by LaTriece Pleasant
“I’m rooting for everybody Black.” -Issa Rae
At the 2017 Emmy Awards Issa Rae, creator of HBO’s hit seriesInsecure, responded to a question generally asked during a premier: Who are you rooting for tonight?
Ms. Rae’s response, “I’m rooting for everybody Black,” became the talk of the town.
Black people everywhere enjoyed the candor of her words, and immediately a sense of euphoria filled the hearts of the Black community. Before this moment, “rooting for everybody Black” was the unspoken norm within Black households across America. To hear it said on a platform as enormous as the Emmy’s was solid gold. No matter what other shows were nominated or their rankings, Ms. Rae reminded the Black community of unification. At that moment–and even if just for a moment–the Black community understood Black Power.
Throughout history the Black community and their fight for freedom used the common mantra, “BLACK POWER” to establish a collective acknowledgement amongst each other. Like a soundtrack that could be heard all over the country, we can trace the start of the Black Power movement to the 1960s Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee’s (NSCC) leader Stokely Carmichael and the phenomenal Black Panther Party headed by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The purpose and intention of this chant was to ignite the Black community and give immediate recognition to the Black freedom struggle amongst those fighting for it. This became the mantra which identified a much broader orthodox and science that personifies what Black Power truly represents.
As Black Power became the designated slogan to identify and conjoin the Black freedom struggle, it also became an ideology conceptualized by some of the most prominent scholars in the Black political field such as, Charles V. Hamilton, Stokely Carmichael (presently known as Kwame Ture), and Dr. Ron Walters. In 1967, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton’s book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, set out to present the framework for what Black Power is as an intellectual concept. “[Black Power] is a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community.” This book was written with the sole purpose of developing a consciousness of who the Black community says they are, and the shared common goal they should be moving towards. It was written to regain Blackness after the enslavement of Black people.
During slavery, a common practice to instill hatred and devalue Black slaves was to ensure that they first hated themselves. Enslavement stripped Black minds of their history and culture; established hate between one another, and created laws which guaranteed Blacks had no right to life. Unfortunately, today the same strategies are used to create the same outcome of devaluing the Black life. Black people are overwhelmingly shamed for basic everyday Blackness. Schools are sending Black children home for common Black hairstyles. The police are called on Black people who dare to engage in everyday life activities and, most importantly, unarmed Black men and women are frequently killed by police officers with no accountability from the law. Black people are in constant fear of living and connected by these experiences. This is the Black struggle.
Ture and Hamilton understood the importance of unification based on the premise that Black people share in the Black struggle. The Black struggle connects every Black person to one another. Black unity represents hope for Black people, and you consciously root for Black people.
As Ture and Hamilton provide the framework for Black Power and the core value of unity; it is the obligation of all Black people to realize and recognize that without unity, Black liberation is impossible. “The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise; before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society.” This quote from chapter two of Black Liberationsuggests that solidarity is essential to the advancement of the Black community. The Black community cannot petition to a society without believing the demands in which they are seeking. They cannot demand better education for their children if they have no expectation that their children will succeed. They cannot request a better community water system if they don’t consider themselves worthy of drinking and bathing in clean water. They cannot ask for better hospitals if they believe they are unworthy of healing. No matter what the demand may be, they must believe they are worth more than what they are experiencing.
In order for Black liberation to become a reality, unity within the Black community must be strong enough to fight against the oppression of America. The history, the struggles, and the ability to overcome “by any means necessary” reinforces where the Black race originated. No matter what was taken and no matter how much America tries to omit Blackness, Black people are too unified to be broken. Black Powercaptures the essence of Black unity and solidarity. It conceptualizes love, hope, and freedom in two words. It is “rooting for everybody Black,” and awakens Blackness. It is Black unity that begins the call for revolution. Black Power!