Within the black community it’s a common thing to hear one called a “king” or a “queen”. While I cannot and will not speak for black women, I will say that as a black man, I do not seek to be considered a king. If you deem me so, please stop calling me a king. If we are all born kings, I have certainly renounced my crown.
Let me explain.
A king is a person who often has much resources; I do not. I’ve been born poor. I am an Afro-American slave descendant. Concerning slavery, kings were the ones who sold our ancestors to white colonial powers in the first place. Thinking about it, I’m more likely to be the descendant of a warrior (i.e., war fighter) than a king. While I was born into poverty, I’m doing quite well for myself in my thirties. But I’m still not a king, however.
One thing that frequently gets overlooked is the fact that a king is an identity that needs subjects. A king needs peasants to survive. A king, technically, has a parasitic relationship to his followers — the peasants. A king’s wealth is born from theft. A king’s wealth is ushered by the exploitation of hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people.
Needless to say, I don’t want to have to thrive on a parasitic relationship between those who follow me.
While kings are often depicted as benevolent figures in fiction, in reality they are often cruel. A king cannot exist without subjects, so for those who call themselves “king”, I want them to analyze what they are really calling themselves. I want to know who is uplifting that king. What people are they exploiting. What people are they abusing. Executing. Kings would often take slights — minor forms of disrespect — and punish folk under the pain of death. I don’t want to do that to people who have the mind to follow me. I don’t want those who follow me to fear me as kings were feared. Kings functioned with a form of coercive leadership, and that’s pretty toxic. I don’t want it.
Kings are often autocratic, despotic, totalitarian types. You know, like dictators. Interestingly, in world history as technology of warfare progressed, the more these kings became to be known as dictators and autocrats. The technology of warfare allowed “kings” around the world to kill, murder, exploit people around the world — their subjects, mind you — at break-neck speeds.
When once there was a time where a king would say “off with your head” and kill a single subject with an executioner’s axe or a guillotine, nowadays a king can order executions from afar, en masse, by way of war technology such as drone strikes.
Let’s pull the cat out of the bag — kings are mass murderers.
I cannot say that being a king is such a great thing. Kings have subjects, and those subjects are exploited, and if unexploitable, executed. Where we once saw kings, we now see dictators, autocrats, totalitarianistic men wielding power recklessly, exploiting someone out there.
In American Capitalism CEO = Kings
Is it a moot point, that in America’s plutocracy that CEOs are technically, modern day kings? An American CEO is a fellow who has a very exploitative relationship to their subjects, who are no longer called “peasant” and now called “customer”. These peasants are also called moochers, welfare queens, people “looking for handouts”. Peasants in this modern day are frequently told to pull themselves up by their own “bootstraps”, but if this was honest then that means that the king will have to be assassinated. Modern kings, these CEOS, do not want that.
To an extent, kings of the past have always given back a bit to their kingdoms. A king would often have a feast or festival each season or at least yearly, which prevents the peasants from committing regicide. Today, these kings do not give back. These kings of this day and age hoard as much as possible from the public, live in gated communities largely distant from the communities they exploit, and exercise a firm control of local, state, and federal government, which will continue to make rules and laws that only these kings benefit from.
Life is a Chess Game
Looking at a chess board as a metaphor, it makes even less sense to call me a king. A king is a piece that is the most protected figure in the game. I as a black man don’t have such protection. As a matter of fact, if the king is killed or captured, the game ends. If I’m killed or captured, the game continues.
I simply don’t see how we’re kings. I definitely don’t see how I’m one. If anything, it makes more sense to call me a knight, representing armored cavalry, because it’s the only piece on the chessboard that can jump over obstacles. The Knight also moves in an odd fashion: one step and then two to the left or right, or two steps and then one to the left or right.
When I think about it further it makes more sense to call me a rook; most people think it’s supposed to be a castle, but I know that it’s derived from an armored chariot but became a siege tower. A siege tower is a specialized chariot made to invade over castle walls.
On a chessboard this piece is particularly powerful, second to the queen, and moves in a linear, direct fashion. A rook represent direct blunt force. Yeah, that’s definitely me, the rook.
One of the things that makes me any other piece than a king on the chessboard is the fact that I’m not calling the shots. I’m not the cause of the war we are in. I’m not the one who decided on a war to fight. Much like everything that isn’t the king, I’m just here. The second point is a point that I touched on earlier — I’m expendable. If I were to be murdered today, the game will still go on tomorrow. No one is stopping on my death. No one bats an eye if I’m killed. Kill a king? The game ends. The fact that there’s people that would end the game if killed, but I would not is indicative to the fact that I am clearly no king. If we were kings, so many of us would not be easily murdered with impunity.
I’m gonna have to insist that you cease calling me king. It is clear that I’m no wealth-stealing totalitarian figure, who surrounds himself with yes-men and blind followers. Forgive me when I tell you that I cannot stomach what it takes to be a king, which is the mass exploitation of an entire civilization, murdering those who disagree with me. Forgive me if I cannot stomach wearing a crown on my head with enough gold and gems on it that could fix the water in Flint.
Allow me to be the knight or rook that I am, constantly engaging in direct action on the battlefield. I’m no king. If I don’t correct you when you say it, I know it’s a term of endearment within our community so I rather be polite. But if you read this, don’t call me king. I don’t care for a kingdom; I care for a village. If I’ve been born a king, consider this me renouncing my throne.
I might be regal. I might be magnificent even. But I’m no king.