on Black History Month, of whine.

February is Black History Month or as I’ve come to notice: Month-We-Whine-About-Slavery. As I attend various event this month, there have been strong emphasis on black slavery and the oppression blacks have faced over the years till now; the struggle of Dr. Luther, Malcolm X, Rosy Parks, etc. Yes this are all true and I wonder is that’s all there is to it, being black?

Yes, blacks are victims of racism and in America, blacks are wondering if the election of Obama puts us in a post-racial society–isn’t there more to the rich African-American history than the recent hundred years past? What happened to the Africanism before the ‘importing’ of blacks from their origin? Slavery is only a ‘bit’ of an overall goodness that the Afro-American has to share.

I’m thinking my excitement is because of my strong African roots. In one of my college classes (African-American Folklore), one Afro-American was presenting on the customary story-telling tradition of then African slaves–she has no idea! She even said she asked her mom and she advised her to just ‘lie’ to the class on the history because she has no idea either. I’m grieved.

The lost history is why the ‘nigger’ culture has stuck and is exploited in the American culture, and the blacks think they have a culture to hold onto–sagged pants, violence, failure (yes, the culture feels its fine to be a failure), and whatever it is the negative connotations attached to blacks. Maybe it’s not for me to say after all, I’m not Afro-American, I’m African.

I’m grieved. Africans even with the recent knowledge of their heritage are now turning Afro-American, killing off their rich culture. Maybe it because we have bought the lies that the white world have sold us: blacks are subservient: white good, black bad.

I’m hoping for that day when blacks will start seeing beyond slavery. Black History Month might have been established to have Afro-Americans reminisce the badtimes they had but then, its time we celebrate our ancestral power; the African spirit that has been lying low for too long.

14 Comments

  1. Dele,
    Regarding your unique perspective on Black History Month or the Month-We-Whine-About-Slavery, you have to remember that the Africans who were brought here 300 years ago were removed from their native culture and forced into a new culture. The US post-slavery culture 100 years ago was considered a melting pot, melding many cultures and races into a new culture. I don't know if my great-grandparents were Polish or Dutch, or German, or whatever, since they had to blend in to the melting-pot culture in order to be accepted and succeed. And in the 1950's, my parents wanted to be identified as “All American” rather than the grand-children of European immigrants.

    This new idea of our US culture being more like a stew or tossed salad where each of the ingredients retains its native characteristics, is a fairly new concept and it does require those who have been here for a few generations to get in touch with their native roots. However, some do not want to look back, only forward. Maybe YOU should be teaching that class on African Folklore.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the paradigm shifts and I can't agree any less. And I should add, though the African slaves where forced into a new culture (which they had no idea how to fit in), they have over the course of these maintained there history somehow (and of course the famous “laughing barrel” comes to mind and of course the evolution of Blues).

    Something in me will be a bit wary of comparing the European immigrants, or even Asian, Latino, or any other ethnicity to black's immigration to the US–not that I'm trying to make the slavery a spotlight (or forced migration), the story might just have been different if blacks weren't “imported” into “foreign soil”. After all, there was a time when the conventional wisdom was that dark skin equals smaller brains.

    To fast forward a few years, some Africans are keen on knowing there culture, some weren't as the case is with the European immigrants considering of course the better stigma one gets being American. I wouldn't blame many who won't want to look back and discover their roots.

    Apart from the sometimes physical impossibilities (DNA tracing?), being American is conveniently satisfying (being generalistic) and for those who dare to, it opens a new world of re-discovering one's self.

    Me teaching African folklore? =) Would be a pleasure 😀

  3. i still dont understand how “blacks crying disadvantaged” is sort of justified. latinos, asian n others have been through alot too. im not really a history person but one thing that i clearly remember from world history is the treatment of chinese during the gold rush, and chinese exclusion act. wat im saying is, every race is disadvantaged one way or the other at some point in the history. many of these instances dont even become so widely known as the slavery of blacks. even the fact that the whole world knows/cares(or pretends to care) abt slavery of blacks means that they are better off than those who r oppressed n nobody knows/cares abt it.
    im not saying its wrong to go back to ur roots, but…get over slavery! chinese dont cry abt wat happened during 1800s. or atleast i dont know any chinese ppl who r always complaining abt it. u just have to move on n do wat u can NOW instead of living in the past n constantly blaming someone else. come to think of it, one of my friends from china lives here in a predominantly black neighborhood in maryland. her school is like 90% black. and guess wat she says? she told me black ppl hate white, and all others, ESPECIALLY chinese. lol i was like thats not true, i have a lot of friends who r black. she's like ” i've been in US for 7 yrs n i've seen that blacks hate everyone, n whites r on the top, then blacks, then hispanic/indian (as in ppl from india) and chinese/asian r on the lowest level.”
    im not sure y she feels that way. but it shows that everyone has their issues with how their race is treated here in the US. blacks just make it huge, while others suck it up n keep trying to make the best of wats available.

  4. Get a cup of coffee, fasten your seat-belt, this will be long.

    Let me expand on your theory of every race is oppressed. Even when the Irish *got* here, they where subject to work for the Europeans who where already here (its funny when you imagine they are even whiter than the already settled Europeans), and somehow, in there respective culture, many races *got* here (even Latinos, every race) and the blacks? They where forced here.

    I hate that slavery is being emphasized so much in the American culture (which is the thesis of this post) but let me play the Devil's advocate a bit (and maybe it'll let you see from there perspective). Slavery if I may is what the holocaust is to the Jews, despite the fact that on a 1-1 ratio the black slavery is order of magnitude a far serious issue.

    Considering that the blacks where displaced, their origins [erased] gone and again if I should say, they where for years treated equivalent to animals (all it takes to prove this is to read any European history book published before ~1920s) and at some point, slavery was abolished and the blacks have to readjust to the paradigm shift and frankly even till the present day its impossible to completely erase that fragment built over the past years (imagine generations of it being illegal for a black person to have access to basic 'right of life)–it's hard for blacks who grew up seeing their grandparent being tortured for the color of their skins to suddenly get over it.

    Let' s even assume all this happened years ago (actually I'm referring to as soon as the '70s), you and I still see today the stigma on the color 'black'. Statistics show that though though the blacks have a lesser comparative size in the population, they are over 60% of the federal prison population (a higher percent males) see http://www.gibbsmagazine.com/blacks_in_prisons.htm.

    Before you conclude that blacks have a higher propensity to commit crime; that even proves my point further–the society makes believe that minorities, especially black (and recently Latinos) are not fit for the 'white' society (all it takes is to watch the even news on any channel).

    I might sound like I'm taking it too far or biased being a black person myself, one book that even shock me on this issues are: “The Culture of Make Believe” by Derrrick Jensen, a white man in case you care to know.

  5. 🙂 it wasnt that long, and i dont drink coffee 😛
    ok so ur saying that since blacks were forced here, that gives them the right to “whine” or gives them the right to fight for “black power”. i understand the concept of “black power” cuz its true every group wants to have their own thing. but is that really equality then? the kind of equality blacks were demanding prior to desegregation? i feel its another type of segregation and blacks create it themselves n then complain that they r treated differently. its true blacks were forced here n others were not. and maybe i can never understand it because im not black. but honestly, not many (if any) blacks these days think abt THAT part. all they complain abt is the segregation, the inequality…and at the same time want to segregate themselves from whites n others because they DESERVE better. why? because of slavery, because of wat happened (to some extent still happening).
    its happening to others too. then should everyone fight for their own race n create their own little territories? no! we have to learn to work together instead of separating ourselves from the rest of the world. nobody can change the fact that blacks were forced here, just like nobody can change the facts of bubonic plague, irish potato famine, 1918 flu pandemic, AIDS, WWI, WWII, use of nuclear weapons etc. millions of ppl died, many of these deaths could have been avoided. but nothing can be done now other than learning from the past n moving on. but some blacks (certainly not all) themselves WANT to be seen as the victim n keep this trend going. and thats wat i dont agree with.

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