Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Knowledge Of Self

I had a conversation with an older Jamaican woman last week about our kids today. She went on and on about how Jamaican kids and other immigrant children come to America and become corrupted by our young black Americans. She spoke defiantly in her Jamaican accent, "These chil'ren have no respect and they don't respect their parents! They put their hands in ya face and say, 'whatever, whatever.' I'm telling you that they are not like us Jamaican people."

Now, keep in mind that her experience in the states has been limited to the Washington, D.C. and New York. Well, I tried to give her my perspective on young black America since I grew up here and spent time living both north and south. I explained to her that while black children in/from the city are not always respectful to people outside their home, very few act that way around their parents. I know this from my own family and from teaching in predominantly black neighborhoods. The worse children will clam up when their mother or father showed up at the school.

"No! No! They do not respect their parents! They are disrespectful these chil'ren. disrespectful!" She stated. "We (Jamaicans) are a fighting people! That is why we were released from slavery earlier (1834) than blacks in the states (1865). They (Black Americans) don't know how to fight," she continued. Well, that's another post, but I began to ask this woman about black American culture and she had no knowledge of it. "I don't know anything about black Americans," she said in a dismissive tone. So, I began to speak a little on the subject and I told her about some famous black Americans including James Weldon Johnson who, along with his brother Rosamond, wrote our Negro National Anthem. She looked puzzled. "You (black Americans) have your own anthem?" I went on to tell her that we had to sing it every morning in elementary school along with the American National Anthem and "We Shall Overcome." She was surprised! I told her not to worry and that there will be more history lessons to come. So, this is for you Tricia. She ended up being a nice lady at the end of the evening. She promised to make me some curry chicken. I guess that she likes this black American.

As for the Negro National Anthem, it was not created by these great men to be divisive. They felt that it was something blacks in America needed to uplift their spirits. They also realized that the original anthem in America was not created with people of color in mind. It was said that James Weldon Johnson once came to tears when he heard an auditorium of black school kids sing this song.

P.S. Tricia, you should listen more to your countrymen, Bob Marley, whose lyrics and music didn't portray us as different but as one. He constantly sang about the connection between blacks in the Diaspora. He also spoke of our human connection with the world. So, any problem that we have is everbody's problem. Remember, "we are we."
Sources: www.semo.edu
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