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.

king wants to be

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.

king of spades

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.

guillotine king kill
The guillotine. An execution tool kings used to murder their subjects.

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.

drone strike king.gif
A modern day execution, placed by a modern day king.

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

CEO-king.jpg 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.

Tamir and them kings.png
From left to right: Tamir Rice, Darrien Hunt, Jordan Davis, Walter Scott. If we are all kings, then why does the game continues after we are murdered?

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.

Written by Johnny Silvercloud

The Soul Brother #1 of a Kind. Consequentialist street photographer abolitionist writer/speaker who stands for any oppressed peoples. I do it because every man and woman deserves freedom of thought -- especially black folks.


  1. I see you! I get you!

    I don’t like it when men come up to me calling me Queen. I find it condescending at the best of times, at my worst moments, it’s downright insulting. Calling me Queen doesn’t make me feel uplifted or do anything for my self esteem. I have plenty of love and care for myself. It’s the assumption that I have none, and need it to be lifted up by empty flattery that galls me. Why is there the assumption that I don’t already think of myself as a goddess?As righteous? I don’t like that.

    The irony is because I do think so highly of myself there are black men who will vilify me, and refer to me as a selfish bitch, for not catering to their sense of entitlement, or not giving them something they want. (And in their next breath, they will call me a Queen for being easily manipulated by them.)

    So yeah. We need to cut this language out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really powerful and insightful article. I liked the chess metaphors used to represent real life people in class and race situations.

    The talk about CEOs being modern day kings makes so much sense. That allusion reminded me of Jello Biafra’s (ex-lead singer of Dead Kennedys) spoken word piece where he calls many forms of predatory consumerism as “corporate feudalism” as the customer is a peasant of sorts for the kings or at the very least the other royals like barons, counts, or lords.

    I found it really fascinating how being a king is a parasitic relationship as they exploit the lower class. I’m aware about how many bad things people in that position have done, but I forgot about how so many fictional royals wouldn’t exist in real life. I recently watched the short film Jungle Emperor Leo: Hon-O-Ji which is related to the 1965 anime of a smiling name (or better known in the English speaking world as Kimba the White Lion, and yes, this is the same Japanese cartoon that Disney denies knowing about when they made The Lion King, but that’s another topic). In that particular short, there’s a thematic motif of an ideal king Vs a real king instead of an overt good/evil paradigm. Leo/Kimba is shown as an ideal king for wanting what’s best for animals and humans while Claw (AKA the original Scar) is tyrannical against the kingdom while implying that’s what actual kings do. It takes a lot of humility to not see or want to be a big royal character especially in a world where race and class dictates one’s position in life.

    Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Johnny. I’m glad to have read your article. It actually inspired me to write a poem today.

        Also, sorry about the misspelling. I meant similar instead of smiling. My bad.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s