goto Appendx main menu A Black Manifesto :
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 To resolve this contradiction, Whiteness adorned the black face, thereby conveying to white audiences caricatures of reality.
Experience, the only thing that is one’s own and cannot be denied by the regime, has been abandoned for the more alienating constructions of meaningless words and far more meaningless histories, theories, and practices. The term experience is one thing, but the use of experience itself is quite another. The term has been invalidated because it appears to be far too subjective to be recognizable or of any consequence. Again, this action is the regime using the label of the “undefined” to conceal the most obvious of its own characteristics. The regime knows that its continued existence would not be possible if it were not for the innumerable amount of experiences that somehow coalesce to condone its practices. It also knows that no matter how many theories or histories it may construct, it cannot anticipate experience, nor can it be aware at all moments of the nuances of daily struggles that go on inside the boundaries defining it as a “regime.” Therefore, one of the inherent contradictions that cannot be resolved by the core mind is the fact that experience, and the struggles it continues to deny, are in fact part of its persona. Although attempts may be made to pluck out this “flaw” by labeling it “undefined,” it cannot be denied that the flaw was produced from within, and any attempts to remove it could destroy the regime. In terms of experience, it is unique.  In terms of being a “flaw,” it is only deemed so because it is a perfect struggle—tireless and relentless. It denies, at all moments, the conflation of life into monolithic interpretations. Although the identity has been stripped of its histories, theories, and practices concealed in some other manner by this regime, it certainly exists somewhere and somehow. 

To engage a more appropriate and more meaningful definition of architecture, this same definition must be formulated within a functional rather than formal identity. By its formal identity architecture is, quite simply, the means (science, art, technology)  by which structures or buildings are conceived and produced for the explicit purpose of making interior and, at times, exterior places or spaces. On the other hand, architecture’s functional definition is that of a regime or institution that maintains social codes by the production and deployment of knowledge, ideology, history, theoAppendx 1 page break 42 | 43 ry, and art. Although these paradigms are distinguished by their technological difference, they must be understood as tools used to nurture first and foremost the architectural regime that controls them. The institution of architecture is one that limits:  it limits spaces, and within these spaces it limits people. This intent to limit is driven by the dominant ideology of limitation based on the significance of race, which in reality is not significant at all. 

The term “blackness,” as previously formulated, is more ideology than race—   ideological distinctions characterized by the use of the term black versus African-American. The same is true of Whiteness—a reference made to ideology, not necessarily people. If I am to resist the Whiteness of architecture, I must formulate strategies that involve the manifestation of its functional, rather than formal, definition. Blackness (capitalized to signify ideology) resides in the functional realm and is acknowledged by the vast and broad silence that usually precedes it. The Whiteness of the architectural regime feigns that it does not know Blackness, and when it attempts to know it produces the lamest of black (seen only in terms of color versus ideological position), unthreatening “examples.” Therefore the task is not to formulate on the basis of “examples,” but on experience—experience that reveals the   malicious operation of the regime. 

The architectural regime of the present day is akin to the minstrel shows of old. In those days, Whiteness was intrigued by the manifestations of culture produced by Negroes and saw opportunities for exploitation under the guise of “entertainment.” However, Negroes, the same identities that produced this culture (and certainly because of it) were not allowed in the same “public” places. To resolve this contradiction, Whiteness adorned the black face, thereby conveying to white audiences caricatures of reality. This conveyance of the Negroes’ identity was, in actuality, its concealment. There was no way to argue with the black faces placed before the audience, and they themselves became the “evidence” of how fun-loving and ignorant we were—a description that could also be used for pets. Things progressed, however, and I am told by those who remember that blacks were eventually allowed on stage. They too had to adorn the black face, literally applying burnt cork to their faces in order that Whiteness could maintain its distorted concepts of reality under the auspices of progress. Obviously, this wasn’t progress at all, but everyone had to admit that being allowed on stage was something of an advancement. 

By placing the black face on the Negro’s face, Whiteness began to obliterate, at least to the white audience, any traces of this perverse reconstruction of reality. To Appendx 1 page break 43 | 44 this very day we are still arguing how much our figures are being misrepresented in the media—a continuous attempt to remove that caricatured black face. 

The members of the present architectural regime are analogous to members of the audience of the minstrel show, sitting back and watching without realizing that they too, in their less public lives and more private moments, are backstage pulling strings—strings that control African-American architects who are so happy to be on stage that they have yet to realize the black caricatures that have been placed in front of their very own faces. And when assuming that more “performances” can be booked, they adorn the black face—the prerequisite for being presented before a White audience. 

Black people and architecture don’t mix. This is not to say that blacks can’t do architecture or serve in every facet of the regime, but when they do, they are practicing the Whiteness of architecture as condoned by White history, White theory, and White practice. At this moment this particular regime, unlike those of history, literature, and art, has not been forced to relinquish or remove that component of their mechanisms that has concealed the Black experience and the necessities borne from it. Furthermore, the utterance of this experience must be articulated, initially, by a Black voice. The voices of the African-American and the so-called black intellectual are both inadequate for the work that must be done only because there is too much hope in them. Let them speak elsewhere. This voice must be a voice from the trenches, a voice that knows of the struggles that it must continue to wage and has some conception of the tremendous task that is at hand. This voice will understand that the issue to be engaged is not only one of aesthetics, but is also understood as an absolute necessity because it understands that every regime—at least every regime conceptualized in the United States—must relinquish the mechanisms, technologies, and moral codes that conceal Blackness. 

There are those who will state that such a premise is impossible and unthinkable, and laugh at the prospect that there could ever actually be something known as black architecture; their ancestors probably would have thought it ludicrous that a black man could ever read, write, or, for heaven’s sake, construct a coherent thought. Although this premise has yet to be articulated in any substantive formal way (remember, even your beloved Rome wasn’t built in a day), it is not impossible because I believe it to be possible and it is thinkable because I think it, and such thinking is the precursor of any substantive “reinvention.”Appendx 1 page break 44 | 45 

If this thinking is not condoned by architectural history, then I must abandon architectural history. If this thinking is not condoned by architectural theory, then I must abandon architectural theory. If this thinking is not condoned by architectural practice, then I must abandon architectural practice. And even if this thinking is condoned by these respective components of the present architectural regime, I must abandon them anyway, for they are not allies to be trusted. I have faced the regime, and its overt Whiteness has revealed the Blackness within me. If its Whiteness and my Blackness are not compatible, this incompatibility provides no solution because it is impossible to go our separate ways. 

Whiteness must relinquish its grip on me and on that part of me that still believes in architecture—not Black architecture or White architecture, but architecture. However, just to say “I believe” is no argument for pervasive Whiteness; strategies, however seemingly maniacal, must be “spoken” to place the crease of contradiction into the mind of the regime. If there is no Black architecture, it is because it exists under so many other experiences, experiences that have been stripped away and piled indiscriminately into some far-away dark corner. If there is no Black architecture, then we (you) must prove it not to be concealed. But this cannot be proven because I am Black and I speak from the pulpit provided to me by the regime. For all I know, I am silenced and lost already. 

the end  Darell W. Fields

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