Ghost Riders Pt. II: The Sucker MC’s

A ghost rider is a rider who might define themselves as a biker but in actuality they’re invisible and irrelevant within their own motorcycle society. They have no codes, no honor and no self respect because they are undisciplined, weak and without purpose. They don’t know their history or the history of their club so they ensure themselves of no future and since they make no attempt to bring honor to their everyday, they are truly worthless.

Welcome to the world of the black biker and the sucker MC’s.

Ghost riders belong to unrecognized or unsanctioned bike clubs who operate without a code of conduct and respect, flying colors that mean nothing to anyone. Did you approach your local One Percent club when you formed your club? If not the dominant One Percent club, did you at least approach the oldest ranking MC in your territory to get their blessing? In other words, did you follow time honored MC protocol because if you didn’t, you’re an unsanctioned club and your lack of respect for protocols means sanctioned clubs who did it correctly have no business respecting you.

I’ve been riding a bike for nearly ten years and I’ve logged well over 100,000 miles. I’ve ridden on both coasts, across the Hoover Dam, through snow storms, the length of US1, through violent thunder storms and through the Arizona desert during the day when it was 105 degrees and 35 degrees at night. I’ve put in my time and miles on two wheels. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start riding. My love affair with motorcycles and motorcycle culture began years before I was even old enough to ride.

I grew up next door to neighbors who belonged to a white outlaw club and I got educated very early on in terms of codes of conduct, rules and protocol when it came to biker clubs. I saw a brotherhood and allegiance to each other that on the surface no outsider could penetrate. I saw unruly men who had no discipline in their “normal” lives but followed rule after rule when they donned their vest and represented their club. I saw men who cursed society but loved and respected their club and each other.

When I joined the black biker community I naturally expected to see that same discipline followed and adhered to but I was sorely disappointed.

A white One Percenter once said to me and I quote, “I don’t understand how you guys call each other brothers but you treat each other like niggers.” And to be clear, he said the n word with the “er” pronunciation. He was helping me with something that my former club had promised to do but never came through so this white One Percenter went out of his way to help “his black brother.” He went on to say, “You’re a biker. I don’t give a fuck what color you are. We’re gonna get you back on the road. We need more bikers, not more niggers.” Yes, he said the n word and pronounced the “er” with emphasis. As a biker that was the lowest point of my life on two wheels to have a white One Percenter show me the love that my own black MC wasn’t. It makes me ask, “Are you your niggas keeper or are you your brothers keeper?” I dropped my colors with the club that night and began to ride independent for the next two years and what I observed in those years reinforced my thought that  too many black MC’s are made up of irrelevant ghost riders essentially redefining the RUN-DMC mantra Sucka MC’s. .

We did not create the idea of motorcycle clubs. There are hundreds of them that came before and the “good” clubs who have grown in membership, sustained their identity and protected their brand have done so because they’ve gotten their counter culture outcasts to become club abiding citizens. Men whom society has claimed have no honor conduct themselves by the code of honor of their respective clubs and because of that their clubs have prospered. I respect the Big Red Machine. Not only have they grown their club to make it a global force but new members have a passion and respect for not only the club but for the people who came before them who made the club what it is. Those members know without the sacrifices of those bad ass mofo’s who came before them, their club wouldn’t exist. There is no respect in, respect out. There’s just respect in.

Ask any random black biker who Tobie Gene Levingston is and I’m willing to bet my life the response you’ll get is, “Who that nigga?”  Ask any random black biker who Bessie Stringfield is and there’s a very good chance you’ll get, “Who’s that bitch?” It wasn’t until last year did I find out who Ben Hardy is and I’m embarrassed to admit that. Does the name Suga Bear mean anything to anyone out there? Ask any random white biker however who Sonny Barger is and while I can’t guarantee what they’ll say, I’m pretty damn positive they’ll know who that man is.

When you have ghost riders who congregate in groups masquerading as a motorcycle club what you have are sucka MC’s. In case that was too hard to understand I’ll say it again. When individual bike riding suckas get together to ride you have a Sucka MC.

In the black community, sucka MC’s are as prolific as high cholesterol or diabetes and the symptoms are crystal clear for anyone who cares to see them.

A club with no sense of history, no vision and therefore no purpose is certified sucka. Members who don’t know why the club was founded in the first place and by who are certified suckas. If you don’t know who or why the initial members formed the club then realistically how can you truly connect to the core principles of that club? Americans still refer to the principles of the Founding Fathers cited in 1776 in running this government today in 2012. Motorcycle clubs haven’t been around that long that we can’t even remember the principles to which a respective club was formed.

Because Sucka MC’s don’t understand the importance of history, the infection of apathy spreads to current and new members. What do your club colors stand for? What does your patch symbolize? How do you embody the principles of your club? A club is a family of people with different last names, but one patch that if taken seriously, is as deep and meaningful as any surname you might share with your blood father, brother, sister or mother. If you’re blessed enough to know your grandparents, don’t you respect them and show them that respect? Do you do that to the elders in our own black biker community? Do you even know who they are? Are you seriously telling me right now that The Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings know their history and respect their elders but you’re telling me we in the MC community can’t?

What’s the point to your MC? Please don’t direct me to your Facebook profile where it says, “to promote a safe family atmosphere through a community based motorcycle experience” because we all know that’s bullshit. Getting a black MC to show up at a run in support of an African American health cause is hard enough (trust me. I was involved in putting together an event to raise money for MS and not hardly a person showed up and those who did had a problem donating anything more then $5 to the cause). There’s nothing wrong if you and your MC ain’t about nothin’ but at least have the nerve to admit it.

I challenge MC’s out there to instill discipline within their ranks. Go to a website that lists offices and their responsibilities and ask yourself if the people in your club with titles truly deserve them. Do your members know how they’re supposed to approach or not approach Property? Do your members know that  taking off their cut and placing it down in public is enough to get beat down or disciplined in most outlaw clubs? Do you have members who don’t own or ride a motorcycle and do you make excuses for them ’cause that’s your boy or “she’s a honey you used to smash?” What is church as it refers to an MC? If you don’t know the answer to these very basic questions then you’re a ghost rider and if you’re not in a sucka MC now, you should be ‘cause only a whack and bullshit “club” would accept you in their ranks.

Is the black MC set just about bikini washes, trophy parties and fish fries? Oh wait, there’s the annual bike blessing where people talk through the prayer. Understand I’m not knocking those things because part of what we do is party and bikers party hard but when the parties over, what are we left with? Minority communities in this country are plagued with violence, low literacy rates, single parent homes, a disproportionate number of men in prison and health issues too numerous to list here so how come more black MC’s don’t inject themselves in a positive way to address any of these issues on a continuous basis?

Please note I said continuous. Gun violence in the hood is an everyday problem so our presence shouldn’t be as insincere as a baby kissing politician. We need to have a steadfast voice in our own community but I suppose if it doesn’t have anything to do with bikini washes, trophies and fish fries and alcohol it’s too much to ask.

At a Vietnam Day Committee on October 16th 1965 the Oakland charter of the Hell’s Angels that included Sonny Barger made it a point of getting involved in the anti-war protest that they felt was dishonoring this country and the Americans fighting overseas. The club is officially apolitical but when something happens that so passionately ignites them, they mobilize. If the Hell’s Angels, an organization that almost everyone outside of our community would identify as a criminal organization can get together to act on behalf on what they feel is right in their community, can’t we find a cause passionate enough to do the same?

I challenge black MC’s to be relevant and matter. Be a force not just in your motorcycle community, but in your community that you rock on your rocker. Understand and respect the culture in which you’re operating. Learn about the people and clubs who came before you and are still here. Understand why they matter and give yourselves a reason to matter. When you’re forming a new club make sure you don’t only go to your local One Percent Club to get their blessing but go to the oldest ranking African American club in the set and acknowledge those people and get their blessing as well. I know a lot of new clubs forming who say they don’t need anyone’s permission to form. No one is telling you to bow down but what I am saying is show the respect to the community you’re entering by following time honored traditions. You only get respect when you give respect. Take a hard look at the members in your MC and ask yourself, are they who you want representing your club? Are they just here because you want numbers? Are they even bikers? What are you saying about yourself having that person as a member?

I’ve been accused of being “too hard” or “too serious” about this MC thing. When I pay my mortgage or get my kids ready for school my wife never says to me I take my responsibilities as a husband and father too seriously. I signed up to be a father and husband so I do what I’m supposed to do to meet those responsibilities. When someone signs up to be in an MC you’re saying that you’re going to live up to the codes and principles of that club. Since no one’s perfect, if you fail to live up to those codes you’ll have the brothers you love and trust within that MC to put your ass back in line. That’s what family does.

If the MC you’re joining is a Sucka MC, then you’re never going to love, learn and eventually appreciate a hardliner like me ‘cause I’m not a sucka. I live up to my responsibilities and if and when I fall off at any point, I trust and respect the people I’ve empowered in my life to get my ass back in line. That’s a family, that’s a brotherhood, that’s a true MC.

Do yourself a favor and go look up Tobie Gene Levingston and Bessie Stringfield before I publish Pt. III of my Ghost Rider series ‘cause if you meet me one day and you don’t know who those two people are, the only thing I’ll have to say to your Ghost Riding ass is, “I see dead people.”

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