I was reading this week about the early instances when slaves and other indentured people of African origin were put up for display for gawking crowds in the western world. My heart cried for these men and women who endured such abuse as they were taken into this new world. Today, you will not find people displayed as meat carcasses and they say slavery ended, however, if you look at the TVs and computers, our men and women of color are still on display, as the over-masculinized urban youth on music videos, runways and even the six o’clock news.
There is also a push away from being identified as African, unless you were actually born on the continent. To those who are looking for a justification either way, this is not that article or that debate, but one that aims to focus your eyes on uplifting the dignity of the African in every person of color. Here, I take the African to mean people who have endured being at the same time loved and hated, who have created a fear of being visible. The fear of being visible, stems from the many times that just being seen, your chocolate skin encountered, your accent detected, or you are found with a bag of ethnic herbs in your shopping, or found wearing a garment that is not mainstream, that this visibility will invite someone to want to render you invisible.
There was a course taught last semester on video vixens, and how there are so many more women nowadays who dress like they are in a music video in real life. This fashion is present all over the world, country and oceanic boundaries are transcended by the pop culture of dancehallbhangrazoukhiphopafrojazzsoca (phew!) How then can we use this history for exploitation and the painful memory of this sport to create new ways of looking at our African bodies.
Well alright, now this definition of the African has to become very broad. Lets go way way back, to Pangea (the original continental mass). I learned all I do about geography in early primary and in high school, with some geology in college. The original continent split up millions of years ago, and imagine that what is now off the coast of Maine was joined to Africa. If you can imagine all people in the world claiming the same origin, then we are on the same page. But somewhere along the line, the color of the skin became contentious. And we all began to use a new distinguisher, how dark is your skin. And most know how that continues to keep millions, if not billions of people at war. All in a world where the blood types are so few you can count them in one hand. Wonderful world indeed.
How now, are we supposed to move ahead. Is the BO pres the only solution, or where else are we supposed to push? In education is the future. In failing to ignore offensive uses of our bodies, as targets for advertising, in academia, enriching set readings with those thoughts of writers outside of the western experience, and in our own hearts, unlearning to be tolerant to affronts to our African Pride.