It is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous charges that African-Americans have hurled against one another, a charge that could have been included in the legendary “Willie Lynch” letter as it carries a historic venom that agitates on-going intra-racial battles concerning skin color — team light-skinned vs. team dark-skinned — as well as that old Negro preoccupation with hair texture and length — good hair vs. bad hair — each contestation more ridiculous and counterproductive than its predecessor; however, any examination will show that people invest significant emotions into the above battles. The most recent battle occurs most frequently during the K-12 educational experience, however, I have seen its appearance among African-Americans well into their forties, the bias I alluded to is the assertion that academically achieving African-Americans are somehow “acting White”.
Now it would be very simple to dismiss these assertions of “acting white” on for its blatant stupidity. However, such an approach, although preferable and convenient, miserably fails to address this matter and denounce the legions of asinine people, children and adults, who have invested into such foolishness. Although one would think that those who charge academically achieving and cultured African-Americans with ‘acting white’ would have a monopoly upon African-American History and Culture, the truth is that they have a mastery upon nothing other than niggardly behavior and ridiculous thought. From my perspective, what they are in effect stating when they charge their peers with ‘acting white’ is who are you to have an interest in anything that develops your mind beyond the pursuit of inconsequential things; Air Jordan Sneakers, Gucci Clothes, Burberry, Prada, Michael Kors Bags, Smart Phones, Booty Implants, Play Station 4, etc. Despite the protests from those who intimately attach their self-worth to material items, it is them, and their children, “that feel some kind of way” when others neither admire nor compliment their gaudy attire.
When one thinks about it, the primary difference between African-Americans that are progressive thinking and those that are involved in a mindless pursuit of inanimate objects. The latter group was best summed up by 90’s rapper Grand Verbalizer Funkin Lesson Brother J of X-Clan when he stated, some of our people are “Always trying to obtain with no attempt to achieve.” As the father of a brilliant twelve-year-old son, who is unfortunately encountering these issues surrounding his diction and academic achievement, I feel that it is imperative to ask those who are attempting to persecute and ostracize the intelligent children in our community a question that I am certain that they have never heard; Do you have a Black Conscious mind?
Now this question of having a ‘Black Conscious Mind’ is not a silly construct that will equate the thinking of our people to ignorance, Ebonics, immorality, and betrayal as those things have nothing to do with being a person of African descent; in fact, they are the personification of the way our ancestors have never thought, acted, and lived throughout the annals of time. What exactly can one consider having a ‘Black Conscious Mind’? From my perspective, there are several factors that indicate one does, or does not, possess a Black Consciousness. Most fortunately, it is very easy via the following self-test for one to find out if they have a “Black Consciousness”.
- Do you love and respect for all persons of African descent?
- Do you realize that our History does not begin with slavery?
- Do you realize that chattel slavery is not our shame?
- Do you know who David Walker is?
- Do you know who Maria Stewart is?
- Do you realize that surviving slavery shows our ancestors strength?
- Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation their first belief in God?
- Do you understand that your ancestors are the first people on the planet to believe in ONE God?
- Do you know who Nikki Giovanni is?
- Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation its first humanity?
- Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation Jazz Music as an eternal gift?
- Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation its very soul?
- Have you read Michelle Alexander’s work?
- Do you know who Assata Shakur is?
- Do you know who Paul Robeson is?
- Do you believe that Ice Cube was prophetic during NWA’s Fu$K the Police?
- Do you know that Hip-Hop Culture matters?
- Do you know who John Henrik Clarke is?
- Have you ever read The Autobiography of Malcolm X?
- Have you ever heard Thelonious Monk play anything?
- Have you ever heard John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme?
- Have you ever heard Terence Blanchard’s Over There?
- Have you ever heard Ras Kass, Nature of the Threat?
- Do you know who Rakim is?
- Have you ever just sat and listened to Nas’ Illmatic for its lyrical beauty?
- Does the fireside scene in Glory move you to tears?
- Have you patronized a Black bookstore in the past six months?
- Have you ever seen a live performance of an August Wilson play?
- Have you ever read The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin?
- Are you down with 10-10-50?
- Do you know who Grange Copeland is?
- Have you ever read anything by the prophet Audre Lorde?
- Do you know who Octavia Butler is?
If you answered NO to more than three of the above questions, you have some serious work to do because you do not have a black consciousness and therefore have much work to do.
Now this was not constructed to constrain your thoughts, actions, and/or behaviors, rather to highlight to those of you who erroneously believe that foul language, public indecency, poverty (mentally, socially, politically, and intellectually), are signs of Blackness the error in your thinking. How could you ever believe that this foolishness that we see today from Love & Hip-Hop through World Star Hip-Hop are in any form or fashion a representation of African-American life and culture. Get your mind right, IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!
Dr. James Thomas Jones III