So I’ve decided that this February I really want to celebrate Black History month in my own lil way. So the following Slam Poetry is an intro to a month of posts that relate, at least in some way, to black history, or to the Black Experience. I think, especially growing up in the me-me-me generation, that it’s easy to take for granted the things that we have, and to dismiss the true significance of the little things in life we get to enjoy. Scouring YouTube for Spoken Word on black history, or black history month, I listened to some pretty powerful poems, ones that reminded me of things that, while not forgotten, aren’t always contemplated.
Like the fact that in my lifetime I have never seen a “White’s Only” sign on a bathroom door, or on the door to a grocery store. Or a water fountain. Or anything at all. Although sadly, the rare person still tries to pull that crap. But that was commonplace back in the days, after slavery was abolished, but before Black folk truly had a voice, or rights. It was like Black was some awful catching disease, and you’d basically have to gargle with bleach or burn off your skin if your white skin came in contact with black skin, or, God forbid, some Black seeped into your system. In fact, the white store owners or carers of whatever establishment really had no choice in the matter: it was either have that sign up or you’d lose your white customers. Back then, losing all of your white customers basically translated into going bankrupt.
And that was what would happen at best. At worst, the fallout for attempting to treat black people like they were equal to whites was scary, if not life threatening. I take for granted the fact that, growing up in an area that was primarily white in the suburbs, I was treated just like every other kid, although there were about only 5 black kids in the entire school. 100 years ago, I would have been bused for god knows how long out to the “black only” school. I never had to live through segregation, the battle that waged to end segregation, and all the hate and resentment that still crackled in the air when segregation ended, and some brave souls and students pushed the status quo and did attend previously “white only” schools, knowing the time they had would be anything but easy.
So, I think, although a Month certainly will never be enough to pay thanks or tribute to everything from slavery til present day, the least I can do is, for one month, rediscover these facts, the issues, and share them with you as I go. And, not only is that history a heavy, heavy thing, but I think understanding that history, and what it has created within the black community, is often a fantastic way to understand the unique aspects of the everyday issues that black folk have in North American society.
So get ready for some history y’all. And we get it all started with some slam. And a very, very cute father/son duo rap/slam about Black History.
This next one, you’ve got to check out. There’s something so simple, yet powerful, about her message. And she is so quiet, yet so…forceful. She’s young, and yet you can tell there is a quiet yet unmistakable power, confidence, inner beauty and strength within her. Maybe I can be like her when I grow up. *wink wink* Check her out.
Wasn’t the father/son duo amazing? But more importantly, the messages were loud and strong. Pride. Strength. And Perseverance. Winning the battle. Winning the war. Still combatants in the battles in the new war ahead of us. Needing to be loud after centuries of being silenced (that second one gave me chills…she’s seriously amazing).
I hope y’all will come along with me on my month long focus. Sometimes it’ll be serious, and deep. Sometimes it’ll be for centuries ago, sometimes it’ll be from last week. And sometimes it’s gonna split your sides you’re laughing so hard. The only rule I’m sticking to is the theme of “Black Folk”. Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. Tune in tomorrow, and you can share in that first step!
Have a great Sunday, y’all!