What happened to, “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud?” Where is the excitement in that “Black is Beautiful?” Were those just trendy statements of a time gone past? Must we now closet those emotions, and attach the label “that was then and this is now”; or, were those the statements and emotions of a disenfranchised people who chose to express their pride and dignity profoundly?
Gone are the days when we brandished our pride as a springboard into acceptance. The acceptance was not from our oppressors as much as from ourselves. When the sentiments of the day were segregation, “whites only” and “nigger,” we fought back with high self esteem. Our self preserving fight gained us considerable power, power we used to demand civil rights, gain sufficient education and gain economic strength.
Political correctness, however, has infected our community. It has brought with it a highbred form of intimidation. Racism of the past has not diminished. Racism has instead metamorphosed from blatant attacks to a subliminal form of contention.
It is now politically incorrect to express yourself in an Afrocentric manner. Speaking with pride about your heritage is branded as having racist overtones. With the fear of being accused of being a reverse racist, it’s much better to say, “I’m not a racist,” than to say, “I’m proud to be black.”
Subliminally, we are cattled into a mindset of multicultural lifestyles. We seek out rainbows rather than familiar family covenants. Through this process of multicultural assimilation, we fail to remember that a house divided will fall.
It wasn’t a multicultural battle we were fighting when we stood together as one community expressing our pride in being black. We weren’t African Americans in search of a pleasurable way to gain stamina without hurting feelings. We made clear, direct statements in a fight for our civil rights and freedoms. We stated loudly and boldly, “I’m black and I’m proud!” There was no question of our self esteem when we brazenly stated black is beautiful!
We also sustained power in those historic years; power that has not yet faltered. As we watched the women’s rights advocates attach themselves to our cause to gain their rights, you can realize the power still has strength. The gay rights advocacy has empowered itself by tapping into our power as it akins itself to our fight for civil rights.
Unfortunately, the battle is not over. As other groups attach themselves to our cause for their own agenda, they become successful as we move backwards from our strength being drained. The power we gained from our past fight when we were very much Afrocentric, is being taped by factions who understand the power of being pride specific. Rainbows don’t possess power.
Has assimilation into a rainbow frame of mind drained us of our perspective? The saying, “those who forget the past inevitably end up repeating it,” rings so true as we find ourselves webbed into subliminal slavery today.
Capitol Hill does not legislate for rainbows. The news media doesn’t staff with rainbow representation. Advertising does not solicit in a rainbow frame of mind. These venues greatly impact our community in the way we live and think, yet there’s a great deficiency of representation.
Being Eurocentric is a way of life with the power that rules. When they watch television, they don’t have a hard time finding identity. When they commute to a movie, they don’t go with skepticism of whether they are going to be stereotyped. They go to school, get jobs, buy homes, all without giving a second thought toward their efforts.
A white woman went into space before a black man. A white woman was chosen as a vice presidential candidate before a black. The Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation are allowed conviction in the media by way of the stereotyped portrayal of black lifestyles.
“Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud,” is not a racist statement, it is clearly a bold announcement of our pride. The phrase “Black is Beautiful,” is not a trendy assertion, but a way of life. Political correctness would have us looking for rainbows while disregarding our pride.
The signs are not posted in our faces as they were a few years ago. The laws are written, yet today we still suffer from the same quandary of the ’50s. Words like “inner city” have replaced the word nigger. Educational ebbing means voided career pathing, and the lack of acclamation for our people still has the odorous stench of segregation. The lack of diversity in how we are represented in all venues continues the philosophy of white only.
Pride and power do not have to equate to violence and hostilities. Pride is being able to hold your head up high and being able to envelope your own community with love and dignity. Power is being able to question and challenge those who would deny us our rights. Are we a people of diversity, strength, fortitude and conviction, or should we assimilate and become an entity of no destination?
This article originally appeared in UPSCALE FEBRUARY 1994. Copyright 1994, 2001, Christopher D. Odom (click to read PDF)