Written by CHRISTOPHER HICKS-MARSHALL a.k.a. CHUMA
IGNORANCE! IGNORANCE! IGRNORANCE! Although this season's Kwanzaa is now in the past, the principles are meant to be practiced throughout the rest of the year. But how could this be possible when ignorance is the purveyor of some people's thought process.
My partner works at a public school as a social work intern, and he is surrounded by other black social workers and psychologists, of course holders of masters degrees and Ph.D accolades. But even with all that education, ignorance still surmounts!
Today in the presence of my partner, one of these matriculated fools had the nerve to say that Kwanzaa was stupid because it's one of those man-made things. Sadly, her colleague agreed. He watched on in awe and pissivity as one of them went on to say that she once gave someone a Kwanzaa gift as a joke, but the receiver of the gift mistook her insincere gesture seriously with great appreciation, leaving her disappointed that her joke didn't succeed. WHAT!! She took Kwanzaa as a joke! How dare she commit such mockery????
Now when he told me this story, I became livid. This lady had the nerve to say that Kwanzaa was stupid because it was man-made, even though the other holidays are as well, believe it or not. I know everyone wants to believe that Jesus was born on December 25th, marking the Christmas holiday, but this is just not true. That is a date that was created by man, and so was the holiday. But to go into the evidence of that would be a whole other article, and I just don't have the time right now.
The bottom line is this. Black folks are always willing to accept the traditions of western culture, but are never open to creating or accepting many of their own. For centuries, we have been brainwashed to promulgate western culture's values, such as many of the holidays (which are man-made). But as soon as a prominent and righteous black man decides to create one that exemplifies principles such as Unity,Self-Determination,Collective Work and Responsibility,Cooperative Economics,Purpose,Creativity, and Faith, one of us calls it stupid. But we would rather embrace Christmas which clearly promotes commercialism, greed, poor management of money, and materialism, all wrapped up and masqueraded behind the birth of Jesus. How ridiculous and shameful. WTF!!!
THE IRONIC MEDIA 'BLACK OUT' WHILE A "BLACK" MAN RUNS
America has always been a peculiar place to live for a thinking person. For instance, it purports to be a democracy, yet it was built on a particularly cruel brand of slavery, oppression and genocide. Chapter Four of its Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. Yet, women are not mentioned at all, and black people – at its inception – were deemed to be less than human. I realize that at this point in history, many view these as resolved issues, better left in the past. Even at present day, the United States is still a peculiar place to live for a thinking person. For example, currently, Barack Obama, a man with a black African father is running for president of the United States. This is occurring while the American media is still severely racist.
While a "black" Obama is running for president, African American perspectives on this issue have been all but absent from prime-time television. Logically, blacks would be increasingly intrigued by Obama's campaign, especially after his Iowa win! Yet, black voices have rarely been among the popular pundit discussions that followed. It is true that on a daily basis we can observe black news anchors delivering scripted coverage on the election. The likes of Anderson Cooper, Larry King and Dan Rather, for example, have voices NOT determined by a script. These high profile white male icons can and do articulate their spin on political issues during their own popular television shows. What black person in America can say the same? Not one.
Let's face it! Free, self-determined, unscripted speech, during prime-time television hours is not had by black people in America. Prime time is 6:00 to10:00 p.m. in Eastern and Pacific time zones and 7:00 - 11:00 p.m., in the Central and Mountain time zones. These times zones represent when television networks, such as ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN, have the most viewers. For example, Tavis Smiley's show is broadcast around or after midnight on PBS. The prime-time media and news reporting landscape where non-scripted speech can occur is still exceedingly white, and this has always been true. But the fact that Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama—a man with a black African father—has forged a viable presidential campaign makes this fact particularly ironic. Particularly to those that think.
There are no people of black/African American descent who are long-term fixtures in prime-time media with the privilege of free, impromptu expression. The last black person to literally take that license was rapper Kanye West in 2005. West was being urged by NBC to read a scripted commentary for a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser. Instead, he displayed rarely seen black male courage and blurted, "[President] George Bush doesn't care about black people!" The following day, the same 95% white panel of pundits, from CNN to all the major television affiliates, made attempts at strategically downplaying this historically unusual (and embarrassing) occurrence.
In the beginning stages of a new society, advanced programs such as social welfare were often neglected. New England was no different. They focused on the growth of the economy by stabling themselves as a legitimate nation—separate and a part of England. Consequently, social policies and social welfare reforms were neglected. As the time progressed, African Americans suffered the most due to lack of social policies, specifically those of equality. The United States is portrayed as a nation valuing democracy, freedom, and justice for all. Often, equality and justice were limited to the Anglo-Saxons. Although African Americans were free, racial oppression had manifested and caused them a variety of mental strife. They were burdened, mentally distressed, and struggled with self-identification. Throughout time, leaders emerged in the African American community who addressed their issues with the social policies or lack thereof. Two prominent figures were W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Although their platforms were very different, they focused on the same struggle. An exploration of both men and their position on certain social policies and welfare reform will reveal the development of a conscious Black America.
The social environments where Du Bois and Washington were raised impacted their ideologies. Du Bois was raised in a peaceful, reserved town in Great Barrington, Massachusetts with few blacks and minimum acts of racism (Stafford, 2005). On the other hand, Washington was raised in Virginia during the time when southern blacks suffered at the mercy of all white men (Stafford, 2005). Their contrasting social environments influenced their individual stages of growth and development from infants to adults. It influenced the way they identified problems, as well as how they determined intervention strategies. Du Bois emphasized the collaboration of economic growth and education. During the process of advancing in society, he wanted advancement without subordination. Washington also emphasized economic growth but without the cost of assimilation. He advocated accepting racial segregation in exchange of land from white southerners to build an educational institution. The two leaders often had opposing views on how to successfully emerge from the inequality, oppression, and abuse they were experiencing. Du Bois believed in order to triumph from these battles, education needed to be the primary weapon for people. On the other hand, Washington believed in a more submissive approach.
As people of color continued to experience inequality, Du Bois became proactive, using his knowledge as a resource. His goal was to establish mutual respect amongst all ethnic groups. Du Bois displayed grave concerns, as some black people experienced horrendous treatment such as lynchings and beatings in their quest for fulfillment or self-actualization. Du Bois, a scholar and an activist, believed in reading, attending and giving lectures, studying and practicing certain discipline methods, and also devoted his energy to the attainment of liberation which seemed to be unattainable by many (Stafford, 2005). Nevertheless, he was steadfast with his philosophies and true to himself to fight for a better America, not just a white America.
As a result, Du Bois attempted several intervention plans to overcome the effects of oppression, racism, and discrimination. These included movements, lectures, and writings. He often faced discouragement from whites as well as blacks. He became frustrated and weary. He could not understand the methodology of black people’s platform on taking a stand for what was “right,” more specially, the lack thereof. Although he received criticism from other leaders such as Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey, Du Bois was persistent. He continued to observe the oppression that blacks were experiencing and knew what kept his internal flame burning. Regardless of what may have come his way, he was persistent in what he felt destined to accomplish. Through Du Bois’s exposure to different countries, he was able to analyze the scandalous and inhumane behaviors demonstrated by Americans. Despite confusion and opposition, he remained vocal and became an advocate for people of color.
When my friend and co-worker, Kesha, gave me this article, I thought it was a very prevalent document to display, because I've been around black people who have debated about this issue. You read and decide if this man is really shedding the facts or a so-called "Uncle Tom," as he is accused of being.
"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, they make them." -- George Bernard Shaw
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A SOCIO-ANTHROPOLOGICAL CROSS GENRE THESIS DEALING WITH RACE, CLASS, AND GENDER
COREY delivers a defly written post entitled Audacity of Change regarding his feelings about Obama becoming our president. Check it out at his blog, I'll Keep You Posted.
December 17, 2008
QIANA MARTIN, DREAM FULFILLER
One of the most thoughtful and spiritually grounded people I know, Qiana Martin took a risk and jumped on an opportunity to go to Brazil to fulfill a dream many would be fearful to try. In these profoundly dreary economic times, quitting a job at a prestigious law firm to pursue a passion is rare and courageous. Read her story here.
December 16, 2008
MARCOS LUIS, THE ART OF GIVING
My buddy, Marcos Luis, runs an Open Mic Showcase in Alphabet City, and he's being featured in an online blog called NewYorkNightsOnline.com. He's a really special person who wants nothing but to give back to the artistic community. Check out the article here.
December 8, 2008
CLEO MANAGO, LEADING MAN
Acitivist, Cleo Manago is honored as a 2008 Leading Man in Instinct Magazine.
Odetta, the singer whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of American folk music and became an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards of Washington in quest of an end to racial discrimination, died on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 at the age of 77. Read more.