By Hakim Abdul-Ali
I’ve been thinking about what to put out for this week’s column for a few days, and I’m now challenged as usual to get busy and do what I have to do. In many ways, it’s an endless process, one which I’ve been privileged to do for almost thirty years and counting.
But before I begin my current thoughts, I’d like to take the time to thank all the supporters and critics alike of my “As I See It” columns. You all have been the ones who I serve and respect so much over the years, even in instances where you may have disagreed with some of my views, thoughts and opinions.
So, today as l’m “Alone to My Journalistic Thoughts,” I like to say to you and to all the others who have supported and read “The Charleston Chronicle” since 1971 that I, again, on behalf of this venerable media organ, thank you, one and all. It’s important for me to say that before I continue because”The Chronicle” couldn’t have made it thus for without your loyal support.
Now, back to the issue on hand for today and the main reason why I’m writing on this topic now is due partly to a conversation I had with a Euro-American lady who reads The Chronicle on a regular basis. This lady has become a fan, if you will, of keeping abreast of what local and national Blacks are thinking and doing (sic), as she put it directly to me and, in her view, “The Chronicle” is the very best way to do that.
She was very upfront and candid in her expressions, so please don’t be offended by how I write about what she said, because it wasn’t said to me in a malicious manner, nor did I take it that way. Remember, it’s said that “information is powerful, but only if you know how to use it.” So, listen carefully.
This lady was very interested in how and why I, as a Chronicle columnist, particularly wrote the way that I do. After carefully listening to her, I told her that I was blessed to be able to share my reflective thoughts with her and others because I believe, wholeheartedly, that it was the Creator Alone, who gave me this ability to do so. Case closed.
I also told her that I owe much respect to “The Chronicle’s” legendary founder, Mr. J. John “Jim” French, Sr., who, after hearing me speak about Afro-American uplift in 1986 on Charleston’s Eastside, asked me to pen some of my thoughts from that speech for his paper. Since that time, I’ve written continuously on a weekly basis for this paper, South Carolina’s unquestioned greatest and boldest African-American newspaper.
In doing this for as long as I have, Mr. French, 91, who I consider a mentor in many ways, has always told me to speak my truth unabashedly, “As I See It.” I related this to the Euro-American female supporter of “The Chronicle,” who had inquired of my writing style and process.
Writing, as I do, takes on many nuances that reflect my insight, knowledge and opinions about life’s constant evolving spheres of existences, “As I See It.” I’ve been blessed as a religious being to articulate spiritual and topical themes that, I hope, have and will continue to inspire the world’s “colored” folk of all ethnicities to come together in waves of tolerance and respect towards and for each other.
Mr. French’s newspaper, now run by his grandsons, Tolbert Smalls, Jr. and Damion Smalls, still advocates the importance of keeping vital issues of significance to the general African-American masses first and foremost. “The Chronicle” is simply one of America’s very best weekly newspapers, and that’s due to the vision and leadership of Mr. French, and now his grandsons.
In saying what I’m telling you now, I’m actually “Alone to My Journalistic Thoughts” because I write from isolated spaces of thinking where my opinions originate. I have written and developed my articles and columns from things that matter to me, and I hope and trust that the public-in-general may gain some further clarity about what I’m sharing with them from the residues of my inner feelings, mind and soul. I want you to think.
It must be known that I’m a poet and essayist at heart and, as such, my style of telling it like it is may not be like your average writer’s or columnist’s views. I told the lady as much, and she said that that was one of the reasons why she enjoyed my articles so much, even though being a believer of another religious tradition, she didn’t necessarily agree with everything I said or thought.
That was beautiful for me to hear, and I said to her that I respected her so much for being direct in sharing her views the way she did. I told her that, I, as a Black man and she, a White lady, discussing things the way that we were and did was a potentially respectful sign that, maybe, others in this country can (and would) do the same thing.
We both continued to share opinions of what we thought could make America greater from within in spite of this nation’s tragic “his-storic” and current legacies of racial injustices and ethnic discriminations toward certain ethnic folk of non-European ethnicity. This was her read on the America as she knew it, and she wanted me to write about that in an article so, as she sincerely felt, that the Black people who read The Chronicle should and must know that all White people (sic) don’t hold anti-Black sentiments.
As I listened to this energetic lady speak about feeling ashamed by the way that Blacks have been treated by the present ruling White power structure, I sensed that she was being so real, and she was coming from a deep personal and spiritual base of understandings. I knew that I was in a special forum, not political or nationalistic, but one where a sincere heartfelt, spiritual being was speaking her truth.
This was done with a genuineness that bordered on her being proud of being who she was and also of being a proud American. Surprisingly, she, out of nowhere, said that she also understood why the Black Lives Matter Movement was so symbolic to so many Black folk in this country because of racism. Wow!
On hearing this, I said to her that what she was articulating to me at that time was, and is, what The Chronicle has been addressing since 1971 to all concerned Americans of all ethnicities about injustices, inequalities, racism and bigotry and the need for freedom for all. Again, I reminded that lady that Mr. “Jim” French’s visions and leadership in in founding his paper is something that she embraces every time she picks up “The Chronicle” newspaper.
In some strange way, this unexpected conversation and dialogue between this lady and yours truly was emblematic of what I hope the America that I hope, going forward, will become. It served for me as a sign that all “colored” Americans of all creeds, genders, religions and ethnicities, etc., will be able to talk about the issues that have divided us for the fulfillment of what we all say that the touted Constitution is supposed to ensure for all. Think!
Not withstanding the present day divisions of malingering bigoted shenanigans that will probably always be hidden in America’s political underbelly, there has to rise up among the true lovers of what America democracy is supposed to be about a resilient group of equally fair minded citizenry who will make it happen. That is what I believe was in the lady’s heart and soul, and that’s why I’m writing as I do today.
I’ve been doing this writing thing for a long, long time and the pains of the oppressed’s sufferings never seems to go away. From year to year, all I’ve heard is one false political promise after another, and while “Alone to My Journalistic Thoughts,” I’m privately disgusted and uptight by the continual synthetic words of many of our nation’s “poly tricksters” and continual racial prejudice en masse. End apartheid now.
To that end I forever will address same openly while “Alone in My Journalistic Thoughts.” To the lady, I thank you for sharing your views, and may God Alone bless you. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”