Since when did the things I do define my color? I have often been accused of acting white or doing what ‘only white people do’. I thought about it one day and I was a little upset. What makes me Black? It’s not the way I hold my fork or the music I listen to. By the way, for you naysayers out there – a lot of the music that we now call white has very black origins. A case in point would be rock and roll. Rock and Roll has it’s origins in a fusion of gospel and blues with an uptempo beat. The early singers of the caucasian persuasion listened to the music (with a lot of disapproval from their elders as it was usual termed ‘the devil’s music’) and incorporated it into their music style. Some examples of this are Elvis, Ernie Ford, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I have heard people say that black people don’t ski, motorcross, watch ice hockey, and so on and so forth. What kind of nonsense is that? We can do whatever we want to do! Yes, I know, this is going to be the controversial piece that has me slammed from the east coast to the west coast, but I don’t care. I enjoy biking and hiking and will not apologize for it.
I think we need to be careful as a people not to limit ourselves or our children with the negative stereoptypes that we perpetuate amongst ourselves. Some of the children that I mentor are dealing with peer pressure that is really unique. When they acheive in school and are straight-A students, some of the other students put them down and tell them that they are acting white by being studious. My response is that a crab in a barrel will always try to pull the crab at the top down. They don’t want you to get ahead and make something of yourself. We need to let our kids know that achieving in life is important and okay. I have a very strong reaction to us using the word ‘nigger’ lightly and with no concept of what it connotates. I am a Kenyan who has been to several different African-American historic events, and have seen just how brutal slavery really was. I don’t take it lightly and my child doesn’t either. If we don’t realize just how dumb we look using the word to refer to each other, listen to what other people say about us, when they hear us use it. The numbing of our children’s minds towards the reality of slavery and it’s legacy is something that needs to stop. We used to be a proud people who carried ourselves with dignity and pride. We didn’t cuss each other out in the street because we didn’t like what the person was saying or doing. We handled it with dignity. We weren’t gyrating on poles and wiggling our behinds to entertain the masses (that was what call-girls and strippers did). Think that there are no ramifications? Think again. There is a perception that black women are easy, like sex all the time and don’t seem to want to do much else. This may be permeating the black culture as the videos describe us as b****** and w****s. The fact that we even answer to that says something about where we are going. We need to wake up. There is no way a society that does not respect itself is ever going to get respect from anyone.
Let us teach our children their history. We are the ones who know it. Let us aspire to build strong extended families and teach our children to respect themselves and others. Don’t call each other names that we are willing to pound another group into a pulp over. It doesn’t make sense to be okay with it on one hand and indignant about it on the other. We either are offended or we are not! Women wake up! Stop taking abuse (verbal, physical or emotional) and saying that it’s okay because we need a man. Be true to yourself. Black women are beautiful in ALL their colors. Celebrate yourselves. Listen to all genres of music. The best musicians do. It is how you learn about the real beauty of music. Try skiing. There are many black ski organizations out there (yes, we do ski after all). Put the positive black role models in front of your children. Let them know who they should aspire to be. Be a role model yourself. If more of us did that, our children would be more confident and able to go to the greatness they deserve. Support those who are making it and don’t pull them down. Don’t forget to pull others up when you do make it. Other societies do it very successfully. We can do the same. Black men, respect your women. She will protect you, be your best friend, champion your cause, and work hard beside you. Isn’t she worth gentle, loving treatment? Black women, respect your man. No yelling at him in the street, putting him down in front of friends and family, or ‘dissing’ him when he is down. He deals with more than we do on a daily basis and deserves to have one place where he can go and be the King that he is. Let it be his home. If you must argue, feed him first. Chances are, you will calm down enough to have a decent discussion in a civilized manner (and he might feel like a well-fed python – too full to move).
We are a talented people with a multitude of talents. Our suffering has just honed our skills and increased our awareness of where our strengths lie. Let us maximize on that to truly make a difference.