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Aren’t You Proud To Be Black?
Published January 7th, 2007 africa , black history , african americans , black america
Aren’t You Proud To Be Black?
By James Clingman
You know, sometimes it pays to take a little time to reflect on just who we are. From time to time, we should think about our relatives, and our people in general, and reflect on the contributions they have made to this world and, most especially, to this country. We should take time out to give ourselves credit for being, as Ed Robinson, author of Journey of the Songhai People, calls us, “The fittest of the fittest of the fittest” Black people on the face of the earth. Don’t you think we deserve kudos for not only surviving but thriving in this land we call America? I do. So, let’s begin.
If you had the privilege of knowing your grand and great grand parents, you were probably witness to some of their amazing talents and abilities. You also had access to their knowledge and wisdom, although many of us didn’t learn from it. We saw our relatives build houses without architectural drawings, cure diseases without doctors and prescriptions, stop bleeding with cobwebs, raise enough food for their families and two or three others, cure meat in a smokehouse, dig wells, and draw poison out of cut with a piece of fatback.
Our relatives could make a meal out what we thought was nothing; they could sew up the holes in our socks, patch our jeans, and put cardboard in our shoes to make them last just a little while longer. They could deliver babies, as my great-grandmother did for the birth of my brother and me. They helped one another with whatever they had and it was dinner time at all the neighbors’ houses anytime we wanted to stop by.
Hambone and castor oil: Remember the hambone, checkers, homemade ice cream you had to churn, a pot of beans and some cornbread all week long, and that nasty, greasy, slimy, castor oil? How about having to take cod liver oil every morning, and cold oil and sugar, goose grease, rock candy and whiskey, and that stinking little bag some of us had to wear around our necks when we were sick? Our relatives knew their stuff, didn’t they?
The music they made was unbelievable. Their voices and their mastery of musical instruments, even without the benefit of formal training, was something to behold. Our folks were some piano-playin’, guitar-pluckin’, drum-beatin’, horn-blowin’, high-steppin’, sangin’ brothers and sisters – and they still are. Doesn’t that make you proud?
And then there were the economic collectives they established to help take care of burials and other critical issues. Our people knew they had to pool their resources and they knew they had to take care of themselves. Maybe that’s why they knew how to do so many things with their hands. As I look back at my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, I am amazed at what they did during what were pretty rough times, at least socially.
Amassing wealth: They established their own business enclaves all over this country, places like Greenwood in Tulsa and Hayti in Durham, N.C. They amassed wealth beyond imagination and, comparatively speaking, far beyond what most of us have today. Prohibited from participating in the general marketplace and without the government subsidies handed out to White-owned corporations, they started businesses and eventually created A.G. Gaston Enterprises, S.B. Fuller Company, Madame C.J. Walker’s hair products, Johnson Publishing Company, and Motown Records. What strength and determination they had.
Aren’t you proud of who you are, where you came from, and what your relatives did to make sure you had food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head? We should celebrate our Blackness and always cherish our culture. As Claud Anderson teaches, we should be proud to be Black because we were placed here first—in a perfect place, on land that contained every vital mineral and natural resource necessary for growth and prosperity, and given enough wisdom to share with the world and bring others out of the darkness into the light of knowledge. We are special people.
So with all of that going for us, why wouldn’t we be proud of who we are? A lack of pride and love for ourselves would be an affront to the universe. “I don’t like what you did. Yes, you made me first, you made me special, you gave me wisdom, you gave me the richest land on earth and you made me the strongest amongst men—but you also made me Black, and I don’t want to be Black. It’s too hard being Black; it’s too stressful being Black. And if you want to know the real truth, I am ashamed of being Black.”
Can you imagine some of our people thinking that way? I know we have been through a lot in this country and the struggle continues, as they say, but truth can never be destroyed; hold on to it. We are still here, still standing after all the blood, sweat, and tears of our people. Black people have persevered, and we will continue to do so.
Take a moment to give some credit to your people, those who survived so you could be here today, “the fittest of the fittest.” Give honor to those who have passed on and be proud of what they did. Be proud of whom you are and the legacy you are obligated to uphold. Understand that you, too, must pass on a legacy, and that will only happen if you love yourself and your people, if you value your history, and if you take pride in the greatness of Black people.
James E. Clingman, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati’s African-American Studies department, is former editor of the Cincinnati Herald Newspaper and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce.
1 Response to “Aren’t You Proud To Be Black?”
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1 Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
Jan 8th, 2007 at 10:15 am
This is a wonderful testimony!Black is what God made us so let us all be proud of who God made us.
Sister Yeye Akilimali Funua Olad