The Bridge: Blacks Souled Out, Part 1


James Brown was affectionately referred to as “Soul Brother Number One,” not just because he was one of the leaders of Soul Music, but because he was the physical embodiment of all things representative of the Soul of Black folks.

Brown had the rhythm, the rhymes, the cool walk, the cool talk, the cool clothing, and oh yeah, baby, the Soul Curl that only stayed in style for Cool Ass Brother James.

And he didn’t just represent Soul–he lived it. At a time when he was at the top of his career and even white people loved him, he made a record urging people to “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud.”

He was stone cold and had Soul to the bone.

Soul was never truly pursued by Black folks, because most of us were just born with it. Soul was as innate as our ability to absorb the rays of the sun without destruction to our skin.

But in a nation at the end of its run, where everything has been commoditized, even the Soul of Black folks as well as their literal souls are for sale on the open market, which means that our Soul is no longer natural and endemic to us.

Soul is now for sale and we are not even the purveyors of the Soul that once came from us.

In previous times, Soul came from the Black community organically and only then was it marketed and sold to the world. Brother James Brown was ours and THEN the world claimed him.

With music and all other things cool, we created it and then the world took hold of it because we said it was cool.

Now, a watered-down, backwards version of Soul is manufactured and purveyed to us as though it is our very own.

But it is not.

The Soul that we see today on the open market has been stolen and twisted.

The stealing of our Soul should come as no surprise to anyone aware, because we were already selling it in a nation that has never treasured having a soul.

In America, both the economic and political systems are purely consumer oriented. No one does anything without a profit motive, including philanthropy.

There is no spiritual or moral component to Western democracy and there hasn’t been for a long time.

There is no longer a pure intrinsic spiritual or moral element to religion, which is why we see contrary religious zealots wanting everyone to believe as they do, instead of focusing on the doing of good works.

There has been an injection of spiritual and moral rhetoric surrounding the marketing of souls-God wants this or that–but that has taken all of the substance out of spirituality and the real thinkers realize it.

The American people are no different, with many supporting the war effort wherever it goes, because they want to make certain that their gas continues to flow freely.

These selfish assholes claim that such pursuits are part of the “American way of life,” as though being in this nation gives anyone a God-given right to a way of life that children of God in other nations don’t deserve.

And, really, most Americans aren’t even getting that so-called “American way of life” anymore.

Too many of the nation’s citizens are on the bottom with no way to reach the strata where freedom, justice and economic fluidity reign supreme.

Now, to get what used to be considered middle class trappings, you have to be upper class.

And the middle class is lying to itself while racking up debt that it cannot manage.

Taxes and blame are heaped upon the lower class in healthy portions.

Even the blaming of the poor while feigning assistance to the hopeless has become cool.

People cheered Bill Cosby when he said that the “lower economic people” were not holding up their end of the bargain, but the likes of Cosby were the first to throw the rules out of the window.

Cosby neglected his children (his daughter will tell anyone who listens), drugged women to feel on them and then released a movie (Fat Albert) rife with all of the stereotypes he claimed poor people were suffering from.

He was being cool by blaming the poor for things he was pursuing, but in this environment, he gets praise because he has money.

He sold his soul.

Eventually this nation will reveal itself for what it has truly been-a marketplace in every sense of the word.

The rest of the world already sees it, but the citizens of America refuse to look closely for fear that their “God-given lifestyle” will be in jeopardy.

Where America was once the great hope of all the world, it is now the great international scourge, serving as the bully on the world block while pretending to provide aid to needy nations. Instead of aid, America strips foreign nations of their natural resources, leaving the people with less than before the invasion.

But since American media has also souled out, reports of America’s foreign dealings portray the nation as philanthropic and as the world’s police. If there really were world police, they would have arrested America long ago for crimes against humanity.

And, anyone who understands America’s history realizes that this nation has long been in the business of being souled out and cajoling its citizens into selling or completely giving away their own souls.

NEXT: Negro Souls For Sale

Darryl James

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and runs all Summer. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

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