Is it time to change the music and the
syncopated beat of being Black in the U.S.?
Clearly, we all suffer. Although suffering may be neither inevitable nor necessary, we all still go though painful stuff, whether we are ‘to the manor born,’ nouveau rich (rappers, producers, athletes, celebrities, etc.), middle-to-making-it, the working poor, or just plain out of it. Whether we have it coming or not, it still sticks us all eventually, and some of us frequently and relentlessly.
Character shows itself in how we handle our inexorable adversities and how well we learn the lessons the first one or two times around. We toughen up or we fold; we adapt and adjust, or we endlessly chase our own tail, frightened that we’ll catch it and frightened that we won’t.
Even knowing all that, being Black ain’t no picnic in America, and being president is no safe haven. We catch hell just being us. In our reactions and responses, we frequently go to extremes and/or turn on each other. So, Detroit now loses an average of four young Black men a week to neighborhood homicide and wrong place-wrong time deaths.
Chicago has become a living nightmare of young brothers and sisters shooting each other in the face, maiming and brutalizing each other, and glorifying mediocrity, ignorance and illiteracy in life itself.
L.A. cannot escape its own criticisms in this regard, nor can virtually any other modern urban American city. We are simply destroying our own seed; we are pouring out gallons of our remaining life blood as waste in the streets.
And what do we get in return for this sacrifice? Just more disrespect, fewer jobs, more family dysfunction, and more of a dismal present looking forward to more of the same. We’ve acquiesced to expecting little, so we too readily accept less.
Enough already. Life may indeed be about some degree of suffering, but one either chooses and pursues a different fate or wallows in the one planned and ordained by others. What if we had an alternative?
Part of why we are treated so badly, so consistently is simply we have no place else to go. At least, that’s what we’ve been taught to believe. People don’t always respect those they know have to stay and just take it. They neither treat you with kindness nor consideration because, really, what can you do? Maybe, just maybe, you can do a lot, like leave.
Now, not speaking more than one language, and sometimes not even that very well, certainly handicaps us in terms of relocating ourselves en masse from the negativities of the urban Black experience, but that’s a bump in the road not a barrier. We can expand our possibilities.
One recent advocacy, based on a consistent tenet in African American history, is dual citizenship with an African country. Sure, sure, you may not be ready for that kind of extreme solution, given your and our substantial mis-education about Africa and Africans, but like reverse mortgages, you don’t know what’s beneficially available until you look at all of the options.
Sierra Leone has said African Americans willing to work and contribute to the country can have citizenship there without giving up your citizenship here. Liberia would probably also make that move, if and when the country is properly and respectfully approached, as would Ghana, Senegal, and a few other nations.
What would that give you? As a start, it would be a place that wants you, a place you can see something you’ve worked on grow and make a difference, and a place where the helicopters and sirens don’t wake the dead most nights.
Of course, some of the conveniences you’ve gotten used to will have to be abandoned for awhile, and simply complaining without corrective action will have to be replaced by a more useful habit. But it is an alternative.
For those interested in getting the whole run-down on African American dual citizenship (aka, repatriation for old schoolers), the Sullivan Foundation and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League is presenting a panel discussion on the topic on Sept. . 14, in Washington, D.C., and on Sept.. 28, in Atlanta, GA. If you cannot get to either, the papers presented will be available at email@example.com by the beginning of October, as will a full open discussion section.
The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, UNIA-ACL, (Marcus Garvey’s group) is also advocating training and preparation for dual citizenship for those who are still members of that venerable organization.
It is certain that the vast majority of African Americans will never leave this country willingly. That’s not the point. Most Jews are never going to emigrate to Israel unless forced to, nor Japanese Americans to Japan. Having the option to go, however, and having that alternative known and recognized, is really the point. And yes, the U.S.A. now does allow, if not formally recognize, dual citizenship with countries it has not put on some sort of watch or terrorist list.
We stop being abused, when we have decided we will no longer accept it, and we are courageous enough to implement that decision. Think about it. Things that make us go hmmmmm.
David Horne, Ph.D., is a tenured professor at California State University Northridge.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.
Music direction is the story of Rickey Minor’s life, and he somehow keeps taking new steps to higher achievement.
But if you’ve been the musical director of the Grammys, “American Idol” and now the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” what other heights are left to climb?
If you’ve been musical director for the nation’s most incandescent artists, such as Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Ray Charles, Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and many more, who else is there to work with?
On June 17, 1871, James Weldon Johnson, writer of the lyrics for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” (then called the Negro National Anthem), was born in Jacksonville, Fla., to James and Helen Johnson.
Coming from a well-educated and cultured family, Johnson was first taught by his schoolteacher mother. She instilled in him a sense of appreciation for English literature and the European tradition in music.
The Martin Luther King holiday is 25 years old this month. Not bad for a true product of American democracy at its ugliest and its best.
Remembering the loud, raucous, and sometimes racially vicious political war fought to get the holiday established, one is doubly honored to watch one of Dr. King’s movement progeny work his POTUS magic through a relentlessly dangerous minefield of negativity.
We’re not called ‘Negroes’ anymore. It’s a racial identification from our past; we’ve moved on …now we’re black or African American. We rarely stop to think of the power behind the word ‘Negro,’ and that at one time in our history it stood for dignity, power, and love. It meant that none of us were free, until we were all free and that we had a special bond that manifested itself in education; honor and trusting in God to give us the strength to do what needed to be done.
In November 2008 in New Orleans at one of the first major African American oriented conferences after the Obama election, Ron Daniels, Ph.D., the relatively new executive director of the Institute of the Black World, issued a call for the partnering of all progressive Black think tanks in the U.S.A.