Wellll it seems while I been sleeping on this writing tip, a lot of news has popped up all over black twitter. However, instead of making y’all read three long posts, I thought I’d go for a triple threat and tackle what I think are the 3 biggest topics right now all in one fairly long, but worthwhile post. Because I’m just that sweet 🙂
So grab your reading glasses, pick your fave, and have a wander!
Black makes History All over Again
So today, 28th August 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the famous Martin Luther King ‘I have a dream’ speech. Martin Luther King, born Micheal king and later re-named after the Christian reform giant Martin Luther, was the son of a preacher in Atlanta, Georgia.. He is often cast as the face of black history and is probably the only name people ignorant of the struggle of the civil rights movement in America can quote. It has long since irked me that people can claim to know black history by telling you the life and times and the ‘Dream’ of MLK, yet when asked about Harriet Tubman, Medgar Evers, Emmett Till or even Jesse Jackson, most people draw up a blank.
Nevertheless, he does deserve his props. He led a 250,000 strong march through the streets of Washington DC in the largest non-violent protest America had seen to date and took a stand in front of the historic Lincoln Memorial Centre, giving one of the most articulate and prolific speeches or piece of writing I have ever read. It outlined, so eloquently if I may add, the state of the African-American race, pointing out the legalised segregation that existed at the time, the police brutality that was daily suffered by people of colour , the social shackles held on black people even after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and the urgent need for a peaceful protest, giving those who opposed their dream no justifiable reason to deny them of it.
Although the tragedy of the Trayvon Martin case and verdict and things like the ‘Stop-and-frisk’ laws in New York make us wonder whether MLK will ever achieve this infamous dream, I think it is safe to say we have come a very long way from the day Martin Luther King Jnr stood on that podium in 1963. Never would the people of that time have thought (or even 21st century me) that America would be led by a man of colour, the 2-time president Barack Obama, who gave a speech on his second inauguration cognizant of that of the man in whose shadow he now walks. And even the thought that once upon a time, a mere 50 years ago, there would’ve been certain shops and buses and toilets that would not have been open to me is a thought so shocking, I have to stop and marvel everytime it crosses my mind. Though the fight for equality is far from over, thanks to activists like Mr Martin Luther King, we continue to fight in the very real hope that one day, it can be achieved.
Watch the legendary speech here
Can we please have a moment of Silence?
Lee Thompson Young was an up and coming African-American actor who starred in productions such as ‘Jett Jackson’ on Disney Channel, ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ alongside Keke Palmer and the famous medical comedy ‘Scrubs’. On August 19 2013, he was found dead in his Hollywood house after taking his own life, sparking talks about suicide and the handling of mental health issues in the black community.
It took me a minute to write about this topic because a) I had trouble swallowing the news, b) I felt I knew too little about Lee Thompson Young and c) Suicide is a very sensitive topic and one that is very difficult to talk about. I won’t pretend to understand what goes through the minds of people when they decide that ending their lives is the only way out, but I do feel extremely heavy-hearted when I think that there are people going through things, right in front of our faces, so horrible that they feel they cannot speak to anyone or find solace in anything other than death. So many times I read and hear things like ‘Your words saved my life’ or ‘If it wasn’t for that song, I don’t think I’d be here today’, but we never actually process what could’ve happened if the contrary had been the case. What if they didn’t hear that song, what if they didn’t have that soul-emptying conversation with that stranger, what if you didn’t lend you ear and/or shoulder to that friend you knew was having a hard time; would they all have ended up like Mr Young, in the ground before reaching their potential?
I have no clue what Young was up against and my heart goes out to his family and friends (and fans) who will be feeling a great loss at this sad time and maybe even a little guilt, but I urge those of you who may be feeling even a tenth of what the bright young star was feeling to please seek help. It is not weak, neither is it foolish to need to speak to someone about what you’re going through. Whether it be a friend, a grandparent, a pastor or even a professional, share your burdens with someone who can help, advise and comfort you. It could literally mean life or death.
For more information of who to speak to, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or number 1-800-784-2433 in US.
Shocking VMA Performance
From the proud proclamations of Dr King to the horrors of an ex-disney princess. Miley Ray Cyrus started as the lead of Disney Channel’s ‘Hannah Montana’, playing an innocent high school child leading a double life as a pop superstar. Nowadays it looks as if her alter ego has taken over and she has now, in my humble opinion, taken a turn for the worst. She showed up to the well-known VMA awards show dressed as a 12-year-old devil stuck in the crosshairs of the reckless years of teenagehood and the self-affirmed years of womanhood. And in her quest to prove she is not a little girl anymore, she made an absolute fool of herself. Dancing on stage with life sized teddy bears who looked as disappointed in her as we all were, she later stripped off to reveal a starter-kit bikini and proceeded to touch herself inappropriately with a giant foam finger and “twerk” on the singer Robin Thicke. One of the many infuriated YouTube comments on her performance summarised her disaster perfectly when they wrote “She needs to learn the difference between sexy and vulgar”. I know she’s trying to embrace the ‘Grown Woman’ she believes she is but she needs to be careful she doesn’t sidestep into ‘Dirty Ho’. And for those declaring that Ms Cyrus is trying to act ‘black’, maybe we need to take a closer look into and hold a higher respect for our people, because last time I checked, wearing next to nothing and performing sleazy dance moves on stage was not unique to the black community.
This has been black news weekly with Konyin Aromolaran.
And as always…
Thoughts, comments and questions forever welome