Ya’ll listen to your Uncle Tom now
Published 12:00 am Monday, February 12, 2007
&uot;I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.&uot; Fredrick Douglass
It took me almost two weeks to realize that it was Black History Month.
It’s not like the signs weren’t everywhere, for me to see, it just took me a minute to recognize them.
God knows I should’ve known after watching the Super Bowl last week.
Every announcer covering the event reminded us of the historical significance of having both the first and second black coaches to ever lead their teams to the big game.
Unfortunately, I heard it so much that it began to sound like corporate sponsor jargon.
The racial spin was only a day away from having its own logo.
The month of February has kind of become that way to me.
I know there are Valentines Day, Black History Month and Lincoln’s birthday.
It is also the month in which Fredrick Douglass was born, the man who the holiday was created for.
(Did I just call Black History Month a holiday?)
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, creator of Black History Week, which eventually evolved into Black History Month, said he wanted to honor the birthdays of Douglass and Lincoln, as the two men had done so much for the black community.
What most people do not know is that Lincoln was actually in favor of a plan to send slaves back to Africa.
That’s not where I’m going with this right now, so I’ll leave it alone.
Did you know that both Lincoln and Douglass were both members of the Republican Party?
(More food for thought that I will get to at a later date)
What’s on my mind right now is the confusion that this month causes me, and why it’s so easy to take it as pass\u00E9 in today’s climate.
You see being black in America is not as easy as it might seem, mainly because of the identity confusion.
Black History Month is designed to celebrate the history of African Americans, and the group that will lead the charge for celebrating it is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Can you understand my confusion?
My freshman year in college my roommate was a guy named Craig Aiken.
Craig was a white kid with flaming red hair and freckles.
Craig was also a native of South Africa, so that would mean if he decided to marry an American woman and gain citizenship in this country he would have to be considered an African American right?
He would certainly be more of an African American than me.
I’m sure that wouldn’t go over too well at Howard University or Morehouse College if Craig tried to assimilate with the current students who consider themselves African Americans.
It’s sort of like the sons and daughter of slaves adopting the religion of Christianity, I just don’t get it.
If a religion is beat into your grandparents, who fought and died to vigorously hold on to their original culture and customs, you would think that as soon as there was an opportunity to do so, their kin would reestablish their communities with the customs of their forefathers.
I’m done with that concept however, because we’re too deep into the church game to even consider trying to seek truth about this matter.
I find this particularly strange because we managed to come up with this ridiculous concept of Kwanzaa to substitute for Christmas.
Do you know why there is no African version of Christmas?
Because Africans didn’t celebrate Christmas!
Also, since we’re on black history, understand that there are 53 nations on the continent we know as Africa.
Each of these nations has their own customs, traditions and history.
If you were to meet someone who was born in the country Nigeria or Egypt he or she would not introduce himself or herself as African, they would say that they are Nigerian or Egyptian.
Still, the &uot;African&uot; tag blankets every concept that involves the ancestors of American slaves even though many people of color in this country have either Caribbean or South American ancestry.
It’s not that we don’t desire to have some connection with our origins; it’s just that we aren’t really concerned with making a true connection.
While many blacks want to put forward the impression of wanting to represent the group of people who endured slavery on this continent, we usually stop far short of truth.
I understand, nobody wants to rock the boat too hard.
I mean it has already been a hard fight to get this far, having to assimilate with a culture and mindset that views us as second-class human beings.
Good jobs, nice homes and clothes and college degrees made the struggle not one to return to concepts indigenous
to the original slaves, but rather one of inclusion into the mainstream.
They are, in fact, two different struggles.
I read somewhere that when assisting with the television version of his monumental book Roots, Alex Haley struggled with a particular scene.
It is one of the most memorable scenes in the movie in fact.
When the character Toby, played by John Amos, is presenting his newborn daughter to God he refers to God as Allah.
Haley was afraid this reference to he what he found to be the religion of his ancestors might alienate him from the majority of black Americans who had placed themselves solidly in the religion of Christianity.
Of course, blacks just ignored that part of the movie and moved on.
Like I almost did Black History Month.