Troy Williams Prison Literature

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Troy Williams

Prison Literature

Dr. Colon
Oct. 1, 2013
Soul on Ice

In Soul on Ice, there proves to be a multitude of interactions between people of different classes, races, and sexes that influence the perceptions and actions of others. These actions are reliant upon one another in order to define a relationship between two or more people, or two or more groups of people. Eldridge Cleaver’s perception of the relationship dynamics between blacks and whites, males and females, makes apparent some of the muddled, often overlooked tensions both within and between competing classes, races, and sexes. This further supports how the rigidity of America’s political and economic systems perpetuates the master/slave relationships and interactions. The tense relationship dynamics within the African American community holds discernable eminence over the blatant struggle between the blacks and the whites, as well as the rich and the poor, in their conquest to rescue their minds from the intellectual alienation inflicted by the Omnipotent Administrators.

In the chapter titled “Primeval Mitosis”, Cleaver projects a Class Society that perpetuates a distorted image of sexuality, ultimately leading to the fragmentation of the African American community. This internal struggle among African Americans stems from the alienation of their own minds and intellectual capability that has been used to proselytize the will of the Omnipotent Administrators so that they may preserve what is seen as a superior lifestyle. Because this idea of inferiority is widely accepted and generally upheld by the African American community, often referred to by Cleaver as the “Body”, the “Mind”, to which Cleaver associates whites, specifically white males, is “markedly effeminate and delicate by reason of his explicit repudiation and abdication of his body in preference for his mind” (Cleaver 210). The white man does not want the black man, the black woman, or even the white woman to become acquainted with the same intellectual enlightenment because it “would pose a threat to his omnipotence” and the master/slave dialectic (Cleaver 209).

The ascendancy of white America over the African American community and their submission to that “authority” was in full effect, but not recognized by the older generation, ultimately resulting in a struggle within the African American community that failed to specify a common goal to attain equal human rights. Specifically, the older generation of African Americans had always been submissive to the thoughts, ideals, and actions of the white man and until this point in time, never really questioned their position in fear of perpetuating discriminatory acts and punishment. Among the younger generation, however, we are able to see that many people, both black and white, have been able to diagnose this problem. This tension between the two generations, before any other actions, demands the attention of the African American community.

During this time period, Cleaver makes apparent two perspectives from the African American community regarding the plea for civil rights and demand for human rights. The younger generations of African Americans plan to lay the groundwork for a societal metamorphosis in such a way that they will “organize for the power to change the foreign and domestic policies of the U.S. government” by means of creating “one organization that will give one voice to the black man’s interest”(Cleaver 153,152). It is imperative to note that the new generation of African Americans has identified a problem within their own community and have begun to resolve this problem through a unified belief system in order to combat oppression. This unison within the African American community and “’collective consciousness’ and behavior” is imperative to any potential success in their desire for human rights in the eyes of white America (Blake 243). By keeping the African American community disunited and refraining from revolutionary action, the blacks will remain intimidated and inferior to the white males.

The older generations of African Americans, however, are cooperative with the actions and thoughts that white America had forced upon them. Cleaver, whose ideals lean heavily in favor of the motives aligned with the younger generation of African Americans, favored the possibility of taking “the initiative: instead of simply reacting [he] could act” (Cleaver 24). Without this change in thought, the societal roles and perceptions of the African American community will remain unchanged. The older generations of African Americans grew up in America and were indoctrinated with the will of the white man because they constituted the majority of the population, therefore initiating dominance. The trickling effect of the white man’s ideals flooded the minds and washed away the intellectual capability of the African American community by the same processes the whites employed to indoctrinate themselves within there own culture (Cleaver 29). By nature of this effect, the older generation of African Americans has only been subjected to the beliefs and ideals of the white man and accepting things as they are, rather than formulating their own perspective of society.

It is by this, then, that both males and females of African descent “must escape first from his or her own historical traps before they can be truly effective in helping others to free themselves” (Chisholm). To liberate themselves from the indoctrination of the white man, the African American community must work together and from all sides. In order to maintain their omnipotence, the white man has made the black woman an unconscious ally, showing that “the war between the black man and the white man is not the only war” (Cleaver 190). By default, this makes the black woman an enemy of the white man, although she may not realize it.

As a result of their inherent submissiveness and conformity to the doctrine of racial supremacy, which Cleaver describes as more dangerous than an out-and-out foe, the skeptical African American youth defied the moral premises of the older Negro leaders by expressing their beliefs that proposed the liberation from the master/slave relationship. The reaction of the conservative Negro leaders “had always succeeded in putting down insurgent elements among the Negro people” in fear that these actions would cause for an even greater “white backlash” (Cleaver 89). It is by the African American youth’s revolution and re-examination of each race’s societal roles that serves as the main factor in human right propulsion. Without this unity among the Negro community, the drive for political, economical, and social upheaval will falter due to the tension within the Negro community pulling in different directions in order to achieve the commonly sought-after revolution.

To take a neutral position “in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” and ultimately ended the hope for equality (Quigley 8). By revolutionary action, as opposed to the cooperative reactions of the African American youth, the door for equal human rights will open. By internal cooperation within the African American youth, meaning an understanding between the old and the young generations that have pinpointed a common goal, the African American community can stand together in their intellectual attempt to combat white supremacy. To understand their common goal, both the young and older generations of African Americans must shed themselves of any white skin they may use as cover and make apparent the ways and appearance of the black man.

Works Cited

Blake, J. "The Caged Panther: The Prison Years Of Huey P. Newton." Journal Of African American Studies 16.2 (2012): 236-248. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Chisholm, Shirler. "Race, Revolution And Women." Black Scholar 42.2 (2012): 31-35. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. New York, NY: Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1999. Print.

Quigley, William P. Ending Poverty As We Know It: Guaranteeing a Right to a Job at a Living Wage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2003. Print.

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