By Hakim Abdul-Ali
My rap today is based upon a need to address an issue that afflicts a lot of “hue-mans,” including Afrikan-Americans, in particular, and many other disillusioned folk of color. That issue, simply stated, is one of lacking self-acceptance and self-respect.
I’m on that topic because I came in contact with a person of color, who I thought was a very conscious dark skinned lady, but she apparently thought otherwise. I say this with the utmost of respect to this person, who clearly wasn’t proud of being who she was.
After meeting this individual, it was very evident that she was quite literally ashamed of being who she was from an ethnically Afrikan point of view. This lady told me in so many words that she was not Black or African-American and defiantly wanted nothing whatsoever to do with anything remotely being called an Afrikan.
Needless to say, this rather open disdain for her being of color and a clear descendant of the Afrikan Diaspora caught me slightly off guard because, very respectfully, this young ebony soul was beautiful in my eyesight. But, I guess and to the contrary, in her mind a she was appalled and ashamed to be Black, which who she really was.
This denial of self is what is I’m going to touch on now because it lies at the heartbeats of some other folk of color’s hatreds of self. And with newly disguised racial quotas placing the Afrikan and their descendants in an uphill battle for Euro-systematic visual acceptances, being of color can become a mental and psychological barrier to some “colored” folk accepting who they ethnically are.
It’s painful for me to have to even mention it, furthermore write about it, but the truth is the light. Some of us in Black America still immensely hate ourselves and are trying to be as non-Afrikan looking as we can in obvious displays of self-hatreds and disrespects.
These diseases and sicknesses of the psyche are adding new dimensions to the specters of denying some folks’ total self-acceptances of themselves, and it needs to stop. For God Alone’s sake, after four plus centuries of captivity, miseducation and indoctrinations, I wonder when will the confused brothas and sistahs among us ever learn that being born Black is just as beautiful as any other skin tone designation?
I hope that you’ll forgive me today, but this once thought of dead issue about being ashamed of who you are is still fertile in some lost souls’ hearts and minds. It’s definitely troubling to say this, and that takes me back to something the acclaimed writer and social activist James Baldwin once said.
Mr. Baldwin, in referring to the subject of self-acceptance, uttered, “Your crown has (already) been bought and paid for. All you have to do is put it on your head.” I wish the you lady in question would have learned something in life from “our-story” about all of the past and present noble and gallant Afrikan descendants who sacrificed so much for her to wear the mantle of Blackness today.
I would like you know that yours truly and countless millions of aware-minded folk of color know that being proud of who we are is the first step towards self-acceptance and self-respect. The young lady is seemingly caught up in a bewildering moment in time, and she doesn’t want to be anything else except as “other” in this unhinged present day and time.
Listen, whenever anyone tries to copy someone else’s ethnic personas, it’s usually at the lost of their own unique individualism and integrity. Like a psychosis of practicing ethnic buffoonery, I feel that this young lost soul, and many others like her, e.g., would rather look like “someone” else rather than display her own natural cultural and beauty standards.
Denying one’s naturally created self is a no-brainier because everyone who sees you know you’re a copycat in more ways that one. Again, it hurts to say this but the late entertainer Pearl Bailey said, “You cannot belong to anyone else until you belong to yourself.”
Ms. Bailey’s very simple statement is a profound one, in that, there’s so much intrinsic depth to it in deciphering it when one has to come to grips with in dealing with living in a continuing bigoted enterprise called hidden American apartheid. Some may want to deny it, but who would change their non-Black status to one of being classified or labeled an African-American. I’m waiting for a response?
Don’t take too long to think through in answering that because you and I both know that skin color and hidden racism lies at every nook and cranny in American society. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what was behind the young lady’s troubled self-denial and perplexed image of who she really is.
Being Black in the bald eagle’s land of the historically separate and unequal reality has always been an unquestioned burden for the descendants of Afrika. To deny even that vociferous truth is taking being “his-storically” corrupt to a higher level of uncompromising mental insanity.
No, I don’t have to it say over and over again that racism and bigotry in this potentially great nation has done much over the centuries in destroying many contradicting Black folks’ sense of pride in being of the Afrikan diaspora. Think closely about that also while remembering that the late educator Kelly Miller said,”You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. I was born with an iron hoe in my hand.”
If you need to figure that correlation out, then I politely suggest that you should stop reading any further. Being prejudiced and discriminated against from birth destroys more than just patriotic goodwill if freedom, liberation and justice are only for a certain hue of “hue-manity.”
I trust that you comprehend the analogies I’m thrusting upon your mental spheres today because if you’re of any ethnic color, you’re under siege in a bigoted society and you had better not forget that. Poet Nikki Giovanni said, “Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect and make everyone else deal with you the same way,” and there’s so much wisdom to that flow of existing, especially if you’re living Black in America and elsewhere.
I’m now drawn to the powerful intellectual thoughts of the esteemed sociologist E.Franklin Frazier who related, “I am primarily interested in the Negro’s self-respect. If the masses of Negroes can save their self-respect and remain free from hate, so much the better for their moral development.”
In interpreting what self-respect and self-acceptances are, we all are constantly challenged to be the best who are as descendants from the original Motherland of “all” creation. Be proud of your heritage. “Black is Beautiful.”
I’ll leave you with one more truth and that comes from the mind of Marcus Garvey, who said, “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you started.” Never forget this! I think you get my message. So, I’ll close for now by saying that “to each his own.” For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”