We, the youth of Generation Y have elders all across the world that we must consult in this daily struggle to find freedom. Our elders found me on my trips through the labyrinth of NYC yesterday—through Harlem, through the Bronx, through Queens. These kinfolk who have endured the 1968 Olympics, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos executed the Black Power salute before the humyn community, see hope in the black hipsters today. I provoked their nostalgia, their memory of naming themselves militant just by wearing my LEADERS crewneck. If our origins ever lost hope in a truly humyn future, Generation Y’s art proves that black consciousness now enters a new phase of self understanding.
Returning to a seminal birthplace of Black Power, I became a symbol in revolutionary clothing. My body bore the mark of a red crewneck featuring the famous picture of the 68′ Olympics. That the council of elders even approached me meant that my individuality invoked a moment of rediscovered power. They redeemed a part themselves, saw their reflection in the presentation of my sweater. Truths like “I remember that day” or “I still have the article hanging up,” brought me into a supernatural reincarnation of my kindred. It’s important for the young thinkers and revolutionaries of Generation Y to understand their hipster capacities for transmitting a radical form of power.
Yesterday I reminded three of my distant relatives of the black spirit that they once saw all around them. The black we of 1968 spoke univocally against the inhumyne incrimination of the black body, which historically brought about Kwanzaa, black-owned businesses and Hip-Hop. To be a black person, in other words, did not mean an automatic association with the opposite positions of whiteness. Black Power at its time in the middle of the 20th century established a collective understanding of blackness as freedom. We related to ourselves not as victims of anti-black racism, but as a body of potential future taking responsibility for its powerlessness.
Affliction escaped our souls, to the degree that we freed ourselves from self-hatred; we grasped the self-destructive energy of racism and built new monuments of our identity. What else is a black hipster, but a personal expression of black consciousness in this era? I wore that crewneck yesterday because I found it hip: meaning I acknowledged that Smith and Carlos represented with their bodies an artistic necessity for my people. Knowing that my generation is no different, the artistic and revolutionary value of 1968 is timeless. However, the collective critique which the image inspires takes the power out of the cotton and disburses it into reality.
Whether this criticism of America proceeds in the comforts of my family’s home or inside the subway with my other elders, WE must regain an understanding of the power in Black action. In order to participate in the creation of a humyn reality we’ve always dreamed about, black consciousness must continue to understand our conditions of freedom. Upon disregarding all the necessities of humyn nature—which American racism has taught us—black bodies relate to their power directly and transcend the limits of history.
Therefore, the hipster prodigies of black consciousness have the burden to establish continuity with the progress of our elders. Our art keeps the history breathing despite the promises of grammar school history. Clarity and truth of the origins, of how we got in the situation, enables black consciousness to pinpoint the real problem and create action.