On January 30, UK artist/musciain, “Yasmin” released her debut song, “On My Own.” In this song, one of the lyrics reads: “I could have had a 9 to 5 or finished school just like my parents wanted [but didn’t]…and I feel the fire burning, deep within my soul, striving for perfection.” She later adds “I feel I need some guidance”, only to conclude “I’m gonna make it on my own.” Of course, this “anthem” speaks to the lone adventurer/pioneer myth of “self-sufficiency” which claims that people attain personhood (accomplishment), in isolation (separation) withouth the aid of others, when in truth, this perspective is misleading. Customarily unprepared, Mark Essex, among many, was one of the people to discover how inaccurate this view can be when he (alone) ran into the Machine of whitehood.
Like Yasmin, Mark Essex attempted to attain perfection but hs search for this sense of accomplishment, crimonologist and author Eliott Leyton suggests, was impeded, as his path was made difficult by the Team. In his book “Hunting Humans”, Leyton explains that “Essex did not experience [stigmatisation] until he left the warmth of his family and community for the racist navy.” After his turmoil and victimisation, Essex, like others, retalliated against his oppressors in what was to be “an explosion of violence directed” as murderer-protestors do, “at a group they feel oppresses, threatens, or excludes them.” After experiencesing the insult of racist marginalisation, Essex later realisy for a self-rspecting ce in htis white man’s navy for a self-respecting black man.” Elsewhere, Essex wrote “they take everything from you; everything. Your dignity, your pride. What can you do but hate them?” In effect, he vowed that he was unwilling to wait any longer to be treated, “like a man.”
According to Ronald Tobias, ‘Essex as caught between two worlds which retarded the maturation of his self-identity’, adding, having been brutalised by whiteness, ‘he was overwhelmed by the sudden insistence of black survival in a hostile environment where the whites controlling it were less permissive [responsive] than they had been in [his hometown] Emporia.’ In one of his final letters he wrote “Africa greets you…on Dec 31 1974…the deaths of two innocent borthers will be avenged” whilst in another addressed to his parents, he grieved “it’s even bigger than you and I, even bigger than god. I have now decided that the white man is my enemy. I will fight to gain my manhood or die trying.” His mother later reflected “I dont want my son to have died in vain. If this terrible thing will awaken white America to the injustices that blacks suffer, then some good will have come of it.” Years later, this wake-up call is yet to come – and we still await the arrival of a black Messiah .