Ain't Now, But It's Gonna Be...Black Enough for Me

Occasionally I like to respond to the comments I receive via e-mail. For some reason, these folks would rather address me personally than place a comment on the website, I really don’t understand why. An interesting comment I came across recently was in reference to my penchant for capitalizing the word “black” in regards to a race of people. This reader got her English teacher on and decided to correct my usage of “black” in describing race. I hope she didn’t expect me to reply to her e-mail…privately.
African-American, Negro, Colored, Afro-American are all given the proper respect as titles for a race of people in texts, receiving capital letters, but why not Black? How can the term most commonly used to describe these people be overlooked? Does it have something to do with our people’s resistance to identify ourselves as “Black” for some long, back when your grandparents preferred to be called “Negro” or “Colored”, when other, less cordial words weren’t being opted for.

During the height of Jesse Jackson’s popularity and influence, the term “Afro-American” gained recognition, giving way to “African-American” and all of a sudden we had a politically correct term, sanitizing Black people. That moment may have also signaled an end in the struggle for progress, because it caused many to believe our spot at the table had been solidified.

I’m not sure if people understand the pride in calling yourself Black, the history attached to the term becoming the accepted usage for this lost-found people. After “nigger”, “boy”, “girl”, “wench” and the others gave way to “Colored” and “Negro”, the mid-sixties brought a revolution of pride in defining yourself as Black and it continued on through the seventies right on up to the Reagan Era, when many of us lost our minds, our way and our culture.

We got strung out on materialism, crack and rap, saw Cliff & Claire and figured we’d made it to that Promised Land Martin Luther King Jr. got a peek of and took what we were given. Activism died and African-Americans were born; a generation of people disconnected from the horror, grief, and the beautiful struggle that led to the minute before they chose to ignore everything that came before them.

I'm Black and beautiful, Black and proud. I’m Black like James Brown and Stokley Carmichael. Black as the man Elijah Muhammad wrote his message to, Black like that month before March and those millions that marched! Black like Fred Williams up in Harlem or those gloves in Mexico City. I’m Black like Huey, Bobby and Chairman Fred. Black like Jesus…Earl the Pearl and the carpenter.