The American Negro glorifies everyone else’s struggle over his or her own. I hesitate to write this in the wake of the departure of Nelson Mandela for being misunderstood as being disrespectful of such an icon, but perhaps now is the perfect time. If people have been holding their obituaries in anticipation of the immanent passing of Mandela, I can certainly stop holding my tongue and unleash a side of this story rarely spoken.
I don’t like to play the “Who’s More Oppressed?” game, but the Black American takes a back seat to no one when it comes to the holocaust and genocide perpetrated upon us. Not only were we uprooted from Africa and subjugated to centuries of the worst kind of chattel slavery that has ever existed anywhere, we faced the type of cultural and spiritual annihilation that continues to this very day. During the ’80s, Negroes in America had the nerve to be fighting for freedom of South Africans, when we were barely out of the woods and just as apartheid as our brothers and sisters in the Motherland. Because we are occasionally allowed to sip the secondhand drops that fall to the ground from the gourd of White Supremacy don’t make us any closer to liberation than our African counterparts. In fact, we have become punch-drunk from too many cups of post-Civil Rights Kool-Aid to the point that we actually believe that we’re better off now than we were pre-integration.
Word of the day: “RIPressure” – fear of being ridiculed for not making mention of the recently departed on your page.
The intent in this piece is not to throw any posthumous shade towards Mandela, but to shed light on the staggering hypocrisy surrounding his passing. People who didn’t even know who “Mandiba” was until yesterday are memorializing and memefying an image of a man — and by doing so — creating an illusion which stands in direct conflict to what made him be the celebrated figure he is. Now if his transition can inspire someone to dig a bit deeper into his mission, great, but this faux interest in cultural figures that fades when the next new fad comes along has got to stop. He wasn’t important enough for most folks to do any homework outside of a cursory acknowledgement until he died. I mean, people act like they forgot what it was to be sorrowful before the Internet. And must everyone make another’s death about them? Self-aggrandizing grief is the new bona fide bereavement.
Social media has turned folks into “Wanda” from Good Times; she might not know the deceased, but she was def gonna be the loudest one at the funeral.
Whereas I do find it important for the Black American to see itself as a part of the larger Pan-African community, it must not be at the expense of losing one’s self-identity. We must also remember that though the clutches of colonization reach far and wide, to celebrate another’s struggle over your own is to deprecate your standing in the world. There is enough room in the human spirit to feel compassion for others without throwing yourself off course.
Black Americans are more likely to support a cause for starving children in Africa than to feed the needy children right in their own neighborhoods. This is reflective of a kind of cultural shortsightedness that is particular to the American “White Privileged” Negro. Yeah, that’s right! It’s indicative of the type of mindset that American Blacks possess that romanticizes foreign causes on one hand, yet disses domestic affairs with the other.
I used to think that Blacks couldn’t be racist, but when we allow our oppressor’s narrative to become our own, we indeed take a seat at the Supremacy table.
I read a piece that said something along the lines that people will fail at their attempts to make a minstrel out of Mandela. This is true, but not for the reasons the author suggested. By the real definition of a minstrel, Mandela wouldn’t fit the bill anyway. The subject of the dramatization is not the minstrel, but those who make a parody of Mandela are the minstrels themselves. This also applies to all of the politicians who pretend to show love for Mandela now, when not so long ago they labeled him a terrorist.
But instead of worrying about that, people should devote their time living the values they espouse. That would be the best way to pay tribute to Mandela. Give yourself in service to the greater good.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of the #BAM Movement