I asked Dr. Nathan Hare to write something on two young genius brothers who departed this earth before their thirties. When Dr. Hare wrote on the suicide of my son at 39, he compared my son's death to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom were taken from us when they were 39 years old. Dr. Hare said my son just took another route but he noted suicide and homicide are two sides of the same coin.
So in the era of Malcolm and Martin, the "man" would take you out, one didn't need to walk into a train as my brilliant son did, yes, after traveling the to Brazil, Japan, Egypt, Europe, Syria and returning home to do graduate work at Harvard before his mental breakdown from mani-depression. And yes, I must admit, there came a point when I knew I was not capable of helping my son, especially after he tried to throw me into the water at San Francisco's Pier 39.
dr. nathan hare and his student/patient marvin x
When I asked Dr. Hare to write something on two young genius black men, Michael Basquait and Tupac Shakur, it was a rhetorical request because he had already written about the topic of young black men experiencing homicide and suicide. And I had his comforting notes on the suicide of my son who walked into a train after graduating in Arabic and Near Eastern Literature at UC Berkeley, a Fulbright at the University of Damascus, Syria. Yet my heart yearned to understand the self-destruction of two of our greatest artists, Basequait and Tupac, not that my son was a lessor person because he certainly was not, yet he suffered the same fate of self destruction. Surely it did not matter that he was an intellectual rather than an artist. He was a young man trying to navigate the perilous mental landscape of Americana, just as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. attempted. What did it matter that Malcom, Martin and my son were in their late 30s rather than their late twenties as were Basquait and Shakur? Alas, we are told the most dangerous time for a black child is in the womb! Yes, thanks to Madam Sanger and her Planned Parenthood genocide project, black babies are more likely to suffer destruction than our young men.
We look at Tupac and Michael and wonder why and how could they leave us when we need them so much. And people beg me to stay here as long as I can so I can help the helpless, though I am totally exhausted with this life and wish to join the ancestors asap. Then I check myself and realize my life is not my life but for a greater cause, the liberation of my people--and I am yet standing because I am standing on the shoulders of my ancestors and elders and should shut the fuck up and do the work until every ounce of life has departed my body. Alas, not long ago I wanted to throw in the white flag but a true trooper came by and put the red, black and green in my hand, demanding I continue the fight. I thank him for handing me the red, black and green and making me put down the white flag of surrender.
And so when I consider Michael Basquait and Tupac Shakur, I must also consider Serena Williams since the brothers are gone and sister Serena is still here and about to give birth to the next generation, no matter a bi-racial baby, for we don't know what the next generation will accomplish. Alas, when he was three years old, my grandson told me, "Grandfather, you can't save the world, but I can!" I have no idea where he was coming from but I knew he was coming from somewhere beyond my imagination and perhaps somewhere on more solid ground than I could ever know.
Michael and Tupac were the very best of their generation and yet they self destructed and we must accept the wisdom they gave us and move on to the next level. Departing at 25, Tupac, 27 for Michael, they were closer to Jesus at 33 than Martin, Malcolm and my son, Darrel P. Jackmon, 39.
My son used to mock me and say he would preach my funeral and tell every secret thing about me, yet I had to speak at his funeral as many parents are doing these days. Surely nature is out of order when parents bury children rather than the reverse.
Imagine, I tried to work with the mothers of children, mostly sons, murdered in drive by killings in Oakland. I could not take the pain and grief of the mothers. Few fathers were in these meetings and I was yet to bury my son as a victim of suicide, though Dr. Hare comforted me with the knowledge that suicide and homicide are flip sides of the same coin! Alas, many of the homicides are in fact suicides because the young men put themselves in a position to be killed because they were too cowardly to take their own lives! Yes, they did some shit to make another brother take them out or the police. Does it matter that they were too cowardly to kill themselves? Does it matter than Tupac got caught in some East Coast/West Coast bullshit? Does it matter that Michael Basquait overdosed because the NY police killed his friend? As Dr. Hare noted, "...nothing can sedate the angst and shattered cultural strivings...."
We called this story A Tale of Two Gold Brothers, yet, sadly, they never enjoyed the gold! Perhaps, their lives were simply not about gold but a cause greater than gold and themselves. Let us then go into the deep structure of their young lives to unravel the conundrum that will help us heal and save ourselves from the world of make believe and conspicuous consumption Dr. E. Franklin Frazier told us about in his classic Black Bourgeoisie, followed by Dr. Nathan Hare in his sociological classic Black Ango-Saxons.
Yes, the brothers are gone but our beloved sister Serena Williams is yet with us and is about to give birth to the next generation. Need we wonder if her child will lead us on to freedom?
Well, don't put that pressure on Serena, ask yourselves if your children and grandchildren will fight the good fight. I am so relieved my grandson said, "Grandfather, you can't save the world, but I can!"
Can you imagine the pressure and stress he took off me, and he was only two or three years old at best? Yet I am confident, he knows something I don't know. Did not Gibran tell us our children come through us but they are not us? We are the bow, they are the arrow.
Thus, we are thankful Tupac shared his life and wisdom with us; we are thankful Michael Basquait gave us 27 years of his artistic life. And we are thankful for Serena and Venus Williams for being the Black goddesses in our lives.