Friday, January 21, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xvi)

During the Spring of 1971 I also bumped into Earl one evening, while getting off one of the subway trains at one of the IRT elevated stations in the Bronx. Two years before, Earl had ben the head of Richmond College's African-American student group on Staten Island. Although his politics were less revolutionary than those of the Black Panther Party activists in 1969, Earl was a friendly guy who was militant politically--in terms of just wanting a greater share of the U.S. imperialist and U.S. capitalist pie. In 1969, Earl dressed in a dashiki, but when we bumped into each other on the IRT subway platform two years later Earl was now dressed in a dress shirt, a suit and a tie; and he looked much straighter culturally.

But despite his less hip-looking appearance, Earl was still as friendly as ever. And, with a big smile, he handed me his business card and also invited me to stop by his office in Midtown Manhattan that week, so we could go out to lunch together.

After graduating from Richmond College, Earl had also apparently been able to avoid the draft like me. But, unlike me, Earl had then landed a good-paying job as one of the Bankers Trust personnel managers who interviewed job applicants in the Bankers Trust personnel office. A few days after bumping into Earl, I actually did go into Midtown Manhattan to stop by his office and get together with him for lunch. But although Earl was still very friendly {despite the fact that I was dressed much more casually than all the other people who were waiting to be interviewed by Earl when he returned from lunch), I felt that Bankers Trust was really better able to now offer him the kind of lifestyle he was now seeking in 1971 than the New Left Movement that I had been a part of and still identified with could offer him.

By the Spring of 1971, Earl felt it was impractical and unrealistic to assume that any kind of Black Panther Party-led revolution was going to happen in the United States in the 1970s. And although he recognized that the rich white bankers who controlled Bankers Trust were using him to divert attention from the degree to which Bankers Trust was still an institutionally racist organization, in terms of its employment policies and banking practices, Earl felt he had little choice but to play along with Bankers Trust in order to earn enough money--and obtain enough economic security--to insulate himself from the economic consequences of U.S. racism. And in order to live the middle-class family-oriented lifestyle, in either New York City or in the suburbs, which Earl's poverty-stricken parents had not been able to obtain, and which Earl now wanted. So after we said goodbye to each other in a friendly way, I never did bump into Earl again.