Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Million Possibilities

Did the black population give us science, as Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick – congresswoman in Michigan’s 13th district – stated at the “Millions More Movement” in DC today? I was watching it on C-SPAN this morning. However, I have to disagree with Ms. Kilpatrick. While there is no doubt that black scientists like George Washington Carver and Benjamin Banneker gave the world some amazing discoveries, I hardly think that either man is considered the “Father of Science”. I believe that title belongs to Galileo, an Italian.

I was living in DC in 1995 when the Million Man March was held on the Mall. So 10 years later, I thought I would catch the Millions More Movement for a while. Granted, I am a white guy and I admit to not understanding the plights and hardships of black people. There were a lot of things said during the parts that I watched that I did not understand or relate to. I admit it.

Certainly, the black population is not the only oppressed people; they are not the first and, sadly, they won’t be the last. But I can’t help but think that the leaders of this community have missed the boat in their guidance. I wish they would take a page from the books of other depressed groups on how to prosper from subjugation. And after watching the speakers for a few hours, I have created my Wish List for those who attended, watched, and believe in the Millions More Movement:

1) I wish this community would truly embrace their African heritage and not just talk the talk. I never hear of great pilgrimages to Africa. I never hear about groups of African Americans making the journey back to their homeland to learn what it is to be African. The Jewish community does this. Great groups of Jewish people make sojourns to Isreal. There are organizations like Hillel that are present on college and university campuses that organize Jewish students and send them to Isreal to learn what it is to “do Jewish.” To truly understand who you are and where you came from, you have to leave your town or city, indeed even your neighborhood.

2) I wish this community would rise above the white population and embrace how far they have come. The gay community did this. The pink triangle was a symbol of embarrassment and shame during World War II – gay Jewish men had to wear this symbol on every garment so that they could be immediately identified, ridiculed, beaten and killed. Years passed, and the gay community embraced the pink triangle to show how far they had come as a people. But more importantly, this symbol could no longer be used to oppress or embarrass them. It is now a symbol of pride. I wish the black community would do the same with the Confederate Flag. I wish they would embrace it to show how far they have come. And trust me on this – if the black community would do this, that flag would disappear from the back window of every pickup truck in Alabama. White supremacists would never again be able to use it as a negative symbol.

3) I wish this community would completely identify themselves so that they could truly be unionized. Some in the community call themselves African American, some say black, some say person of color, some even use the “N” word. One friend of mine refers to herself as an “Ebony Woman”. But its hard to know where you belong when so many of those with whom you identify refer to themselves by different classifications. A white guy is a white guy. A Native American is just that. A Latino is a Latino. Define who you are, and a lot of that comes from knowing who you are.

I guess time will tell if this Movement had a positive effect on the community, much like it took a few years to realize if The March 10 years ago had any effect. I hope it does. I hope people walk away from the Movement both effected and affected.

10 comments:

  1. I am not black but I have been known to be "spokesperson for black america" at times and your blog today touched a nerve.

    In your blog you have your wish list for the African American/Black community. I would like to respond point by point.

    1) Embracing "their" African heritage. First, not all black people are African. I called a woman African American one time and she said, "Uh, hello, who you talking to? I am Jamaican, there's no Africans in here." White America (and when I say white america I mean the racist institution of white america) likes to paint people with one big compartmentalizing paint brush. My best friend, who is black, feels no need to get in touch with her African roots. She has been here for generations longer than my white ass ancestors. If I don't feel the need to get in touch with my Italian roots, then why should see get in touch with her African roots.

    2) Embracing how far "they" have come. First of all, I think they are still waiting for their 40 acres and a mule they were promised. But that's just me. And I don't think the Black community would embrace the Confederate Flag even if it weren't hanging in houses by people who still despise people of color (and fags, kykes, spics, etc.) Those people own the symbol so you can't ask another minority to embrace a symbol owned by others. I think the pink triangle was utilized by our community as a symbol of what happens when people don't speak up and remain silent. Silence equals death. Now its just another merchandising item like the rainbow.

    3) Identifying themselves so that they can truly be unionized. Why? Can White America not understand the complexity of people that we need to reduce everyone to an easily identifiable label? Queer America uses a multitude of labels. A friend of mine hates the term Queer, others like Gay community, others Homosexual, etc. Let alone bears, otters, wolves, cubs and a bunch of others that I don't even understand. And if you ask a Native American if they are Native American, it has been my experience they will not say yes, they will identify themselves by the tribe to which they belong and not the overarcing umbrella of Native American. Many reject the term Native American because America is a term created by the White man when he "discovered" the land where indigenous people had been for generations. My brother in-law is not Latino, he's Hispanic and one of my best friends isn't Hispanic, she's Latina.

    All I am saying in this long winded response is that we need to embrace the plurality of America. There are so many different people that identify themselves in so many ways, who cares what the label is just embrace the person for who they are and what they bring to the table of understanding and community. We're not a melting pot in this country. It's still too segregated and not just black/white but each different group still lives in communities in which they recognize themselves and are comfortable with seeing people like themselves every day. What if we lived in communities where we saw ourselves in people that look different than we do but think similarly? Then we would really be getting to know each other at a real level. So it's not a melting pot, but more of a tossed salad. There's room for all the ingredients but let's not be so quick to label them. Just enjoy the flavor the combined ingredients make.

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  2. Thoughtful post, Dop! Whilst it could be extremely difficult for the black community to turn the Confederate flag into a symbol to show how far they have come, it is an intriguing idea!

    Hayofray's community of ideas is also intriguing! Kudos to both of you! I am not part of the community represented here but am enjoying the posts!

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  3. Hayofray - Thanks for commenting.

    1) I was referring specifically to those who identify as African American. I realize that not all dark-skinned people are African, just like not all light-skinned people are Caucasion. I am all about embracing your culture. But I think you can only go so far in embracing your culture without actually living in the culture you embrace.

    2) I disagree. The pink triangle was a symbol of hate. The Confederate Flag was not, at its inception. It only came to mean that later. The Civil War was about more than just slavery, but thats the issue that rises to the top. I feel the same way about the Swastika used by Germans. A symbol can only hurt you if you let it, and give those who hate you the power to use it against you. I say take the power away and rise above.

    3) I did not classify Latinos and Hispanics in the same context. They are different and I didnt even mention Hispanics. I recognize the difference. My wish on being cohesive was echoed almost verbatim several times by speakers at the MMM - I heard it more than once where they said they would never be as one unless they are defined as one.

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  4. >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Dop -- now you're making this blog even more interesting. And you thought my comments in some of your blogs were getting too long! I'd tread carefully on subject matter 'cause you never no what might really strike a cord at this end, or elsewhere for that matter. Hmmmmm. Hey but that's what makes this enjoyable.

    Hayofray --thanks for stepping up to the plate and responding with good solid arguments on all three points which Dop brought up. In some respects I agree with Hayofray's analogy of the Ammerican population being a "tossed" salad but I think in the end, that I do agree with Dop's (and MMM's) thoughts that we really do need to see each other as one, blacks, whites, gays, latinos, etc,etc.. A country of too many 'micro' nations, if you will , only serves to disrupt our great nation.

    Hey Dop, how about sending these last two blogs to the company you interviewed with last week. Just kidding....no pinns, darts, or needles, please!!!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Tony
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Tony

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  5. "See each other as one"? Do I assume that means American, without the hyphens? Very true that a nation of independent "pressure groups" is soon divided. At this time in our history, it dousn't seem a wise way to go.

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  6. Sadly, it was more like the "A couple thousand man march" over here in DC.

    As for "...gay Jewish men had to wear this symbol..." Any identified gay man, regardless of religion, was sent to the camps during the Third Reich, along with the mentally retarded, disabled, and many others deemed less-than-human by that rat bastard. Us Jews were just the fortunate ones to be targeted the most.

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