Keeping Black History Alive
In the true spirit of Black History month continuity, I will highlight the need for Blacks to promote a cultural revolution, outlining the reasons why we need to, and making recommendations on what it should look like.
Firstly, I think it is imperative that we understand the reasons why we are in such horrible shape as a people, and accept the fact that we are so because we buy into others’ perception that we are bad people.
Due to the commodification of our culture, we are now only as deep as the outlets issuing it back to us. As opposed to creating new extensions of our culture and then sharing it with each other, the world now takes from us what [they] want, package it, and (re) sell it to us as authentic Black culture.
We consume this artificial culture as the rest of the world does and it is as sickening to us as a child who eats too much sugar. Sad to say, we are cultural children; we are not fully developed as a people because we don’t know who we are, what we stand for, or where we are going. Many of us don’t even think about it.
In fact, the best that many of us can manage is to be whatever white folks are trying to be in their second-hand, deviant duplication of culture stolen from us. Blind to our own obfuscated culture, we embrace it as though it is genuine culture, and when we do play Afrocentric, it is like children who play house but never really become responsible adults and parents.
We can see several Blacks with afros, dreadlocks and braids claiming to be moving closer to their roots, but nothing else about their lifestyle or mentality is African or intrinsically Afro- Canadian, Afro-American… but as far as our true and long-standing culture and legacy are concerned, most of us are no longer aware of anything Blacks have contributed to the planet.
Our history, even in this country and the world, has been hidden, twisted and trampled on to the point where it is counter-culture to embrace the truth. Believe it or not, we are now seeing the deleterious results of the historical abuse of our culture, minds, and collective psyche, to the point where we have embraced the worst things said about us and joke about how horrible we are on the world stage. In our regular lives, we talk about how horrible black businesses are and expect consistency.
We open businesses and perpetuate stereotypes about our employees and walk into Black businesses armed with stereotypes against them, and then we fight against anyone who speaks out against the ugly distorted culture that has become the status quo. The world is not fair and it ain’t cool.
Black men are being left out and left behind, but the useless, counter-productive gangster wear and lifestyle are still being glamorized. AIDS is also on our doorstep; Black women still want sexual freedom from what? Baby daddies and baby mamas know that they have nothing financially, morally or culturally to give a child, but still continue to have them. I take umbrage to American Idol’s winner Fantasia Barrino’s ode to baby mamas, as it is a cultural signpost of the comfort held in being a single parent. Pray tell, why celebrate and glamorize a wretched situation just because you overcame it as an individual?
Ironically, we have begun to operate as individuals, while we still continue to talk about the Black community. We are disconnecting from the struggle, even as we are still struggling… The longer you make people struggle, the more you filter them out and wear them down and collectively they eventually acquiesce.
Over the past few decades, more of us have begun to circle the drain, even while others claim to be “balling out of control” with heavy debt and few real assets. Our most salient issue is that we think we are free, and we also think that we can make choices without paying a cost, not realizing that many of us get nothing and still must pay a dear price. Financially, we are in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Comfortable morons can talk about the growing Black middle class, but as a people, we are now worse off than ever, because the real growth in our population is the group of people who have nothing and will not find a way to have anything. There are more of us who are getting pushed out of the game, yet there are more of us pretending to be at the top of the game.
Why is it that when one of us makes it we pretend that we are different from the rest of the race? How could we have role models when the first thing a successful Black man or woman does is disconnect, and speak about how different they are from the rest of us? Whatever we create as individuals will never benefit the collective, and the divide between the haves and have-nots is growing exponentially among Blacks no matter how many sweet lies we tell.
Ignorance and its fallout have become cultural cues for the destruction of what we were and what we could become. Without a real culture that we can embrace, there is nothing to hold us together, or even keep us solid as individuals. To further compound the situation, we have never been at a lower point in male-female relationships, cultural identity, or mutual respect than we are currently.
We have developed such poor cultural habits that it appears that we have truly accepted our place as second-class citizens. At some point, we will witness Blacks dying off. We are morphing into an entire segment of society that cannot provide for itself—spiritually, financially, culturally. Our choices are simple; we can take advantage of what the community presents and work to be a stronger people, or we can have faith that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will do all of the work and save us.
There is no guarantee that we have to exist, but keeping Black History alive will be a pivotal step in the right direction towards ensuring our being and solidifying our presence.
Next edition: Redefining Ourselves…