I hear us speak in hushed tones when we talk of our ancestors. Our eyes dart about, searching for any unwelcome listeners within earshot. Why? Because some of us feel shame when we think about how long we were enslaved, despair when we imagine the beatings, physically ill reliving the rapes. But the shame is not ours, don’t think it and certainly do not own it. The truth is we never stopped fighting, running, learning, plotting, growing. Us, against and entire nation. This is their legacy…our legacy.
It is that spirit which must be embraced, that strength that we must seize. For, much that I see in us today troubles me. Amid all our success, breeds an infestation that’s spreading like a nasty case of athlete’s foot. Black pride has been replaced by self hatred (wish your hair was straighter? wish your nose a little keener? skin a shade or two lighter? – yes, that’s call self-hatred). It’s manifested in the way we speak to and of each other. Our willingness to sell ourselves and our pride for a dollar is turning back centuries of progress. If you listen closely, you can almost hear our ancestors wailing. I thought I would not live to see us sold again, but it happens before our eyes and we’re doing the selling.
Our ancestors had to sneak to read books by candlelight, struggled to pass down what little remained of our traditions orally. Others risked their own lives to help pave the way to freedom for people they didn’t even know, but recognized as their brothers and sisters nonetheless.Yet in the face of all this, we cringe at the way they spoke and spurn their willingness to suffer so that the next generation could survive.
We owe them a lot…our ancestors from the motherland and those in our transplanted homes around the world. Thanks, gratitude, homage. But one thing we do not owe them is our disdain.
Outcast by Claude McKay
For the dim regions whence my fathers came
My spirit, bondaged by the body, longs.
Words felt, but never heard, my lips would frame;
My soul would sing forgotten jungle songs.
I would go back to darkness and to peace,
But the great western world holds me in fee,
And I may never hope for full release
While to its alien gods I bend my knee.
Something in me is lost, forever lost,
Some vital thing has gone out of my heart,
And I must walk the way of life a ghost
Among the sons of earth, a thing apart.
For I was born, far from my native clime,
Under the white man’s menace, out of time.
written by Ali Rookwood , April 01, 2010