By Hakim Abdul-Ali
Greetings everyone. It’s now the assembled and festive time of the year in February where most ebony folk of color here in the USA illuminate their ethnic recognition genes by celebrating the annual Black History Month observances and activities.
For many folk like me, we recognize and celebrate it everyday of every year because this is about Black “Our-Story,” the noble remembrances of our heroes and sheroes, both past and present. It’s also an everyday cumulative sentimentality where we’re proud to be associated with who we are and where our ancestors originated.
Being a brother (brotha) of color, born in Black Harlem, New York, during the middle ‘40s, Black History Month’s celebrations have always been a focal point that has challenged me to look beyond the American shores for eternal, ancient solace in being Black and ever-so-content in being a soul brotha. It’s a very personal issue with me, so don’t expect for me to reveal all that’s inside my soul about being proud created the way that I was created by the Creator Alone.
This immense feeling of love of being who I am, by the Most High Alone’s permission, has me also feeling and knowing that the essences of Black Experience are so beautiful in all of its hues, tints and shades of adornments. Inventor Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) said, “I’m of the African race, and in the color which is natural to them of the deepest dye; and it under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Being of the universe.”
Mr. Banneker was so right on when he spoke of knowing that essence of Blackness is divinely beautiful. Some confused and ethnically disconnected folk of color may not understand that the Creator Alone never made an error when He (Alone) created who and whatever He Alone chose to create because that was the Master Alone’s plan.
I’ve written so much on or about a myriad of diverse and perplexed issues over the last three decades about the Black experiences until I don’t know where exactly I want to go this time. With your permission though, I’d like to delve in and possibly refresh your mind and heart with some serious quotes from some dynamic brothas’ and sistahs’ mindsets, while all along sharing their wisdom with you to enlighten you and others in our culture that unity and liberation are not just for other ethnicities or folk groupings.
To the contrary, unity and liberation are constant themes in my mind as I think of what’s ailing Black Americans in general and the entire somewhat disconnected global Black world in particular. So, as you read on, please remember that the awareness that all Black Lives (still) Matter is as real as real can get, more so now than ever before.
That point should never be challenged by cognizant people of color as they blend in with whatever social goings on at this present time. We, as an aware amalgam of “our-storically” proud souls, must know that, even in this semi-politically correct climate, that Black concerns and issues are on the back burners of many political folk’s agendas and concerns. Hello!
So, in my mind, heart and soul, I sense that the study of and the cultivations of real Black “Our-Story” and African consciousness only seems to falls upon a minute percentage of the folk of color who openly call or identify themselves as Black. In looking at the crass confusions going on in this nation’s and elsewhere collective Afro-centered environs, I believe that I don’t have to say anymore to a truthful, upfront student of knowledge in attempting to clarify what I mean by the previous sentence.
In essence we have to speak truthfully to others, but, more importantly, I firmly believe that we must speak truthfully to ourselves, because “only we can correct the inherent problems and issues which keep us away from being united in every shape, manner or form.” And with that being uttered, I now offer some quotes from some mindful brothas and sistahs, whose wisdom spoke (and is still speaking) truth to us all. They are:
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), wife of civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, said, “Whites are beginning to realize that the entire culture is at stake if Blacks and other minorities are not educated and included in this country’s business community.”
W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963), Afro-American historian and advance scholar, related, “Most men in the world are colored. A belief in humanity means a belief in colored men. The future world will, in all reasonable possibility, be what colored men make it.”
Maya Angelou (1928-2014). Afro-American poet and novelist, said, “I don’t believe the accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings….Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.”
Ralph Ellison (1913-1994), Afro-American literary critic and scholar, mentioned, “It is not culture which binds the people who are of partially African origin now scattered throughout the world, but an identity of passions. We share a hatred for the alienation forced upon us by Europeans during the process of colonization and empire, and we bound more by our common suffering than by our pigmentation.”
bell hooks (1952- ), professor and feminist, said, “The ethic of liberal individualism has so deeply permeated the psyches of blacks … of all classes that we have little support for a political ethnic of communalism that promotes the sharing of resources.”
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), African-American educator, orator and author, said, “A race, like an individual, lifts it’s self up by lifting others up.”
Mamie E. Till-Mobley (1921-2003), mother of Emmitt Till, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955, poignantly uttered, “Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job, I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South, I said, ‘That’s their business, not mine.’ Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me what happens when any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of all of us.”
El-Malik El-Shabazz (1925-1965), commonly known as Malcolm X, brilliant orator and human rights activist, said, “I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land—every color and class and rank—all snored in the same language.”
Maya Angelou, again, said, “While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”
That last sentiment from Sistah Maya Angelou sort of sums up my vibes for today. And, after listening to the clairvoyant words and wisdom coming from the other greats, who’ve spoken with a shared commonality in expressing the importance of being unified and proud of who you are is enough for me, I say proudly that everyday is a proud to be Black day. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”