The B Network (Poem Analysis)

The Black Culture: A Poetic Analysis of Haki Madhubuti The B Network

It is culture, not color that defines us. It’s culture, not color that will move us forward.-

-Leone Gaiter

   Haki Madhubuti is an African-American activist known for his firm stand on the Black Art Movement as showcased by his unconventional writing. His essays and poems are charged with his insightful socio-political stance towards the edification and unifying of the African culture amidst the Black’s predicament in the American society(Medegan, 2002).  Aside from his bold ideas, his daring and straightforward choice of words in writing, crafty phrasing, and the ability to encapsulate the sardonic mood of the Black American speech made him one of the most influential and imitated Black poet in the 1960’s. Haki Madhubuti The B Network is a good example of a text that announces his call for active cultural revolution. The poem evokes a sense of the need to re-align the Black American bourgeoisies’ perception towards white supremacy and the Black American culture( p 25).

Madhubuti artistic stance towards cultural nationalism is clearly defined by his writing style. Unlike most African-American writers, he was able to grasp a clear sense of the African-American Vernacular in his writing. He was able to introduce a new form of poetry that incarnate the fading African literature. In the poem, he playfully incorporated words from the urban language. He used terms, such as brother, takin, diggin,be-bop, boppin, related to the African-American vernacular to symbolically represent a cultural revolution in his writing. His use of alliteration in the poem creates a harmonious rap-jazz rhythmic pattern.(Rap and Jazz are music genres closely tied to the Black Americans.) In addition, the continuous use of words starting in “B” tries to foreground the title of the poem being The B Network. “B” that could signify the word “Black” which connotes the African-American race.

Madhubuti focuses his writing on the salvation of the black culture; however, white supremacists aren’t the only target of his sharp and militant criticism. His poems such as The B Network target the class of negroes who alienated themselves to successfully assimilate into the white society. He calls the said class derogatory titles such as negro, nigger, and nigga that he classifies as Black ignorant of their African descent.

In the first few stanzas of the text, he illustrated some of his black brothers as people endlessly trying to imitate the white middle-class people in their pursuit of integration to the white society. He metaphorically portrayed these negro bourgeoisies as desperate jazz dancers craftily manipulated into believing the dominance of imitating the white. He emphasizes how the white critical standards forced these brothers to lose grasp of their own cultural heritage. The more they ingest the white values, the more they unlearn their own cultural identity. As a result, the white society could easily dominate them and distort their view of their race, Black Americans as second-class citizens. Worse,  they willingly subjugate themselves to the dominance of the Caucasian power structure in a despondent belief of becoming an accepted member of the white society. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, these brothers pose no chance of becoming white.

Madhubuti poem also concerns the importance of raising the awareness and knowledge of black women. In the line “where are the sisters who seek brotherman with a drugless head unbossed or beaten by the bodacious West?”, he tries to focus on the importance of educating the women for the edification of the black culture as he believes in the importance of women in developing a nation. Women should endow themselves to build their own authentic and cultural identity to nurture the roots of her own culture. If they fail their duty, it would drastically affect their nation and culture.

In the last three stanzas, Madhubuti changes the tone of his writing. He tries to redeem his blood brothers from the common perception of the white supremacy. In the lines “brothers need to bop to being Black & bright above board the black train of beautiful wisdom that is bending this bind toward a new & knowledgeable beginning that is bountiful & bountiful & beautiful”, he persuades his fellow African-American to re-embrace the black culture as this would lead to a bountiful and meaningful change for them. He urges these brothers to think beyond the established norms and see that being black has its own distinct power and that African-Americans are not only second to the Caucasians. Rather, if they, the blacks, nourished their innate potential, they could surpass their white oppressors. In order to achieve this goal, the black must re-established their cultural identity.

Madhubuti writing establishes a strong and persuasive view of the cultural and socio-political stance of the blacks in 1960’s. Using his words as a medium for change, he tries to open the minds of his fellow African-Americans to a new and better perspective of their cultural identity and to create a new type of African-Americans: the innovators and producers of positive change.

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