Wednesday, May 25, 2011

artist in the mirror

In a couple of weeks the Lorain County International Festival will be upon us. The Lorain Arts Council will have an art show the theme is to show your heritage reflected in your art. It is so funny to think about how there are few pure-bred among us, as if there was ever such a thing. You will love and have kids with whom ever because you love them. Bloodlines are not a top priority, religious, political, tribal, ethnic advantage or crusty egos are crossed all the time. Still we like to identify with a root stock of culture. 

My own sources have been in question for eons. I know what other people have called me, some not too nice, but if I reflect enough I would call myself a Black American. Black because the possibility of origin is far too broad. For instance to say African, where in Africa? We have been known as Black peoples in the positive sense and the negative sense. So I stop looking for a more pleasant word. I stand firm in the use of Black in the positive sense. I would even put American before African as American is all I have known, throughout my life. And when I trace my ancestors back to the enslaved I instantly identify with a diverse mega-group of Black peoples, not a tribe or country. A couple of centuries pass and I have lost much of my African ID to a great degree. If you don't have the language/heritage, the fellowship of society (daily customs and rituals) or live on the land where these things take place, what becomes of you? You take on the flavor of the environment where you are at. I lived in a neighborhood of other Black peoples all in the same boat. Our struggle to deny or reconnect with what was/is known of our past is hit and miss. I think we should give up looking for a ultimate and comfortable legal term. Throughout the ages we have been Black peoples of various countries. I am a Black person in America. I can claim ancestral roots in Africa and it is not a shame for me to not know from where, after all I did not cause my forefathers to come here by force. So, as a person of African descent I am supposed to be disadvantaged because of my darkness or my roots are unknowable. Ha, I've been transplanted and cultivated in another place. If you look at history you will see we Black peoples have been all over the world before the enslaving time and after, it is not a new thing. We have not been reduced to nothing. We have built nations as freemen and as enslaved. You see, just as we talk about indigenous or native peoples of a continent, Black peoples are indigenous to the whole world. I am not lost.

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