After watching the PBS series "The African Americans," like its title, so too, do I still have "many rivers to cross."
I am saddened by my ignorance of my history. I am disgusted by my own laziness and ineptness at a time of technological advancement unlike any other time in history, in which basic facts and accomplishments of my ancestors alludes me. How can it be that without thinking and without any effort, I can recall trivial insignificant nonsense, in spite of the fact that I have changed and improved in so many areas? And yet today, today of all days, after watching this program, I have to deal with the fact that when I went to pick up my twins from Pre-K earlier, and heard music blaring from someone else's car outside their school, music I no longer even listen to, it was second nature for me to recall every word of R. Kelly's "Sex in the Kitchen." I didn't even want to sing or hum it. But it's true. I knew every word.
How do I overcome my shame with myself?
Thank God my mother is still alive and guiding me to right thinking and what's going on in the world by telling me about this program so that I could watch Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s, latest series. I don't know what I would have been watching or doing, but certainly, it would have been nothing as important as this.
I even told my teenage daughters this was important for us to watch, and they hemmed and hawed as if I was torturing them. The irony. Here I am trying to inspire them with history and impart knowledge into them to see the brutality and torture we overcame, and they act like they are being inconvenienced by not being able to see some junk nonsense of whatever it is they watch about teenage vampires or evil mean girls or God knows what. Really and truly: I am ashamed.
And they are my children.
And I am their mother.
And we still have many rivers to cross.
I mean, here I am, writing about how the Preachers of LA shame the church, when right now, at this very moment, I am ashamed of myself and my own family. And I'm also ashamed to think that the scores of people who watch the antics of the preachers probably don't even know about this program or watch it or care. This is the real shame of today's black America.
How is it I have two graduate degrees, have advanced beyond many of my peers, know so much about so many things, and never knew about Margaret Garner? I am ashamed to even admit this! I thought Toni Morrison's character Sethe in " Beloved" was some more of her dynamic writing. I mean I studied Toni Morrison's work! But this really happened? Oh my God! What kind of courage and conviction must that woman have felt to have attempted to escape slavery by running five miles with her children, walking across the frozen Ohio River, while pregnant, with four children with her, because she would not stay on that plantation enslaved.
My mind is racing right now! I feel a sudden urge to run, jump, scream, and shout! Tears stream down my face as my overwhelming desire to do better overtakes me. I owe it to Margaret and her precious children!
I weep because I am a mother of six daughters and Margaret's few captured words sear my heart. She spoke this after cutting her daughter's throat so her child would not be returned to slavery, something to the effect of, "I have done the best I could. And I would have done better by them all, if given the chance." This, after killing her child so she would be free from the brutality of slavery.
Can I say that?
Have I done the best I could?
Certainly not. This is my truth. My reality.
I think I sit around just like any other lackadaisical black American and wait for the cycles of life to dictate my behavior. "Oh, it's February. Let's learn about our history" is our mindset, as if we need a formal invitation to honor our ancestry.
I am sickened by this.
And I'm mad at all the comments I've seen lately permeating social media by black people who say "they are sick of slave movies." Okay, well maybe you are, but there are millions of other in-the-dark, clueless black folk who need something that may help wake them up and appreciate who they are and from whence they came.
And we need to remind others every chance we get, and as often as needed about our experience and diaspora, so that when we encounter racists of today cloaked as elite Southern conservatives who try to convince us and dupe us and trick us and stop us AND our President, that we know unequivocally and without a doubt what racism looks like, smells like, acts like, and tastes like. Yep, we see it and we know.
Yes, I still have many rivers to cross. But you know what? I am willing to make the journey. I am willing to load up my children paralyzed by pop culture, and cut a hole through the ceiling of complacency and comfortability and lower us right down to the feet of our Creator so that we can be healed. I will do my best my children. Not only it is my responsibility. I owe it to my ancestors who spoke so loudly and passionately they had to be muzzled; for my brothers and sisters who were so determined to be free that shackles were made for their feet; and to my praying grandmothers who worked so hard for me to gain and appreciate my right to be educated.
Yes, I still have many rivers to cross. But my eyes are open. And my feet are moving. And I will overcome.
Thank you Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and PBS for "The African Americans." I'm black, but I'm not sick of learning about slavery or slave movies. I'm sick that I don't know enough.
"My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge" (Hos 4: 6 NIV)
About me: I'm a happily married wife and mom of six daughters who teaches land and water fitness classes. I love God. Love writing. And love living "In FITNESS and In Health." I encourage others to do the same by joining me on the 90-Day Challenge. For more info on The Challenge, you can click here. Don't forget to LIKE the In FITNESS and In Health Fan Page on Facebook.
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