CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: HOW AFRICANS RECEIVE AFRICAN AMERICANS IN AFRICAN ATTIRE

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“Is it and to what degree?”


There is this unspoken relationship that is between the indigenous people of Africa and those of us who were brought over to the Americas is ongoing. There is this constant disconnect that they really don’t care for us in the states. And the converse feeling is that we tend to look at them not as fondly. But lately I have noticed more and more of the African American population wearing traditional African attire. And then the question comes up regarding is this a form a cultural appropriation. And in my opinion, it is seen as cultural appropriation because it is not the culture in which we have here in America. Culture is not necessarily being the same skin tone.

But I want to know to what degree is this cultural appropriation? And how is it received when we as African Americans wear attire from Africa. Because from my understanding, the print in the clothing of African attire tells a story. In America it looks nice to those of us who wear the clothing. Me myself, I have never worn any clothing that is synonymous with Africa. All the clothing I wear is of this country that is America. Interestingly enough, I have been asked by numerous people before ever hearing me speak am I from Africa. And my response has always been no, but I found it interesting that people would ask. But this does not qualify me to wear such attire not of America.

This topic has always been brought up about us regarding everyone else in attire we created in America. But I never stop to ever think about it as cultural appropriation when we as African Americans wear the clothing of Africa. Then again, how do Africans receive non-Black groups such as Europeans when they wear African clothing. I will admit, I have seen European men and women wearing African clothing and it always appeared odd to me. And not odd like why are they wearing it. But odd in the sense of, “Hmmm, this is different.” And that feeling has come from the notion that I know that they didn’t create it. It just looks less authentic than when a non person of color is wearing the clothes. But this also goes both ways. I don’t tend to see African Americans bothered by Africans wearing clothing we made popular in America.

And in the end, it’s not about who wears the clothing of what other culture. A lot of people are protective because people tend to run it off as their own. And then they disregard where they found this idea. And now the world credits this person for something that has been in existence for centuries, if not longer. And what it does is that it cheapens the cultures identity. And to Africans as with many other groups, they don’t look at their clothing as a mere fad, but an extension of their identity.


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I OWE IT TO YOU: WHY NEVER FORGETTING THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS IS IMPORTANT

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“For those who died, I thank you.”


As a young man born in the year 1987, I did not experience those turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement. Now my parents on the other hand saw the tail end, and there’s of course the generations prior. So as a child, I grew up going to school, eating where I wanted, and using public restrooms. Not once did I understand how I got to that point. All I knew is that when someone needed to go to the bathroom, you went. But what I didn’t know until my mother sat down and talked with me, is that it was not always like that in America. And that I should never forget why I am able to do what I do.

And she reminded of this because for the longest there were not only demographics of citizens, but an entire systematic push to keep me from having the basics of necessities. So as I went to school, I always performed well academically because she reminded me at one time how illegal it was for me to go Image result for white onlyto the schools I went to in America. Whenever I used a restroom, she not only told me, but we watched the video footage of Black men and women being attacked just for trying to consume a meal or urinate at public rest stops. So my reason for not getting into trouble is not mainly because of the enforcement of the judicial system, but more so by way of these men and women who died. There are unmarked graves of countless Black people who gave their lives, a lot of which you will never know their names.

So now as an adult, I do so much because they really didn’t have to pave that way. Still today, some of those individuals from that time period are here with us. People who were either teenagers or adults in the fight. And even at times when I see things differently than they do, I can never hate. I can never hate those who Image result for civil rights movementsacrificed so much for me. And no, these men were not the reason I got into my college of choice or landed a job I wanted. But it was because the pressure they placed that made companies even look in my direction. America didn’t want me to have those rights, and had it not been for these men and women, how long would Jim Crow have really lasted. 90 years,  100 years, 200 years; when was the appropriate time to end segregation.

We all would like to think that those types of events had to end, but why? If not for fighting for rights, whose to say? You have of course the critics, yet their voices are to a great degree irrelevant to me. A country tells you to go fight and defend your country, but when you return don’t sit at this table counter. Then you can’t Image result for al and jessesay my country, because in my country you eat where you choose. Otherwise it’s your country, and if I am the lesser, then why are you depending on a lesser to fight for what is yours. So thanks to the men and women who challenged the ideologies of what I am and what was expected of me. For it was you who reminded me before you’re Black, you’re a man, and before that you’re human. You weren’t fighting for my freedom of speech, but my freedom to exist. You did in the past, and still in the present. So despite what the critics think and feel you have my love and respect.

In the end, I dedicate this life of mine to you. Those who fought who are still alive and to those who died in the struggle: Al Sharpton, Alex Haley, Andrew Young, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Barack H. Obama, Bobby Seale, Booker T. Washington, Cornel West, Denmark Vesey, Dick Gregory, Dred Scott, Eldridge Cleaver, Elijah Muhammad, Fred Hampton, Frederick Douglass, Gabriel Prosser, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Harry Belafonte, Huey P.Image result for black historyNewton, Ida B. Wells, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, James Meredith, James Weldon Johnson, Jesse Jackson, Jim Brown, John Lewis, Kathleen Cleaver, Louis Farrakhan, Madam C. J. Walker, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Maya Angelou, Maxine Waters, Medgar Evers, Muhammad Ali, Nat Turner, Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others who were lesser known or even unknown, yet gave their lives for me. I love you, “WE” love you.


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NEWBO: IS THERE TIME FOR A CULTURE SHIFT

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“We carved one out before, why not again?”


In the 1610’s, the African American population was forced to the United States as indentured servants. Later becoming slaves, losing names, religions, birth place of origin, and overall identification. Once freed in 1865, we went from slave labor to still no so full citizens. And with limited citizenship, and no real ethnic identity, we began to carve out a face for our community. And a lot of the culture that has made up the African American community is in the music and food. But what if we decided to take it a little further. Let’s say we made a full conversion from where we are now. I named the title NEWBO, which in today’s society stands for the New Black Overclass.

When you hear the words New Black Overclass, you think of wealth and abundant resources. And how did that manage to take hold? There are many different factors that have influenced that over the years. From young Black children growing up watching the Cosby Show to the electing of America’s first Black president. We have taken what was a bad situation in the past and made the most of it today. Yet there are still so many of us that are still below the poverty level. And not only the poverty level, we make up a disproportionately higher percentage of crime in our community relative to anyone else. So with that said, we are doing better than the past in the area of success, yet lagging behind in other major areas.

And as much as I love Black culture, there is an aspect of our culture that have taken hold in recent history that has cast a dark shadow over the community. And that has to do with the crime in the community. Because of the introduction of Heroine, Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine, from the 1970’s in the 1990’s, the face of the community has changed to much. And it has become so impactful, it is rapidly becoming our culture. Yet when you look at the overall history of Black people in America, this recent violent culture is new to us. So, how about we begin to design a cultural identifier that is us. And when I say identifier I mean clothes we wear, food we eat, music, and behavioral traits.

Having an identifier shows not only togetherness, but it creates a sense of identity outside another group. Our problem as Black people is that we are too concerned and defined by another group. And for the longest, it has been the predominantly White community. So our vision for what success looks like has always been someone in position who is White. Yet when met with resistance by anyone White it boils over quicker than anyone else. Which never happens to any other group because they create their own identity. So what another really has to say becomes irrelevant because they have defined themselves for so long feelings are trivial. But if you have no name, to language, no religion, and you adopt ones culture that’s not yours, yet someone else’s, it could become a problem if not accepted into the culture.

And in the end, that’s a real problem with why there need to be a cultural identifier. Number one, you eliminate the care for what any other group thinks about you; their views are not relevant to who you are in scoiety. Number two, you begin to take pride in something that not only you created, but you’re accepted within. Which brings me to number three, the need to fit into a group. And I think this is why we as Black people cling to Hip Hop music so much. When you create something versus forced to adopt something the sentiment is different. Christianity was never a choice, names given weren’t a choice, and language wasn’t a choice. But the music we create was a pure choice. Though not liked by many, it goes on deaf ears when pushed against because the one major thing we created that we are fully included within. And if we created something impactful and global as Hip Hop, we can create a new identity of acceptance and not tolerance.


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1619: HOW FAR HAVE WE COME AS AFRICAN AMERICANS

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“What happens when identity has to be recreated?”


Two years from now will be the year 2019, which will mark the 400 year period since the first Africans were brought to America. So much between then and now has happened, and the question now remains. How far have Black people come in America and how far do we still need to go? Let’s take a look in the past for just a moment. Imagine, each person, coming from their respective tribes, with their respective cultures. Being dragged to a new land, not knowing what was in store once you got there. Trying to understand why looking out into the sea you can’t find the river banks from which you came to return back home. And now you’re in this new place for life, with people you don’t know.

Fast forward to today, where we have been for almost 400 years. But, we have really only had rights since about the early 1970’s. That means African Americans have been experiencing freedom for roughly 45 – 50 years. You america, architecture, famousmight say, how so? Well, freedom allows you to vote, which we couldn’t do until coming into the 1970’s from the 1960’s. Freedom says you can go to any school you want to attend. But in the 1970’s and even as early as the 1980’s institutions were resistant in letting Blacks attend. Freedom grants you housing wherever you want to live, which is even more recent than the right to vote. Freedom grants the privilege to marry who you want without question. Laws on books forbid interracial marriage in various states in this country. The only progressive environment that has moved with more pace has been sports and the United States Armed Forces.

But what still needs to happen. Because we have poor education in inner city communities. There is a disproportionate number of violent crimes and a breakdown of the family. What’s interesting is that this is more of a recent phenomenon. If you look into the past, two parent households were the norm in the Black community. Black people had close nit communities, crime was nearly nonexistent, and overall morale was in tack. So what does that mean, we have to back track and lose our rights again to have control over our communities. Is there some sort of trade off, “You go back to segregation and then life will change.” Or is it more simple than that?

For example, I look at Chicago, a city that is plagued with crime, and also my father’s place of birth. And he has stated that it is a mixture of heavy Whtie and Black Police Car on Roadgang recruitment and lack of establishment by the law because of politicians not doing their jobs. It has been a rogue city for quite some time and with more and more schools closing, yet children are not being placed in other districts, problems are going to really climb. Which brings me to my next question. If schools are closing and countless kids are left in these inner city areas without a school home, should we start to home school as a community? Should Black people disregard the public school system in cities like Chicago? I mean, they’re shutting them down anyways, why not.

And that is the lead in to my next question, What is in the future? America is changing more and more everyday, and if we are not prepared issues will worsen. And not really on just a racial side, but economic. In today’s society, there is still not adequate access in poor areas to a lot of opportunities. Or is it? Black people are one of the largest demographics of smart phone users. That is a tool for learning all on it’s own. Which brings me to the next phase, putting yourself in the know. Those who are willing to put themselves in the know can and will elevate no matter what their economic circumstance or ethnic background. Having that mobile device means you do now have access to a lot of opportunities.

You may say how so? Well, this is not your mother and father or grandparents generation. Google search engine and YouTube has allowed access to what was once the unknown the know. For example, I Black Samsung Tablet on Google Pagelearned to write screenplays, my books, setup my website, and build social media all through tutorials on YouTube and searching through Google. So if we are big smart phone users, then we have the access in hand. All it takes is the attempt to sit and learn. Open yourself up to the opportunities that lie ahead. So, in the end, we have to do something. Life is getting harder by the day; and not just for us, everyone. Adjusting to the major technological shifts that will happen is a must in succeeding in life. If you are not bent on learning and broadening your base, then that America dream you want will no be anywhere within your sights.


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GENERATION FRUSTRATION: WHY WE AS A YOUNG BLACK DEMOGRAPHIC CARRY SUCH ANGER

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“Where does it all come from?”


Ever see the crime rate in the inner cities throughout the country? You ever wonder where so much of this rage comes from? The frustrations comes from a multitude of issues in the community. It’s not just one thing to observe when trying to figure out why this exist. From the gun violence in the community to the rioting when the police shoot an innocent Black male. This rage comes from internal struggle as well as external struggles. But it’s not indicative of who we are as a people. The black community didn’t have these high crime rates during the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or even the 60’s. And this was a time period when we barely had rights in America. Well, what happened?

I’ll say the first issue that came about was actually a positive as well. That double edge sword was the Civil Rights Bills passed in the 1960’s. After this time period Black people had this sense of accomplishment. We felt like the work had been complete. Yet, during the Civil Rights Movement, we had our own communities. Black people had our own businesses, schools, hospitals, and social programs. That Black owned mind-frame shifted after the movement. We thought to ourselves, “Why all the Black stuff, we are free now.” Then, communities dried up as Black people left our urban environments to take solace in upper middle or upper class predominantly White neighborhoods. So money left the community, while at the same time spending was poured outward. Whereas in the past money was circulated through the community.

What happened next, coming into the 1970’s as money left, narcotics took hold. The combination of Heroine met Cocaine, led to high crime rates and bombed out buildings. Fatherless homes left Black women dependent on welfare. Which leads into my next reason for the rage. The lack of a co-parenting  situation that made the women both mother and father. Initially Black men were gone from the house for a few hours. Why, well the family needed money from the welfare system. Then hours to days, days to weeks, and then weeks to months. In no time fathers were gone, beginning to get hooked on drugs and alcohol, while women were the new leaders of the community. Now we have this pride in the woman doing it all, when in reality it takes more than just Black women to keep young Black men out of trouble.

Men and women have different skills, thought processes, and emotions. So it’s no wonder why Black women have had such a tough time raising children alone; especially connecting young Black males. So, with no help and forced to work long hours to provide for the family, more than ever the term latch key kid came into play. With her at work and no father around, young Black males turned to gangs as a means of creating bonds with each other they weren’t receiving at home. Gangs started battling for turf over other gangs which were predominantly Black, leading to an even higher crime rate than before. This time was known as the Crack Cocaine years of the 1980’s and 90’s. Which leads to the rage as well of a generation.

Drug trafficking was an issue coming from the 1960’s throughout the 70’s, but nothing was like Crack. Crack took communities deviations down to nothing. KKK were far removed from our communities, while we took over where they left off. Black women who could have been beauty pageant contestants were taken down by Crack. Hair matted on their heads, eyes blood shot red, skull caps & ripped t-shirts, bodily scares from syringe use and scratching, and diseases stemming from drug use. Women who could have been doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators, were taken down by drugs. Black males were dying and getting hit with conspiracy charges and sent to prison for decades, as well as life sentences.

Then the 1990’s came and went, leading into the 2000’s. After a few decades of mayhem, we felt through this past 90’s into the 2000’s this sense of accomplishment as well. But entertainment became bigger influences than ever. Hip Hop hit in the 90’s and early 2000’s, making these men bigger influences than the Civil Rights leaders of the past. And here is another aspect of the rage from young Black males and females. Our entertainment was now raising us, and we would base more and more off of tangibles then intangibles. Boys were more encouraged to be players and pimps than boyfriends and husbands. And Black women were prompted to chase after ballers over day-to-day working men. So now, pickings are slim because expectations became so unrealistic.

So the relationship between Black men and women was even more fragmented. Then in 2008, the United States elected its first Black president Barack H. Obama. Black people flocked to Washington D.C. from all across the country for his inauguration. That sense of accomplishment reemerged and for the past eight years, we felt success. He, a Noble Peace Prize winner, and his wife Michelle Obama was inspirational as well through her public persona. After they left the White House, people geared themselves for Hilary Clinton, the first woman. But the nation elected Donald J. Trump in the year 2016. A man who pulled no punches on how he spoke. Unapologetic and aggression was enough to make him president. And that feeling of hurt emerged from the Black community. Hate crimes rose and everything felt bleak.

And in the end, that’s the feeling of rage from the Black youth of today. We have constantly been told things are different, but don’t feel different. My millennial generation and generation Y were raised into a community of crime and poverty. We feel lied to and with a feeling of limited opportunities, the rage rises. But there is a flip side to the rage. Trump has also had an inverse effect in other ways. Consciousness among young twenty somethings have risen as well. We may be headed toward another Black Renaissance like that of 1930’s Harlem. So with all the anger and frustration, we need more and more consciousness, especially in this troubling time.

EXTERNALLY STRONG, INTERNALLY WEAK: THE EMOTIONAL UPS AND DOWNS OF BLACK WOMEN

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“Where does it all come from?”

America’s most educated demographic of people: Black women. That’s right, highly educated, very successful; but. And there is a but; what about the romance? Not romance as it pertains to are they affectionate, but what about their love life? In today’s society, Black women are in more professional positions than anytime prior. All the bells and whistles, yet when it comes to their love lives, this is the area that takes a back seat. What is about Black women that there love lives tend to lose out to their professional lives. Better yet, is it just the career alone?

You see, growing up, being raised in a household by Black women, I didn’t notice anything wrong. Me personally, I grew up not aware of any stereotype either of any kind. The women that raised me, were a pretty chilled group of women. It wasn’t until I became an adult, that I started to hear the feelings of what Black women felt. My mother and sisters were almost careful not to put too much out there for me to see, but coming into society I experienced something new. Well, not me personally, but experience in hearing and seeing how many Black women felt hurt and shut out. Where does it come from? Is it real, or is it just in their (black women) heads?

For starters, there are a lot of stereotypes that are in society describing Black women. So there is no wonder, the frustration and anger comes from a group of women. But is that all there is? So many Black women as I said earlier are very successful. But is success always the replacement for happiness? From the outside things look perfectly fine, but what about internally? How do Black women really feel internally?  To me, when I walk up the street, life seems fine from my point of view. But is there really a problem. Now, I don’t want to make Black women appear to be victims, but there is a problem at times.

Then, what is the solution? Black women hold hurt, but don’t want to be seen as victims. They are successful, but don’t feel success should get in the way of relationships. They feel angry sometimes, yet, don’t want to be looked at as mean or angry. And they love independence, but can’t find love. Yet don’t want to be seen as needy. It sounds all over the place and at times it is. When the object of affection in America is always publicized as White women in media, sports, entertainment, publications; then a feeling of being left out sets in. What is the overall solution? I myself have to admit that I don’t know because it is such a personal situation to deal with in life. But whatever or wherever the change comes from, it must change because it can only hurt Black women in the end.

EXODUS RELOADED: WILL THERE EVER COME A TIME WHERE BLACKS WILL HAVE TO LEAVE?

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“Could it happen again?”

11% of America, this is the percent to which the African American population is made up of in this country. Now I make this statement, especially with everything that has been going on over the past few years. Will there ever come a day when we will have to leave this country and find land elsewhere? And what I mean by everything that has been going on, I’m talking about the topic of racism. Is it still an issue or not? And if it is, then you’re talking 400 years in the making since the original Africans were brought here as indentured servants. But if we do leave, where do we go? Every stretch of land is controlled globally.

What brought me to write about this topic, is that the Black experience in America is quite unique. And the context to which I am using unique is not necessarily good. Why is it unique because we are the only ethnic group with no connection to anything: language, religion, country, and government. Well everyone says this is your country. But it seems at every turn there is a constant reminder that you don’t belong. So where do you belong if not here? I mean, it’s easy to say Africa, but where? We in America are the only group without a country of origin.

People whose family came from Ellis Island (Polish, Italians, Jews, Greeks, Irish, Sicilians, etc.) have a country of origin, Mexicans, Middle Eastern, East Asian, but where do I turn. You see, when I was a small child, I would often contemplate taking my knowledge and going to aid some African country. Growing up in school I had always been academically sound, and thought, “Wow, my intellectual capital could be used in a poor African country.” Then I thought to myself, what about America. Even though you grow up with the idea that it’s possible, you really don’t think it is possible to become successful until you’re there; and even question once you’re there. There is the feeling that eventually you will get to a point where if you’re too successful you have to be brought down. Sometimes Black people will even sabotage our own successful before it can be taken from us.

In addition, I often thought, let’s assume I did leave America, how would I be received? Would I show up and people become more enraged that I am there, or would people be gracious to have someone willing to build their country? Even in this questioning I said build, “their” country. Emphasis on the word, “their”. Walking this planet as me, is like a nomadic individual looking for a home. Even when I look at the American flag, I don’t feel hate or dislike, rather I don’t associate Black people with it. I see White men and women. If you asked me what does an American look like, I would say White men and women.

This is not my opinion of what I think America is, but rather a feeling. I just don’t think America was meant for us. People may project that as hate, but I don’t hate. Now what do I do moving forward. There are a few options: stay in the country and continue to question, leave the country and go where, or stay and get lost within the future of America. Because by the year 2050, America will most likely be a Spanish speaking country. Now the plot thickens because not only are we lost in a country, but the language barrier will cause further confrontation. Because then again, this is the native land of the people speaking the language.

So I ask, will there ever be another Exodus of people. If so, will it be us (Black people) or where will we go? Our connection across the ocean has been lost in time and no where else would be as open. And if they are open, could we really call that place home. And will it only be a continuation of America? Or there is another option, purchase land on some island land mass and restart fresh. We are roughly $3 trillion of American spending, so it is possible to start our own country. Could we potentially buy our way out, or maybe that would be a reparation. America’s reparation to Black people is that we will sell you an island not charted by anyone. It’s yours to now build your future. That’s how Liberia was formed, from free Black people after slavery.

All of this sounds crazy to the average person in the world. That’s because the average person has some sort of connection to something. Growing up in school I always was one of the only Black students. And watching my White classmates, it’s almost like they just knew this was there country. Their pride made it easier for them to come into the world with confidence. I am almost 30 years of age and still trying to figure out how to fit into an environment where everything you do seems to be turned into a fault on some level. In the end, I often contemplate what my life will bring. But most of all, us as a group. Something tells me it’s not going to look good in the future. I just have a gut feeling and some may call it paranoia, but it’s my gut feeling. Throughout history man has always had to find uncharted land, so over the next 100 years I wonder what will come of us.