I finally caught the American Gangster episode that focused on the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and its long time, openly racist director, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover ruled the FBI for 48 years, and maintained file cabinets filled with so much political dirt that he could not be deposed. The guy outlasted 7 presidents, and oversaw the Great Depression, the end of Prohibition, 3 major wars, and, most importantly, the decline of Jim Crow segregation–much to his chagrin.
Indeed, Jay-Hoova was not in favor of the enfranchisement of “Negroes” (don’t trip–that’s what we were called then). He believed that because Blacks were second-class citizens, they’d only have second-class loyalties to the American social order. Failing to consider how the American social order was the direct historical cause of Black America’s problems, and refusing to consider the legitimacy of Black social movements for greater access, preparation, and opportunity, Hoover went hard at leaders like Marcus Garvey, Dr. King, and Fred Hampton. If it were sports, the record would be: Hoover 3, Black people 0.
But Hoover didn’t and could not act alone. He masterfully did what other racist, intelligent, and powerful White’s have done in the past–he got Black people to destroy other Black people. Hoover’s brilliance in this area is what has inspired this post. I now offer the top 5 sell-outs of all time.
The UC Regents are the governing body of the University of California system, which is perhaps the greatest higher ed system in America (UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, ’nuff said). The regents are appointed to 12-year terms. Connerly was basically the Black guy in the Regents (until 2005)–but sadly, he was the Regent who argued the loudest against affirmative action. He so opposed the notion of “preferential treatment” that he started a political lobbying organization, the American Civil Rights Institute, and wrote and proposed Prop 209, which outlawed race and gender considerations in state and university hiring and admissions. 209 passed in 1995. Black enrollments at California universities immediately dropped to record lows. Thanks for curtailing our hopes and dreams Ward.
This one is a no-brainer. What list of sell-outs would be complete without Uncle Thomas? He is the 2nd African American Supreme Court Justice, and came after the great Thurgood Marshall. In case you sometimes get them confused, Marshall was the NAACP lawyer who spent his lifetime fighting and winning numerous civil rights trials, such as the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case. He also supported individual rights over corporations, women’s right to choose, and opposed the death penalty, which disproportionately is used to murder men of color. Thomas, on the other hand, is openly considered one of the most conservative (read: anti-civil rights and anti-Thurgood Marshall) Justices on the Court. Like his boy Connerly, he is against affirmative action, and has voted to ban it in 4 out of 4 Supreme Court cases.
3. Those who snitched on Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey
Thomas and Connerly are on this list because of their refusal to help Black America. The remaining candidates are on this list because of their hostile actions toward those who were helping Black America. I give you the enslaved Black men and/or women who told slave owners of both Gabriel Prosser’s and Denmark Vesey’s impending plans to violently rebel against slavery. In 1800 and 1822, respectively, both men had organized thousands of slaves to participate in armed rebellions designed similarly to the Haitian uprising that led to the abolition of slavery in Haiti. Both men were deeply spiritual, and, like Thomas Paine, George Washington and other leaders of the American Revolution, they loved and were ready to give their lives for the cause of freedom. Sadly, it wasn’t White slave owners who foiled their plots, but rather their own Black compatriots who, for reasons that can only be speculated upon, told the authorities of the plans just hours before they were to go into effect. Thanks to them, thousands, if not millions of humans had to continue to suffer, toil, and live under physically, mentally, and spiritually murderous conditions for another 41-65 years.
2. William O’Neal
Returning to the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s ability to pit Black’s against Black’s, William O’Neal was a petty criminal who agreed to the unthinkable in exchange for having his own felony theft charges dropped. Under the instruction of the FBI, O’Neal infiltrated the Black Panther Party’s Chicago chapter and became the Director of Security for Chairman Fred Hampton. O’Neal instigated armed fights between the Panthers and local Chicago Black gangs, and ultimately drew up the floor plans of Hampton’s apartment that were supplied to the FBI right before Hampton was assassinated. In fact, it was O’Neal who drugged Hampton on the night of his murder, causing him to slip into a near coma and preventing him from being able to defend himself. We all know what happened to the Black Panthers, but it’s what happened to Black people shortly after the disintegration of the Party that earns the #2 Sell Out spot for O’Neal. By the way, O’Neal committed suicide after admitting his involvement in the killings.
1. The men who killed Malcolm X
Again, it’s what happened to Black people after El Hajj Malik El Shabazz was assassinated that puts his murderers at the shameful #1 Sell Outs of all time position. Simply put, Malcolm X was Jesus, Prophet Muhammad, and Abraham all rolled into one. He was the face and voice of the Nation of Islam when the NOI was at its absolute peak–before FBI informants and covert efforts to pit local leaders against local leaders ruined the organization. Preparing to speak to the United Nations about the U.S.’ denial of human rights to its African American citizens, and fresh off of two successful international coalition building tours, Brother Malcolm was gunned down by four (or more) Black faces inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York. When they killed Malcolm, they killed the greatest Black man of the 20th century. He was the voice of the innercity and spoke for those in slums and ghettoes. He represented a kind of Black man that simply had not been seen up until then. One that stood tall, never cowered in fear, spoke truth to power, and was unwilling to yet again turn another cheek. Malcolm’s death led to the slow but certain erosion of the Civil Rights/Black Power Movement, and the concomitant destruction of the Black family and community. The best thing that can be said to have happened after Malcolm’s assassination is that the Black middle class expanded–but so too did the number of Black males in prison, the number of Black high school dropouts, the number of Black individuals and families in poverty, the number of Black drug offenders, and the number of Black-on-Black homicides and violent crimes. When they took Malcolm from us, they took our conscience, our souls, and our minds. No amount of money paid to his killers is worth what we lost on February 21st, 1965.