I wanted to write solely about Liberia, our lyin'-ass president and why he don't particularly give a fuck about a country of dusty-ass Africans 'cause can't no precious crude belch from their black bloated bellies. I wanted to weigh in on political racism.
But fact is, after an afternoon of feeding Main Public Library copy machines to duplicate 10 days of articles on Liberia and after shouldering cultural ignorance in my Gap bag -- even still -- I know the same about Liberia. It's in Africa, and its capital is Monrovia. Charles G. Taylor is president, and we're not supposed to like him. He won't leave.
The study of Liberia nearly overshadowed its point.
I'm stunned over a New York Times picture of a flip-flop wearing African boy whose face is gnarled with fear and terror. Falling out of a crouch onto his left knee, he clumsily aims an automatic weapon straight for the camera. On his back is a pink teddy bear-shaped backpack.
Anguished that I lacked the words to articulate my anger and frustration, I watched CBS Sunday Morning on the hunt for good sentences to steal. There were a few, but nothing worth shoplifting. Then, a segment on Bugs Bunny.
When I was a lazy, Saturday morning cartoons kid, I got it that Bugs' hip and flip attitude was lifted from the caricature of the black man, from someone like, say, Sammy Davis Jr. Had to be.
I don't care how much Warner Bros. might refute this. Bugs is a brotha.
Actually, he's in reverse drag. He's a little like my dead great aunt Peg, a truth-spittin' curmudgeon who always secretly held the last laugh though we rarely, if ever, saw her laughing
There's a card with a John Updike quote tacked to the bulletin board in CityBeat's elevator. "America is a vast conspiracy to keep you happy." I took it as a sign. I had to come clean.
And it's this: Africans do not respect or place in high regard black Americans and our tireless search for identity. They recoil from the notion that our quests have unfortunately and incorrectly come to rest at "African American."
We're as African as Kwanza observed but not understood. Likewise, we've become packaged and mass marketed in a plan to keep us sedated and groggy off the Black Status Quo Buffet.
And that, brethren and sistren, ain't being African. It's a drive-by, a drive-thru. When do we unhyphenate ourselves and become one/won?
I'm disturbed but not surprised by President Bush's deadly slow response to Liberia. It says motherfuck the assumed nobility attached to Africanness -- thy middle name is AIDS. You's still a bunch of niggras with no oil.
I've studied the front-page photos of Bush looking askance at African children assembled for his size up, of crumpled and grieving African women and, finally, of crazed-looking African males brandishing automatic weapons. And my soul cries out. What is going on?
It dawned on me that embattled black Africans are depending on all black Americans for help as much as -- if not more than -- they're depending on America's white male power structure. They're looking to us, especially since we've co-opted and gotten rich from the African Diaspora TM. They need those black Americans who blithely adorn themselves in African heritage as a fashion statement but who sidestep accountability when the Mother(fuckin') Land is under siege.
Where are those bulk e-mails buzzing with Pan African support and old-school outrage? Where are the rallies, protests, boycotts and political pressures? If we claim -- not pledge -- allegiance to the America that works for us, why don't we demand the rest of it work for us as well?
It's no longer enough to selfishly use up all the empty gaudiness of the America we can digest, then bitch about the wrinkles and remain unwilling to jeopardize colored status quo to make the Bush League beholden to the descendants of the country that supplied his foreparents with the Original Temp Service.
I'd be willing to table all other forms of reparations if our federal government halted the mayhem in Africa with the vim and vigor with which it hunts Saddam Hussein and trots out his dead family like Southern lynching photos sold as postcards. And I'd even forgive black Americans of all our repeatedly stupid, genocidal behavior if we used all our might -- economic, spiritual and physical -- to at least question Bush's slow-mo.
We can be citizens of the world. Right now we're merely renting ZIP codes. And it's so African American.
Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.