Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Multiple Black (Male) Ideologies



Many (male) African-American leaders have risen throughout the years with their own "school of thought" on how to best improve the life of the “negro.” Each had their own particular viewpoint and/or drew upon the ideologies of each other. They managed to gain large followings in their own rights (which, if you ask me, show how desperate the black community was/is for “guidance”). The most prominent of these men were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. It is not possible to talk about all of these great men unless I plan on writing an entire book; instead, I will focus on several of these leaders whose ideologies I find quite interesting (but may not actually agree with): Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X.

Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915). Washington was born in Virginia to an enslaved mother and an unidentified white father (a plantation owner perhaps?). He received public attention after he spoke at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. Washington’s speech, known as the Atlanta Address of 1895 or Atlanta Compromise, was inherently a public agreement that blacks would submit to white supremacy in exchange for basic education. If I were a white racist during that time I would love that agreement as well. Give the niggers a little money to get a bit of education (vocational only, of course) and they agree not to disturb the status quo by fighting for their equal rights? Score!

Pluralism in the Black Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois was one uppity Negro.

- An old professor
What does it mean to be of African descent or a descendent of the African diaspora living in the Americas? Is the term African American negating pluralism? Are we as a people going to maintain our traditions while assimilating into this American culture? Or have we so interwoven into the history of the culture that it is as much our culture as anyone else’s? Furthermore given that there have been dual (And quite possibly more than dual) ideologies about what it means to be of African descent in America, which one is right? Which one is relevant?

 

The debate of Malcolm vs. Martin Luther King Jr. was one that was always heated within the academic walls of HBCUs. What the debate always boiled down to was the coexistence argument/ fight to be seen as equal vs. the separatist/ fight to be seen as equal and or superior argument. What few failed to realize is that prior to Malcolm vs. Martin Luther King Jr. this spanned back to Dubois vs. Booker T. Washington. The real question, however, is did anything actually sink in within the souls of Black folk when it comes to consciousness from any of these brothers? Furthermore, where are the mentions of ideas from sisters like Ella Baker and Angela Davis? Were there contributions not equally important? Were these streams of Black consciousness sexist in nature? (Well hell yeah they were) With all these questions it’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly where to begin in this debate or acknowledgement of ideologies. I’ll focus on those of Ella Baker and those of Angela Davis to throw everybody off. Both of them are my (S)heroes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Subtle Influence of the Media


Have you ever gone shopping for a certain product and you end up buying the product whose commercial was the last one you saw while walking out the house? The commercial was probably funny. Perhaps it convinced you that a certain brand was the best amongst others. Realistically, the generic brand would work just as well, but you are convinced that the name-brand is a better. This is how the world of media (television, radio, magazines, newspapers, internet) affects us subconsciously. We would all like to believe that the media has no effect on us (while sporting $600 Louboutin shoes), but they do. You think you developed your political views on your own. Your views are likely the work of CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News (Dear Lord Baby Jesus!). Whether it is television, radio, print or internet publications, someone is attempting to shape our thoughts, ideas, and the way we view the world. Sometimes the outcomes are positive and other times they are negative.

K.I.S.S.

You know what K.I.S.S. stands for? Keep it simple so they can stay stupid.  
- Dr. Cheryl Hardison Dayton

I recall my mentor writing the acronym K.I.S.S. on a chalkboard as I sat in my Women in History course. She explained to us how our distractions as college students with all things media was keeping us dumbed down. How we’d been so preoccupied with whatever the hell it meant to be Black in college that we were fitting into every negative stereotype that had been set before us. I had no idea that her words would have such a lasting impression on me, or that she wouldn’t be around to reiterate them much longer.

I consider myself one of the last generations of individuals who use to play outside or spent more time outside than in doors. In my generation, we had latch key kids, and all that jazz. However, we still had more important things to do and more adventures to take part in than sitting in front of the television nonstop. What can be said now for a generation of children who have seemingly everything and yet are so desensitized and completely dependent upon media? From social networks to that dastardly FOX news station. Is there any hope for them?