Two years ago today I wrote a thought piece on my Tumblr blog that was essentially a reflection on American society and more specifically the black community within that society. In retrospect, I suppose it was, in a way, the predecessor to this blog as its ideas are certainly some of the same ones that fuel my thoughts here. With that being the case, every year since posting I like to kick off Black History month looking back and recalling how I felt in that moment of writing, allowing my old thoughts to renew and realign my purpose of working for positive change in our society. I’ve shared those thoughts below. I hope you enjoy! I’d love to hear any thoughts the following may evoke. Happy Black History Month!!! 🙂
I recently altered my name on Facebook. I am now known to the social network as “King Jerald Crook”. It sounds pretentious, and in a way it is (unfortunately, because I hate pretention); however, be slow to judge, for there is a method to my madness.
Here it goes:
I was walking across campus today, trying to stay dry whilst in the misting rain when a thought came to me. Black History Month was in the back of my mind with it being the first day and all, and I was kind of going over all of the different things that I may be seeing over the next 28-29 days and how people will observe the month: the historical facts, the protests and arguments, the many, many black history programs that black churches (and some white) across the nation will put on before the end of the month comes (I really miss these back home, lol). It was in the midst of these thoughts that I realized something:
“Hey, I am a king.”
The thought derives from a memory that was created back when I was in high school. There was an associate minister at my home church who “double-dutied” as assistant youth minister (he was also one of the few actual missionaries in our church having traveled to Cuba) and he often used to empower (or at least try to) us young, low-to-moderate income, small town black kids by reminding us of our rich history. The interesting thing is that he bypassed the usual (American) textbook version of black history. He went straight into…”Don’t you know that the math and sciences that you’re learning in school were invented by blacks (referring to the early Muslim scholars)? Don’t you know that African kings and queens ruled just as mightily as any of those in Europe (see Mansa Musa, Shaka Zulu or Queen Sheba)?” I’ll never forget it because instead of math he used to say ” ‘rithmetic”, haha and he said it with such passion, too…God bless him. I’ll also never forget it because of its apparent impact on who I am today…
Here, 4-5 years later I consider the state of, yes, people as a whole, but, also, black people in particular. It’s sad, to put it rather simply. I’ve often had conversations with people, both black and white, about social matters and when asked why are black people the way they (supposedly) are: angry, racists, lazy, troublesome, ignorant, still hanging on to the prejudices of the past by persecuting today’s young white generation…
…with the 300+ years of slavery, 100 more years of civil/social subjugation and continued pockets of modern-day prejudice aside…
…my answer is that they’ve forgotten their claim to the throne. That they’ve forgotten that they are royalty. That hundreds of years ago their descendants reigned over massive kingdoms with dignity and with pride. That their descendants built the Great Pyramids and were among the best stock brokers and CEOs there were (Timbuktu). They forgot also (and even more so important) that thousands of years ago their Savior humbly healed the sick and gave sight to the blind because He chose NOT to succumb to the temptation to abandon His Father’s business.
Yes, my answer is that we…as a black people, have forgotten who we are and Whose we are. We no longer prescribe to the pride that carried Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Jesse Owens, Diane Nash, Harold Franklin, etc….that carried them over, but to the fact that Lil’ Kim is the true Queen (B?) and that Jay-Z and Kanye are the true Kings (they’re watching the throne, right?). There’s nothing wrong with giving these guys their nod and acknowledging their talents. They are, in fact, credits to the black community (some…times) for their contributions to the music world and American culture. BUT. They’re not what matters most.
What needs to be valued is education. What needs to be valued is family and friends and the fact that you can not make it through life without the network of love that these two entities provide. What needs to be valued is love in and of itself, and people. Everyday people. What needs to be valued is a belt…no, not to whip lil’ Junebug, but to keep Junebug’s 12-year-old brother’s pants around his waist, where they’re intended to rest. What needs to be valued is ourselves. What needs to be valued is the notion of having values.
All of this came to my mind on this soggy day in Auburn, Alabama while walking in the rain and remained there for the rest of the day. And so I’ve decided that at LEAST for the next 28-29 days of this Black History month I will publicly declare myself as a King. I WILL rule over these papers and projects and receive the first of potentially more academic degrees in May. I WILL rule over these spiritual barriers. I WILL outlaw substandards. I WILL be a discount to statistics. I WILL reinstate a dynasty of black greatness that’s not just relegated to the sports and entertainment industry. I WILL maintain a fervent pride and appreciation for my rich and fruitful heritage. And I WILL do it all un-apologetically. Because I can. Because I am a King and a King can do whatever the heck he wants.
This royalty business is not necessarily about simply glorifying myself or the black community (though I see absolutely nothing wrong with reveling in our heritage and how we’ve made it over, celebrating our triumphs and learning from our downfalls), but simply bettering ourselves as both a black and global community. Be it known as an extension that this is not about bigotry or black supremacy in anyway. Consider it a welfare of a different kind. In our own way, each and every one of us, black, white, green or purple, is a King or Queen in their own right and it frustrates me greatly to see us behave in a manner that communicates differently. The New International translation of the Bible reminds us of how in the beginning “God said ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (Genesis 1:26). Mind you, “dominion” is what King James called it. Timothy proclaimed that “God has NOT given us the power of timidity, but a spirit ofpower, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)”; it’s time to step into this.
If this be the case, and I believe it to be so, then why do we act so weakly and fall again and again to mediocrity? Why do we choose to argue and bicker and ultimately hate our kin? Whyyy do we opt to act like we have no sense or home-training (some of us have none, I know…but…that’s another rant for another day)?
The time is now for us as a people (yes white, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander [do I really have to go through them all?], but ESPECIALLY blacks) to step it up and be about something other than politics, the latest J’s (I guess those are still cool?) and the latest Weezy mixtape.
(Black) People, please…claim your throne.
You have 28 days.
The world is waiting.