Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dignity and Pride

(steps up onto soap box)


I love hearing black comedians talk about the "African American" issue. Or even white comedians that are 'honorary black men'. For example, Ralphie May is a big ol' white dude, but when you watch his shows, his audience is probably 3/4 black.

He did a bit once where he asked how many of the audience had ever been to Africa. One guy stood up. "Oh, well kuma lei, laka lama ma tuwei (continued tribal-sounding gibberish)." He then addressed the rest of the room, saying "The rest of you is black folk!"

When young black men talk about their heritage, their peoples' suffering, it makes me sad. If half of them really had any understanding for what that all meant, they wouldn't flash it out like a business card, like an entitlement issue.

Black Americans should be proud of their history. As a group, they suffered (and still do, on a level) great injustices at the hands of caucasian Americans. They have persevered through much, stood proud and tall, worked hard to defeat their own surroundings. Stayed faithful and true to themselves in the face of great adversity.

But if I hear another teenaged punk throw around the sob story of 'what he deserves, what white people owe him' or even mentions slavery, I am going to lose it. The history of that culture is not about riding on the coattails of your ancestors. The history of that culture is not about shirking work or entitlement. But it will become their history if young black Americans don't start taking pride in their own, personal value.

If you want to quote me the suffering of your ancestors, do so with pride. Tell me how hard they worked in the face of pain. Tell me how they sang songs to God, thanking him for each breath. Tell me how they fought for their rights, how they wouldn't stand down. Tell me that they were in jail, not because they shot someone who disrespected them, but because they refused to humiliate themselves to entertain someone. Tell me they were in the first group of Black voters ever. THAT was earned! THAT is pride! THAT is dignity!

This right here, this picture... this is nothing to be proud of.

(steps off of soap box)

1 comment:

Morgan said...

I agree, and I think this goes for everyone who thinks they can ride in on someone else's coattails (including families whose children have sullied the family name by exploiting their wealth, people who believe your race entitles you to things you yourself have not earned, and anyone who thinks that being part of a larger group means you can take what you have not built up for yourself). If you can take pride in your ancestors fighting and working for dignity, you can work for dignity. Every group of people has had to overcome oppression to get where they are. If you continue to work hard to keep up that tradition, I think you should take pride in that. If you use it as an excuse to extort money or pity or anything from others, shame on you. Respect has to be earned by the individual. Saying someone generations ago suffered and bled to give you opportunities does not entitle you to take them, but earn them. An opportunity gives you the chance to make something of yourself or earn what you have, not to demand someone else give it to you.