I HAVE BEEN THE BENEFICIARY OF GREAT WORDS SPOKEN BY GREAT MEN IN MY LIFE WHICH HELPED ME UNDERSTAND THE LEGACY OF BLACK AMERICA AND DEVELOP THE PRIDE OF WHO I AM. From my mentor Rutledge Pearson who said… “Freedom is not Free. If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.”…to A. Philip Randolph as he said to me when I was introduced to him by Mr. Pearson… “the Negro must work together and stick together” …to James Weldon Johnson’s immortal words in “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”---
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Those words have resonated with me since I memorized this Majestic Hymn as a Fourth-Grader.
Knowing who you are, and not falling victim to the false narrative that as Blacks we MUST assimilate into White American Society to “make it”, is egregious and insulting and it begs the issue about White American Racism. Yet, Blacks become whitened and many Whites expect Blacks to become whitened, which makes them comfortable. If you lose your identity as a Black person and you are not too Black, then many Whites count you as acceptable and you are given the false narrative that you have arrived.
If you are proud of your Blackness and you show your Black pride through various visible means---t-shirts and jewelry and hair and clothing fashions and conversation---then many Whites feel you are TOO Black, and you become a threat.
I will not aid anyone in the promotion of White supremacy and the subjugation of people who look like me. I will not tolerate microaggression-daily insults and dismissals-of people who look like me. This means that more likely than not, I will be killed in the commission of my most basic human right – Breathing While Black.
All my life I’ve witnessed the debate – the Black victims of real Racism trying to convince the White privileged perpetrators of real Racism, that America is in fact, STILL quite Racist. The problem is quite simple. 1) Racism is control, by Whites on Blacks, because they have numbers and can get away with it and, 2) White America’s Racist control and White America’s Racist attitude exacted on me purely based on the color of my skin. The question is, what does America intend to do about it?
The answer as I internalize it is, Nothing...Nothing at All! Some of us will keep fighting Racism and calling out White American Racism, and White America will keep saying, “What? Me Racist? I don’t have a Racist bone in my body. There is no Racism in America.” Yeah Right.
As always, The Struggle Continues.
(Augusta Savage of Green Cove Springs and Jacksonville, chose James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as her inspiration for a sculpture at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Her work would become the famed sculpture “The Harp,” in which the strings were represented by Black Americans and the soundboard was the arm and hand of God. “The Harp” was one of the most popular works of art at the World’s Fair. Sadly, it was destroyed after the Fair closed, because Augusta did not have funds to have it cast in bronze, nor to move and store the piece.)
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.