Perhaps you might think this blog comes a little late because Martin Luther King’s birthday was back on the 15th of this month. But unlike most folks I think about this man everyday of my life, because he is who I chose as one of my role models for blackhood and manhood. Because I grew up without a father I wanted to find a person who represented the values that I thought were most important: Education, Spirituality, and Community. And he has been a role model for civil rights activists the entire world over, having been inspired by the words of great men before him such as Christ, Thoreau, and Gandhi. Through his example I learned that I couldn’t ever allow society to label me as lazy, stupid, or powerless and that I had to label myself diligent, intelligent, and powerful. The light of his legacy lives on today in the celebrations we have today of his work, the LGBT rights movement, and even having a black president. Though today my writing is inspired of the fear that we didn’t get one of the core aspects of his work here in our country: What it really means to be a black american.
I have heard for years the racist comment: "You are the whitest black man I’ve ever met." I cannot tell you how much that offends me. And I am not an easy person to offend. I’ve been in the military for eleven years, lived in environments that care nothing for the sensitivity of their fellow man, been cussed out, abused emotionally from multiple sources, and watched as people look at my white wife and I in disgust. And by and large none of that has offended me, except for that statement. For you see the ones who have said it most often are also those who claim to be my closest friends.
However I know that I’m not alone in my feelings concerning how blackhood is defined. One of my favorite actors Will Smith lyricized some of his own feelings about how black media felt about his music.
Even though the fans went out & bought enough
I guess they think Will ain't hard enough
Maybe I should just have a shoot out
Run up in the bank, bustin', grabbin' all the loot out
Whoop somebody ass, taking my boot out
Right on TV so ya'll can see me
Just ignorant, attacking, actin' rough
I mean, then will I be black enough?
Now Will Smith is a man who like me has chosen values similar to that of Martin Luther King Junior. So what gives? Why do people see Ice Cube or Fifty Cent as models of modern blackhood? I love Biggie Smalls and Tupac, but they aren’t the only models of blackhood today. Do I really need to be willing to act like a gangster or speak ebonics for people to think of me as a good model of blackhood? Should I need to listen to rap music, instead of black gospel for folks to think I live within the bounds of my own culture? Or perhaps this blog should be filled with F-bombs and indignant language to show how hard I am? No. I refuse. I am worth more than that, and I believe my culture has more value than that.
I plan on being one of the few african american fantasy authors, which is entirely outside the realm of the ordinary for my culture, but that by no means means I am acting white. It doesn’t mean I’m acting yellow like an asian, red like an indian, or green like a soldier either. It means I am being myself. A humble black man unafraid of sharing his opinion or his heart. Recently I was asked the question of what I want my brand to be as a writer. There was only one answer: Truth. In what I write and how I live I hope for that to be my guide. I may fail that. I’m certain that Martin Luther King failed that from time to time, because he wasn’t any more perfect than any of us. But in the end I hope that nobody will say that I was anything less than a noble example of not only blackhood, but humanity.
Speaking of the goal of becoming an author my ROW80 goals for the upcoming week are as follows:
1. Finishing a single scene of “Crimes of the Umbramancer” each day.
Last week I wanted to catch up, but time didn’t allow for it. I have only managed to finish a scene each day since last Wednesday.
2. Comment on 10 different blogs in ROW80.
This goal was modified from what I had before, because I found reading ten ROW80 blogs easy, but commenting a little more difficult.
3. Video games for only twelve hours for the week.
I kept this goal last week, and I will this week too. I won’t suffer a poor week due to gaming again.
I’ve failed at my goals in writing in the past because I was afraid, or I procrastinated, or I allowed addiction to run my life. But no more. If I am to follow in the footsteps of noble black men before me I have to let truth guide me and the values I’ve chosen to champion even my time management. Because when I grow up I never want to hear again, “You’re the whitest black man I’ve ever met.”
Please leave your comments about my thoughts in the space below. Tell me if there are things folks have said to you which have offended you? What you want your brand as a writer to be? Or if you totally disagree with what I’ve written tell me that too. I love reading and responding to comments. Thanks for reading!
Here are some links to other ROW80 blogs! Enjoy!