The other day I had a conversation with a young woman. We grew up together in the same church. So we know each other. But we don’t know each other. She is a recent college grad, wants to pursue a Masters in Public Policy and a PhD and then probably teach on the university level. Coolness. And she is one of those let me read and learn everything about Black folk, let’s talk about Black folk & they issues, and politics and poverty and classism, quoting Pedagody of the Oppressed type people. Now, there’s nothing wrong that. As I myself have engaged in a ‘what Black people need to do now’ convo from time to time. And I be reading and shyt, so I I can "quote" too.
But as we were talking, we got on the subject of Dave Chappelle. She LOVES him. I like Dave Chappelle like the next person, but I don’t think everything he does is the hotness. And then we get on Aaron Macgruder. She LOVES him. And I read the Boondocks, watched the show, but uh, sometimes Aaron be too much for me. And then I say, “I don’t like when Black people all the time be talking that Black shit.” Ok. I know right there I sound like a crazy Black conservative who can't speak English. But stay with me.
“How so,” she asks.
“I just mean, Black folk who are mad all the time. At erythang. BET. Al Sharpton. Bob Johnson. Condoleeza Rice. Baby mamas. Bill Cosby. The white man. Fried chicken and watermelons. The racist, white, media. Some shyt ain’t changing. Al Sharpton ain’t going nowhere. You can’t stop him from talking that mess or permin his hair, so you should probably just let it go. It might make your pressure go down.”
And then she just looked at me. Curiously. Like she was trying to figure me out. Was I a bougie, educated, out of touch, Negro who wasn’t down for the cause? Mayhap. Until I mentioned that my mother was a Black Panther in Chicago. And since we’ve already established that she loves all things Black, she went crazy.
“Like for real?”
“Like she knew Fred Hampton?”
“What did she do with them?”
“Um the breakfast programs, health clinics, go to meetings. Told the men that these ho’s they were sleeping with were infiltrating the party and they needed to watch they back.”
“Did she know Angela Davis? Did she know Huey Newton? Did she carry a gun?”
“Uh… Yeah. I don’t know alladat. You may have to ask her.”
“Oh I will. Believe me. I can’t believe that about your mom. I never would have guessed.”
That’s right. You never would have guessed. Because 40 years later, my mom is a woman who has birthed two kids, had several careers, received a PhD, is prominent in the church. She’s not the typical old head revolutionary with salt and peppa locs down to her shoulders, wearing pseudo African garb, calling everyone brotha and sista, spouting conspiracy theories to anyone who will listen. But she loves her some Gil Scott Heron. And she wore her black for the Jena 6. And if the revolution came tomorrow, she’d be right up front, ready to fight and die for the cause.
Last night as I talked to my mother, because ol’ girl did grill her yesterday about her old days w/ the party. I learned that she did know Angela Davis and the Cleavers and Bobby Rush. And that she was incredibly active, more than I ever really knew. And that she told ol’ girl that the issue was that whenever the down trodden try to rise, the system is always going to fight against it. Because they make too much money off keeping the down trodden, down. And trodden. Power to the people mama. And then she said, “And I told her look at Bobby Rush. He used to fight against the system. And now he’s working in the system. Trying to do what he can. Because that was a lifetime ago. And people change.”
Yes they do. And yet some of them stays the same. My mama wasn’t a hardcore revolutionary when we were coming up, but she made her beliefs known. We didn’t go to Afrocentric schools. And we didn’t call our daddy Baba. And we didn’t find racism in everything. But we knew we were Black. And we knew what that meant in America. To other people. And we knew that while our parents had made it, we still had family members who hadn’t. Still went down South every summer as a reminder of where we came from.
And so sometimes I shake my head at some foolishness that is up for discussion – that dumb shyt that be bothering us, annoying us, frustrating us to no end, making us wanna fight. Ignoring the bigger issues and focusing on the stupid stuff. And I don’t feel the need to debate every, single, minute, thing that happens in the Black community. Or prove my downness. Or hear Cornell West, Michael Eric Dyson, n'em speak everytime they come to the city. I got my "Blackness" down. I get it from my mama.
That's my time y'all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
SO LONG, FAREWELL...
The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot