One of the things I like about myself is my flexibility. I can hang out with anyone, from anywhere that is into almost anything because I tend to see the beauty, truth and madness in all life experiences. So, like the Cheshire Cat, I generally float about carefree in Wonderland smiling broadly at all the manifestations of Alice as rich, poor, this race, that point of view etc. and I believe that it’s because of my attitude that people often feel comfortable recounting their journey and trust me with their secrets. In the winter of 2004, that is exactly what happened-Again.
I was at a party at The Five Spot in Brooklyn where my boyfriend was DJing when I suddenly got an undead-level craving for shrimp fried rice. There was a Chinese restaurant not too far from the lounge so I decided to venture out into the arctic cold to get some. As I walked down the dark, lonely street I noticed a young Black man smoking a cigarette in front of what appeared to be a warehouse. He asked me if I wanted to come inside and have a drink at the bar. I was going to decline until that voice inside of me said “go with him” and I never ignore the voice even if I was starving. When he opened the door, I was surprised to see a red-lit bar with all of the customers dressed in the same black cargo pants as my host. Then it hit me. I had entered some kind of lair but what kind? They were in some kind of military uniform listening to Rammstein. Now the hunger I had for food was replaced by the hunger for comprehension so I sat down. The guy snapped his fingers and a Latino guy with cornrows asked me what I wanted. I asked for vodka, no chaser because I felt I was going to need it. The host introduced himself as “Jay” and told me I was hanging out with Black Nazis. He waited for a reaction but when I was too stunned to speak a Black woman with a rather large Afro puff said something in German and the others chuckled. I had officially entered the twilight zone. Jay patted my hand and asked me to accompany him downstairs to the cellar so I could see what NO ONE outside their community had ever seen. When I asked him why I was to receive such an honor he replied “I don’t know, I just think you’re cool”. As he unlatched the door, the others gave him strong “WTF” glares but since he was obviously their leader they did not question his decision to invite me inside. My heart was racing because I had no idea what I was going to see or what would happen next but still my inner voice said to continue.
When we finally got downstairs I was shocked to see a huge portrait of Adolf Hitler, shelves of books and walls covered with Nazi memorabilia including dozens of photos, a few guns and metals. Jay offered me a seat in front of his desk, lit a cigarette and smiled as I swiveled my head in all directions in awe by the shrine they created. When I had finally taken it all in I sat back in the comfy chair and simply asked “why?” I never expected the response that followed.
Jay told me that he respected the Nazis because they were “the most honest muthafuckas on the planet because they didn’t hide what they really felt inside. I prefer dealing with an honorable enemy instead of ones that say they like coloreds but do worse shit and let more bad things happen than a thousand Hitlers ever could”. Jay was just as upset by oblivious racism as he was being consistently harassed and humiliated by the police for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
Like many Black people that know “Stop and Frisk” has LONG been the case before it became official under the Bloomberg administration, I listened to his harrowing tales of abuse by New York’s Finest simply for committing the crime of WWB (walking while Black).
Apparently, the Black Nazi group started as an online chat room where Black and Latino men would share their pain until one day Jay decided they should create a social club offline. Jay made it clear he was far from being a tough guy but was in fact “just Steve Urkel playing a G” and was simply tired of liberal facades. He said people in their organization are permitted to have white friends but those white friends MUST be members of or somehow affiliated with Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan or similar groups. Jay said he preferred it that way because they weren’t delusional and they could really be friends without beating around bushes about how they felt about things or trying to avoid any elephants in the room. He then looked up adoringly at Hitlers portrait and said “Now THAT man kept it REAL”.
I asked him if he could get me another drink and then I proceeded to browse his book shelves. Most of the books were in German, which was required for his members to master but the ones that weren’t were mostly commentaries of World War II. A short time later, the attractive woman with the Afro Puff came downstairs in her high combat boots and handed me another shot glass with a smile. She was Jay’s wife and told me they were expecting their first child in six months, a girl that they would name “Eva” after Hitler’s girlfriend Eva Braun. After a half an hour or so more hearing about how Hitler is misunderstood by people that don’t read source materials and how a nerdy Black kid from Bed-Stuy became the leader of a neo-Nazi organization, I decided it was time to leave. Jay tried to recruit me before I did but he still remained a gentleman after I politely declined. After I left staring at the button Jay gave me with his groups logo on it (a swastika with a black power fist in the center), I went to the Chinese restaurant and purchased the shrimp fried rice.
I hadn’t thought about the Black Nazi experience until I read that “Eva” has become a popular baby name in recent years and I wondered how Jay’s Eva is doing now.
Tayannah McQuillar is a writer and the Founder of Demimonde Public Relations (www.demimondepr.com) @demimondepr