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Curb Your Enthusiasm

By Kathy Y. Wilson · February 11th, 2004 · Your Negro Tour Guide
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Black History Month is like fastening a rope around air. It's slave-catching. It's like embracing a cloud. It's the Middle Passage without rest stops.

It's a failed survey of a ubiquitous civilization in the guise of a chitlin' circuit play whose cast consists of B-list Negroes from WB (We Black) and UPN (U People's Network) sitcoms, has-been black crooners and Broadway shows gone with the wind. It's a ghettoized drive-by on the ruins of an ancient culture, a culture too drunk off Kristal to demand better/too significant to totally write off.

How you gonna fire descendants of America's original temp agency?

Every year Black History Month feels like (spoken through pursed/pimped lips): "Oh, yeah, here go your cut," as said by Huggie Bear at the conclusion of the flipside of a 28-day drug deal.

Black History Month is unfair. It hangs the burden of cultural pride squarely on the shoulders of one group of people. Then, like cell phone salesmen in black face on the lam from the set of Bamboozled (can you hear a nigga now?), we spend our lives working like sharecroppers on commission.

It's like a made-for-BET movie, say, Looking for Mr. Good Nigger. And we get late-night programming, black commercials and Black History Month moments, narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. I've met them, and they really mean us no harm.

Then comes the onslaught of unbelievably uplifting newspaper stories on black strivers -- ex-cons that ain't smoked, drank, snorted or hit no niggas upside the head since they been out.

With the help of God and they mamma, they've decided to finally take care of they kids and, for that, there's a smattering of Applause! How does that make you feel?

Black History Month is a gimmick. It perpetuates get-rich-quick pride on us, tricking us into 28 days of whoring faux unity for the sake of "company."

Don't you hate it when company shows up?

"Honeeeeey! Whitey's here! He wants to make sure we're stoic and apathetic!"

"I'll be right down. I'm putting away my Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X trading cards!"

Meanwhile, our present-day pitfalls are ignored and glossed over in glossies. It's on a loop, like: "Whatchudoin'? Nuttin,' chillin' at the Holiday Inn. What we gon' do? Feel on each other and sip on some Hen."

No truth with those lies. Is that necessary?

A few perks with my fries. It's so necessary.

Let's just change clothes and go.

We're stealth. We kill one another with guns and dope, and it's a testament to the fact that the fish ain't jumpin' and the cotton ain't high. Black History Month is a lie.

It skims the cream and forgets the rest. It supports the boon of an aloof, stuck-up, hankty-colored, middle-class-raised like Huxtables and hiding in the Bushes. It supports them and their counterparts, well-meaning whites who think blackness lives in theory, but who don't want to cop to the fact that at the end of the day they glad they boiled blackness down to an intellectual social construct.

Mmmm ... and easy to swallow, too.

Blacks and whites haven't really been acting right toward one another since the Middle Passage. Funny thing is, postmodern Africans wish they'd been American slaves. Then reparations wouldn't be a curse word. Nigga, please.

Black History Month is a lap dance. It's like two hours on a gambling boat/it's scratch-offs/it's postage stamps the U.S. Postal Service is discontinuing because we ain't been licking the backs of our own she- and he-roes. Get 'em while they last!

It's the auction block redux, only this time niggas is property and purchaser. At Black History Month, we get to collect ourselves. It's Negrobilia sold back to its original owners artistically rendered for your collecting pleasure.

I'm so fucking tired of being marketed to myself. Are you? It's so much cultural Viagra(TM), a temporary hard-on flaccid in a permanent screw.

In my desk dictionary I looked up Carter G. Woodson. He wasn't listed. But Booker T. Washington was there. Stern-faced, free and dead.

We can't be captured all in one place. Slavery proved it. So does Black History Month.

One month's too short to box with gods.



Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
 
 
 
 

 

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