“Say it loud. ‘I’m black and I’m proud.'”
~ James Brown
It was 1968 and James Brown was the conductor of a chorus who sang about black pride, empowerment and self- reliance. It was a call and response of black power. And timidity was not appropriate; instead, persons were encouraged to “say it loud.”
In so doing, Brown was saying to listeners of the song that they not apologize for their socially colored black skin. Long a mark of shame, Brown removes the insult and the injury of the word. To be black was to be proud.
These black people were not going to accept a life of shame; their being would be celebrated. The argument could have been: You can’t change it so learn to love it and sing its praise.
More than 40 years later, the response to racism and the hatred of socially colored black skin continues to be met with the same pride and defiance. Persons will not be shamed into silence; they continue to “Say it loud. ‘I’m black and I’m proud.'”
While I am for a healthy sense of self and appreciation, I find describing one’s love of self using someone else’s hateful depiction problematic. And in case you’re wondering, the use of the N- word as a greeting or description of a human being is equaling troubling. Taking a description given to degrade and making it the definition of one’s existence seems counter-intuitive and counter- productive.
Some take pride in prejudices and stereotypes but I take pride in the name of God who is without prejudice and whose actions cannot be stereotyped (Psalm 20.7). I am race-less and proud. Say it loud…