“I Too Am America”: Post-Racial Reality by Upendo

So I’ve named this post after Langston Hughes poem “I Too, Sing America” for many reasons, the most significant reason being that America still has yet to formally/properly recognize its “darker brother”. I mean yes our President is Black and yes he has paid homage to our ancestors, but after today I pose the question “Why isn’t there a Slavery Remembrance Day?” After a brief conversation with one of my young sisters at Seton Hall University about today’s 36th Annual Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service I wonder have we become complacent? As a child who has been “ghettoized” in the inner-city life I see little if any progress for our people. The system still has the same oppressive capitalist agenda that enslaved our ancestors over 400 years ago and yet we all, (Black, White, Latino, Asian, etc,) are caste in it. We are still slaves selling our labor for as little as 25 dollars an hour as a server or 7.25 at McDonalds. Don’t get me wrong get your money, (we all have to survive), but what do we own? What capital have we built other than human capital?  What about the condition of the Motherland? We are worth much more than that and have the resources to do much more. Instead, we are feed into the illusion of the celebrity life and media of all facets to pacify this burning rage to  to escape this Matrix. .

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I had the honor, (along with a fellow brother and sister),  of introducing 16 Holocaust survivors, veterans, and liberators who each lit a candle in remembrance of all those murdered during the Holocaust. Over 15 million people. Each person had a story to tell from there experience as a survivor, not a victim. It dawned on me after the ceremony that we too should have a remembrance service as children of survivors,(if not survivors ourselves), veterans, and liberators. We are constantly victimized by Eurocentric history where stories of rebels like Martin Delany, Nat Turner, and the Haiti Slave rebellion have been lost. Have we too soon forgotten those lives stolen and those that have died during the Middle Passage? Or even brothers and sisters like Harriet Tubman, Fanny Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X?

I’m still singing our song of redemption and dreaming for the day that Africa will write her own history of dignity. As Nas said our diaspora IS the final chapter; it is time we WAKE UP from the American Dream. It was never meant for everybody. Do we as a people even still have a dream or have so forgotten that “[We] are the Hope and Dream of the Slave”? (Maya Angelou) Our ancestors are probably turning in their graves; it is no wonder that the world has literally been shooken up with natural disasters. The ancestors are calling, but are we listening or is Soulja Boy too loud? We may be living in a time that is more tolerant of the so called “other” but prejudice and discrimination are still very much a reality. But, people don’t seem to respect or have concern for the history of slavery and racism. They seem to have become topics “That are not up for discussion” just as much as rape or repressed as if it never happened. Holocaust, Genocide, Slavery of any kind against any people is wrong. I empathize with all who have gone through any of these experiences and I honor every survivor of any wrongdoing because all who have survived are Strong Beautiful and Inspiring beings.

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I found Hope today for our people in a Polish woman named Luna who encouraged me to be Brave and to step out on Faith. Lord knows I have been struggling with so many fears and anxieties about the future and what it has to hold for the children. But, she believed in me today more than I believed myself to simply be who I am and to speak as I am. I didn’t have to say a word, she knew by looking at me the burden that is weighing heavy on my back. The burden to set our people free and to continue to push forward. She opened her heart and shared her story of Hope and said  to me “You have to believe you will be free no matter how hard it gets, that is key.” So right now I believe and I believe that we should remember who we are and stop hiding behind what the media sells us. We are much more than Beyonce, Jay-Z, Obama, Al Sharpton. We each are creators, musicians, fighters, and lovers rich with culture, knowledge, and wisdom. Each of us holds the POWER to redeem and emancipate ourselves. SO LET’S DO IT! Educate yourself become well versed in politics know the name of the game and observe so you can play to win and winner takes all. Someone grab a Black girl and tell her that she is Beautiful ask her to sing her song of Joy and Strength. Tell a young Black boy that he is a Warrior, a Protector, and a Lion fierce with ambition and pride for his people.

Today was a liberating experience to see people come together to host such an uplifting event of remembrance that gave Hope back to the community. We are all brothers and sisters, all one flesh and blood and we all can live in harmony together if we recognize, embrace, and accept every piece of who we are. My Beautiful Black people remember who we are as a people because if we don’t no one else will fight for us. No one is going to stand up and demand respect and dignity for every person of African decent expect ourselves. As one of three African American students in the entire auditorium and it baffled me to so few. We have to acknowledge slavery and the Native American genocide as a moment in history like the Holocaust and stop sweeping it under the rug.

We still live in genocidal conditions today and are being eradicated, yet ,we continue to buy Jordans and follow the system like Black Zombies. I’m not saying that we should all dwell on Slavery, what I am saying is that it is time we stand up and say “I Too, Sing America” because I Too Am America. We are a part of American history and it is troubling to see how programs such as Black Studies are somehow becoming extinct as if the fight for A Black Identity never existed at all. Or maybe it’s just not in style to be Afrocentric anymore. But whatever the case, if we do not demand our own dignity and pride in our heritage, is else going to? Has our ancestral past become so obsolete that we are willing to assimilate and condemn our souls to the Shadow hell of Eurocentricty? I mean hello, everything in the Political Arena has become a strategic move on the Chess board and Our Queen, (Africa), is in trouble. Yet, it seems the concept of Black politics has been whitewashed just as much as Beyonce, (no offense Bey I feel you but I dont hear you). We so solemnly question the motives of celebrities and the media and what it is being programed into our minds for us to believe. Newsflash: THE REVOLUTION IS NOT TELEVISED.

THE MESSIAH IS IN YOU. WE are MOSES.

Being that I am a fourth generation out of slavery and a first generation college student I have bore witness to the struggle of a revolutionary. I am no reactionary woman that is for sure. And for my brothers as Assata Shakur once said, “A Revolutionary woman can’t have no a Reactionary man”. So I implore you to WAKE UP! STAND UP FOR YOU RIGHT! Support one another and love one another! Stop fighting each other and UNITE! Remember who we were, who we are and who we will be after today. Because Hope is alive, but I question are we?

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Peace and Respect,

UPENDO

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2 thoughts on ““I Too Am America”: Post-Racial Reality by Upendo”

  1. I loved this. When I read the part about us being a part of American history I couldn’t help but think about the fact that slaves built the White House. Just imagine such an iconic part of history, so essential to American history that it’s printed on the back of a 20 dollar bill. However, I can’t help but think had it not been for the hands that were forced to “uplift a nation” by being the constructors of such an important estate, where would our nation be? What would our nation look to as a source of strength and order? They don’t put that in the history books though; they don’t tell the black community about that. It’s all swept under the rug. The sad thing is a lot of black people no longer seem to care about these things. A lot of us don’t want to take the time out to research about OUR history. Just imagine how powerful we could be as a people if we were to take the time out to enlighten ourselves. I ask why does it have to be an effigy, why can’t it be reality? Why do we continue to re-lock the shackles that were once there? Just why?

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  2. Kristine: I completely agree with you. The good news it is can become reality, the first step is believing. Never doubt that a small group of people can make a huge difference. We can no longer rely on institutions to teach, we ourselves have to become teachers and be willing to be lifelong students. We have to interrogate every facets of being and every motive because behind everything there is always an agenda. We have to seek the truth and see importance in ourselves. We have to stop talking the problem and start thinking about solutions so we can “Determine our Africanity” rather than allow the institutions to dictate our identity. We have to start relying on ourselves and each other as a community so that we can build and heal. The best way to go about any social change,(in my opinion), is to lead by example. Show the way, bring light to the people, and they will follow.

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