Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Studying African-American History is Vital For Our (Re)claiming It From the Culture Vultures

Will we be eulogizing the death of the "Negro" as we once knew ourselves? 

Every day a little bit of our heritage is being tossed on the garbage heap and mocked at as some of us walk - no run -  away from our "Blackness". We think we're freeing ourselves from a life of being thought of as less-than but we're just exchanging one set of shackles for another. If the Ghetto Fabulous/Bling Bling lifestyle doesn't make us permanent paupers, the sexing of any Black man (baby daddy, abuser, married, ex-con, unemployed) with a working appendage is going to kill Black women faster than anything else. The Slave Catchers won't have anyone to rail against because there won't be anyone left who's claiming to be Black.  The Pseudo-Intellegentsia bunch won't have anyone to point fingers at and look down on. White people can't understand them anyway with all that double-speak of long-windedness. Martyrdom offers no death benefits, only death. With no Black women comes the end of our society as we know it.

I'm tired of being assaulted by images of crack pipes, dirty diapers, crying babies and hood life. That was not my existence. Or worse having to endure the complete over-compensation with bragging about fast cars, fancy champagne and all the women some really unattractive guy has slept with. I'm also tired of being simultaneously ignored and vilified, told I'm not attractive because my hair doesn't blow in the wind, etc. If you were looking for a husband would any women of substance is her right mind attach herself to an uneducated, consumerist, perpetually un(der)employed, spiritually bankrupt male? Well not if she wants to elevate herself and any future children she may have. 

I made the mistake of turning to an Urban radio station last week. There was some song on where the guy was singing about laying a woman on a table to have sex with her and videotape it. Ugh! I only wish it had been phrased that mildly. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the depravity that passes for typical Black music today but I was disgusted. I told my sister that I just don't listen to these stations anymore for a reason and she replied the music had always been raunchy but it was more cleverly disguised back then. So I had to think about that. 

I'm talking the 70's & 80's. Now I remember album covers of groups like the Ohio Players who objectified women for sure with them pouring jars of honey on themselves and whatnot but they were (usually) visibly Black women, right? {I had to go searching for it - here}. I do feel as if I'm somehow trying to justify it, but you'll find an equally cheesy photo of the band grinning for the camera! I realize virtue and perfection are not mutually exclusive anywhere, but why does the wind seem to blow in our direction constantly? As a church-going child I used to look at those album covers and declare they were "nasty men" for doing that. I never once wanted to be that woman and I was never confused that it was inappropriate. Somehow it just seems mild in comparison to today, but I suppose it could be thought of as the gateway to our total cultural destruction. It was the 90's with the rise of "gangsta" rap where things came to a head and fell apart. 

It's times like these where I don't feel "Black" because a bunch of self-hating culture killers have sprung up like weeds in the garden of Blackhood to choke the life out our glorious bloom. You know how some of us refer to "those people" and declare "that's not about me". We've watched it happen but did NOT pull those weeds out. We simply mowed over them. You know how when you shave your legs the hair seems to grow back stronger and faster? That's what has happened to African-American (Black) culture. Weeds are meant to be discarded not to be passed off as an entire culture. For it to be falsely assigned as the sole definition of African-American culture is a CRIME. It is NOT what you typically see and hear in the music, film and television being force-fed today - but it has been allowed to be and THAT needs to STOP! Look at this latest form of "entertainment", the movie Next Day Air.
When two bumbling criminals accidentally receive a package of grade-A cocaine, they think they've hit the jackpot. But when they try to cash in on their luck, it triggers a series of events that forever changes the lives of ten people.

Essence magazine actually recommends this film in the issue with the First Lady and First Grandmother! Showing Blacks in all their bottom-feeding tendencies (that anyone is capable of by the way but is somehow only perpetually showcased as a strictly Black pathology) and having that be the MAIN image shown to the entire world for the purposes of ENTERTAINMENT only maintains white supremacy. Even when it's done by other Black people! It's no coincidence certain people get record deals and certain projects get the green light. We do need to strategize better but the combo of racism/self-hate begets these "gems" of foolishness. This is applied across the board throughout all media. There is NOTHING sacred anymore. 

I say we round up all the Culture Vultures and pick them off one by one. It's what you do to traitors. I'm tired of feeling embarrassed or having to take a firm stance and fend off these constant attacks or explain things to willfully ignorant people. Well...I suppose I was wandering in the wilderness myself at some point, but guess what? I got hungry and thirsty and decided to leave. I don't care that some people are making money and they were poor and blah blah cry me a river okay?! Having a million dollars on a deserted island is useless. They've torpedoed the ship and it's sinking faster than the Titanic.  Hence the conversation on some blogs about the need for divestment and building an ark to get the heck up out of Dodge! It's why I feel so angry I got suckered into thinking American Violet was a celebration of the spirit of Black women and indirectly a tribute to the our Amazons who fought through beatings, rapes and terror to overcome. 

It was just another tool of mockery to highlight the cesspool mentality. We showcase the worst of ourselves as poo on a platter, offer that up with whipped creme and call it cuisine. It's a disgrace. It's the foolishness makes me ashamed to be Black. It's not because I hate myself. I've read enough books that were NEVER offered in school to know my ancient history of our people. We were everywhere from Europe to Asia to Africa and back. We are Medici. We are Buddha. We are Christ (I don't care what anyone says about that - nobody would have to pimp those drawings of Michelangelo's bro so hard if Jesus had actually took on the appearance of white man). We were Princesses of England. We were married to a half of a famous poetic duo (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), the Queen of Sheba and everyone in between. 

We've discussed the term "Acting Black Crew" (those that promote our worst behavior and hate being educated/speaking proper English and usually don't know ANYTHING about our common history) across a spectrum of blogs (Khadija, Evia, Sarah, Halima, Lisa - see the blog rolls in case I missed a few). If you don't even know where your people came from how can you have any pride in yourself? It's why white LGBTs and white Feminists have been able to take the language of our struggles turn it into their own Industrial Complexes and make it all about them, effectively removing us from the equation.

I was having this ongoing discussion in my Rebuttal of Gay Activism Argument post last week. See I agreed with Ms. Richardson there was a problem but I didn't like the bigotry surrounding it. I can still support the idea of marriage equality for everyone because I know other Blacks will benefit from it. I cannot support white people hijacking my culture for their benefit while denying my existence. The lack of racial and ethnic pride amongst LGBTs is the reason why they've allowed a few white men take over and speak for them while shoving them back in the closet. Out of sight out of mind! From pre-Stonewall through Civil Rights through Women's Liberation and beyond there have always been Black LGBTs of both genders and Black women fighting for equality on all fronts for ALL OF US since our ancestors survived the Boat Trip From Hell

If there was racial pride would so many Black men have abandoned Black women right after Civil Rights and their jointly created offspring? Yes, a few people falling in love with people from other races/ethnicities is a beautiful thing but when you've got more than 70% of BW unmarried (from waiting for teh menz to return and not looking elsewhere) and/or with out of wedlock children the wheels on the bus have fallen off. Not matter how you slice it, it does NOT add up to a stable, fruitful life for the collective! At this point I say stay gone and Black women should recognize their own free agency to do whatever they like in choosing a mate as well. Just don't go running away into Black Escapist Neverland. Wherever you land you've dragged yourself (and all baggage) with you and will pass onto your children.

Why does a show like African American Lives hold such weight? The concept of tracing one's genealogy and lineage should not be such a foreign concept. Of course paying $350 for a mitochondrial test isn't necessarily affordable for everyone right now but how many people have iPhones, DVD players or are planning on attending the Essence Music Festival this year? The mtDNA test will cover numerous direct descendants (mother, sister, grandmother) so why not split it amongst 5-10 people? Wait for the economy to level off and you can't tell me nobody can come up $35. Then do the paternal test.  
I was always struck by the change that (temporarily) came over Chris Rock as the light bulb clicked on for him. He's very much a prime example of a self-hating man who takes out his inferiority complex on Black women. His jokes about our FLOTUS were oh-so-funny NOT! For all of his astute political observations, the thought never occurred to him to do a complete background check of his gene pool? He's a millionaire! 

As has been pointed out many of us come from people who've survived being enslaved, through Reconstruction, through Jim Crow and through Civil Rights. So why don't we take pride in our selves and our history like other groups do? Things are worse than ever for the majority. No - I'm not talking about a few individuals like Oprah who worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity afforded her and owns her show! She was helped by numerous whites, given good advice and discerned what was useful to her and ignored the rest. So many Black people are always complaining about O and it's not about her show content. 

They're mad because she made it without them (Black men) and doesn't feel beholden to anyone (including other Blacks). We didn't "make" Oprah and we usually don't support the ventures of Black women anyway. It's not just us, though. Didn't she have to tell certain white female Hillary Clinton supporters she was FREE? Some are mad that she won't throw open her doors and say "come on in" to a larger portion of male rap artists. Why should she? Don't we see enough mayhem and destruction as it is? Go on the Tyra Banks show. She offers little criticism and no discernment whatsoever. Or have Jay Leno snicker along beside you as you publicly trash Black women. 

That's why I was resolved to address this Asher Roth situation on Twitter (where he rehashed the Imus offense and lied about it) that happened a few nights ago. No, I wasn't more outraged because a white guy had dissed us. It was because the precedent had already been signed, sealed, delivered and sent express mail. Multiple times. Some people were outraged but even within that the focus was too much on race and not on the inherent SEXISM involved and the continued degradation of Black women. 

I'm glad Oprah refuses to have the Culture Vultures take over her show. She's had Diddy and some others on numerous times but under controlled circumstances. Believe me he knows how to be charming but he's right up there with the rest of the peddling Porno/Warfare crew. Either someone's directly involved in helping the weeds grow or they're justifying why it's okay to have them our garden. I always feel a little sadder when it's a dysfunctional Black male identified Black woman but I think it comes down to the failure to learn our history and being brainwashed. Poo and whipped creme isn't creme brule you know. 

Boy, are we going to cry and knash our teeth if we let Ebony and Jet go the way of the dodo bird. Soul Train is gone. Essence was put on the auction block. Showtime at the Apollo airs when? This is why I decided to renew my subscription to Ebony. I don't always like the content or think it's always as encompassing as it needs to be, but it's for us and by us! If we won't be then who will?
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Iam Robert said...


I was reading the other day and came across several articles that implied that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States signaled a new era in America: the "post-racial society." Post racial meaning a place where all is equitable and race really doesn't matter. Have you heard? Many say there is no longer a need for Afro-centric media or even a need to celebrate African American holidays or culture.

Yet, many of my experiences, the happenings of the day, and the things you site in your post point to the contrary. For instance, did you know that there is a nation-wide shortage of ammunition in this country? Know who's buying? White Americans--because they are afraid. And, look at the things being said on conservative talk radio. So, while I applaud President Obama and his efforts to unit this country, the frank truth is we are still very divided.

While I believe our nation has made progress, we still have a long way to go. And, I don't believe making progress requires us to forget ourselves or who we worship.

As an avid reader, I believe people must constantly arm themselves with the truth of history. What's the old saying; those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Iam Robert: Welcome and thanks for joining in the conversation. I think Obama would like for us to be in a place not everyone will be able to participate in. I get why some Blacks questioned him, though I found the "not Black enough" position a bit disingenuous. It was missing a scope and precision and should apply to all Blacks. That post-racial lie is to lull some clueless people into a false sense of security.