Parable of Value
Brother Khalid came to Plato Negro wanting to know why his latest book was priced a hunid dollars? Plato replied, did not a character in one of Shakespeare's plays say, "I know my price"?
Plato told Khalid I want people to value wisdom as opposed to the common, Miller Lite trash promoted as literature by the bourgeoisie press. Value is based on truth and beauty. Will you not, Khalid, admit The Wisdom of Plato Negro contains a generous amount of truth and beauty. Khalid agreed. But he said, times are hard, people don't have money.
Plato replied, I know times are hard, but I see people flocking to music and rap concerts, paying one hunid dollars and more for tickets. I see them paying two hunid for tennis shoes made in China for fifty cents. Khalid, he said, you went to college. You bought textbooks that cost over a hunid.
True, said Khalid.
You did not cry crocodile tears nor snivel, and the books were full of white supremacy and helped fuck up your mind even more than before you got to college.
True, said Khalid.
So why not a hunid for a book of original wisdom by your indigenous North American African brother? It might make you sane again, help you regain your mental equilibrium. Dr. Nathan Hare calls it biblotherapy.
But a hunid is a lot, Plato!
Now the common people use their common sense to figure out a way to get what they want in life, especially when they sense something has value. People here in the Bay who've been reading my books the last fifty years don't hesitate to rush me the hunid. Or they come with twenty, forty, or sixty and I give them the book. They pay me the rest later. All you need do is ask, can I get a deal? Bargain Negro, you so damn African, but you have forgotten how to bargain. I don't give a damn what price the white man has on his shit, when I go to him, I want a bargain, yes, even at his department stores.
The book is hunid because I want you to appreciate my labor, aside from the wisdom that Fahizah Alim says, "...Reaches in and pulls from a life lived hard, deep, wide, high and low, i.e., a sacrifice in blood. At the root of sacrifice is sacred, which is of God and for God. He has lived and examined the lives of the proverbial 10,000 black men and women...."
Plus, it is a limited edition, thus the cost of printing is high. I'm dealing with quality, not quantity.
More than anything, give me something for my labor, if you don't mind. You are not going to sit on your ass two or three weeks, two or three months, two or three years, so show me appreciation for the value of my labor and discipline.
If I went the regular book selling route, let's examine the process. If the book cost twenty dollars to print or 20% of the hunid, the distributor wants 70% (or more depending on his additional mysterious fees--the book stores take 40%), so we are down to 90% or ninety dollars of the hunid. Don't forget the tax man--let's say 5% to 9%, so I come out with $l.00 to $5.oo off a hunid dollar book. Now what kind of trick do you think I am? My Mama was a businesswoman and my father a businessman, don't you think they taught me better than to get pimped like a two dollar hoe?
Of course if I cut out the middle man and sell direct to you, I come out with my shirt on--I can even give you my publisher's discount and still buy me some new socks! Do you mind, Khalid?
No, sir. I see your point.
You don't mind if I get paid for the multi-tasking: writer, editor, typist, proof reader, cover designer, layout designer, promoter, publisher, salesman?
That makes sense, Khalid said.
After Khalid departed, Plato thought further on the matter of value. Value, he mused, can be surmised by considering the relationship between two women. One woman is a classic, another a two dollar hoe. Yet, the classic woman has hoe qualities and the hoe has classic qualities. Thus they both have intrinsic value. The classic woman has holiness and hoeness, and the hoe has holiness and hoeness.
The classic woman has the value of selflessness in her holiness. And the hoe has selflessness in her hoeness, i.e., she is willing to give her love to all willing to pay for her services. The classic woman reflects the hoe's selflessness in sharing her love with many, except she doesn't charge for her services. She may request flowers and wine, and maybe trinkets from her lovers from time to time. The hoe may get these items in addition to her fee, especially if she has a positive attitude that tricks appreciate in a hoe. She will often get a bonus because tricks value attitude.
We see both ladies have intrinsic value as human beings and must be respected as such--they are not to be abused nor disrespected in any way, physically, verbally or emotionally. We can try to make a distinction between the value of the two women, but it is false, especially if one has an emotional connection to both types of women. In either case, as spiritual beings, both emanate a positive vibration, an aura of holiness that is external and internal.
It is possible to learn the value of life from both types of women. The classic woman can teach one to appreciate the finer things of life, to not be a brute, a savage, to be gentle and civil. She will not tolerate disrespect, unless she becomes addicted to the golden handcuffs syndrome wherein she submits to harsh treatment by her well heeled mate to the extent she will reduce her value to that of the two dollar hoe to maintain a certain standard of existence, better known as the world of make believe.
The holly hoe will tell you to not be so rough, be gentle. You're too rough to be a pimp! And so, Plato mused, love the one your with, recognize and respect their value. No one is useless, valueless, everyone has a function. Thus, one object of life is to discern the value of each human being, beginning with self.
What is one's own value or self worth?How can one recognize and respect value in another without knowing the value of oneself? It is abysmal ignorance of self worth that allows human beings to kill and destroy each other in the hood.
In the interconnectedness of the universe, to kill another is to kill oneself! When you kill your brother you kill yourself. How can you enjoy life when you have taken life. As a special forces soldier said to me, no one who has ever been to war is sane. In Iraq, some US soldiers said they used to stand watch at night until they said they knew they deserved death because of all the killing they'd done, so they stop doing post at night and went to sleep. They knew in devaluing others, they had devalued themselves.
When you kill, you are a dead man walking yourself. You must eternally watch your back, watch your siblings, your children, your mama and daddy, because you know revenge is coming for your ass, it is only a matter of time.
Further, how can you enjoy eating while your brother is starving. Why will you not feed your brother? Why will you not give him a dollar for a hamburger when you have a hunid in your pocket? Can you not imagine a day when your brother may need to feed you? Thus, your brother has value--every dog has his day, to use a cliche.
During slavery the North American African had value as chattel property. You were "chattel real" or personal property of your master. You were not real estate which is land and buildings, but you were property none the less. You could not destroy the master's property without compensation. You would not think of killing another African unless you were able to pay compensation to the master. We think there was little black on black homicide during slavery.
Of course the slave catchers could kill you if you resisted, but even the slave catcher had to compensate your master for your value.
Today you have no value other than intrinsic, but you don't value yourself. You are the master of yourself today. You are the captain of your ship, yet you are reckless and destructive to yourself and kind because of your consciousness or the lack thereof. You destroy your brother and yourself in senseless negative activity, as though you have no value.
Your former master and his slave catchers, today known as police, recognize you yet have value. You are worth $30,000 to $60,000 per inmate per year in jail and prison. A correctional officer was overheard saying, "Come on back, nigger. I just bought me a yacht. Come on back so I can get one for my son!"
from Hustler's Guide to the Game Called Life, in Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself by Marvin X, Black Bird Press, 2010.