During the sixties we used to say, “I’m Black and I’m proud,” but we never said why. I’d like to correct that.
I absolutely LOVE being Black - and I'm not just saying that because it's expected of me. While I have the ultimate respect for the unique character of every race and ethnicity, if I'm reincarnated a thousand times, I want to come back Black each and every one of them. . Being Black in America gives one an education and perspective on life that you can't get anywhere else. That's not widely recognized, because public attention is often focused on the most dysfunctional in the Black community. But contrary to popular belief, that might not be an altogether bad thing, because it allows the excellence within the Black community time to incubate, untainted by the public eye. That's what allowed Barack Obama to explode upon the world stage as a fully developed powerhouse, and there are hordes of others just like him who are currently incubating in Black cocoons in suburbs and inner cities all over America. . Another thing that's not widely recognized is that the “soul” of Black people extends far beyond music. What's commonly referred to as "soul" is actually creativity, and as any cognitive scientist will attest, creativity is a primary indicator of advanced intelligence. . Charles Darwin would call "soul" a unique adaptation to adversity, and the most insightful within the Black community recognize it as being much like a sixth sense that reaches the very depths of human understanding. When fully developed, it provides Black people with a unique grasp, empathy, and insight into the human experience. That's why it is so effective in conveying human emotion - so effective, in fact, that "soul" has been confused with emotion itself. . So Black people don't just live life, we experience it. We experience life in the exact same way that we experience music. As a result, we actually feel our environment, with the exact same passion that we feel a lonely bass struttin' through the changes of a slow and funky blues. That accounts for our swagger, but our "soul" also accounts for making us far more than swagger alone - a point we must get across to the more frivolous within our community. . You see, the very same swagger, or soul, that goes into the making of a Ray Charles, a Miles Davis, or Areatha Franklin, under another guise, is also responsible for the power and solemnity of mind of a Colin Powell, Johnnie Cochran, or Michelle and Barack Obama. Thus, the very same soul that allows Black people to excel in music, can also be directed towards physics, politics, philosophy, or engineering. The only reason it's been reflected primarily in music up until now is because music was one of the few activities that Black people were allowed to freely engage in. But the rise of Barack Obama has signaled a change in that regard. .
So this is an exciting time for Black people, because we recognize that the world is about to discover what we already know - that there is nothing in the human experience more impressive than watching the development of a Black child, who's been dragged through the pits of Hell and the brutal experience of “American Exceptionalism,” emerge on the other side as a well adjusted, uniquely eclectic, resolute, and learned product of his or her environment. . These are society's unsung heroes, and there are many more to come. They've been tested by fire, and they've prevailed. By the time they've reached thirty, they've faced down more adversity than the average American at eighty. So simply having survived America unscathed, by definition, makes them special. . So when I come into contact with the "strivers" in the Black community, I may not say it, but my heart whispers, "Thank you for your service." Because, in my heart, I know that these are the people who have been selected by nature, and circumstance, to blaze the trail of a new reality, and move America forward - and considering America's history, these young people represent the very height of irony. But as the old folks used to say, "God works in mysterious ways."
So just watching the collective journeys of these young people have inspired me to recognize that, I too, can take great pride in being the product of adversity, because the lessons of adversity have served to make Black people more, rather than less. . Simply having survived the trauma of being Black in America speaks volumes. It represents an independent source of knowledge, and an unassailable credential - a credential that none of the great institutions of higher learning can possibly provide. And we don't have to rely on sheepskin to attest to those credentials. Due to the tremendous adversity heaped upon us here in America, our beautiful black skin says it all. . So yes, I'm Black, and I'm very, very proud. I'm proud of who I am, and I also take great pride in my history - and that includes slavery and all - because that history, is what made me, me.
A Slave’s Prayer .
I was stole from Eden, an innocent soul, crossed seas and centuries, chained and cold; My mother was raped and beaten to death, my daddy was sold, and my sister is kept. So how they praise God and brag dat they free, and even sing songs about freedom, 'din look upon me? . I was chained to 'dis land, 'dis "Land of the free," by people with a God, who sho must can't see. But a change is a comin', tho I won't no mo be, but when it get here, Dear Lord,
please let my soul see.
. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: A MAN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE .
The United States of America has honored only four men in history by declaring the day of their birth a national day of celebration - Jesus Christ of Nazareth, widely accepted as the father of all mankind; President George Washington, the father of this nation; Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose forebears were brought to these shores in chains. . That says a lot about this humble Black man. In spite of the fact that Dr. King began his life burdened by the inherent disadvantages of being blessed with Black skin in a Jim Crow environment, his words, his intellect, and his deeds so inspired the heart and soul of humanity that America saw fit to set aside a day for this nation - this world - to thank God that he was allowed to walk among us. . His was a soul with such strength that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of humanity. That's not only a testament to one Black man's ability to pull himself up from the dust of his humble beginnings, it's also a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness. . When one considers that even today some are engaged in a raging controversy over the intellectual capacity of the African American people, it only further emphasizes Dr. King s stature in this society, which speaks with flawless eloquence to the boundless potential of the African American intellect. . Admitted to Morehouse College at 15 years of age and a Nobel Peace Prize winner by age 34, Dr. King rose to become one of the most honored men in this country's history. By his untimely death at age 39, it was clear that his was to be one of those rare voices that would speak to all men, for all time. Long after the bones of his detractors have turned to dust, this unassuming young man's name will continue to reverberate throughout the ages. . That was the legacy of Martin Luther King. Through his moral strength and tenacity he demonstrated to America that the Black man was much more than just a beast of burden, and through his intellect, and his ability to personify all of black America, he inspired the world to embrace his cause. Thus, the legacy of Martin Luther King - like the man himself - stands as a monument to the depth and breadth of the African American culture. . Too often we focus on the most negative aspects of the African American, while we totally ignore the great strides that are being made by the vast majority of Black people. We pay special attention to the relatively few violent, Black criminals, while we ignore the millions of Black law abiding citizens; we focus on the undereducated in the Black community, while we turn a blind eye to the hordes of African American students and professionals who are flooding our colleges and universities; we've become experts on those African Americans who are a burden on our society, while we remain blissfully ignorant of the multitude of African American doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, laborers, musicians, writers, architects, homemakers - and yes, now a president - who contribute their unique talents to making this a better world. . These are the people - the people who Martin cherished - who we truly honor in any tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King. Because as we honor Martin and Malcolm, and all of the other nameless Black heroes who have struggled, and in many cases given their lives, to move our people forward, we cannot help but honor ourselves. That is the true meaning of Martin's legacy. . Thus, in any tribute to Dr. King, we also celebrate the African American culture - a new culture, conceived in pain, delivered into turmoil, and baptized in a sea of deprivation. We celebrate a culture that is only now in the Spring of its development, yet, a culture that has managed to combine the wisdom, strength, and spirituality of its African origins, with the sophistication, knowledge, and creative intellect of its new found home. . So on this day, let us also gaze upon the mountain top - inspired by the knowledge that our reach no longer exceed our grasp. Let us dedicate our lives to leaving the world a little better than we found it. And while we take a furtive look back - let it not be in anger, but with a resolve, and a sense of pride at what we ve overcome. And during this time, let us take at least one moment to thank God that Martin, this humble and spiritual Black man, was allowed to walk among us. . And finally, let us take a moment to listen to our hearts, as they quietly murmur, free at last!--every man, woman and child. Free at last!--from the sandy beaches of California to the shores of Maine. Free At Last!--from America’s shores to the tiniest village in Zimbabwe. THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE RE FREE AT LAST!
. "AWAKEN, MY CHILD, AND BEHOLD . . . " .
I Now stand firm. My dedication to the power of knowledge is the platform upon which my podium rests. I stand firm, strong, and now free--free of anger, free of self-delusion, free of the folly of empty vanity, and free of the pernicious bane of meaningless pride without substance. . I now stand free to look upon the eyes of other men, reflecting dignity over sorrow, and accomplishment over pain; I stand with a burning passion, fueled by the very flame that forged ancestral shackles, with a deep sense of pride, and a pride that flows deep. . I now stand erect! The steel that once degraded my father, that chained him in bondage to this bitter Earth, now reinforce my character, making me more, rather than less; and the blood and sweat that once drenched his brow, and oozed from the yoke around his neck, now rage with resolve and a sense of purpose, and tremble with passion, within my burning breast. . I now stand as a new being–-neither simply African, nor simply American, but a hybrid forced to transcend the sum of my parts; no longer simply African, since being torn away from the African motherland to suffer and toil in the fields of America, and more than simply American, after being forced to be more than simply American, Just to survive within the bowels of this prosperous land. . Thus, I stand now armed—-armed with the wisdom of deprivation, the courage of my conviction, and a deep conviction of my courage; and fortified–with the confidence of a survivor, the empowerment of knowledge, and a ravishing hunger for greatness. . I now stand the product of love, struggle, and sacrifice; a witness to man's inhumanity to man, and a monument to the hopes and dreams of a million slaves. I stand embraced by my creator, as God now smiles upon my people. . Yes, I Now Stand Firm--Firm, Black, and Free.
"Thank you, Lord. I knew a change was a comin'. That boy talk wit enough schoolin' to live in town someday - if they ever let 'em. . "What?!!! . . . President!!! . . . of the United States?!!! . . . Georgia too?!!! . . . . "Oh, my God! How long I been dead?"
Eric L. Wattree
Http://wattree.blogspot.com . Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
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