Devotion To The Blues and My Grandfather...

Karen Hanson JukeFreak@AOL.COM
Thu Sep 26 23:12:13 EDT 1996


>I hope I don't get into trouble here, and I hope I can express myself
>properly without offending anyone (I certainly don't mean to).  But why be
>'proud to be black'? Is 'race' something to be proud of, or is there
>something deeper that should cause a certain amount of pride? I must admit,
>I've always found statements like this puzzling. I don't say 'I'm proud to
>be white', 'I'm proud to be of Dutch descent', or whatever. I take pride in
>things I do well, be it work, music, doing right, living life in a decent
>manner. But I was born white, and there's nothing I can do to affect my
>'race'.  I think it's what you _do_ that should make you proud, not what you
>_are_.

I'm not Black, and I don't mean to speak for anyone who is.... But I've spent
the last four months on a committee for promoting race relations, and I've
listened--I mean *listened*--to an awful--and I mean *awful*--lot.  I think
when someone says "I'm proud to be Black," perhaps he/she is reacting to
decades--centuries--of a dominant culture that taught that being Black was
something to be ashamed of.  Being proud to be Black is a way of asserting
one's value in a society which, still to this day, tries to devalue those who
are not White.

Futhermore, being Black is more than a color or a race.  In this country,
it's a culture, or perhaps a group of cultures, bound together by a common
history and experience.  I don't think White people can say that.  I don't
think they feel connected to one another just because of physical
similarities like skin, hair, or eye color. (I know I don't.) I do think they
feel a connection, perhaps, because of national origin (I have seen "Proud to
Be Italian" t-shirts) or common religions.  It's the culture, the heritage,
that makes that connection between people.

I understand what you're saying, Jim, about placing emphasis on what a person
does, not on uncontrollable genetic factors.  This would be ideal, but this
is not an ideal world.

A related aside.....I accompanied my 18-year-old son as he went to register
to vote for the first time.  The registrar asked him his name, address,
birthdate, and so on, and then asked, "Were you born in this country?"  When
he answered yes, she went on to the next question.  I said to him later, "I
wonder if she would have wanted proof if you spoke with an accent, or if your
name was Gonzalez, or if you looked like your friend Deehru."  I wanted him
to realize that he was treated with privilege just because of the fact that
he was White, and that this was not fair or right.

 I suppose it is impossible for any of us to see and understand "the other
side of the coin."  But I think that we should try.

Karen




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