THE DAY OF THE ‘GEECHEE IS OVER’:
A LOOK INSIDE BLACK AMERICA’S CIVIL WAR
In the great play, A Soldier’s Story, there is a character named C.J. who is a happy go lucky “homey kind of nigga” who white folk just love to have around due to his comedic nature and musical talents. C.J. has never met a stranger and seeks to ingratiate himself to all around, even to the point of embarrassing his African-American contemporaries. Another character, Sarge, hated C.J. and all that he represented because his antics were an embarrassments that reinforced the prevailing stereotypes that racist whites had for so long stereotyped African-Americans as being. During one of the more important aspects of the play, Sarge, reveals to C.J. that “the race can no longer afford you. The Day of the Geechee is over.” What Sarge was in effect saying, individuals such as C.J. set the race back tremendously as they went through their day and the Race could no longer afford such foolishness. The present state of African-Americans has placed educated African-Americans into a position that they are having to make similar commentary to a similar population of Black folk.
Due to Black America’s diversity, cultural priorities have always been a lightning rod issue. We hail from diverse areas that have significantly influenced our individual priorities, beliefs, and goals. Consequently, our best attempts to define “what Black is” have resulted in repeated failure; when will we learn that “Blackness” is indescribable.
However, the alluded to cultural diversity has fostered a fundamental disagreement within Black America of what is an appropriate way of expressing “Blackness”. Expressions of “Blackness” are so divisive that comedian Chris Rock equated it to Black America’s “Civil War”. Rock uttered the following to an adoring audience, “there is a ‘civil war’ occurring between Black folk and Niggers. And Niggers have got to go.”
Although droves of Black folk laughed at Chris Rock’s biting social commentary, the truth is that he was exposing Black-America’s dirtiest piece of laundry; that being, some Blacks inability to extricate themselves from a multi-faceted poverty that extends beyond finances and appears in political, social, educational, cultural, and moral areas. Most frustrating to educated African-Americans is that impoverished Blacks are unashamed of their multiple inadequacies and actually revel, promote, and champion their deficiencies.
Chris Rock’s routine pierced one particularly pernicious type of poverty when he remarked, “Nothing makes a nigga happier than to not know the answer to your question.” The aforementioned statement is sad, but nevertheless true; and serves as the source of much angst for educated African-Americans. Unfortunately, it appears that significant portions of the Black populace have decided to carry the issues that Chris Rock and others such as Bill Cosby took them to task for, as a badge of honor.
When African-Americans emerged from chattel slavery, they linked their oppression to a lack of education; a situation they hurriedly corrected. Such efforts to garner education were a guiding post for African-Americans throughout the majority of the twentieth-century. Many argue that the devaluing of education coincides with the integration of schools and the removal of African-American teachers from Black children’s lives.
However, it is difficult to identify a single villain in this process that has fostered, and today encourages, younger African-Americans repudiation of academic learning; a situation that has led to high achieving African-American children being branded as ‘acting white’. However, a great starting point to explain this devaluing of education within certain segments of the Africa-American community may be their adoption of a capitalistic “ends-justify-the-means” ethos that justifies any, and everything, as long as it is profitable. This message is continually piped into African-American homes via ‘Reality TV’ shows. Leading those absent an understanding of authentic Black culture to believe that such displays of anti-social behavior and antics are a representation of whom we are as a people.
A value system that glorifies materialism is the pivot that myriad African-American problems flow from. It is materialism that has also facilitated the denigration of intelligence within the Black America. Those who have adopted materialism wallow in an economic poverty that begets a lack of politicization, that begets, economic ignorance, that begets poverty, which starts the devilish process of securing money ‘by any means necessary’ all over again. Such realities manufacture a group of individuals willing to exchange their dignity for material goods. It is this population that Chris Rock terms Niggas. And on behalf of the African-American community, I feel comfortable in saying, it is time for you to go.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III