“You took my style/I’m takin’ it back” – How Ya Like Me Now-Kool Moe Dee
*The annual Black History Month program sponsored by Steppin’ Fetchin’ Sneakers was going as planned. Dr. Thomas “D. W.” Griffin, was giving his usual boring speech about how slavery wasn’t so bad, when all of a sudden a group of Black militants bum rushed the stage and started yellin’ about the ancient empires of Africa. The crowd went wild as Griffin headed for the exist , dropping his copy of The Clansman as he made his hasty retreat…
Is it just me or does Black History Month always seem like a bad movie script? There will be the usual programs about slavery and the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King. We will be bombarded by hundreds of commercials by that same Barry White sounding brotha braggin’ about how some company loves Black people. And somewhere near the end of the month , every city in America will throw some multi-cultural shindig that talks about every issue under the sun except the ones that are relevant to African Americans in 2013.
Although the question is posed every year “is Black History Month still relevant”, the question that we should be asking is whether or not Black History is controlled by Black people ? And if not , is it really Black History or a watered down, white washed version of our culture.?
Back in 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson started what was ,then, Negro History Week as a way to save the story of a great people from falling into the dark abyss of Euro-centric falsehood. However, since then, the celebration has been exploited by everything from car companies that want to sell Black people pimped out new rides to restaurants that create a soul food dollar menu every year ,complete with fried chicken, watermelon and red Kool Aid.
What is most disturbing is that many of the companies that will have “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” blastin’ out of the intercom systems during February 2013 are the same ones that dissed Black folks in the 90’s.
Although AT&T has commercials playing ‘round the clock on black networks , back in 1993, the company came under fire from African Americans when their employee magazine contained an ad which featured a picture of a monkey representing the people of Africa.
In 1994 , Denny’s Restaurant chain , which takes great pride in its diversity programs ,was sued for racial discrimination. Ironically, it was the Denny’s chain that brought out some of the old “Sambo” restaurants.
Also, the old Texaco gas stations had to shell out some major dollars in 1996 when the company’s top officials were busted for referring to their African American employees as “black jellybeans.” (among other things)
And these are the types of people who we trust to tell our story?
Under the guise of Black History, they give us just enough to keep “Black leaders “ happy and to ease white guilt. So we get the same old rehashed slavery/MLK/civil rights stories over and over again.
What happened to the great African civilizations of Ethiopia and Egypt? What about those brave warriors who fought against the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.Or how about the thousands of Black people who fought against racism before and after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?
This version of Black History is considered too controversial for the mainstream.
Although controversy may sell rap cds, it doesn’t sell cell phones. So, in most cases, telling the truth about Black History may be bad for business.
For instance, if more Black children knew about the damage done to the Africa over the scramble for gold and diamonds, maybe“bling” wouldn’t be so popular. Nor would rappers like Trinidad James singin’ about “gold all in my chain/gold all in my ring..” still have a career. Thus impacting both the jewelry and the music industry, simultaneously.
If Black kids got a strong dose of true African history during Black History Month, maybe they would start wearing dashikis and kufis instead of snapbacks and True Religion Jeans. Which would impact the clothing industry.
Also, if our youth learned about the historical origin of Black on Black violence every February, they may be less likely to pick up an assault rifle. Thus, impacting the gun industry.
So, the only ones who truly benefit from true Black history are Black people.
This is why our story must be told and it must be told by us. There must be a hostile takeover of Black History Month.
Black History is more than a way to push a product. It is the tie that binds people of African descent together. So, before we even begin to talk about “taking back Hip Hop” or” taking back our community,” we must concern ourselves with taking back our history.
Unlike during the time of our parents, we now have the technology to make it happen right at our fingertips.
The Black By Nature/Conscious By Choice campaign is on a mission to bring back Black consciousness and there is no better time to start than right now. Just as Public Enemy had as its mission to raise up 5,000 Black leaders during the late 80’s, our task today, is to raise up 5,000 intellectual warriors.
For Black History Month we are suggesting the following steps.
Instead of depending on the media to give us the truth about our history, we must use Youtube , Facebook and Twitter to start a “Black History :The Lost Episodes” series where we will post and Tweet information that has been purposely hidden from the masses of Black people.
Hip Hop must also get involved as we are asking rappers to adopt the names of our Black heroes and heroines during Black History Month. If rappers can name themselves after comic book heroes like “Johnny Blaze” and Hollywood gangsters’s like “Frank White” and “Scarface” , why can’t we have , “The King Tut of the Turntables,” “The Nat Turner of Rap”,” or “The Harriet Tubman of Hip Hop.? “
Also, we must form Afro-centric media watch groups to make sure that our history is not distorted by the media, especially during Black History Month.
So, the hostile takeover of Black History Month must happen.
Like Malcolm X would put it , we must take back our culture this year, “By any means necessary.”
We can do this the easy way or the hard way..
Or like Biggie Smalls once rapped “the fast way, ski mask way… ransom note….”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s site is No Warning Shots Fired.com. Follow on Twitter @ truthminista For more information about the Black By Nature/Conscious By Choice Campaign contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (919) 972-8305
*Black by Nature logo courtesy of Askari Graphics 2012