Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On Being Black...And Proud!

I was shocked! As the majority of Americans celebrated the birth of the late Martin Luther King Jr. , I was moved by how unremarkable the day has become. Not simply because we all have become more or less comfortable with recognizing January 15th as more than a prelude to African American Heritage Month, but because...I forgot. I forgot that yesterday was Martin Luther King's Birthday! In many circles, the notion of such a cultural faux pas would begin, or perhaps, even continue the preceedings to revoke my "significant brother" membership. Guilt aside, I chose today to wax nostalgic. As a Reagan-Era sophomore at Hampton Institute (now University), there was nothing more passion-inducing than the promotion of a national holiday to celebrate Dr. King's legacy. It seems overly-simplistic now, but I saw the success of this movement as essential to measuring my place (and face) in society. After all, who doesn't want to fit in, right? As such, promoting Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday was less about unanimity (?)... Is was about feeling necessary! It was about pride!

Many years, and countless responsibilities later...I forgot how necessary I felt then. And, you know what...? That's not such a bad thing! Cultural pride, like one's "blackness", in itself is not evil. It is, however, flawed. Rarely does pride elevate us to the level of dignity exhibited by Dr. King, or many of his peers. In fact...it never does. We, nevertheless, pursue the significance that we associate with pride as an end of itself, hoping that it will eventually promote equity and respect from our neighbor. Measuring ourselves with one another has always been unwise. Particularly because it falls short of what we call "authenticity" these days. It disallows clarity in seeing who we really are, and disavows any view that would appear to assault our pride...even the truth. How then do we genuinely appeal to anything that applies to "all people, at all times, and in all places" if we are constantly filtering things through the prism of "my culture...right or wrong"? I believe that to be the question that this blog will attempt to answer.

Who knows? There may be a few who might never forget what is most essential, by learning what is most necessary. What do you think?

Skully (K. David Williams)

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