I just read an article from one of my absolute favorite sites, ForHarriet.com. I typically love how incredibly well everything is written; and enjoy reading them in spite of the useless advertisements and intrusive links about miracle medical cures or some reality television actor’s latest tweetable moment. But I get it; Internet space ain’t free.
I was somewhat disappointed after reading an article this morning written by Kesenia Boon; not because there was anything wrong with the columnist’s skills or the site itself. I actually greatly appreciate the article, because it gave me an opportunity to think about and formulate an honest opinion, after I realized the intense emotion it stirred.
I agree that, lately, we’ve heard about a few too many “celebrities” who have said some stupid shiggidy. And I agree with the facts that a lot of major American/global companies and old money billionaire families’ wealth was literally and figuratively “built upon the backs” of slave labor and trading; and encouraged by biased laws and miscegenation that denied our ancestors their rightful place in history and society. I agree that the pain of our people has continuously been overlooked, and that there could be credence to those theories that claim the historical pain and abuse of institutionalized chattel slavery allowed to exist for so many centuries may in a lot of ways contribute to the negative mindset and actions of troubled youth even today. I wholly agree that we people who identify ourselves (and/or are identified by others based on skin color, features, and characteristics) as being of African ancestry are unabashedly marginalized, and for no other reason, denied any and every possible thing you can think of by some, and thought of in horribly unflattering terms by others. And I agree that the reality of subconscious stereotyping enforced by “mass”media imagery and learned biases based on “minor” experiences play a very conscious role in most of our opinion ions of others, if we are truly honest about them.
But, dear people, if we continue to speak for our people as a monolithic people, as we condemn others for grouping us as a monolithic whole; and continue to deny the reality that all of us have many, many (unequal) parts that make this whole of our individual DNA, we do nothing but support and stimulate this continued separatism and idea.
I’ve been fortunate to discover a great deal about my ancestral lineage, and this journey has revealed quite a well-hidden truth. Not all “white” people are “white” (and often unbeknownst to them); and we “black” people have bought into the one-drop Jim Crow rule just as if if was the law today. I agree with and understand communal pride in our shared cultural history; I encourage it. But I don’t agree in our historical penchant for carrying the shame for another person’s behavior, simply because he or she identified as being “black.”
That newspaper reporter made that foolish comment…that one-time child actress foolishly and erroneously made a comment that is geographically impossible, among other things…that music producer…that rapper…that wanna-be-famous-for-more-than-my-beauty “political contributor”… All of them made statements based on their unique views, not mine or yours. No need to confirm or deny their lineage. It’s got no bearing on their commentary. And to attack them based on their “race” is the very thing we stand locked in arms together marching across shamefully-forgotten bridges, accusing others of doing to us.
People, in my humble opinion, need to really get it together. Stop blaming the white man of today (your cousin, for all intents and purposes) for what his (or your) father did then. And stop trying to regulate other people’s choices. Hold people accountable for their actions and statements, by all means. But don’t base that on their “race” — even if they’ve enjoyed some of that white privilege we wish every one of us could have benefitted from. Take that opportunity to educate and inform them of their bias, privilege, and shared cultural history. We have earned the right to be angry. We have not earned the right to be bitter. Use your knowledge and deserved righteous indignation to teach, not hate. And acknowledge the fact that people can learn from mistakes, be it a comment, action, choice, whatever. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, even if they deny your “educational” assistance. Growth is not instant; the moment they realize their error may happen much later in life. If we encourage and spend so much of our time hating on them, it could even slow that growth/change. And then, it could never happen, also; but ok, so what? The more we educate and become educated; the better (not bitter) we all are. Educate to inform; condemnation is for wimps. Be the inspiration.
And another thing: did you ever wonder how we black people were the overwhelming majority once and are now the minority? All of the horrible lynchings and other atrocities cannot statistically account for all of those losses.
Disclaimer: in order to get this out there and not spend days on end massaging the words I’ve written, I’m posting it without editing. Please excuse any outlandish typos or autocorrected words that totally change the intended meaning of the statement. Please also excuse any thoughts that aren’t expanded upon; it wasn’t meant to be a thesis. Admittedly, I paid much less attention than my history teachers and books deserved; I’m determined to make up for it now, and honor my ancestors in that way. If you choose to educate me about anything I’ve written that you believe is inaccurate, I welcome it. Additionally, there were some points in Ms. Boon’s article that I could agree with or already share; but those are not what affected me. If you’re interested in reading it, http://www.forharriet.com/2015/04/6-black-celebrities-yall-can-take-back.html#axzz3WMoaDhp8 is where it may be found. Peace and love, y’all.