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Old Postcards
10/5/2016 4:33:34 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali 

There are times in my life when reflection serves a very dutiful, historical purpose for me in my most private of thoughts, especially when I think of the past. That's why collecting old books, paintings, sportscards, magazines, artifacts, etc. has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember.

History, if we recall it correctly, is a revolving recording of our distant yesterdays and fleeting evolving todays. I love looking at the "our-storical" living processes in that manner because it humbles me to always be a universal student of continuous learning as I look back in time with a semblance of respect and awe.

I have a vast collection of personal and valuable items that make me sit back at times and try to reckon with the unequaled achievements and the oppressed difficulties of Black and other ethnic experiences here in America. No amount of today's self-apologetic words and random diatribe from so-called politically correct pundits can "his-storically" change the effects of America's historical, racist brutal past and its bigoted, one-sided subjective supremacy legacy that has been and was systematically applied to people of color over the last four plus centuries.

I say that with references to looking in the mail for today's positive race relations message postcards from Ferguson, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, Chicago and North Charleston and, sadly, they are missing from far too, too many places in between to count. There are messages that were sent and delivered a long time ago that still harkens painfully to the horrors of yesteryears gone back.

That brings me to a transparent point in time when all the world's global ethnic "colored" folk, from everywhere, communicated with and kept in touch with each other by sending postcards to each other. As I view the historical evidence and insightful information on these cards, I remember fondly the noteworthy postcards that are in my personal collection.

They literally are something to behold. Some were sent directly to me at various locations and stations of existences in my life stretching from here to there and back, while numerous others in my collection, overwhelmingly are from other folk to other folk spanning more than a century.

These significant postcards are something to behold as they state the poignant, happy, troubled and very open thoughts of the inscribers to whomever it was that they sending the cards to. Like written fossilized inscriptions, these words say so much about the inscribers and the individuals to whom the cards were addressed to.

The postcards in my collection humble me and reveal so much to me about "hue-man" nature, even as I look at them from time-to-time, never knowing where they will take my mind in thought. When viewing these cards, they allow me to see how past life was in certain periods and to also see how people lived and thought as their inscribed commodities showcased thoughts they couldn't curtain or hide.

The intriguing vignettes on the fronts of some of them say so much about the forgotten periods of "his-story" many unaware folk today know nothing about or can even image. The all encompassing, sometimes disgusting racially negative artistic and photographic images and in-your-face blatantly racist written words on many of these items speak mystifyingly questionable inquiries to an intellectual continual student who knows what the true words research and discovery mean. "Old Postcards" reveal much.

Inclusive in my collection of postcards, I'm humbly proud to say that I have about two thousand postcards that reflect or show something positive (or negatively pictured) about Black folk in one degree or another. Some show the gracefulness and dignity of the Black experience, soulful and brilliantly bursting with ebony ethnic pride, and many others that are very (unreal) racist in content pictured on the front.

I'm an "our-storian," so I admittedly collect it all, including the good, the bad and the deplorable, because it's American "his-story" revealed in black and white, and sometimes in color, showing how things, sometimes, really were. Collecting is and has always been a turn on for me in learning about the hidden pockets of American thought and policy.

With that being a given, when viewing some of the cards in my collection, I can't help, for example, but feel an unexplained anger when I see some of the lynching of African-American cards that were sent from one part of America to another gloating over the killing of a Black men. If life mirrors art, then what is so different today as young Black men all over America today, from the West Coast to the East Coast, are many times senselessly killed and no one seems to care?

Yes, the viewing of some of these "Old Postcards" say much to me as a reflective student of the game of living in America. The messages on some of the "Old Postcards" let me know that racism was a common understanding in the mindsets of the majority of this country's non-Black folk. Is it still today?

Sad as it may appear, as I write about "Old Postcards," the thoughts that were exposed a hundred years ago, I feel still openly prevails in many not-so-clandestine political regions of America today. I wonder if some of today's "The American People," objectively, would want to, or do, trace their belief patterns back to the words, thoughts and expressions embossed on the back of some of those more than a hundred-years-old cards that are in my shoebox containers?

It is said that "his-story" has a terrible tendency to repeat itself. I don't know about that but, as I viewed some of the postcards cards in my collection, I'm somewhat of a believer in that adage.

Viewing archival "Old Postcards," as objects of casual "his-storical" research and even intense informal discovery, can provide valuable insights into America and the way it was (and still is). If this is done with sincerity and objectivity, maybe, just maybe, we all, as "The American People" citizenry of this potentially great nation, can make America great (again???) as it claims to be with justice, equality and freedom for all.

That would be a marvelous postcard and message for all of us to send to each from birth to death with the hope that equality, freedom and justice are inscriptions that say for all what its supposed to be in uniformity for every ethnic "colored" soul of this nation. For today, and always, that's, "As I See It."

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