​​Eldridge Cleaver
Eldridge Cleaver
was born on August 31, 1935 in Wabbaseka, Arkansas. A radical intellectual and
an inflential writer, Cleaver was the Minister of Informartion for the Black Panther Party, a
member of the Nation of Islam, and author of the book Soul on Ice. It is reported that Eldridge
laid the foundation for all radical Black writers. Growing up, Cleaver proved his radicalism by
committing trivial crimes, small enough to get away with but large enough to prove that he
did not like the way things were. As he grew, the degree of his crimes followed and soon
found himself in jail for committing rape and attempting murder. While imprisoned, Cleaver's
views were put onto paper in the form of political and philisophical essays which would later be
published in his book. After being released in 1966, he joined the Black Panther Party. With
his partner, Cleaver ran for presidency in 1968 with the "Peace and Freedom Party", and
received nearly 37,000 votes. After many revolts against "The Man", Eldridge Cleaver died in
Pomona Valley on May 1, 1998 and the cause of death was not revealed by the family.
As an intelligent, radical black man, Eldridge Cleaver made it
clear in his thoughts and essays what he thought about the
white and the blacks, particularly, the women belonging to the
two categories. In Cleaver's first visit to jail, he had a most
unruly encounter with a guard about his selection of pin-ups.
eldridge had, without realizing, chosen a picture of a white
woman over available pictures of black women. Cleaver was
more embarrassed by his mistake rather than the guard's
obvious racism. The icon later wrote that the white race's
standard of beauty "brainwashed the blacks". Cleaver reports
that "It intensified my frustrations to know that i was indoctrinated
to see the white woman as more beautiful and desirable than
my own black woman"
(23). This frustration turned to a lethal weapon
when he started raping white women to get back at all those white men
for causing such harm and pain in his black women so long ago.

pinup_girl. amazon.
The poem below describes Eldridge Cleaver's outlook on the white race.
To a white girl

i love you
because your white,
not because your charming
or bright.
Your whiteness
is a silky thread
snaking through my thoughts
in red hot patterns
of lust and desire.

I hate you
because your white.
Your white meat
is nightmare food.
White is
the skin of Evil.
You're my Moby Dick,
White Witch,
symbol of the rope and hanging tree,
of the burning cross.
Loving you thus
and hating you so,
my heart is torn in two.
Crucified (26)

At age 18, Eldridge found himself in Soledad Prison, where he
"fell in love with a group of young blacks who, like [him], were in vociferous rebellion against what [they] perceived as a continuation of slavery on a higher plane" (17). In an irrational act of radicalness, Cleaver lashed out, hating everything that was ugly and smirking at everything that was beautiful. Just as a young freshmen in the radical game, the "extremist by nature" (28) converted all of his energy into anger and smite for, what he figured was the root of all evil, the white man.
"What does one say to his comrades at the moment when The Leader falls?" (58). Cleaver reflects after reviewing the news of the assassination of Malcom X. He stood in the circle with his 'band of brothers' and listened to the radio explain the terrifying truth on that day in Folsom Prison. He walked back to his cell slowly and was met by a fellow inmate named Red who recognized immediatly that the assassination was "a negative blow against a positive force" (59). Malcom X represented the power and freedom that the black man in prison, or anywhere for that matter, is not able to express. He represented hope, and when he was killed, it showed that not only everyone's means of hope was gone, but that someone destroyed it almost to create a message to the black man saying 'Beware'

Works Cited

Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul On Ice. New York City: McGraw-Hill, Inc, 1991. web.

Henry Louis, Gates JR., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. African American Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

"370px-Eldridge_Cleaver_1968". November 12, 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eldridge_Cleaver_1968.jpg>.web.

"Amazon". November 18, 2009 <http://www.egrart.com/artshop/images/Amazon.jpg>. web.

"pinup_girl". November 19, 2009 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_xrGbeKqXv9E/SsTc_AO1Y1I/AAAAAAAAAJo/0dmRdnFV2Xw/s400/pinup_girl.jpg>. web.

"malcomx_300". November 20, 2009. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_9qHzlJ2hzJ8/ReJeaR03epI/AAAAAAAAAUU/2ghQuH1njKc/s400/malcolmX_300.jpg.> web.