“Soul On Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver

Leroy Eldridge Cleaver (Aug 31, 1935 – May 1, 1998)

The book Soul On Ice is a rather complicated book from the standpoint of truly gaining access to the mind of a black man in America who has dealt with every form of institutionalized racism & systemic oppression one could imagine to that of the mindset of a person who was an admitted rapist.  There are many in the black community who idolize Eldridge Cleaver for his brilliant mind in being able to eloquently articulate the plight, feelings & thoughts of black people in America during the 50s & 60s.  His way of describing the struggles of black America along with his extremely thoughtful breakdown of why race relations were the way they were during that time period could honestly be applied to modern day times.  If the dates were removed from the book along with historical figures, a person could honestly be tricked into thinking that this book Soul On Ice was written within the last 2 years or so despite the book being published in 1968.  That’s just how much black people’s situation in America has not really changed within the last 49 years since its original publication.  But despite how relevant a 49 year old book maybe as it directly relates to the condition of black America & its never ending quest for true equality, justice & freedom…you cannot ignore that the fact that Eldridge Cleaver was a rapist.  You would think being a rapist is about as low as one could go, with the exception of being a child molester, but Eldridge Cleaver’s reasons for transforming himself into a rapist are even more disturbing…

“I became a rapist.  To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto — in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of a day — and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey.  I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically — though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild, and completely abandoned frame of mind.

Rape was an insurrectionary act.  It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women — and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman.  I felt I was getting revenge.  From the site of the act of rape, consternation spreads outwardly in concentric circles.  I wanted to send waves of consternation throughout the white race.” — Eldridge Cleaver, Soul On Ice

It’s very hard to try to respect the mind of a man whom so many within black society have revered due to his work with the Black Panthers & his constant pursuit for speaking out on the injustices of America against black people when this man has openly admitted to raping women.  And it’s not just the mere of act of rape that’s truly disturbing to me, it’s the mindset he possessed as he went about raping women.  As you have just read, he started out raping women by practicing on black girls in the ghetto because he knew that he could get away with it.  Think about that.  Eldridge Cleaver wrote an entire book talking about how the white man has figuratively & literally raped black people for hundreds of years only for Eldridge Cleaver to confess to participating in the literal rape of his own women…black women, whom he knew nobody would give a damn about regardless.  But to “clarify” his acts of rape upon black women, he attempts to “justify” these brutal acts as him literally practicing so that he could rape white women all in a effort to get back at the white man for hundreds of years of abuse inflicted upon black people.  Now how fucking crazy & deranged is that?  You really have to be one sick & twisted son of a bitch to convince yourself that sexually brutalizing women is the way to attaining revenge.  Now some of you reading this will attempt to translate his brutal acts of rape into a deeper symbolic meaning…but fuck you.  Rape is rape.  You cannot overlook that shit period.  And you definitely cannot overlook the fact how of he “practiced” raping black women simply because he knew he could get away with it.  That just proves just how fucked up some black men viewed & treated black women all the way to this very day.

I started this article off by saying this book is rather complicated due to the very 2 different persons who once existed within the body of Eldridge Cleaver.  There was Eldridge Cleaver the rapist & then there was Eldridge Cleaver the pure unadulterated genius who possessed a truly beautiful mind for articulating the black struggle especially at a time where his words were definitely needed & in some regard, are still needed.  In my opinion, it is extremely complicated to look at a man of his caliber with respect and admiration knowing at the end of the day, by his own admission, he was no better than the system he believed needed to be taken down….and deep down inside, I believe Eldridge Cleaver knew this about himself as well.

“I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’m a Negro, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a Higher Uneducation.” — Eldridge Cleaver, Folsom Prison, Oct 9, 1965

Your favorite mulatto.