Friday, July 26, 2013
When We Were Negro
There was a time not so long ago when we were called Negro a category distinction that came with good and bad aspects of living during that era. The bad; it was a distinction by law that made people of African descent second class citizens and we were a people subjected to the wretchedness of unequal treatment by law.
The good; in most cases our communities were united, supportive, and quite frankly the envy of all other races and cultures. We respected each other in ways that have disappeared today.
This term “Negro” is a Spanish term that means Black but no Spanish culture uses it to describe people of color. The term lost its distinction during the 1960s when the terms to describe those of African descent evolved to Black and now almost universally as African American – instead of human. Now, the word “Negro” (publications used a lower case “n”) has almost become pejorative.
I began to pounder this thought when I received a comment from someone of the other hue who used the usual “dog Whittles”, i.e., “We want to take my country back”. It’s really kinda funny because I can imagine the Native America people making this kind of remark but I digress!
This comment got me thinking! When we were called “Negro” in the 1950s, “only 9 percent of black families with children were headed by a single parent,” according to “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies” by Kay Hymowitz. “Black children had a 52 percent chance of living with both their biological parents until age 17. In 1959, “only 2 percent of black children were reared in households in which the mother never married.” When we were Negroes our culture was the envy of all other race with respect to statistics such as this.
By contrast today, now that we’re called African-Americans, according to Hymowitz, those odds of living with both parents had “dwindled to a mere 6 percent” by the mid-1980s. More shocking there are statistics that reflect more than 70 percent of the births in the African American community are to single mothers. Not to mention the infant mortality rates that are in the top percentile of all other races, as well as being at the top of every category that is harmful to our survival.
Let me make a few points here; when we were Negroes; we had names like Joshua, Aaron, Paul, Esther, Melba, Cynthia and Ida. Now that we are African Americans, our names are bastardized versions of alcohol from Chivas to Tequila to C(S)hardonney. When we were called “Negro” and still fighting in many parts of the country for basic human rights like the right to vote, we couldn’t wait for the polls to open. We knew friends, family and acquaintances had died getting us the right to vote. Dogs and fire hoses were used to keep us away, yet still we came. By contrast most African-Americans didn’t show up to vote until the election of 2008.
When we were “Negro”, according to the Trust For America’s Health’s “F as in Fat,” report, “only four states had diabetes rates above 6 percent. … The hypertension rates in 37 states about 20 years ago were more than 20 percent.” Now that we’re African-Americans, that report shows, “every state has a hypertension rate of more than 20 percent, with nine more than 30 percent. Forty-three states have diabetes rates of more than 7 percent, and 32 have rates above 8 percent. Adult obesity rates for blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states and 30 percent in 42 states and Washington, DC.
Let me point out a few more obvious things that are distinctly different. When we were “Negro”, the one-room church was the community center that everyone used. Now that we’re African-Americans, our churches are lavish Maga-Churches with pastors, in many cases, who are more concerned about the “greedy than the needy”. They need planes, bodyguards, and have ATM machines at the entrance. Many of today’s sanctuaries, compared to the back-in-the-day churches, usually sit empty because the last thing the new church wants to do is invite the community in.
In the days when we were “Negro”, we didn’t have to be convinced that education was the key that opened the lock of success, but now that we’re African-Americans, more than 50 percent of our children fail to graduate high school. To add to this, some say, there are more African Americans in prison than there are in institutions of higher learning. True or not, surely there are more African Americans in prison in comparison to the population ratio.
More disturbing is the manner, for the most part, how we represent ourselves. When we were Negroes, the last thing a young woman wanted to look like was a harlot or a young man a thug, but now that we’re African Americans, many of our young girls dress like hootchie manas and our young boys imitate penitentiary custom and wear their pants below the butt line. In prison culture this suggests that these men are available for sex with other men.
There is surely enough blame to go around for the decline of our communities and why we accept and embrace that which we know is destructive. Let me just remind you that others have categorized us as a people, usually for negative reasons, “darkie, colored, N-word, black, ect.” But we were a strong people, united and proud when we were Negro! This is not to say, I long for the back-door, the degradation, the Chit-ling Circuit or the horrors of the time. Rather to say, I want my people back.
We live in the best time of our existence in the place the slaves called “merica”. We have a man who looks like us in the highest office in the land and the most powerful man in the world. This feat is something unmatched since the Resurrection of Christ because no one living or dead could have ever imagined that a Black Man would be president of these United States. I shudder to think what Dr. King and the ghost of the greats whose shoulders we stand would think if they could see us now!!!
So it begs the question – what happened and why? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…