Who Are AmeriKKKans?

Throughout the journey of the course, we’ve been introduced to new angles and directions to familiar narratives. Personally, I’ve discovered unconventional ways of thinking regarding the history of not only this nation but individuals who have grown because of their insurmountable circumstances. Whether introducing perspective from Ron Eglash and the insight provided by detailing the humanity in a mathematical process: Recursion, which expresses processes in which a problem/function solves itself within its own code. In a symbiotic-Esq relationship, where the answers and stories occur within the organism. (The usage of recursion will be mentioned subliminally often in this paper as it was throughout the course) or internalizing the beauty of a quilt from the mind of Barkley Brown, I began to understand how circular the nation’s history is.  

When trying to place myself in the grand scheme of American history (in my very so personified ego) I realized that the agendas our heroes sacrificed so much for are still sitting at the table. That the check marked with “insufficient funds” Martin Luther King Jr once reference has yet to be rectified. That the lyrics of the many traditional/sacred/freedom songs of America’s past are being hummed today with the same purpose. That those who stood up to face the sun before our emancipation have descendants expected to make that same call for action in this century. These are the statements I remind myself when walking in our classroom, that the journey for me was meant to be a retelling of what I, what we, have to become. 

One of the epigraphs that has resonated with me the moment I read it was Sydneys Smith’s excerpt from “Who reads an American Book?”, not because of my chuckle that followed (filled with a slither of American arrogance) but because of the date in which it was written. 1820, up to that point the nation had no solidified individual identity. Even if the independence was thought to be won in 1776, an American had not served the highest title of presidency till 1837. The identity of an American has not yet been solidified nor determined, and up to that point, the molding of what that may be was up for the taking. As time progressed beyond the 1800s, it seemed as if the image of America was one of a tyrant; controlling new-age colonialism and spreading its arms around the globe tightly. But within that analysis, I’ve discovered that it wasn’t the image was not one of a big bully- but that of a fractured child. The illegitimate child from a nation built on conquering, finally attempting to one-up the parent. But within this analysis of mine, I’ve discovered that America is nothing more than that anger and greed to be better than. In this oblivious path of being superior, the people that make up this nation are as fractured as the is the land. In our very own self-destructive quilt, reusing and re-weaving what’s already been broken. 

I emphasize the fact that what fulfills the image of the great quilt of Americana is a fractured canvas full of evil, pain, some heroism, and terror. But as I glanced at the cover of Percival Everetts’s The Trees I noticed that it was covered with a list of names. At first glance the names were unrecognizable, nothing but a cover neatly spaced with names that uniformly had the same font and font size: not much of a quilt. But as we slowed down and the novel unveiled itself as the story of America, the names grew more and more familiar, and the uniformity within them became lost. The color of the quilt began to become more apparent, violently splashed soon to be nothing short of a masterpiece. 

Throughout the novel, we attempt to discover who is causing the eerie terror that’s sweeping the nation. After the classic schematics of a good detective/nail-biting novel, we discover that the sins of Americans arose and sought out vengeance. A consistent sight of a gory death shocked the characters throughout the novel… scenes that left many speechless and clueless. What may seem like justice for some, but violence is something that persists in both reality and the novel. That’s when I discovered who Americans are: Millions waiting for Karma to come to collect, millions of us left in darK crevices that preach “justice for all”, millions who frequent church even if their vibes are all deadly, tragic voices whose flag is nothing but a symbol for tragic orphans: AmeriKans are the root of evil. People who couldn’t abide by old rules, so they made new ones. 

The art of war is the finest picture, and guess who’s appraising the picture? 

As the course continued to develop, the lessons became clearer to me, that question in the epigraph was starting to unfold. The themes behind my favorite works, my favorite pieces of art and literature, were all revolutionary and labeled as fugitive. The American theme in the eyes of Alexander revolved around uncut gems, black diamonds in rough terrain. The rough terrain is littered with souls that are darker than genocide. 

But we aren’t lost in the land of freedom, even if we are still fighting for freedom. 

I was shown throughout the epigraph and the dynamics of the characters within the novel is that America’s greatest fear is to be forgotten. In this everlasting battle of identity, the preservation of a group’s identity is this nation’s(?) most important quarrel. Some Americans(?) lost within a flag that represents a losing cause but evolved into a symbol meant to ignite tension and hate, not pride. But even then, that failed flag is stitched on the quilt of Americana, it is undeniably American (have the confederates lost?).  

The Americans are a scared, cynical, and soulless people; and have provided the modern world great horrors, and have gone to great lengths to be the best of the worst, both socially and politically… there lies their David Dukes, their J. Edgar Hoovers, their Grand Wizards, the Proud Boys? There lies their Emmit Tills, their Yusef Hawkins, their Amadou Diallo’s their Eric Garners, their Micheal Browns, their Akai Gurley’s, their Jerame Reids?- or their Jeffersons, Bidens, Trumps, Clintons, or Nixons? Or their parallels to millions of other names who can be identified or not, as their blood has seeped through the fabric of the quilt of Americana, both as victims and perpetrators; the impact that the nation has left on regimes all over the world assuring that horror is an arms reach away labeled “Democracy & Freedom”… but who can top the proud stars and stripes, as we supply mankind with diseases so toxic, that the cure is genocide itself. America is the reliving of bloodshed over ideologies of lesser men; A war-stricken country bent on infecting the world… That the demons that were buried away centuries ago rise to possess the living, and the cycle continues….

The Use Of A Knife

Everyone has their personal purpose for the use of a tool; a hunter would use a knife to kill prey, a butcher would use the knife to filet the hunter’s catch, a cook would use the knife to prepare the butcher’s meat, a mother would use the knife to slice pieces of the cooks dish. The knife was necessary from the moment the prey was caught to the final bite off of the mothers plate, but intended use was not consistent. The mother wouldn’t see the knife as the weapon used to slain the prey’s life, nor would the hunter attack its prey with the knife used to dine.

The ambiguity of Call & Response governing aesthetic serves to represent its universality, similar to the butchers, hunters, cooks, and mothers knife. It serves as a cultural bible used to be liberally interpreted by whoever flips through the pages. To some it may be a dictionary to be referenced by some of the great works of the African American story, or the manifesto to a stronger revolution than the ones displayed among the excerpts. 

Within the preface we read how the content of the anthology responds to important socio-political issues, phrasing its ability to reach generations prior to the works provided and beyond. Personally, the preface explains clearly that the anthology serves as something greater than a reference to great African American work. It is evident that the content is used to stir the cultural flame that exists within the pain, hurt, and pride among the Spirituals and Folk cry. 

It is a weapon waiting for its proper wielder.

The anthology’s greatest purpose is used to enlighten the reader of their incredible purpose- to act on the themes expressed through the excerpts. It represents a much more prominent cultural nationalist aesthetic than what it may be given credit for. To say that the excerpts are primarily used to reference the soul and heart of ancestral resilience is an extreme disservice to its true potential. While still understanding that the knife is utilized differently by the operator, I have internalized that everyone’s purpose with knowledge is different. Nonetheless, you do not need a curriculum to understand how you affect math; the dates in which the anthology was formatted displays a fountain of information for the youth to understand the relationship between the culture and its relationship it has with embracing black liberation and progression. 

The table of contents represents more than a traditional sequential order of events, it stylistically creates a foundation of revolution amidst great struggle and its reflections in today’s time. From the Slave Works songs dated between 1619 to 1808, to the lyrics of Gil Scott Heron or the terrors seen in the Bronx from the rhymes by Grand Master Flash. But Rakim is not just another individual in the greater war for liberation, he gets is musical hymns from lives before his, so it isn’t him that’s lyrical- that rhythmic regiment that white America has profitalized, navigates from the soul and a touch grace reigns out everytime we hear a verse. This book serves to academically, spiritually, and emotionally activate a revolution within ourselves.

In the same manner where Sweet Honey In The Rock can emotionally move someone by detailing the words of their song “No More Auction Block”, or Dr. C.J Johsnson signing of the “One Morning Soon”, or thousands of AME churches all over America, that chant these rhythms in their unique variations, telling the story of betterment within struggle. Call & Response is a compilation of art that is used to promote a grander revolution by igniting subconscious flames among generations of thinkers, scholars, and anyone with the will to strive for justice.

We see commonalities within the subheadings of the table on contents when attempting to understand their specific significance. When reading the categories for each time period, we can see the story among them. The format subjectively reads: poetic context to the development of political action. From Southern Folk Call for Resistance (235) and Northern Literary Response… Rights For Women (245) to the entire subheading under “Win the War Blues” to “Cross Road Blues”. The format provided by the editors is a map; a journey already started by our ancestors, and it is up to our ferocious interpretation of this art to truly utilize our blessed tools. 

I understand that purpose, I understand the map being drawn up within the compilation of our great works. The knife can be used to shape more than just a piece of venison, this particular knife can carve a nation for generations to come. Its content can fuel the fire for a march stronger than the untold freedom marches of New York City in the 60s, more than the 5 percent nations everlasting brotherhood that I have been taught to love in my city, more than the heaven sent instrumentals that have been echoed to the ears of the blind for centuries. Call & Response represents an empowering road map in this everlasting arc of justice; a guide in which my brothers and sisters can utilize to celebrate the voices prior to our interpretation of such wisdom and power.

The editors may have meticulously used Call & Responses ambiguity for the very purpose I have detailed, or the compilation has served greater meaning than its intended erection. Nonetheless, its aesthetic is beyond cultural nationalism, it is the almanac that WILL be used for tomorrow’s glorious revolution!