Leontyne’s Heights

Massive dignity even in illustration

“If you are going to think Black, think positive about it. Don’t think down on it, or think it is something in your way. And this way, when you really do want to stretch out, and express how beautiful Black is, everybody will hear you.”

Today we have to many African Americans*, especially in the public eye and especially in academia , pretending being black is some albatross on their necks white folks need to ignore or reward in order for them to succeed. Most will try to cover up those feelings of inadequacies up with false proclamations of pride. Mainly concerning some “radical” Negro telling white people off, “speaking truth to power” or some such, like a rebellious teen does to his momma. But they give away their feelings of inadequacy by showing how worried they are about the Caucasian race’s opinions . Sadly, they don’t know prospering and ascending; taking black culture to new, yet tradition rooted, heights is far more impressive than petty rebellion.  The accomplished Leontyne Price basically understood this and that’s why I decided to highlight her words at the beginning of this post.

* I use African American instead of Negro or Black on purpose.

What Am I Into?

To continue my weekly series of posts where I reserve Sunday to post some of the things I’m into.
I am actually reading two articles as I type that I find very interesting.

Tears of Sadness

Elizabeth Wright was a Black female conservative, in the Booker T. Washington or Zora Neale Hurston mold, who published Issues & Views, it started as a hard copy paper and eventually migrated to the net. Her article Keeping the Spotlight on Failure is just plain great. A real joy to read. Here is its opening:
“It is normal for members of an ethnic group to celebrate the high points in their shared history. The victories over natural and man made catastrophes are held up as proof of the specialness of their heritage. Black Americans, however, are encouraged to remain fixated on the dreariest aspects of our past. Observe the typical museum exhibition or photography display devoted to black history, and you are likely to find depictions of slaves in torment, or photos of gory lynchings or smoldering ash aftermaths of Klan raids. If, now and then, an uplifting image does slip through, it usually has been inserted only to highlight some ensuing tragedy or “injustice.” When it comes to blacks, one usually gets to see only the ruination, not the rebuilding, the deterioration, not the renewal.”

The Troops?

Down in Jamaica, the Gleaner reports that Senior Rastafarian says no to repealing Buggery Law  & We have the numbers’ – Church leaders confident enough religious Jamaicans in island to prevent change to buggery laws. I’m not sure how effective I trust Buggery Laws to be nor am I’m convinced they should exist. But it is nice to see a largely Black nation resist the dictates of the West and its desire to change everyone’s cultural and moral codes to fit theirs. Real diversity would  recognize that a different cultures and peoples value different lifestyles, among other things, they aren’t merely places to try different foods.

Of course I listened to some old school gospel today, more effective of them being , Mary Don’t You Weep by Aretha Franklin.

What Am I Reading, Listening to,Watching?

ellisonbooksIn order to get back into the swing of blogging again. I’ve decided to use Sundays as an day to post what I am into at the moment. I’ll try to avoid being redundant as I do basically the same thing every Sunday.

Most Sundays I wake up to my Sunday playlist. Mostly gospel songs and a few Gil Scott Heron tracks. Today was no different and I listened to this a few times among other songs of Mahaila’s. 

I also listened to a podcast, named What Better Place to Start than God, (here’s the text)  by African Methodist Church Reverend Ronald E. Braxton. I found the podcast extremely timely as I was looking for the motivation to start reading and improving my writing.

I have started reading Don Quixote and so far it is a good as I expected it to be.  I’m considering starting the list from Susan Bauer Wise’s The Well Educated Mind modified to fit my own interests.
This clip of Ralph Ellison‘s interview with Ishmael Reed has me really motivated to find whole thing in the morning. This found this paragraph to be very interesting.

“In an essay, I’ve termed this a form of “passing for white.” That was naughty of me, but the pervasive operation of the principle of race (or racism) in American society leads many nonblacks to confuse culture with race and thresholds with steeples, and prevents them from recognizing to what extent the American culture is Afro-American. This can be denied, but it can’t be undone because the culture has had our input since before nationhood.

It’s up to us to contribute to the broader recognition of this pluralistic fact. While others worry about racial superiority, let us be concerned with the quality of culture.”

  Winter in (black) America

Few had the insight into that peculiar experience that is the Black American experience that Gil Scott Heron had. He died recently and the social networks were abuzz with people who likely heard little of his music, and if they did, understood none of it.  Mr. Scott knew the Blues and understood Jazz, which means he knew what it meant to be Black. His music and life was almost a perfect analogy of post 1960’s Black America.

While Mr. Scott’s and my political differences make it unlikely we were looking at this from different perspectives. It is clear he also saw an intractable decline on the horizon in America especially in Black America. This “Winter” the brother speaks about features us gunning each other down without pause , I won’t ignore the improvement over the last twenty years, but our rates are still dizzying relative to other ethnicities and our 1950’s selves. We have assimilated into materialistic mainstream culture at a dizzying rates. Our “intellectuals” have certainly failed to live up to Harold Cruse’s idea that

“The special function of the Negro intellectual is a cultural one. He should take to the rostrum and assail the stultifying blight of the commercially depraved white middle-class who has poisoned the structural roots of the American people into a nation of intellectual dolts… He should tell black America how and why Negroes are trapped in this cultural degeneracy, and how it has dehumanized their essential identity, squeezed the lifeblood of their inherited cultural ingredients out of them, and then relegated them to the cultural slums.”

Instead our intellectuals have done nothing more than use the suffering of our poorest as a guilt trip  to get accepted in white institutions. With few exceptions they merely repeat and slightly refashion the liberal jargon handed down to them by old tired Marxist and other white liberals. They rarely offer anything in the way culture rebirth or self determination. 

As a tribe we have forgot all the traditions that sustained us during that long walk from chattel to “freedom”.  Our sense of community is long gone in most places, our dedication to the institution founded by our ancestors nil. We tend not to even get married, we have almost all of our kids out-of-wedlock, our dedication to our own families is even circumspect. Since “official” integration( where the middle class blacks chased white people  where ever they went)  it seems the only thing we have gained was a marginal amount of wealth, even then our wealth in relation to whites remains stagnant. Yet we are happy that we are integrated. I suppose living next to white folk and being allowed into their institutions made all these declines and the impending death to our culture and institutions worthwhile to most. Hey, at least we can feel self-important for embracing diversity.

 Undoubtedly those of us who actually care about Black communities, which are way different from “the Black Community”,  see these issues for what they are, dismal signs of a dying people and decaying culture. Can we be saved? I have no idea. But as Gil said in Winter in America  ” sister (and brother) save your soul”  if you can’t save anything else.

Fittingly the great Gil Scott Heron died, May 27, 2011 (62), in the dying former capital of Negro culture and self-determination Harlem, NY. I think the griot was telling us something.

From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain

Just like the cities staggered on the coastline
Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
‘Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America

The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain

And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save

NAACP, Desegregation and Sending the Wrong Message?

It seems the NAACP has tried to take the old civil rights fight and apply them to this era. As a Fogey I can understand an inability to let go of the past. But this is worst. The NAACP is attempting to apply the directives of the pre-1970 Civil Right fight onto today’s supposed problem with school desegregation. They do this and of course send the message that Black children do not have the ability to learn whilst sitting next to other Black children. That waking up at some ungodly hour, taking a bus out of town to sit next to white children will somehow help their child do better. It is a silly idea and ignores to true problem with in our community. The NAACP should be focusing on making sure the teachers in our schools are up to par, they need to try to influence parents to be more involved, create programs to support these children and first and foremost recognize it starts at home not with busing. They must stop promoting the idea that Black kids can’t learn simple because they are sitting with Black kids, stop placing responsibility outward.

http://www.todaysdrum.com/11482/north-carolina-faces-claims-of-resegregation/