creativity, they can’t control what we create; so they are always on the defensive, trying to destroy or claim as their own the results of our creativity. They are behind the curve in this respect. Therefore, culturally and spiritually, they are in the position of trying to force us to be creative for their benefit, while trying to keep us from using our creativity for our own benefit. While at the same time they are jealous of our ability to create in the first place. Anyway, control of creativity is a contradiction in terms of definitions and by nature contradictions generate fear based on confusion of the issue.
On the other hand, Blacks also have a reason to fear White people because they have tried everything they know to break our spirit and steal our soul, and failed. We have very good reasons to fear the fact that White people are capable, and have the means, of killing all Blacks because that is the only thing left for them to do in defense of racism; beginning after the Civil War. The question becomes, in the pursuit of our freedom, will they kill off Black people as their last line of defense? Before he was President, Thomas Jefferson mentioned something along this line in his book, Notes on the state of Virginia,” In the early 1780s.
Even in those circumstances we have a long history of conquering fear by realizing that, due to the nature of the relationship between creators and imitators, at no time have White people really been a threat nor are they really an obstacle on the pathway to what we want. And if they become either, it has been proven that in the last eighty to ninety years since the Civil War we can deal with it. In the end creativity always wins out. The point being, neither White people nor racism is our major questions. Our major questions do not have anything to do with White people at all; we are our own major question, answer and problem.
Now ,I have taken up enough of you young people’s time, I know you can think of something to do besides listen to an old lady talk.”
When Mrs. Johnson stopped talking it was a while before I was aware of it, I was running around in my mind trying to remember everything she said, and at the same time understand what it all meant. It sounded familiar to me, it was like she had gone around and gotten bits and pieces of things I had heard throughout my life and put them together into something new, different, and very important.
Betty told me later that I was just sitting with my mouth open looking at Mrs. Johnson, not saying a word; even when she repeated herself about us having better things to do than sit listening to an old lady talk.
We had planned to meet Eddy and Joyce after they came out of the movie. But on the way, as we were walking towards Five Points, I kept running what Mrs. Johnson said through my mind. And every time I thought about it, I came to a part where I had to stop because I could not understand its meaning; so I told Betty I had a question or two more to ask Mrs. Johnson.
She was still sitting on the patio when we returned. Surprised to see us she asked if we had forgotten something. I answered, “No ma’am, I just want to ask you a question to help me understand what you told us. For example, what did you mean by, “Whites really believe that Blacks can create things that are “too good for our use,” only White people should have the benefits of our creation."
With a pleased smile on her face, Mrs. Johnson answered, “They believe that the creation is better than the creator. In this way they can hate the creator and love the creation? Isn’t this really a case of Blacks indirectly leading Whites culturally when they steal? Some day, take a close look at any Ancient African Society, and you will see it is founded on one principle, the freedom to choose, and realize one’s destiny. This is shown in their religious beliefs, in the dynamics of their family relationships, throughout the working of their government, and in the lifestyle of their society—more important than that, take a look at African art, and the African traditional Artist. Once you see how our ancient ancestors did things spirituality and how they transformed it into reality, you will find that spirituality defines the reality of culture.
This will open your eyes to what our Great Grand Parents were doing in the slave days in America. What do you think those old brothers and sisters were singing about while working in those cotton, rice, and sugar cane farms, and other labor-intensive slave work? What do you think the Slaves were praying for late at night? Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! But more important than that, who do you think their praying and singing were giving praise too; it was not the Christian God, It was the Spirit of Freedom or the God of Freedom. This means that it was Black people who introduced the Spirit of Freedom into America and created the ritual that allowed it to manifest itself into the spirituality of a culture that became the greatest freedom-loving nation in the world. This is what was, and is, in the center of the slave days Ring Shout Ritual. Therefore, when we speak about slavery, we are not talking about a group of stupid Black people that didn’t know up from down. What do you think the “foundering Fathers" of this great nation were drinking with the milk they were sucking out of the breast of “their old Black Aunt Jamama? And what do you think those “old Uncle Toms” were teaching “those Little White children in those stories they were telling? Culture.
Like I said, everything we created, Whites take for themselves and think it is “too good for the likes of Blacks.” But take a look at how they related to the culture we created. White America does not have the slightest idea of what freedom is about, and they are being pulled into a world they don’t know anything about.
For example, take a close look at the Constitution of the American Government, as it governs society, and you will see that freedom was not a part of its purpose, even for White males.
They got liberty and freedom mixed up, and defined them as the same thing. Liberty is limited liberation from a government or ruler, whereas freedom is the freedom to give expression to who you are; one is physical and the other is spiritual. Freedom can’t come from a government. It must come from the spirituality of the nation as it is manifested in its culture. And the spirituality of America’s culture is Black in nature and purpose, which gives us some control. Therefore, if Blacks are in control of the spiritual and cultural aspects of America’s Society, we are leading White people in this regard, and if they are living in denial of this fact, the better for us to use what we control to change all of the negative values and standards of American Society into positive ones. Always keep in mind that the fight between Blacks and Whites is for the most part a battle over domains in which the fight is going to take place. Whites want it to take place in the physical domain where they are the strongest, while Blacks want it to be in the spiritual domain where we are the strongest. What we are talking about here is spiritual warfare, that fight is won or lost by who defines our history, and in this situation Black warriors must be artists to win.”
Mrs. Johnson stopped talking like she was waiting for us to say something, and to fill in the silence I stated, “I don’t know about the northern part of society, but I don’t care what we use, that is going to be a hard job to pull off in the South.”
She answered, “There is nothing about Black life in America that has been easy, and we have always had to pay a higher price than anybody else for what we got.”
“You sure have given me a lot to think about, and I have learned a lot, I don’t know how to thank you, but I will try to think of some way to show my appreciation.”
“Oh, that is easy; just don’t do anything to hurt my little girl.”
As we were leaving to meet Eddy and Joyce, Betty and I went into the house, leaving Mrs. Johnson on the patio. Instead of going out of the front door to meet them, she took a key off a hook and unlocked a room off from the dinning room. Inside this room was al kind of pictures of Black people hung all over the walls, sitting on the furniture and on top of each other on the floor. They were produced in oils, water colors, crayons, pencils. Some seemed to be finger painted, and there were also clay sculptures of al kinds on tables. Then I noticed, Betty had signed most of them.
I began to spend time looking at each one. The more I looked the more I felt like I was being drawn into some kind of spiritual experience where her art and the things Mrs. Johnson said began to interact. The words became art and the art became words, but all of the meanings were dancing just out of my reach on the edge of my understanding. I was being carried away in a world that was so beautiful. I experienced it as a sweet kind of pain.
Meanwhile, Betty did not come into the room; she just stood in the doorway and looked at me. When I had looked at everything twice, some of them three and four times, I walked out of the room and Betty locked it back up and we left. On our way back to meet Eddy and Joyce, Betty asked me what I thought about her art, I told her that I did not know enough to say it was good or bad.
I told her about the experience I had while looking at it. And that made me think she was saying the same thing with her art as Mrs. Johnson was talking about on the patio.
I continued, and told her that between her art and Mrs. Johnson’s ideas of creativity, I felt there was unity in the community of my mind, and for the first time I understood who I am in the bigger picture of Black Society. And she seemed to understand what I was talking about.
I asked her if Mrs. Johnson talked to her when they were alone like she talked to us that day. She said yes, but it was the first time she talked like that in front of anybody else besides her. And it was the first time she talked about creativity as a method of dealing with White people, she always taught her it as a way of dealing with herself.
Then I had a flash of insight, this was the first time in my life that I ever got anything from art, and I believed that when I analyze my experience I will have some insight into the relationship between art and ideas; and I knew that would answer a lot more questions about who I am. I was so happy and excited I was actually dancing down the street and talking a hundred miles an hour trying to explain to her what I had found out. Stopping every once in a while to grab Betty and hug for a long while, and thank her for introducing me to Mrs. Johnson and showing me her art work.
We met Eddy and Joyce, messed around at the teenage hangout, and later Eddy and I took the girls to eat Chinese food. At the end of the meal, we ordered a pot of tea by the name the waitress in Salt Lake City told me, but they did not have it, so we just ordered the strongest one they had—the girls did not want any.
Book One, The Game Black people Play Epilogue
Ancient West African Spirituality
In 1700, England began shipping Blacks into North America by the thousands. This had an effect on African American’s African Ancestors back in the motherland.
All of the Ancestors from the seven nations got together to decide what to do about the spiritual welfare of their children, the fourteen African couples and the generations of their offspring in the Dismal Swamp of the North American Colonies.
After thinking about it for a while, my Ancient African Ancestors sent a committee-of-seven, one man from each one of the seven nations, to take the matter before the Grand Council of Most Ancient Ancestor for all of Africa, who came up with a master plan.
Their Master Plan consisted of a young warrior Ancestor, his wife, and child from each of our ancestral nations, to go to the Great Dismal Swamp in American Colonies to establish a spiritual village inside of the physical village of the new people.
They were also to take along with them a God, to see to it that the New People of African decent of the America Colonies have a solid spiritual foundation of their own to protect their uniqueness.
Their Master Plan instructed the Commite-of-Seven to go down into Aja country and ask their God, LEGBA (the God of Voodoo), to send one of his SONS and one of his DAUGHTERS on a journey with them to the American Colonies, and become the God of a New People who have a problem called Slavery.
LEGBA was sitting watching his seventh son playing with his pet Black Panther and his seventh daughter playing with her pet Red Hawk. He called them before him, and told them what was needed.
And when His SON heard what was wanted, His Sister, Him, and their pets Black Panther and Red Hawk, demonstrated that all of them could do seven things at the same time. This meant that they could take care of a people with seven different ancestral roots.
Then LEGBA’S SON spoke to the committee-of-seven saying, “My name is Papa SEVEN, this is my Sister Mama SEVEN, I am the God of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness, and She is the Goddess of Fortitude, Drive, and Determination, and this is Black Panther, my messenger and spokesmen and Red Hawk, her messenger and spokeswoman. The Black Panther and Red Hawk will lead you to America and live among you in the world of Ancestors, and be your Elder.”
The Black Panther spoke thus, “Salute. To get to America we will follow the trail through the middle passage, and the same monsters that attacked our people aboard the slave ships will attack us. These monsters are called sadness, grief, misery, gloom, despair, and anguish. Have your people armed and ready to leave in seven days; As the Red Hawk nodded in agreement.”
The Committee-of-Seven answered, “All praise to Papa SEVEN, Mama SEVEN, Red Hawk and the Black Panther.”
And I saw, seven days later, the Black Panther, Red Hawk, seven men, seven women, and seven babies started on their journey across the ocean.
I understood that seeing the Africans escaping from the plantation and living in the Great Dismal Swamp was a background to understanding our spiritual world.
All of a sudden I saw a beach in what is now called Norfolk Virginia, and I looked out into the ocean and saw a number of African Spirits walking on the water, headed for the beach.
As they came onto the beach, I could see that there were 21 of them, seven men and seven women with a baby on each of their backs, just as the African Grand Council of Ancestors planned. One of the men carried a drum, and sure enough, there was the Black Panther leading them with a Red Hawk riding on his back.
These African Spirit men and women carried spears and shields with unfamiliar designs carved and painted on them. I could see their features as clear as day.
They had an air of spiritual serenity about them that seems to come from a deep kind of determination from being on a special mission.
Their movement had a graceful feline quality like that of the Panther. They had an air around them that was overflowing with fortitude, drive and determination.
I could also see that they had been in a long and hard battle from the looks of their spears and shields, though their brown bodies bared no scars. I could hear them talking about the problems they were confronted with in a place called the middle passage.
I didn’t have the slightest idea where that place was, but from what they were saying, I didn’t want to find out. They walked off the beach and went deep in the Dismal Swamp, to the village of the escaped slaves.
They walked to the center of the village, stuck their decorated spears in the ground in a small circle, and hung their shields on them. The Black Panther laid near the spears and the Red Hawk perched on one of the spear’s shaft. The African Spirits sat on the ground in a circle with their backs to the spears, Black Panther, and Red Hawk.
One of the Spirits began beating his drum, and the Black Panther and Hawk began to dance slowly, and quietly chanted a song consecrating the village as Holy.
The drum and chanting slowly started building up volume and blending into one sound that was so pure, sweet, and forceful that all of the animals of the swamp stopped to listen. It was a sight to see, especially a Black Panther and Hawk dancing together.
The sounds were flowing and rolling through the trees and over the hills, while at the same time, building and building until it seemed like it was blending with all of nature. Soon the people of the village began dancing in a circle around the Black Panther, Red Hawk, and the African Spirits.
Time stood still, the sky opened up and everybody looked up as they danced, and saw their new God and Goddess, Papa SEVEN and Mama SEVEN, The African God and Goddess of survival. They were sitting in the courtroom of Their Palace inside a naturally grown crystal formed into 777 rooms.
Papa SEVEN was sitting on His gold stool with inlaid spiritual designs, under a gold cloth umbrella with precious stones covering the top arranged in the order of the stars of the universe with the Sun in the center.
To His left, back a step, sat His Queenmother, Mama SEVEN, on Her silver stool and under Her jeweled umbrella symbolizing the stars, with the Moon in the center.
Their courtroom opened into a courtyard, which had gold walls. Along the wall on their right were 800 shrines of their male Ancestors, and along the wall on their left were 800 shrines of their female Ancestors, together, they symbolized the 1600 Gods and Goddesses of African Traditional Religion. Facing Him across the courtyard was a Gate, and just outside of the wall was the Gate Keeper.
The Black Panther spoke, “People, meet your God and Goddess, keep your eyes on the sky, they will send you salvation; keep the faith.
Thus are the experiences, knowledge, and wisdom, I inherited from my Ancestors, and stored in my soul before I was born.
Continued in the epilogue of Book Two of The Story of the Game Black people Play/ Trilogy, The Game’s Mind.
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