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SONS OF MALCOLM

Inspired by the principles of Malcolm X / Malik El-Hajj Shabazz. A 'Third Worldist' perspective focusing on the increasing pace of south-south co-operation which is challenging and defeating neo-colonial hegemony, and the struggles of those oppressed by neo-colonialism and white supremacy (racism) who fight for their social, political and cultural freedom 'by any means necessary'

Pages

Monday, 5 May 2008

STOKELY CARMICHAEL & THE US IN THE 1960s

Revolution in Babylon

Peniel E. Joseph
Souls, Volume 9, Issue 4 October 2007 , pages 281 - 301

Abstract

Stokely Carmichael fundamentally transformed American race relations in the 1960s as a local organizer, national political mobilizer, and international icon. In doing so Carmichael both scandalized and helped to reshape American democracy, first as a local organizer in Washington, D.C.; the Mississippi Delta; and Lowndes County, Alabama and then as SNCC chairman and a Black
Power advocate. This essay argues that the boundaries between the
civil rights and Black Power eras have been too sharply drawn at the
expense of a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of both
periods.

Civil rights and Black Power are rooted in distinct, yet overlapping origins that
share a common history. Carmichael's evolution from a civil rights
militant to Black Power revolutionary uncovers buried intimacies
between the two eras while providing eye-opening new details about
radical efforts to transform American democracy in the 1960s.
Keywords: Black Power; black radicalism; democracy;
internationalism; Pan-Africanism; Stokely Carmichael

Introduction: In Search of an Icon

Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) is one of the most important
political leaders of the postwar era, yet remains one of the most
obscure icons of his generation. A civil rights militant turned
Black Power revolutionary, Carmichael's call for "Black Power" in
Greenwood, Mississippi during a late spring heat-wave in 1966 sent
shockwaves throughout the United States and beyond. Black Power
represents one of the most controversial, enduring, and pivotal
stories of the twentieth century. Individuals and groups that played
major and minor roles in this movement - which range from Malcolm X,
William Worthy, Lorraine Hansberry, The Black Panthers, Lyndon
Johnson, Black Muslims, FBI, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Huey P.
Newton, Kathleen Cleaver, Fidel Castro, and the New Left to name a
few - make this period nothing less than a historical epoch that
encompasses the tragic and heroic character of the postwar global
era. Spanning continents and crossing oceans, Black Power's reach
was global, stretching from urban projects in Harlem to rural
hamlets in Lowndes County, Alabama, to poor Black neighborhoods in
West Oakland out to the revolutionary cities of Dar Es Salaam,
Tanzania, Conakry, Guinea, Algiers, Algeria, and the cosmopolitan
internationalism of London, Stockholm, and Paris.2

Stokely Carmichael possessed a nuanced appreciation for the everyday
struggles of poor African Americans in the rural south through
shared experiences in civil rights struggles and personally
witnessed the soul crushing poverty that contoured the lives of too
many northern Blacks. Travels to Europe, Africa, Latin America, and
the Caribbean, which included intimate moments with icons such as
Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Kwame Nkrumah, allowed Carmichael to
imagine the world as a global stage wherein political leaders - no
less than Black sharecroppers - played pivotal roles in determining
the course of history. Carmichael's unusual biography as a Caribbean
born, Bronx raised, and Howard University-educated activist who
traveled down south to register Black sharecroppers to vote only to
unexpectedly emerge as a mainstream leader, world traveler, and
international icon, allows for a panoramic view of postwar freedom
struggles. Unglamorous everyday people - ranging from men and women,
teenagers, schoolchildren and trade unionists - participated
alongside of preachers and street speakers, politicians, and
political leaders, intellectuals, and artists comprising a freedom
surge that ranged from gritty Harlem neighborhoods to Detroit's
industrial shop-floors to Dixie's cradle, Birmingham, Alabama, and
out west to Oakland's postwar boom town. Internationally, events in
Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean turned much of the
postwar era into a global age of decolonization where millions
staked humanity's future on the spreading of unprecedented freedoms
to far corners of the world.

Black Power would scandalize American society and the national media
quickly turned the slogan into a national Rorschach test: One
wherein Blacks viewed Black Power as righteous and whites
interpreted the term to be filled with violent foreboding.
Newspapers brooded over Carmichael's words, quickly forming a
consensus that judged the slogan to be at best intemperate and, at
worst, a blatant call for anti-white violence and reverse racism.

For the next decade Black Power would reverberate around the world,
galvanizing Blacks, outraging whites, and inspiring a cross-section
of ethnic and racial minorities. A civil rights militant turned
Black Power revolutionary, by 1969 Carmichael abandoned the United
States for Conakry, Guinea, and claimed Pan-Africanism as the
highest stage of Black political radicalism. For the next thirty
years, Carmichael remained a diligent political activist, a
throwback to the heady years of the 1960s who remained defiant in
his belief that a worldwide revolution was still possible if not
imminent. Yet Carmichael's iconography obscures as much as it
reveals. Carmichael's role as an advocate of radical democracy and
tireless civil rights organizer during the 1960s remains too often
buried beneath the celebrity that would engulf him by the summer of
1966.

Carmichael belonged to the small fraternity who literally bled for
American democracy during the early 1960s. By Carmichael's own
recollection, between June 1961 and June 1966, he was arrested
twenty-seven times while participating in civil rights activities.
For Carmichael, the decision to endure physical violence, personal
discomfort, and economic uncertainty was part of a disciplined
commitment to radical democracy in service of racial equality,
economic justice, and Black community empowerment. As a young
student activist at Howard University, Carmichael helped transform
American democracy by participating on the front lines of social and
political upheavals during the civil rights movement's heroic
years.3 From Cambridge, Maryland to Washington, D.C. through
Mississippi's Delta region to the backwoods of Lowndes County,
Alabama, Carmichael helped organize poor, unlettered, Blacks. Dreams
of self-determination bumped headlong into traditions of white
supremacy, random violence, and economic retribution. Carmichael's
growing realization that political power, rather than legal redress
or moral suasion, was the key to racial justice in America would
lead him to preach a politics of Black Power that, in his mind,
reflected democracy's best face and last hope. By 1966 Carmichael
would emerge as a national leader of an insurgent Black Power
Movement and help inspire the creation of militant groups such as
the Black Panthers (who Carmichael would serve as honorary Prime
Minister for a little over one year). An icon to a generation of
young people who hailed him as a new Malcolm X, Carmichael would
search for common ground with Martin Luther King Jr., experience
harassment at the hands of federal authorities, and enjoy the
company of international revolutionaries.4

Carmichael's political activism during the 1960s provides a unique
prism to view issues of race, war, and democracy in the United
States at the local, national, and international level. Tall,
handsome, and charismatic, Carmichael burst onto the American
political scene in 1966 as the leading proponent of Black Power
radicalism. A Renaissance man equally comfortable in sharecropper's
overalls, business suits, and dashikis, Carmichael projected the
passionate temper of a street speaker, the contemplative demeanor of
an academic, and the gregariousness of a Baptist preacher; traits
that helped turn him into an international icon. The political
equivalent of a rock star during the late 1960s, Carmichael's
historical significance dimmed over time. In contrast to Malcolm X,
Carmichael's political exploits remain both less documented and
revered. The publication of Carmichael's posthumously published
autobiography along with the spate of new scholarship that I have
elsewhere called "Black Power Studies" has ignited a long overdue
process of historical investigation and analysis of Carmichael's
political thought and activism.5 Carmichael represents arguably the
most important bridge between civil rights and Black Power activism:
a grassroots organizer whose unparalleled courage made him at home
among sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta and urban militants in
Los Angeles and the Bay Area, bold enough to trek through Cuba's
Sierra Maestra with Fidel Castro and denounce Lyndon Johnson as a
war-monger, and compassionate enough to share unscripted moments of
friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. Ultimately, the
controversies and contradictions of Carmichael's political activism
complicate narratives of civil rights and Black Power by recovering
buried intimacies of the larger postwar freedom struggle.

Bleeding For Democracy

In June 1961, one month after completing final exams for spring
classes at Howard University, Stokely Carmichael flew from
Washington to New Orleans to join an integrated group of Freedom
Riders traveling from Louisiana to Mississippi. He was nineteen
years old and he was not alone. Groups of interracial volunteers
embarked on an experiment in democracy that spring; placing
political principle ahead of personal safety by challenging ancient
restrictions that barred Blacks and whites from interstate travel.
Carmichael arrived in New Orleans at 3AM, met by a nervous escort,
hopeful that their early morning rendezvous would throw off
suspicion of civil rights activity. The sight of strange trees
glittered with Spanish moss evoked images of a gothic south teeming
with lynch mobs. A large mob outside the New Orleans train station
forced Carmichael's fellow freedom riders onto the train for Jackson
through a blur of concentrated violence that left them too
exhilarated with the relief of survival to dwell on cuts and bruises
sustained during the frantic boarding.6 On June 8 Carmichael and the
Freedom Riders entered a white waiting room in Jackson, Mississippi,
were quickly arrested and, after a short stint in Hinds County jail,
sent on a two hour drive to Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary.
Cattle prods pressed against the naked flesh of prisoners welcomed
inmates to Parchman farm. Ringed by barbed-wire fences and defended
by shot-gun-toting sentries, Parchman's warden added to the tension
by evoking the specter of the prison's "bad niggers," including
death row inmates with predilections for random violence.7 Freedom
Riders in Parchman, which now included Congress of Racial Equality
leader James Farmer as well as a yarmulke-wearing young preacher
named James Bevel, responded to small and large instances of
brutality with prayers, freedom songs, and a hunger strike.
Carmichael celebrated his twentieth birthday, June 29, in Parchman
farm, eventually spending more than five weeks in prison before his
release on July 19.8 He would cherish the memory as a rite of
passage and preparation for dozens of future arrests.9

May Carmichael would spend a tense evening listening to the radio
before learning of her son's predicament. Stokely had braced May for
his incarceration before heading to Mississippi, gently telling his
mother not to worry, that he was "going to jail" and to be "proud,"
not ashamed. Responding to neighbors who asked, "Is that your boy
Stokely they've got down there?" she responded as her son had
instructed. "Yes, that's my boy and I'm so proud of him I don't know
what to do!" Adolph Carmichael frowned upon his son's activism, but
took Stokely at his word that he would earn a college degree before
devoting his life to the movement. Immigrants from Port of Spain,
Trinidad transplanted to the Bronx, May and Adolph Carmichael
learned early on to compromise with Stokely, who seemed more
willful, mischievous, and political than his two sisters. If May
Carmichael identified with her son's independent streak, Adolph
retained a stubborn faith in God and hard work. Adolph's hope in the
promise of America's immigrant roots contrasted with Stokely's
ingrained skepticism. After Adolph's premature death in 1962,
Stokely would come to view the American dream as a cruel joke played
at the expense of honest men like his father who worked himself to
an early grave.10

Time in Parchman farm transformed Stokely Carmichael. But in ways
that could hardly be expected. Mississippi provided Carmichael a
chance to see a landscape teeming with beauty where others saw
poverty. The Mississippi Delta's wide spaces punctuated by flatlands
dotted with decrepit shacks, simple one-story churches, and historic
plantations featured an impoverished landscape that most Americans
chose to ignore. The region's dense black soil, dark wetlands, and
large plantations formed an almost surreal physical environment.
Mississippi exposed the young Carmichael to the "pain and joy of
struggle" as well as the sometimes melancholy "brotherhood of shared
danger within bonds of loyalty."11

The delta hid untold potential in the faces of obsidian-eyed
sharecroppers who toiled in anonymity; including those whose birth,
life, and death would never be officially recorded. These same
sharecroppers held the power to alter the course of American history
through an individual act of self-determination - the vote - that
expressed the collective will of Black communities in the south who
bore no chains yet still lived in bondage. Black sharecroppers in
Mississippi distilled the very meaning of citizenship in their
resilient, patient, and courageous folkways and their example earned
Carmichael's undying respect for the inhabitants of the rural delta.
Carmichael held more than just admiration for sharecroppers in the
Mississippi Delta. Stokely Carmichael loved them; developing a
lifelong sensitivity to the rhythms, customs, and folkways of rural
southern blacks that made him a particularly effective organizer.
Older residents viewed him with respect and admiration and he
fiercely guarded their trust in return.12

But Carmichael's sensitivity could cut both ways. Carmichael could
be temperamental, brash, and arrogant; a know-it-all whose easy
smile masked a nervous energy that left him, by the age of twenty-
two, with an ulcer. A larger than life personality meant, at times,
an outsized ego. The ability to make split second, life-saving
decisions in the field could, in other settings, come off as
impetuous, intemperate, and reckless. In the face of dangers seen
and unseen, Carmichael - by turns bold and compassionate,
belligerent and contemplative - inspired hope and confidence among
fellow activists in the field who looked to him as a leader among
equals. If Carmichael's aura of uncompromising certitude attracted
scores of admirers in the movement that made him a sort of minor
celebrity among certified organizers and activists, it would serve
as a major repellent once amplified by media projection that cast
him as a dangerously charismatic heir to Malcolm X.13

Mississippi also housed the grotesque. In 1964, three years after
his first trip to the delta, Carmichael served as project director
of Mississippi's Second Congressional District during the Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Committee-(SNCC, pronounced "snick") led
Freedom Summer. That summer Carmichael plotted strategy, coordinated
the deployment of resources, and tried to stay alive. SNCC's
Sojourner motor fleet featured modified cars designed to help civil
rights workers outrun local vigilantes, Klansmen, and law
enforcement officials and Carmichael's skills behind the wheel
earned him the nickname the "Delta Devil."14

The next year Carmichael rode the wave of Martin Luther King's Selma-
based voting rights campaign into clandestine organizing in the
rural woods of Lowndes County, Alabama in the late winter of 1965.
Roaming for safe territory on mules and attracting rural people
daring enough to talk to civil rights activists (and sometimes brave
enough to provide shelter), Carmichael poured all of his organizing
energies into one of Alabama's most obscure regions.

Black Power

"We are trying to build democracy," Carmichael wrote Lorna D. Smith
in 1966, a white SNCC supporter who would remain a steadfast
ally. "And we have dedicated our lives to that task." Carmichael's
letter discussed SNCC's recent opposition to the Vietnam War, his
organizing efforts in Lowndes County, Alabama, and his personal
dedication to transforming society. Sacrifice, expressed in the
shared willingness of civil rights workers to bleed for democratic
principles, continued to animate Carmichael's political activism but
the deaths of colleagues - both Black and white - made him impatient
for enduring justice that transcended legal and legislative
boundaries. "Our commitment is to man not to a plot of earth or even
our country," wrote Carmichael, confessing appreciative relief for
Smith's support in the face of being dismissed by critics
as "beatniks or communists." Carmichael resurrected hope in language
that found kinship with Martin Luther King's notion of political
transformation through heroic witness against historic miseries. "It
is the human contact that we make, while suffering that will make
the difference."15

Racial demons encountered down south served as Carmichael's point of
departure in the New Republic, where he expressed measured hope for
expanding American democracy, holding up African Americans as a
metaphorical battering ram, the prickly conscience of a nation too
often content to look the other way as if the abject misery of its
Black sisters and brothers provided an unacknowledged but much
needed safety net. Substituting the painful details of organizing in
Alabama with passing references to anonymous martyrs, Carmichael
directed his gaze toward an impoverished American political
landscape. "The majority view is a lie," wrote Carmichael, "based on
the premise of upward mobility which doesn't exist for most
Americans." Blunt candor gave way to a roll call of grief, an
indictment of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society as "preposterous," and
then, finally, a hard earned faith that poor, unlettered
sharecroppers represented democracy's best face. Legislative and
legalistic racial breakthroughs inspired hope even as they magnified
the tragedy of white supremacy's stubborn refusal to regard Blacks
as fellow citizens. The disenfranchised, declared Carmichael,
would "redefine what the Great Society is," imparting meaning that
would soar above rhetoric. "I place my own hope for the United
States," he wrote, in the ability of Black sharecroppers who had
shown through quiet determination that "they can articulate and be
responsible and hold power."16

On May 3, 1966, nine hundred Blacks in Lowndes County seemed to
justify Carmichael's faith in local people's ability to govern
themselves by attending a nominating convention at the First Baptist
Church of Hayneville, a half mile from the county courthouse.
Carmichael watched with unabashed pride as Lowndes County's African
Americans voted to place a black panther on the ballot for the
upcoming November election. The black panther inspired Black hope
and white anxiety and, over time, would come to be seen as a symbol
of revolution recognized around the world.17

Five days after Lowndes County's convention, Carmichael was elected
chairman of SNCC. As chairman Carmichael sparked immediate
controversy by declining to attend a White House civil rights
conference and publicly describing integration as "an insidious
subterfuge for white supremacy." Carmichael's remarks elicited swift
rebuke from Martin Luther King Jr., who regretted SNCC's overt
flirtation with Black nationalism. King's criticism belied what
would become an enduring personal friendship. In fact, shortly after
his election, King called Carmichael to offer congratulatory words
and advice. Meanwhile, in tense meetings with SNCC staff Carmichael
candidly admitted that he was losing faith in American democracy.
Optimistic, now apparently mistaken, assumptions that America "is
really a democracy, which just isn't working" had left Carmichael
and SNCC reeling, anxious, and unprepared for the naked brutality
that met each step toward racial progress.18

Carmichael and King's relationship grew that June during an almost
three-week civil rights march that forged an enduring personal
friendship even as it highlighted political differences. The
shooting of James Meredith during his one man "march against fear"
attracted major civil rights leaders to Mississippi. Marching side
by side, Carmichael and King proved physical and temperamental
contrasts. Tall, lanky, and restless, Carmichael laconically told
reporters that he held no personal commitment to non-violence but
saw it as little more than a political tactic. The slightly portly,
more diminutive King politely disagreed, retaining an outward
appearance of self-control honed over a decade in the national
spotlight. Behind closed doors, the two men enjoyed an easy
familiarity and bantered like old friends. Just thirty-seven, King
admired the soon to be twenty-five-year-old Carmichael's commitment
to struggle, and Carmichael appreciated King's unassuming demeanor
and earthy sense of humor. The march allowed Carmichael to see a
different, less formal, side of King. "During those sweltering days
Dr. King became to many of us no longer a symbol or an icon," he
remembered, "but a warm, funny, likeable, unpretentious human being
who shared many of our values." It also exposed a new side of
Stokely Carmichael. "This is the twenty-seventh time that I've been
arrested," Carmichael informed a large crowd on the evening of
Thursday, June 16, 1966. "I ain't going to jail no more. The only
way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin' us is to take over.
What we gonna start sayin' now is Black Power!" By the time the
Meredith March concluded ten days later, Carmichael, and not King,
had become the most talked about figure of America's civil rights
movement.19 Three days after giving a rousing, combative speech in
Jackson, Mississippi, that cemented his status as the new spokesman
of Black militancy, Carmichael celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday.

The Magnificent Barbarian

An Ebony feature story on the heels of the Meredith March opened
with an appropriately cinematic scene that described Carmichael in
high-speed pursuit of white toughs fresh from screaming racial
epithets at a busload of Black SNCC workers. Historian Lerone
Bennett's profile cast Carmichael as the avatar of a new movement; a
handsome, brilliant, cosmopolitan who unnamed SNCC compatriots
dubbed "the Magnificent Barbarian" in homage to his ability to
inspire everyday people and alienate powerful figures in equal
proportion. Civil rights lawyer Len Holt compared Carmichael to
a "statue of a Nubian god," just as Bennett suggested a resemblance
to contemporary movie stars Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.
Beyond the glamour of Carmichael's good looks and personal charisma
lay an intellectual depth and sensitivity at times overshadowed by a
brazen confidence and naked candor that, one anonymous civil rights
leader admitted, "terrifies me and exalts me at the same time."20
Invoking self-defense as a personal right beyond political debate,
Carmichael offered Black Power as a strategy for self-determination
not seen in the Black community since Reconstruction. White backlash
merely amplified the wisdom in Black Power's rhetorical call to arms
by revealing profound inequities carved in centuries old racial
fault lines. Ultimately, Bennett concluded, Black Power would take
the lead in society's transformation through the at times unsettling
figure of Carmichael, a forward thinking visionary who represented
the "most advanced social and democratic interests in America."21

Carmichael showcased an uncanny ability to impress the unlettered
and elite. In front of a group of Harlem teen-agers, Carmichael
presented himself as a dashing man about town, donning a fashionable
blue suit, Italian boots, and striped tie to deliver a speech that
played up the soft remnant of his Trinidadian accent. Before a
mature, harder edged crowd in Newark, New Jersey, that included
LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), the Black nationalist poet and
Black Arts advocate, Carmichael disarmed participants with homespun
wisdom packaged in a slightly exaggerated southern drawl - "Is it
okay if ah take off mah jacket?" he asked at one point. From Newark
Carmichael traveled to Glen Falls, Vermont, for a leadership
institute where he starred as the young sage before an interracial
group of middle-aged clergy, seasoned activists, and youthful
hippies. Equally effective in all three settings, Carmichael
simultaneously channeled a charismatic rage leavened by a playful
sense of humor.22

In the spring of 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. eclipsed Carmichael's
seasoned antiwar rhetoric with a speech that sent shockwaves across
the nation. King's April 4 address at New York's Riverside Church
lent international stature and moral clarity to antiwar speeches
that Carmichael had steadfastly delivered for almost one year. At
Riverside, King contrasted Carmichael's bitterness toward the failed
promises of American democracy with weary hope. "The world now
demands," pleaded King, "a maturity of America that we may not be
able to achieve."23 Although King's words now resound with an
authority that has swelled retrospectively, shortly after his
Riverside speech he found himself in the uncomfortable position
of "having to fight suggestions at every stop that his Vietnam
stance merely echoed the vanguard buzz of Stokely Carmichael."24 He
needn't have worried. King's peace advocacy would be highlighted by
historians as a daring rejection of the status quo, just as
Carmichael's stridently eloquent antiwar position would, in the long
term, be muffled by association with Black Power. More comfortable
with Stokely as a youthful saber-rattler than a thoughtful antiwar
activist, journalists and future historians would virtually ignore
the SNCC chairman's meticulous criticism of American involvement in
Vietnam as an example of the larger failure of the nation's
democratic experiment.25

Carmichael's insouciance struck a chord in Life magazine
photojournalist Gordon Parks. Parks (an equally adept writer,
memoirist, and raconteur) and Carmichael bonded over shared
reputations as mavericks. "Stokely gives the impression," Parks
impishly observed, that he could "stroll through Dixie in broad
daylight using the Confederate flag for a handkerchief."26 Four
months of shadowing Carmichael made Parks appreciate the nuances of
a personality that was both outsized and earthy. In Parks'
narrative, Carmichael ("complex, sensitive, and angry") popped off
the page as a "spokesman not so much of a movement as a mood" that
stood in contrast with the presumed passiveness of earlier
generations. Parks "marveled" at Carmichael's "ability to adjust in
any environment." Tracking Carmichael on university campuses, with
hard-core inner-city militants, and rural Blacks in Alabama, Parks
touted the young revolutionary as a new kind of Renaissance man; at
ease among sharecroppers, intellectuals, and urban militants.27
Flashes of humor over childhood reminiscences (the white kids at
Bronx Science High School considered Carmichael, a self-proclaimed
bad dancer, "their chocolate Fred Astaire") turned to grim
recognition of his mother's long days as a maid and his father's
premature death due to backbreaking labor. Perceptively, Parks
described King's current antiwar stance as following on the heels of
Carmichael, whose rage against Vietnam, the draft, and Lyndon
Johnson served as a hallmark to his standard stump speech.28
Carmichael's unshakable antiwar position evoked conflicting feelings
in Parks whose son served as a tank gunner in Southeast Asia. Parks
wondered which of the two young men's fight was more just.
Finding "no immediate answer," Parks concluded that Carmichael's
passion for justice gave physical risk a clear political purpose the
Vietnam crisis lacked. For "in the face of death, which was so
possible for the both of them, I think Stokely would surely be more
certain of why he was about to die."29 Stokely Carmichael had
become, for Parks and millions of other Black Americans, a surrogate
son.

In May 1967, with his tenure as SNCC chairman coming to an end,
Carmichael made plans to resume local organizing. "This is sort of
my last speaking engagement," he told an audience at a Sunday
evening dance that capped off 'Stokely Carmichael Day in
Chicago,' "cause after this I got two more to go to, and then I'm
going to D.C., and we're going to sure enough take over that city
and it's going to be ours, lock, stock, and barrel."30 Two days
later FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover released portions of his printed
congressional testimony, taken three months earlier, to the news
media. Bombshell allegations charged Carmichael with maintaining
contact with communist front groups and FBI phone lines buzzed with
reporters clamoring for more information, only to be informed that
Hoover's testimony stood "on it's own two feet and we can add
nothing." Reporters confronted Carmichael in Grand Rapids, Michigan,
fresh from an electrifying antiwar speech at Washington's Lincoln
Memorial Congregational Church. Instead of the expected fireworks,
Carmichael calmly requested that Hoover prove the charges.31
Southern University students sat transfixed, the next day, as
Carmichael discussed political revolution by way of the radical
psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, whose legacy ran past his premature death
in 1961 through the publication (and translation) of a blockbuster
book The Wretched of the Earth.32

The timing of Hoover's news release coincided with FBI efforts to
exploit "known weaknesses of Carmichael." A search for personal
scandal augmented the bureau's efforts, coordinated with the justice
department, to build a criminal case against Carmichael (complete
with scores of affidavits from informers who attended his speeches)
for selective service violations.33 The FBI judged Carmichael to be
a discreet ladies man who enjoyed the occasional drink, subsisted on
income from lectures, and shunned fancy hotels in favor of home
cooked hospitality. A frequent flier who favored no "particular
airline" Carmichael exhibited a lack of routine that frustrated
agents searching for pressure points found in behavior patterns.34
Bureau surveillance of Carmichael's private life paralleled frantic
reports from Washington civic leaders suggesting that Carmichael's
planned residence in the city risked fiscal crisis in the form of
cancelled business conventions and higher crime.35

But Carmichael's status as a national leader complicated his return
to grassroots organizing. Events in California would soon make it
impossible. The Oakland based local activist Huey P. Newton's
decision to send an armed convoy of Black Panthers (BPP) to the
state capitol in Sacramento on May 2, 1967 triggered bursts of panic
and near hysteria that simultaneously burnished the young
organization's celebrity while jeopardizing its chances of
longevity. Newton's gamble poised the Black Panthers on a high wire
between daring improvisation and reckless bravado that mixed threats
of brooding violence with the exhilarating spectacle of street
corner toughs as political revolutionaries. Like surrealist
painters, the Black Panthers imagined a world not yet in existence,
but one that they could will into being. Newton's subsequent
drafting of Carmichael into the BPP continued a pattern that marked
the Panthers as defiant visionaries bold enough to invite Black
Power's chief icon and national spokesman to join their modest local
group. Newton's mandate conferred the rank of field marshal on
Carmichael, with a public commission to "establish revolutionary
law, order and justice" over the United States to the Continental
Divide.36 It was a most unlikely reward, conferred in absentia
(Carmichael was out of the country at the time of Newton's executive
mandate), for Carmichael's ongoing activism in Lowndes County,
Alabama whose panther symbol had been eagerly snapped up by scores
of militants, forming its most enduring beachhead in Oakland,
California.

There was a whiff of desperation to Newton's order, since Carmichael
scarcely needed to lend his name to a group of revolutionaries who
could easily be mistaken for misguided, if colorful, Black
gangsters. An August, 1967 New York Times exposé resuscitated the
waning buzz of the group's Sacramento adventure by publishing "The
Call of the Black Panthers" written by Ramparts' assistant managing
editor Sol Stern. The story was accompanied by a soon-to-be iconic
photo of Huey P. Newton. With an open collared white dress shirt
peering underneath a black leather jacket, Newton appeared pensive
while sitting in flared chair holding a rifle in one hand and a
spear in another, contoured by African shields carefully strewn on
the floor across its pages. The image evoked poetic juxtapositions
between the past and present, the modern and the ancient, that
suggested forward thinking Black revolutionaries required a potent
knowledge of history and politics. For Stern the Panthers' limited
impact on the Bay Area's civil rights scene made them less of a
political phenomenon than a sociological one.37 Against the backdrop
of national civil disorders in urban cities, the Panthers - with
their melodramatic statements, bombastic posture, and dead serious
swagger - demanded attention. Stern's profile contained all of the
ingredients designed to turn the group into a household name. The
article lingered over Newton's good looks and smoldering intensity,
showcased co-founder Bobby Seale's common touch with everyday
people, and documented the Oakland police department's visceral
hatred for the Panthers, quoting one anonymous officer's wish that
both groups engage in "an old-fashioned shootout." With
characteristic brio, the Panthers inflated membership numbers, spoke
of mounting a global revolution against American imperialism, and
convened sparsely attended rallies where there rage against the
police drew more interest from curiosity seekers than new recruits.38

The World Stage

Stokely Carmichael toured London, his first stop on a five-month
international tour, as the Panthers captured local headlines. As
critics fumed that he deftly recycled the same anti-American speech
into "a first class, round the world airline ticket," international
and domestic supporters hailed Carmichael as a global emissary whose
political platform spanned nothing less than the entire world.39
Carmichael's tour coincided with furious FBI investigations
attempting to link him to the Communist Party and domestic urban
unrest in cities such as Newark and Detroit that, Black Power
activists argued, was a mere prelude to a more violent revolution to
come. In London to attend the "Dialectics of Liberation" conference
that featured well known radical intellectuals such as Herbert
Marcuse, Carmichael dazzled intellectuals and activists alike.
Angela Davis, a recent Brandeis University graduate and perhaps
Marcuse's most precocious student, found Carmichael to be erudite
and insightful. British newspapers described him as a "phenomenon"
whose "slogan is Black Power" and whose skin color constituted "his
country."40 Alternately quoting Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus,
Carmichael mesmerized journalists with stories that mixed personal
biography, raw political experience, and intellectual agility into a
pungent mix that was both mysterious and revelatory. From working-
class neighborhoods of Brixton, Hackney, and Notting Hill,
Carmichael recounted how an early infatuation with Western
civilization (in Trinidad and the Bronx) curdled with his new found
knowledge of the Black world's hidden history and the white world's
horrific transgressions. Calling Malcolm X his "patron saint,"
Carmichael announced that urban riots in the United States were
actually "rebellions" and predicted that domestic violence was
inevitable in a nation birthed in bloodshed.41 Carmichael dialogued
with London's militant Caribbean, African, and white students at
Africa House, a headquarters for progressives of all colors. Michael
X (nee DeFrietas), a self-styled Black Power activist, fellow
Trinidadian, and self-proclaimed Malcolm X disciple, regaled
Carmichael with his dark humor.42 On July 18, 1967 Carmichael
delivered a wide ranging speech that touched upon issues of race,
class, and culture at the Dialectics of Liberation Conference.
American cities, he proclaimed, would be "populated by peoples of
the Third World" unwilling to tolerate cultural degradation and
institutional racism.43 Black urban youth represented the most
potentially disruptive force to combat a global system of racial and
economic exploitation. Untamed by the forces of racism, the inner
city's "youngbloods" comprised the "real revolutionary proletariat,
ready to fight by any means necessary" for Black liberation.44
Shortly after his visit, British authorities reacted to Carmichael's
volatile presence by promptly banning him from ever returning to
England.45

Newark and Detroit burned just as Carmichael arrived in Cuba, where
he held up the island's revolution as a daring experiment in freedom
and outraged American officials with forecasts of a domestic race
war complete with urban guerrillas. Carmichael's search for an
international model for political revolution suitable for Black
Americans would continue in Africa. After leaving Cuba, and with the
State Department in hot pursuit, Carmichael lunched with Ho Chi Minh
in Vietnam, met with guerrilla leaders in Algiers, and arrived in
Conakry, Guinea, in time to meet with three of Africa's most
respected figures: Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, and Amilcar Cabral.46

Carmichael's meetings in Conakry would prove especially fruitful. In
correspondence from Guinea, Carmichael admonished SNCC workers to
resist the temptation of petty squabbles and infighting. "Our people
are dying in the streets of Detroit, Vietnam, Congoand all over," he
wrote, casting the Third World in racial solidarity with Black
freedom struggles. "I hope my trip and future trips make things
HOTTER for you all," Carmichael insisted, since this would separate
serious revolutionaries from pretenders. "I wish most of you would
wake up and catch up with your people. They are ahead of you."47

Guinean president Ahmed Sekou Toure presided over a one party state
that advocated a form of African socialism that retained indigenous
cultural flourishes appealing to Black nationalists. An outspoken
and charismatic proponent of Pan Africanism, Toure impressed
Carmichael as a steadfast and unpretentious leader and the two
developed a close rapport.48 Guinea was also the residence of
deposed Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah. Ousted in a coup the previous
year, Nkrumah was a living legend among Pan-Africanists a status he
retained in spite of his recent political misfortunes. Conakry's
coastal surroundings, low rise buildings, and arid climate dotted
with mango trees and coconut palms, reminded Carmichael of his
native Port of Spain. Nkrumah's scenic coastal villa provided an
ironic contrast to the reality of political exile. The Osagyefo (or
redeemer of his native land) and Carmichael took an instant liking
to each other. In wide-ranging, candid conversations, Nkrumah chafed
at Carmichael's impetuous nature while Carmichael came away with
renewed pan-African impulses. Even as he prepared for the next stop
on his global tour, Carmichael made plans to return to Africa.

Carmichael's month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which served as the
base for competing revolutionary groups with ambitions for
sovereignty in far corners of colonial Africa, would prove
controversial. Operatives from Europe, Africa, the United States,
and other parts of the world trafficked in real and imagined
adventures that made Dar es Salaam one of Africa's most dangerous
and exotic cities. In Dar, Carmichael recorded taped messages to
Black youth from Tanzania that stressed the need for pride in Black
culture and an African identity as the key to a transcendent unity
that bound together communities separated by oceans. "First we are
African, living in the United States, but first we are Africans."
Identification with Africa promised to restore ties that stretched
from "South Africa to Nova Scotia" and prepare a generation of
Blacks scattered across the world to struggle for self-determination
no matter the cost.49

Carmichael's hope for Black unity contrasted with growing political
divisions in Africa, whose reach soon spread to Tanzania. Frustrated
opposition groups embraced Carmichael as a symbol of free speech
even as nervous government officials and United States Information
Service agents watched his every move. In picturesque Zanzibar
Carmichael addressed an Afro-Shirazi Youth league rally soaking up
spectacular indigenous sights that included clove trees.
Carmichael's public criticisms of Africa's jet-setting guerrilla
leaders "living in luxurious hotels, mixing with white people" upset
rebel leaders who dismissed his charges as the naïve ravings of an
amateur. Ripples from Carmichael's outspoken assertiveness swelled
into flagrant displays of unsanctioned political activity by campus
radicals, the press, and various activists. Carmichael departed
Tanzania with painful lessons about African politics, where
independence rested on fluid alliances, ancient histories, and
indigenous cultures that remained tantalizing incomprehensible to
even the most sympathetic outsiders.50

A Dangerous Year

In 1968 Carmichael's presence in Washington placed him at the center
of the growing controversy surrounding Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor
People's campaign. King's new organizing direction, announced the
previous summer in his third book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos
or Community? posited massive civil disobedience as the linchpin
behind a national movement for social and economic justice. King's
tactics, for different reasons, gave both his supporters and enemies
pause. SCLC's full plans to stage a massive "live in" at the
nation's capital struck Black Power militants as foolish, Washington
politicians as quixotic, and local authorities as trouble.
Journalists alternately described the campaign as a reckless stunt
and a last ditch effort that anticipated the demise of non-violence
as a force for social change.51

King's determination to organize a mass protest in the nation's
capital renewed his combatively friendly relationship with
Carmichael forged in the tumult of 1966's Meredith March. Twice
during the first week of February Carmichael and King met to hash
over disputes, discuss areas of mutual agreement, and massage
political differences. During a closed meeting of two hundred
activists at Washington's Church of the Redeemer, King disclosed
more detailed plans of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference's upcoming Poor People's Campaign. Carmichael expressed
support for the campaign's goals while maintaining SNCC's
organizational autonomy. Press reports glossed over the complexity
behind these negotiations in favor of characterizing the meeting as
part of King's effort to neutralize violent threats posed by Black
Power militants.52

Behind the scenes Carmichael assured King that SNCC's intentions
were positive. "Stokely, you don't need to tell me that," replied
King. "I know you." Privately, King expressed reservations,
confiding to advisor Stanley Levison that although Carmichael was
now "sweet as pie," he tried to "pull a power play on us in
Washington," in a coup thwarted only by a lack of support.53

Two days after meeting with King, Carmichael unveiled a more
sensitive side at a conference of Methodist ministers in Cincinnati,
Ohio. An astonished group of around 250 clergymen patiently listened
to a bible-quoting Carmichael who held up Jesus' dual commitment to
saving souls and eradicating poverty as the contemporary challenge
facing the ministry. Quoting the book of Acts, Carmichael urged the
ministers to "turn the world upside down" in pursuit of social
justice and deployed snippets of Jeremiah to relay the message that
social upheavals to root out injustice proved consistent with tenets
of the Christian faith. Reverend James Lawson, chair of the National
Conference of Negro Methodists, informed skeptical reporters
that "Stokely has the basic compassion called for in the Christian
faith," acknowledging Carmichael's presence as a lightning rod that
carried a message that Black Methodists nonetheless needed to hear.54

On Thursday, April 4, Martin Luther King was shot by sniper fire
while standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Hotel in
Memphis, Tennessee. King's assassination placed new pressures on
Carmichael. Almost four months after returning from his
international tour, Carmichael had attempted to return to local
organizing in Washington. But efforts to forge a Black United Front
with the city's militants and moderates stalled and activists inside
of SNCC's Washington Field Office grew resentful over Carmichael's
star power. Carmichael's growing alliance with the Black Panthers
proved more promising and two public speeches in California in
February on behalf of the "Free Huey Movement" left no doubt that he
remained the biggest speaking draw among Black militants in the
nation. Carmichael's private life also attracted intense public
scrutiny after he became engaged to South African singer Miriam
Makeba. Almost ten years older than Carmichael, Makeba was an
international star whose close professional contacts included
entertainer Harry Belafonte. Critics charged Carmichael with
entering into a marriage of convenience, ignoring the couple's
genuine affection toward each other in favor of stories that
chronicled Makeba's declining concert schedule after their announced
engagement.55

As news of King's death spread throughout the city, Carmichael,
along with SNCC workers Cleve Sellers and Lester McKinnie, led a
group of angry protesters down Washington's U Street corridor of
drugstores, supermarkets, and theaters, asking store owners to
close. At one point Walter Fauntroy, one of King's advisors,
practically dragged Carmichael by the arms pleading with him to stay
calm. Small, attentive crowds gathered around transistor radios
sifting information from repetitively breathless news stories
recounting the details of King's death. As passersby shattered the
windows of the Republic Theater, an unlikely diplomat emerged in the
form of Carmichael who screamed, "This is not the way!" backed by a
chorus of SNCC workers repeatedly chanting "Take it easy, Brothers!"
Unable to control the crowd they eventually retreated a few blocks
away, back to Carmichael's apartment. Bittersweet memories pulled
SNCC activists through the night, with Carmichael leading tearful
reminisces of his friendship with King, intense revelations that
caught his colleagues off guard.56

On September 5, 1968 Carmichael and Miriam Makeba flew to Dakar,
Senegal from New York City. Over the next several weeks they made
preparations to relocate to Africa and traveled to Conakry, Guinea,
where Carmichael met with Kwame Nkrumah for the second time in a
year. In conversations with Nkrumah, Carmichael presented the Black
Panthers as a group of revolutionaries committed to the deposed
leader's triumphant return to Ghana. With the entitlement of a
former ruler, Nkrumah preached patience, reminding Carmichael
that "without a base we can do nothing."57

Three days after Carmichael arrived in Africa, Huey P. Newton was
convicted in Oakland, California of manslaughter. Both Newton's
conviction and Richard Nixon's narrow presidential election two
months later accelerated Carmichael's plans to seek a new political
base. Carmichael's marriage to Miriam Makeba and hopes for the
future collided with a palpable concern for his own safety. Always
the public firebrand, in quieter times Carmichael confessed fear of
being assassinated at the hands of the authorities. There were good
reasons to be afraid. FBI surveillance of Carmichael had reached
comic proportions. After an agent's inquiry into his travel
itinerary resulted in a bomb scare following a miscommunication with
a TWA flight clerk, Carmichael laughed off the incident, unfurling a
huge poster of Che Guevara as he traded barbs with reporters, but
the harassment exacted a toll.58

In November Carmichael publicly assailed white liberals during a
speaking tour in California. At San Jose State he denounced liberals
as poseurs interested only in reform and dismissed hippies as
misguided and ignorant. At tiny De Anza College he struck down the
question of white participation in Black Power and continued his
assault on liberals.59 Carmichael's speech would be a prelude to his
public break from the Panthers. For Carmichael, Black unity trumped
talk of interracial alliances; a hard lesson learned from his days
in SNCC witnessing the deaths of Black and white comrades to advance
democratic ideals that receded further from view the more they were
pursued.

That December Carmichael continued his plans to move to Guinea.60
Before leaving he made a series of controversial appearances at
southern colleges where he openly discussed revolutionary violence.
At North Carolina A & T Carmichael's address, "A New World to
Build," announced that the period of "entertainment" had passed in
order to introduce concrete strategies in service of a political
revolution. Black people, he declared, suffered through both racial
segregation and psychological colonization discussed in Frantz
Fanon's riveting treatise, The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon's
analysis of European colonization's damaging effect on the Black
psyche had an American equivalent in an unspoken compulsion for
white standards of beauty. W.E.B. Du Bois' notion of seeing the
world through a veil, the possession of a double consciousness that
gifted Blacks with prophetic powers yet burdened them with internal
conflicts formed the basis of Carmichael's discussion of Black self-
determination. Pathological behavior in the form of drugs, gangs,
and criminal activity were the most visible manifestation of Black
self-loathing. Denial of African identity and all traces to a
continent considered uncivilized left Black Americans a people
without a history who were ashamed of their own culture. The
difference between Negroes and Blacks, Carmichael offered, was that
the former clung to the antebellum era's notion of the good slave
while the latter recognized contemporary symbols of bondage and set
out to transform the society that produced slavery. Yet "every Negro
was a potential black man," to be patiently converted toward
an "undying love" for the community rather than privately ridiculed
or publicly attacked.61

Dreams of Africa

In 1969 a reporter for London's Sunday Times found Carmichael in
Africa and in a playful mood, lounging with his wife Miriam and her
15-month-old grandson, a radical elder statesman at twenty-eight.
Over dinner Carmichael candidly discussed his recent split from the
Panthers, decision to relocate to Guinea, and search for new
political strategies. If the Panthers represented a political dead
end, Carmichael remained unsure of the proper vehicle for the
political revolution he still hoped to lead. "I do not know how to
begin to cope with the problems" in the United States he
admitted, "so for me to stay there and to pretend that I do is for
me to deceive myself and my people." On a hotel balcony in Algiers,
Carmichael wistfully contrasted his friendship with the late Martin
Luther King and newfound enmity with exiled Black Panther Minister
of Information Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver's open admiration for
Carmichael in early 1967, which had resulted in a flattering essay
in Ramparts titled "My Father and Stokely Carmichael," had turned
sour after Carmichael's resignation from the Panthers. Shortly
thereafter ad hominem attacks against Carmichael in the pages of The
Black Panther newspaper became common. Political disagreements over
strategy and tactics had turned personal and Cleaver targeted
Carmichael in a baffling, highly publicized open letter that
variously accused his one-time hero of being anti-white, a
government spy, and a fool.62 Asked if they could remain friends
despite political differences, Carmichael answered, "With Eldridge
maybe not," anticipating no end to a torrent of criticism already
emanating from the Panthers.

As the conversation shifted to talk of the future Carmichael
extolled Nkrumah as Africa's true leader, a statesman bold enough to
encourage Pan-Africanism in a continent divided by ethnic and
regional differences. The romantic side of Carmichael made it all
sound so exciting that the reporter briefly joined the euphoria
before stepping back and diplomatically noting that most African
leaders did not share Carmichael's enthusiasm for Nkrumah's
leadership.63

By August, both Carmichael and Cleaver claimed Africa as a political
base for far reaching revolution. From Algeria (soon to be
officially recognized by the government as the Black Panther Party's
International Section), Cleaver plotted political insurrection in
the United States by remote control and welcomed a fashionably
eclectic band of exiles from the states that included Black
militants, hijackers, and other colorful and questionable characters.

From the Congo Republic, Carmichael announced his intention to
return Nkrumah to Ghana. "Dr. Nkrumah," he informed reporters in
Brazzavile, "was the first man to realize the urgency of forming an
organization of African unity." The declaration followed an earlier
appearance on British television where Carmichael sketched the
international make-up of political struggle and vowed to use Africa
as a base for a world-wide revolution.

If Carmichael's activities in Africa made him an icon in world
affairs they simultaneously distanced him from the immediacy of
domestic Black Power struggles. But in October 1969 he made a
comeback of sorts, giving an interview to the Black press, and
allowing Ethel Minor, a former SNCC news staff director and close
advisor, to report on his international travails in Muhammad Speaks.
Minor defended Carmichael from accusations of abandonment by
militants with hidden agendas and openly dismissive white
journalists. Real political organizing, Minor suggested, took place
away from the glare of rallies and news conferences. Having
concluded that he had taken Black Power as far as possible in the
United States, Carmichael encountered political worlds at once
larger and further removed from his past organizing. Carmichael's
new direction revolved around acquiring territory in Africa as a
base for a political revolution that would assist Black Americans.
Carmichael's relatively low-profile throughout the year, explained
Minor, originated in his quest to do "serious organizing" and
culminated in a bombshell alliance with African statesman Nkrumah in
an announced quest to return him to Ghana. To this end Carmichael
steadfastly projected a sanitized version of Ghana's recent
political history that excluded details of the creeping
authoritarianism that helped ouster Nkrumah for a morality play that
indicted an international cabal of white racists and Black Uncle
Toms.64

A Revolutionary in Search of a Movement

Possessed with secrets imparted from the high priest of Pan-
Africanism, Carmichael professed the evangelist's prerogative to
spread the word to the uninitiated and would spend the next three
decades as perhaps the most robust spokesman of an international Pan-
African revolution. The man whose great strength lay in an
improvisational creativity that relied more on instinct than
ideology, now embraced "Nkrumaism," with the fervor of an
acolyte. "I have," he declared, "committed myself to live, to kill,
and to die for the return of Dr. Nkrumah to Ghana."65

By 1981 Carmichael had changed his name to honor his mentors Kwame
Nkrumah (who died in 1972) and Sekou Toure to Kwame Ture, divorced
Miriam Makeba, and remarried Marliatou Barre, a doctor, and had a
son the next year, Boabacar "Bocar" Biro.66 Specks of gray marked
the now forty-year-old Ture's hair, and he sported a more notable
accent, a combination of francophone West Africa, Trinidad, and the
Deep South. Ture snatched moments of domestic tranquility in between
frequent tours around the world to raise money and political
consciousness. Despite modest success recruiting new members into
the All African Peoples' Revolutionary Party, Ture's dreams of
mobilizing a political revolution through Pan-Africanism receded
against a backdrop of a conservative resurgence in the United States


Dünyanın en güzel travestisi: Efe Bal

İtalyanlar Efe'ye 'Regina Della Trans' yani 'Transların Kraliçesi' diyor.

04.12.2011 - 11:13

Efe Bal (34), 12 yıldır yaşadığı Milano'nun en çok kazanan transvestisi ya da bizdeki söylenişiyle travestisi. İtalyanlar Efe'ye 'Regina Della Trans' yani 'Transların Kraliçesi' diyor. Gazeteler 'Dünyanın en güzel travestisi' diye manşet yapıyor, davetlerde 'Elegan trans' olarak takdim ediliyor.

TV'de programı var. 'Efe/Kocaların Anlatmadıkları-Bir Transın Anıları' kitabı, Berlusconi'nin sahibi olduğu Mondadori Yayınevi'nden geçen yıl çıktı ve bütün İtalya'yı karıştırdı. şimdi de estetik makineleri üreten Dermal Institute'ün reklam filminde oynuyor.

Hürriyet gazetesinden Gülden Aydın, Milano'da Efe Bal ile bir araya geldi ve bilinmeyenlerini sordu.. İşte o röportaj..

FOTOĞRAFLAR İÇİN TIKLAYIN

Efe tam bir lüks düşkünü. Mesela sekiz Hermes çantası var. Elindeki taba renkli Hermes'i gösteriyor. Devekuşu derisinden. 20 bin Euro. "Bende bir tek krokodillisi yok. Yaşıma uygun değil. Türkiye'de sadece Ender Mermerci'de var" diyor. Kulağındaki yarım kelebek şeklindeki yeşil taşlı küpeleri soruyorum, Cartier mi diye. Önemsemeyen bir tavırla, "Yok canım, annemle Venedik'ten aldık, topu topu 4 bin Euro. Saatim, bilekliğim, çift başlı panter yüzüğüm Cartier" diye cevaplıyor. İç çamaşırları Dolce Gabbana. Ayakkabıda Sergio Rossi, elbisede Pucci ya da Blue Marine'i tercih ediyor. "Chanel çanta, saat, yüzük, fular, kemer tamam. Ama elbiselerini giymiyorum. Çok yaşlı buluyorum artık" diyor. Mücevherleri Tiffany ve Cartier. Pahalı hediyeler hariç aylık ortalama geliri 20 bin Euro'nun üzerinde. ınternetten ev kiralayıp yıllık ya da haftalık çalışma için Roma, Bologna, Floransa, Londra'ya da 'turneye' gidiyor.

Efe'nin üzerindeki chinchilla kürkü, mücevher ve giysilerinin tek tek marka ve fiyatlarını soruyorum: Hepsinin toplamı 250 bin Euro. "Her zaman takmıyorum mücevherlerimi. Sizin için bankadaki kasamdan çıkardım" diyor. Scala Meydanı'nda yürüyoruz. Bir gören bir daha dönüp bakıyor Efe'ye. Davranışları abartısız, zarif. Bazı erkeklerle selamlaşıyor. Kim olduklarını kulağıma eğilip söylüyor: "Şu, çok zengin bir muhasebeci. İki çocuğu var ama yanımda nasıl kadınlaşıyor, neler yapmamı istiyor bir bilsen..." Zaten sabah 11.00'de başlayan, ertesi sabahın 2.30'una kadar süren röportaj boyunca Efe'nin telefonu hiç susmuyor.

KARA KURU BİR TÜRK ERKEĞİYDİM

Travesti olacak insan değildim. Sırık gibi çirkin ve kara kuru bir Türk erkeğiydim. Çocukken annem basketbola gönderdi, uzun boylu olayım diye. Karateye gönderdi, güçlü olayım diye. Babamın boyu 1.50. Benim boyum 1.78. Beş yıl Eczacıbaşı Basketbol Takımı'nda oynadım, yüzdüm. Pırlantalarını takıp takıştıran annem, özel şoförüyle beni karate kursuna götürüyordu. Mavi kuşaklı fakir bir oğlan, zenginim diye kızıp bir tekme attı; bir daha da gitmedim. Annem 16 yaşıma kadar beni çok dövdü. Bastonlarla hem de... Cinsel tercihimi kabullenmesi kolay değildi. Cinsel tercihimi belli etmeye başlayınca beni Kaliforniya'ya götürdü. Üç yıl orada yaşadık. Türkiye'ye dönünce daha önce okuduğum koleje yeniden başladım.

Babam, İstanbul mafyasındandı. Beyoğlu'nda hanlarımız, apartmanlarımız vardı. 16 yaşımdayken Alzheimer oldu. Öldükten sonra her şeyimizi kaybettik. 1998'de Boğaziçi Üniversitesi'nin bir yıllık turizm kursuna gittim. Orada da cinsel tercihim yüzünden problem yaşadım. Askerliğimi iptal ettirmek için bin bir kontrolden sonra kurula çıktım. "Ülkem için askerlik yapmaktan gurur duyarım ama bir kişi bana el sürerse hepinizi dava ederim" dedim. O anda askerliğimi iptal ettiler. Annem, Türkiye'de başıma kötü şeyler gelmesinden korkuyordu. 1999'da beni Milano'ya gönderdi.

O HAYVANAT BAHÇESİ BENİ TRİLYONER YAPTI

Tam 12 yıl önce Milano'ya geldim. Ayağımda yarım ayakkabı, istasyona yakın bir caddede ilk paralarımı kazanıyordum. Brezilyalı travesti kaynayan o caddeyi ilk gördüğümde "Aman Allah'ım hayvanat bahçesine mi geldim" demiştim. O hayvanat bahçesi beni trilyoner yaptı. Çok güzel otomobiller kullandım. Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes... 400 bin Euro değerinde mücevheratım var. 400'den fazla ayakkabım...

TÜRK OLDUĞUMU GİZLİYORUM

İtalyan vatandaşı olduğum halde Türk olduğumu gizliyorum. Otomobilimi polis durdurmuştu. Güzel olduğum için durdurdular. Travesti olmama bir şey demediler. Ama İstanbul'da doğduğumu görünce annemin vizesine bile baktılar. O günden sonra Amerikalıyım diyorum. Milano'da benden başka Türk travesti yok. Benden zengin olmasalar da ünlü travestiler, Bolognalı Eva Robins ile Romalı eski milletvekili Vladimir Luxuria. Parlamentoya giren ilk travestiydi, dünyada yer yerinden oynamıştı. Eva, bir zamanlar fuhuş işinde olduğunu inkâr ediyor. Yıllar önce Playboy'da fotoğrafları yayımlanmış. Yaptığı işi inkar etmeyen sadece ben ve Luxuria varız.

BİNLERCE EVLİ ERKEKLE YATTIM

Milano'ya âşığım. Binlerce evli erkekle yattım. Ama kimse beni sokakta durdurup bir laf bile etmedi. Üstelik televizyonda görenler ne kadar elegan olduğumu söyleyip kompliman yaptı. Bir TV programında sordular: Neden İtalyan erkekleri travestilere gidiyor? Çok basit: İtalyan kadını çoğu zaman bakımsız. Londra'ya da çok gittim. İngiliz kadınları eciş bücüş. Ağız burun bir tarafta. Adamlar ne yapsın? Zaten çoğu biseksüel. Kadın da bakımsız olunca travestiye geliyorlar. Bir kadın gazeteci bana, "Kocam aklım için benimle birlikte olmalı, seksi olduğum için değil" dedi. Çok yanılıyor. Kadın her zaman seksi olmalı. Erkekler hep aç. Muhasebeci sevgilim sokakta arkada kalır, yanında karısı, çocuğu olan erkeklerin bana nasıl baktığını seyrederdi. Bana âşık olanlara, "Git karına âşık ol" diyorum.

MİLANO'NUN EN ÜNLÜ NOTERİNE 600 BİN EURO HARCATTIM

Dört buçuk yıl, Milano'nun ünlü noteri Sergio ile birlikteydim. 600 bin Euro harcattım ona. Cartier mücevherlerimi, cincilla kürkümü o aldı. Vatandaşlığımı almadan 20 gün önce ayrıldık. 100 milyon Euro'luk binanın sahibi bir kontesle evlenmek zorunda kaldı. Arkamda dolaşan çok ama Sergio gibi bir noter bulamadım. Yılda 2 milyon Euro kazanıyordu. Ona aşık değildim ama kültürünü, eleganlığını seviyordum.

DÜNYADA BENİM GİBİSİ YOK

TV programlarına para almadan katılıyorum. İnsanlar, böyle bir travestinin de olabileceğini, reklamlarda oynayabileceğini görsün. Söyler misiniz, kaç travesti var dünyada reklamda oynayan? Telelombardia kanalında 'Efe Gol' futbol programını da sundum bir yıl. Dünyada benim gibisi yok: Gencim, güzelim, eğitimliyim, İngilizce, Fransızca, Türkçe, İtalyanca biliyorum. O kadar ünlüyüm ki, bindiğim uçağın pilotu, stewart'ı bir ay sonra müşteri geliyor evime.

BİZ TRAVESTİLER BİRBİRİMİZİ ÇEKEMİYORUZ

Gay'ler çok aşama kaydetti. 40 yıl önce gay olduğunu söylemek mümkün müydü? Bugün gay'lerin barı, oteli, restoranı, sahili, evliliği var. Yahudiler gibi birbirini tutuyorlar. Moda markalarını ellerine geçirdiler. Ama biz travestiler öyle değiliz. Birimiz biraz güzel, havalı oldu mu ona katlanamıyoruz. Kıskancız. Ben değil miyim? Benden daha zengin, meşhur ve akıllı travestiyi kıskanırım.

ÇOK ZENGİN MÜŞTERİLERİM ARASINDA TÜRKLER DE VAR

Ameliyat olmayı düşünmüyorum. Böyle güzelim. Beni kim isterse böyle kabul eder. Müşterilerimin kimi erkek, kimi kadın rolü oynamamı istiyor. Ama çoğu beni erkek olarak istiyor. Sadece İtalyanlar değil, Türk müşterilerim de böyle. Hatta biri buraya gelince beş yıldızlı otelde üç oda tutuyor: Biri karısı, biri fahişeler, diğeri de benim için. Çok zengin müşterilerim arasında Türkler de var.

ANNEM DÜNYANIN EN ŞANSLI ANNESİ

Başlarda kabullenmedi annem benim durumumu ama birlikte Capri adasına gittiğimizde bir film yıldızından, sosyeteden daha çok ilgi gördüğüme tanık oldu. O, dünyanın en şanslı annesi. Kocam yok, her zaman yanındayım. Ona çok iyi bakıyorum. Anneme 300 bin Euro'ya ev aldım beş yıl önce. Şimdi Milano'da kendisine aldığım evde oturuyor. Bana bir şey olursa her şeyim ona kalacak.İstanbul'daki, Milano'daki evler, bankadaki param, mücevherlerim...

İNSANLARIN YÜZDE 70'İ EFE BAL'I SEÇTİ

Efe Bal'ın reklamlarında oynadığı şirketin genel müdürü Federico Montanari, "Yapılan piyasa araştırmasında Efe'nin, cinsiyet ayrımı yapmadan güzelliği en iyi şekilde yansıttığı ortaya çıktı. Bu reklam kampanyasının diğer alternatifi Claudia Schiffer idi. Ancak piyasa araştırmasında yer alan insanların yüzde 70'i Efe Bal'ı seçti" diyor.

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