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
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
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