Black America Fists Detroit: That Joe Louis Statue

The Joe Louis “Black Fist” statue in Detroit: the perfect symbol and monument for Black-Run America (BRA)

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Whenever a Black individual triumphs over a white individual, this event is seen as a repudiation of white racism, a blow to white supremacy, and a lesson administered to white society. It is a milestone that all Black people believe is somehow representative of their combined might, an indication that Black people collectively have achieved some shining victory, the rectification of some previous wrong. It must be celebrated.
Conversely, this is not the case for white individuals. For white people to take pride in an achievement of one of their own is the ultimate manifestation of racism.
Joe Louis – an individual Black dude – knocking out a German in 1938 in a boxing ring somehow nullified the belief in “Aryan Supremacy.” This moment was a watershed for all Black people, just like every Black “First” – i.e., first Black person to balance a checkbook, etc. – which, strangely enough, the commemoration comes long after the actual discovery or achievement has been recorded by a white individual (or member of another race. 
That it was largely the contributions of German scientists working with white American engineers that hurled the Apollo astronauts to the moon on July 20, 1969 – sadly, the only Black contribution to this mission was the janitor who cleaned up after NASA’s scientists and engineers were done for the day – isn’t worthy of discussing.
The Detroit that Black people inherited after the Black Riot of 1967 – the same Detroit that white people fled from only to rebuild in the suburbs – was a veritable symphony, the magnificent collective glory of white individuals working together to build what was deemed “The Paris of the West.”
With the election of Coleman Young as the first Black mayor of post-riot Detroit, the symphony that white individuals collectively composed has become a noisome cacophony, as individual Black people have collectively defaced all there that was once good and grand. 
Black people were handed a completed opus with Detroit, a concerto of unprecedented beauty and grandeur, all meticulously composed and arranged by white people. Well, it wasn’t a complete work of art. One can’t forget that Black people had already rioted in 1967 and burnt down large segments of the city, never bothering to clean up the mess or rebuild what they never built in the first place.
You see, it was Black individuals engaging in a chorus of disharmony that brought the symphony that was Detroit to a screeching halt. The melancholy state of Detroit in 2012 is only the expression of the citizens who live there, the combined result of hundreds of thousands individual Black people in America’s most homogenous – and Blackest – big city.
Where once the white citizens of Detroit built resplendent monuments inspired by the architecture evidenced in the ruins of Ancient Greece and Rome – reminders that though time and neglect are forces that can’t be stopped, beauty and lore can linger even in stones cut thousands of years ago – Detroit’s new Black rulers elected to build a fitting monument to the era of Black-Run America (BRA): a giant Black fist in honor of Joe Louis.
Sports Illustrated commissioned this sculpture by putting up $350,000 dollars for its erection, and it has come to symbolize “Black power” in a city where the truest display of this phrase has come to fruition in all its absolute finality.
The Los Angeles Times reported this in 1986 about “the fist”:

“I know money is tight, but you would think the city could have afforded a whole statue,” says a bewildered Barbara Johnson.

“It’s terrible. I don’t see the symbolism in it at all,” echoes Renee Leblanc.

Complaints like those are already pouring in here over a stark, abstract memorial to Joe Louis, the late heavyweight champion, which is to be officially unveiled today.

Already dubbed the “fist” by disgruntled downtown office workers, it is just that–a 24-foot, 8,000-pound clenched black fist and forearm, horizontally suspended in midair beneath a pyramidical steel A-frame in the middle of downtown Detroit’s busiest intersection.

Exudes Brutal Force

Produced by acclaimed sculptor Robert Graham, who stirred up Los Angeles in 1984 with his sculptures of headless torsos for the Olympics, it seems to jut through the cityscape with the same kind of brutal force Louis used to knock out Max Schmeling.

In a city that conjures up images of vacant buildings, unemployment lines and gray skies, the fist also seems to accentuate the toughness of Detroit’s past and present.

But for many in Detroit, it isn’t enough. Joe Louis, who grew up here and held the heavyweight boxing crown longer than anyone in history, was perhaps Detroit’s greatest hero; the city’s largest and most modern civic arena already bears his name.

Both before and after his death in 1981, black Americans have lionized Louis for being among the first major black figures to smash through racial barriers in the pre-World War II era.

Local Reaction Swift

So some here were surprised and a little disappointed that the city wasn’t getting a more traditional Louis monument. And even though the bronze sculpture, just installed last week, was visible for only one day before it was covered with a tent in preparation for its official unveiling, local reaction has been swift and generally negative.

“I can’t say anything negative about Joe Louis, but I think most of us would rather have a whole statue,” says one city employee.

Other downtown workers say they think that the work looked too much like a symbol for militant black power and worried about the impact that kind of symbolism might have in a city still deeply divided along racial lines.

“It is billed as a tribute to Joe Louis, but it looks like a black power fist,” notes one. “If it is a monument to Joe Louis, why isn’t there a boxing glove on it?”

A giant Black fist, built as a monument in a city where the concept of “Black power” erupted into a conflagration that ultimately convinced white people to abandon the metropolis… you can’t get more poetic than this.
In 2004, USA Today reported that the statue was vandalized, publishing this revealing quote in the process:

The fist was erected in 1986 as a gift from Sports Illustrated to celebrate the centennial of the Detroit Institute of Arts. At the time, it evoked a variety of reactions.

“It almost obviously says black power,” said Richard Marback, an associate professor of English at Wayne State University who has written about the fist. “People said that is the appropriate way to honor Joe Louis. Here is a black man fighting against racial oppression: He knocked out Max Schmeling, the Nazi boxer.”
Wait, the statue representing “Black power” was vandalized? What happened? What could possibly have transpired for people to be so malicious?:

Two suburban Detroit men pleaded guilty Thursday to defacing a downtown monument honoring boxing great Joe Louis.

Brett Cashman, 45, and John T. Price, 27, could face up to five years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for May 14.

But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office expected Circuit Judge James Chylinski to approve its recommendation that the men serve 30 days in jail and the remainder of their sentence on probation, and also pay $1,000 in restitution before sentencing, spokeswoman Maria Miller said.

Cashman and Price were charged with malicious destruction of property after using mops to swab white paint on the 8,000-pound sculpture depicting the arm and fist of Louis, who grew up in Detroit.

With credit for three days spent in jail after their Feb. 23 arrest and 21 days served on house arrest, the two residents of Washtenaw County’s Superior Township actually will spend just six days behind bars, said Cashman’s attorney, Marc Beginin of Birmingham.

“He’s satisfied with (the sentence) — otherwise he wouldn’t have agreed to it,” Beginin said of Cashman. “They did what they did, and they’re willing to take responsibility for it.”

Price’s attorney, David Rosenberg, did not return a telephone message left Thursday afternoon at his Southfield office.

The monument is a tribute to Louis and considered by many a symbol of black power and triumph over injustice. But Cashman said earlier that he and Price targeted the fist because of its “violent imagery” and because it was an inappropriate symbol of a city bedeviled by crime, guns and drugs.

Police found photos at the base of the statue of two white police officers shot to death during a Feb. 16 traffic stop. Their suspected killer is black.

“This regrettable event could be used to divide the community,” Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “We should learn from this incident and use it as another step that will bring the community together.”

Cashman and Price have insisted that their action was not racially motivated.

Louis, who lived from 1914 to 1981, moved to Detroit with his family when he was a boy and is a hero in the city. The Red Wings play in a downtown arena named for him, and the sculpture, called Monument to Joe Louis but known to residents as simply “the fist,” enjoys a prominent location along Jefferson Avenue.
Defacing the statue? What about the crime of what happened to the infrastructure of the city once Black people took over? The buildings and monuments erected by a different people – those whites who sought refuge in the suburbs – have been defaced and neglected by Black people, who look upon the “Black fist” as the true embodiment of the city’s new image:

Detroit‘s Brown Bomber shattered the myth of racial supremacy with one decisive fight. After suffering a humiliating loss to the German fighter Max Schmeling in 1936, Louis trained tirelessly for a rematch two years later, and defeated the Nazi poster boy in just two minutes and four seconds.

The sculpture that honors him is a 24-foot-long, defiant right-handed punch, suspended above Jefferson Avenue.

Former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young once said that Joe Louis stood for everything that was good about Detroit. I can’t help but agree. Joe Louis is the symbol of all that I love about this city.

Lots of people hate this sculpture, saying it glorifies violence. The statue was installed in the late 1980s, back when Detroit was known as the nation’s murder capital, and the damage from the ’67 riots still felt fresh.

If one fight can shatter the myth of “racial superiority” (whatever that means), what do you call the combined Black individual contributions that were the primary factors in the downfall of Detroit?
Black-rule was abysmal for Detroit. It was a total failure.
Realistically, the only thing to show after nearly 40 years of Black people running Detroit – after Coleman Young was elected in 1973 – it this statue of a Black fist.
It is a reminder that Black people fisted the Detroit that white people left behind. To employ a musical metaphor, Detroit represents a symphony that Black people couldn’t perform once they picked up the instruments and tried to play.
No one will ever dare suggest that the Black residents of Detroit are at fault for the city’s condition. And no one will openly imply that it was Black individuals who collectively defaced an entire metropolis handed to them once white people were forced out. 
If Joe Louis knocking out some Nazi pugilist helps destroy the belief in racial superiority, can we agree that the abysmal failure of Black-rule in Detroit abolishes the belief in equality? After all, it was individual white people working as a community that raised Detroit; and it was individual Black people working as a community that razed Detroit.
The Joe Louis “Black fist” statue in Detroit is the finest expression of BRA in all the land. The entire city of Detroit has been spoiled by the feckless hands of Black-rule (remember, Detroit is 89 percent Black), and yet this statue stands resolute, a silent, stoic reminder that Black people can never be blamed for their failings whether collectively or individually.
That is the essence of “Black power” in BRA, which ensures more cities will share similar fates and inevitably be Detroit-ed.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania anyone?


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