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Black Against Black: The Agony of Panthermania

Anthracite eyes blazing out of a black face, his lips curl back to the gum in this terrifying eely smile, or is it a scowl? The kid is wearing tie-dye jeans with a prep-school blazer, so it is hard for Abbie to put it together, but what really catches his eye is the insignia on the kid's riot helmet. Can it be—and hand-painted, too? The black flag under a red star eclipsed by a big bright green marijuana leaf, yes! The Youth International Party insignia is hand-painted on his riot helmet. This kid is all right.

"Okay, I got 250 Yippie chapters across the country but not an effing one in New Haven, and New Haven's the hottest effing spot in the country," Abbie picks up the pitch. "Who've I got out there?"

One hand rises. Junius Jones. Under his hand-painted riot helmet, Junius is putting on his crazy act.

"You're making thousands on the books you write, Abbie. What are you doing with the money?"

"I'm writing a new book. It's called Steal This Book. Nobody'll publish it."

Junius then bombards the speaker with a line of heavy political questions. With a final agitator's flourish, he demands Abbie Hoffman's own YIP button. "Now."

"You want the button now?" Abbie says. He throws it to Junius, who triumphantly hangs it on his prep-school blazer. Perfect. His crazy act, in its first public test, has fooled them all.

Abbie sat down with Junius after the rally. He confided that most Black Panthers don't like him: "They think I'm a Zionist agent." But Junius thinks Abbie is a simple bourgeois basket case, a paper Yippie, and over 30 anyway. As a matter of fact, though he doesn't quite dare to say it to his face, Junius thinks: "Abbie and his buddies are so far out on the left, they come back around on the right and become reactionary. Most of them are adventurists and suicidal maniacs."

Junius only came to pick up Abbie's style.

". . . Junius is measuring the price of black manhood. He doesn't plan to die cheaply . . ."


September. David Parks and I are looking for Junius in a suburban New Haven high school suffering from shell shock over the drug explosion.

"Can you lay some hash on me?" a pale kid of about fourteen asks David. It's a funny note, because at the same moment, in this standard Greek-Revival-cum-green-lockers suburban high school, filled with yearbook-picture kids, the old school band is whupping up a sports rally in the gym.

Badoom, badoom, bababababababa-BOOM! The big tuba sound is rolling down the hall into the pit of the stomach and hundreds of bleached-jean boys are following girls in valentine-bottom pants and everybody—almost everybody—is tripping over clog sandals to get to the gym. The scene inside is pure 1950s. Bleachers stacked with white faces. Twirlers in Sunoco gold serge and sequins wink pink knees, just above their boots, at the letter sweater boys. And the cheerleaders, all blond and busty, put forth the cupped-lip ideal of Miss Rheingold contestants.

Six black students sit in the bleachers. This is despite the jump in black enrollment to about 150 students this year. Many have enrolled through the busing program. For $500 a black student can commute out of the inner city for an education in white suburban values. But where are they?

"They don't believe in the sports program," says one of Junius' friends, falling into step beside us. "They don't believe in ______ High School."

Junius is meeting with potential revolutionaries in the cafeteria. The unaffiliated of 1970 are out front waiting for school buses: the black bus children, standing apart, and the white hippies and heads, personified by two kids sharing an inhalator. A school mother stops to ask them directions. They answer politely, but without missing a sniff of happy powder from the inhalator.

Junius comes from his meeting with an elbow folded around the precious blue notebook. A broad smile escapes him. A little showing off for his New York friends—his blazer, the YIP button, the hobo bandana tied around his denim knee—and the frivolity is over. Junius becomes again the obsessed revolutionary, moving on to the next step.

"Are you glad to be back at ______ High?"

"For one reason." Junius works up his most ferocious stare. "To blow up the place."

Nine strong students, that is all Junius needs to form his new party: RYM III, or Revolutionary Youth Movement to the third power (since SDS claims RYM I and II).

"It's an underground operation," Junius says. "I want to keep it small so we can split quickly."

Rain is bursting like water-filled Baggies against the windshield and we are driving home with a boy as desperate to claim his manhood as was John Huggins. Junius has stopped going to the flicks. All propaganda. High school sports, he says, are for token blacks. Dope?


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