An ex-girl friend once ideologically described me as “the Blackest Black man” she knew!
In hindsight, the saving grace of past activism was my goal of first class American citizenship–not outcast status, nor being “professionally angry”, as I call those practicing 1960’s Black Power approaches.
I’m not a socialist–never have been. Growing up in the 80’s meant exposure to many Marxist flavors disguised as Black nationalism, Afro-centrism and liberation theology. I never agreed with shooting cops, or redefining criminals as “political prisoners.”
Dipping Jim Crow in chocolate and subjecting White folks to our experience was another non-starter.
I never wanted pay back: my goal then and now is equal access for everyone!
Special rights only means reloaded past prejudices with changed beneficiaries.
As a former active planner/presenter/participant in more Kwanzaa and Black History Month events than I can count, their focus on our being outcasts was at odds with my desire to be American, without artificial limitations or exclusion from like minded folks elsewhere. Kwanzaa and Black History Month are milestones in our march through various stages to today: being full-fledged Americans who shouldn’t separate ourselves from like minded peers who happen to be another color.
While Whites aren’t physically barred from Kwanzaa and Black History Month observances, their content has accusatory overtones many may find offensive, especially with Kwanzaa.
What would become known as Black History Month ( Negro History Week ) was founded in 1926 during a far more conservative era in our history.
Its focus was to enlighten Blacks and Whites alike on our American contributions for two noble purposes: to undermine low community morale and contest racist claims and legislation.
For its time, it was cutting edge and served as a beacon in the national night on discrimination…both in popular culture and state sponsored.
Kwanzaa was founded in 1966, during a decidedly less conservative era in our history.
Its emphasis wasn’t on inclusion in the larger society but rather erecting a barrier that repudiated much of what became our identity as citizens forced to fight to have said citizenship recognized. Kwanzaa was also cutting edge for its time, but ran afoul of a growing Black middle class and falling barriers to broader civic participation.
In the 21st Century, Americans from my community should choose to modify these observances into inclusive ones celebrating common experiences and best practices. Our African roots and color are obvious. There’s no need for excessive harping on a self evident truth: we’re Black, but we’re also Americans facing the same reality as other Americans.
I suggested replacing Kwanzaa with Americana Week and Black History Month with American History Month, to announce our inclusion as citizens–not outcasts.
US Senator-Designate Tim Scott pioneered this Americentric (inclusive as opposed to Afrocentric) approach by not joining the Congressional Black Caucus on the grounds it was separatist.
Americana Week and American History Month recognize the obvious to all but die hard liberals: Black folks are Americans too.
Its high time we stopped snubbing fellow Americans, while hypocritically screaming racism should they do the same.
Let’s give equality a chance at long last and accept American sisters and brothers whose principles count infinitely more than pigmentation.
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