The poster for Diary of a Tired Black man. An African glares at an African man who is looking into the distance

The Absurdity of “Diary of a Tired Black Man”

There is an amazingly sad example of a program aired on the IMDB network called “Diary of a Tired Black Man.”  Part fiction, part documentary (street interviews with people), full insanity, this effort illustrated in clear terms Kwame Ture’s statement that any analysis that doesn’t include our enemies is a worthless analysis.  What he meant by that is any oppressed people who attempt to explain the conditions of their people who leave out the system causing their oppression will always come up with a confused conclusion.

We wish to add our own attempt at a logical statement to Kwame’s spot on analysis by stating that more often than not, all you ever get from the African petit-bourgeoisie is them parroting the view of African people that is created and provided by the capitalist system.  This IMDB program is a classic example of each of these contradictions.

The dramatization portion of the program depicted an African man who was portrayed as a hard worker, a high money earner (of course), and an angelic figure.  His only issue in life was being unfortunately saddled down by this unreasonable African women who was incapable of being satisfied with even the sun coming up each day.  The flow of the program was a scene depicting the drama of this sad relationship in between clips of people on the streets commenting on the state of African man/woman relationships.

Of course, there was no consideration, or even mention, of African relationships that are not man/women.  Beyond that, the depictions, which started out posing as presenting an objective viewpoint, quickly pivoted to being testimonies by African men and women criticizing the values of African women.  The fundamental thesis of the entire program, fiction and non-fiction, was that African men are tired of trying and never being able to live up to the standards of the majority of African women who do nothing except complain about every effort we make.

Kwame’s perspective comes through for anyone with a critical vision because it was painfully obvious that the entire point of view of this program excluded even the slightest mention of the role of the capitalist system in sabotaging our relationships.  Nothing about how 350 years of chattel slavery makes it next to impossible for us to try and heal those traumatic dysfunctions in less than half the time since slavery in this environment where truth is virtually unknown everywhere.  Nothing about the fact this entire economic system is built, and maintained, by that system of chattel slavery that depended upon turning us against one another in other to produce the wealth that is still held by the capitalist classes.  Nothing about the dominant patriarchal system that creates such inequity in what is expected of women and marginalized genders as opposed to men.  For example, there are countless men complaining about women wanting them to be financially, or emotionally, responsible for their children while nothing was said about why it so many African women are left with the responsibility to raise our children (from men who are not incarcerated, but who choose, and are able to choose comfortably due to capitalism, to decide not to play active roles in their children’s lives).  No analysis on any of that.  Instead, just mindless noise about African women being ungrateful representations of everything wrong with our people.

Our own statement about relying on getting all our information from our enemies plays out from listening to the troubling commentary by many of the men being interviewed during the program.  One after another repeated the tired white supremacist inspired propaganda from the Moynihan Report from 1965.  That’s the infamous garbage report that attempted to explain the problems of African people away as the direct result of the welfare system taking men out of the families.  The report goes on to claim that African women “running” our families caused an imbalance that created the dominant African women and according to those racists, every problem African people have on the planet today.  Our statement about our enemies providing our worldview is reflected in the reality that those countless men vomited out that trash as if they had thought of it themselves.  The reality of African discourse in 2022. Dozens of African opinions being expressed through a script written by people who absolutely despise the African masses.

Especially galling are the barbershop scenes where African men are pontificating endlessly , talking very loud, and saying absolutely nothing in the process.  It’s the epitome of another Kwame Ture’s statement when he said “capitalism makes things that should be strange seem normal, and things that should be normal seem strange.”  African men in this program who haven’t read a single sentence about our history as African people and/or our relationships with one another are given unlimited time to sprout nonsense.  This should seem strange to any logically thinking person, yet in this backward society, most of us are very used to this type of dysfunction.  Meanwhile, there are many anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal African men who could easily provide a comprehensive and analytical analysis about why African people occupy the conditions we inhabit today.   Yet the chances of those types of quality voices getting unlimited time in a corporate produced production to articulate to millions people is slim to none.  This should be strange, but for most of us who are socialized by capitalism, this contradiction never comes to mind which normalizes the confusion.

The core and ill-refutable analysis is that the capitalist system was built on the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Its that slave trade and the colonialism that accompanied it, that is responsible for the conditions of all two billion African people on the earth today.  Only a completely uninformed person could believe that such a backward system could ever pose a solution to the problems that it has depended upon to exist for 500 plus years.  These relationship challenges, like every other challenge we have, represent the collective problems African people have as a result of our history of oppression under this capitalist system.  As a result, no solution to these problems can be discovered, achieved, developed, through any type of individual lens i.e. me and this woman and our individual lives divorced from the history and present reality of the society that produced us. “Diary of a Tired Black Man”, like African people using the n word, may serve as some sort of sick comfort to some African people for reasons we will never understand, but one day, we will hopefully understand that this type of negative self imposed propaganda does nothing except propagate the continued slave mentality that our enemies thrive at ensuring we carry into the 22nd century.

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Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People's Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.