In the summer of 1973 the Zodiac MC in Kansas City, Missouri was formed. The Zodiacs brought together the Vultures and the Crusaders MC and a few other clubs to have a “small get together” of local clubs. Today we know that small get together as The National Bikers Roundup. That small local Saturday get together is now a week long party attended by forty to sixty thousand bikers annually.
What are the chances of a modern day club having the leadership, influence and humility required to work with other MC’s to create a unified event that could turn into the next version of the National Bikers Roundup? Judging from the sucka MC’s that overpopulate the black biker community today and the ghost riders they have as members, I’m willing to confidently say the chances aren’t very good.
A trifecta of leadership, influence and humility would require a series of qualities and effort that as of this writing, I’m not confident that the current crop of black bikers and their respective MC’s can pull off. It would mean going from being a Ghost Rider who is an irrelevant, invisible and dishonorable rider to a John Blaze who is a biker who is relevant, alive and active within their respective community.
“Some club patches have no real symbolism. Some clubs have no bylaws; members just have a club to ride with. I was looking for a real purpose in riding, and a way to make a difference. Now as President I continue to move the club forward by giving back to my community-by attending more charity events and producing our own.” Buttnaked, President Pasadena 4 Horsemen MC
That quote by the Buttnaked, the International President of the Pasadena 4 Horsemen MC demonstrates a few things required in a MC or rider going from sucka MC and ghost rider status to legitimate MC and John Blaze. First and foremost it reflects leadership. What Buttnaked is suggesting is going against what’s become the grain of so many clubs today which is doing nothing more then throwing trophy parties, fish fries and bikini washes. On any given week I get at least fifty text messages and emails about another party but hardly ever get anything about a charitable run or event sponsored by an MC. Before someone says, “Hey we did the Toys for Tots collection” my response will be, “Who didn’t do the Toys for Tots collection?” I’m not putting it down but I’ll quote Jesus to make my point: “Even a tax collectors family loves him. You get no credit for loving those who love you. True love is when you love those who hate you.” So my point is, everyone does a Toys for Tots collection. It’s a no brainer and I’m not applauding anyone for a no-brainer. True leadership means taking the initiative to do something above and beyond and in addition to making sure your respective club is on board with that initiative, while making sure you enlist other clubs as well.
The African American and Hispanic communities suffer from a great many social and health ills too numerous to list here. There’s a menu an MC can choose from to combat and support with a sincere, sustained effort that would literally buck the norm. How many MC’s are members of the local NAACP? How many MC’s sponsor their PAL Little League baseball or football teams? Do any MC’s work with their local churches in uniting on a local cause? It doesn’t take much but it starts with a seed of leadership and for some reason when it comes to planting that seed within the black MC set, that ground is anything but fertile.
“When other chapters of the club asked me if they accept black members I reminded them we never had a rule that said you couldn’t. The club was originally formed with vets of WWII and we didn’t care what color you were in the war and wouldn’t have cared what color you were in the club. All that mattered was that we were all Americans…and liked to drink” Wino Willie, Founder The Boozefighters MC.
Because I consider myself a motorcycle culture historian I’ve always recognized and understood The Boozefighters as being the most important MC ever established in our country (if you don’t know why, then maybe you should research it) but it wasn’t until I read that quote by their founder did I actively investigate if there was a local chapter here in New York (there isn’t) because I would have prospected immediately. Before integration of the armed forces and American society, Wino Willie looked beyond a man’s skin. Considering the angry racist image we have of outlaw biker from their 60’s and 70’s Nazi symbol patronage to their contemporary stubborn support of the Confederate Flag, Willie taking that position in the 50’s before the Civil Rights era is incredible. It shows that he not only rode his bike with the iron clasped balls to match but he lived his life with the same gusto. He was a leader.
Leadership means different things to different people but leadership to me in our biker community means a collective getting together to reign in these sucka mc’s that make us all look bad. No, I’m not advocating a 1% takeover but I am calling for clubs who have followed time honored traditions to ban together to pull these young and ignorant clubs together and knock some sense into them. As a Christian I can’t and will never advocate unjustified violence but as a biker who believes in Christ, I do believe sometimes settling things the Old Testament way is an option. Read into that as you wish.
“Not all black groups get along, especially amid the L.A. street gangs. The streets have become a battleground. Yet all factions of the L.A. black motorcycle set seem to co-exist peacefully.” Tobie Gene Levingston, Founder of The East Bay Dragons
Co-existing requires humility. Trust me, I know. I’m married. You have to learn how to let certain things go and for other things demand more of your partner especially when you know they can do better. Co-existing means trusting your partner and following them instead of leading but when the time comes for you to lead; you step up and take your rightful place up front.
It should be no different in the black biker community we ride in. Yes, there are clubs that have been here longer and yes there might be a 1% presence but neither one of those positions automatically makes either group the spokesperson for the community. Humility allows other clubs to come in without intimidation or threats. Humility allows for ideas to be shared and events to be created as joint efforts. Humility allows an atmosphere of true brotherhood. If anything we need to remember as members of this black MC community is that we are not our niggers keeper. White bikers don’t greet each other as “kike, wop, potato picker or PWT. They great each other as brothers. We shouldn’t greet each others as nigga’s but rather brothers. We are our brothers keeper. We are a brotherhood, not a niggerhood.
In the comic book John Blaze makes a deal with the devil and mortgages his soul to become the demonic Ghost Rider. In other words, he was alive as John Blaze and for all intents and purposes dies when he becomes the Ghost Rider. When a rider becomes a biker he doesn’t sell his soul to the devil but he should be buying into a lifestyle that is the quintessential expression of freedom. Being a rider is simply being alive but being a true biker is living. It means going from being spiritually dead as a Ghost Rider to reaching the climax of living as John Blaze. He is coming into a culture that is for the elite. Bikers tempt death every time we get on a motorcycle and when we join clubs we are collectively telling Death, “Catch up if you can.”
If we respect and treasure that freedom and the lifestyle and everything that comes with it, we therefore have to do everything in our power to protect it and see that it grows correctly. If you’re not a biker and just someone who enjoys riding their motorcycle I have to respect that but you also must respect the fact that for me, it is a lifestyle, it is my culture, it is who I am. I am a biker and not a rider and there is a distinct difference. Having and riding a bike is an extension of me as a biker but it is not what solely defines me as a biker. Lemme me stop there ‘cause I’m getting ahead of myself. The difference between a rider and a biker is next week’s blog topic.
I am not a Ghost Rider. I have no respect for Sucka MC’s.
This is my final blog entry under The Ghost Rider series but because of the positive and tonnage of responses I’ve received as a result of the first two parts of the blog, I’ll be continuing to write on behalf of the MC community that I cherish. I don’t expect to start a revolution because I’m not always going to say things you’re going to like and you and I are not always going to get along but I will always remain humble because you took the time to read, share and hopefully comment on what you’ve read. Hell…I’m just happy most of you guys can read.