Is it just me or has this particular Black History Month been more controversial this one’s passed? More combative? I feel like we have been more under fire and on the defensive about our history and our actions whether past or recent. Like we are all being looked at crazy for showing pride in who we are. Our race, our culture, our successes appears to make the others uncomfortable. For every effort, performance, or game we can’t fully enjoy it because there comes a racial slur or someone just being totally negative to ruin it all. Some have even gone as far as calling US racist! Some attempt of reversal. Number one, let me get this out the way. Pro Black does NOT mean Anti-White. Please stop comparing the Black Panther Party to the KKK, which was an apparent hate group, and terrorist group. The KKK is a group made to hate anyone who isn’t Caucasian, whereas the BPP was a group created to protect and help a historically oppressed race. 

Many non-blacks are bashing Beyonce’ for her Super Bowl performance and her new video that showcase our frustration towards police brutality but also displays celebration and pride for our culture. Meanwhile, Coldplay celebrated the gay culture and no slander was handed to them. Two of this year’s biggest performances have also become the most polarizing. Why? Because they were both from black artists that have messages. They share the painful truth. Whether you want to hear it or see it or not, they are truth. Boldly enough the display was on a platform that the world all had eyes on. These were not local platforms or black platforms but instead nationally televised programs with massive viewers. As average Joe’s, your voice and my voice only reaches but so far but Beyonce and Kendrick are people who have the power to reach the masses. They deliver our feelings and our situations. Letting the world know our struggle is real.

We are all witnessing a change in the times, a pushing of the envelope and it is becoming a trend in the mainstream that supersedes mere entertainment. Artists are relaying a message that matters. It is about using the universal language, music to explain black unification and hardship. Kendrick and Beyonce used their platform in a manner that all should. Not being racist, not being “anti-police” but just telling the TRUTH and sparking a countrywide conversation. Not only did Cornroll Kenny pick up 4 Grammys, he also gave us a powerful performance through imagery. He was proud of who he was, he was proud of us and he had a message for us all. The revolution is FINALLY being televised. 

Let’s talk about the inconsistency in media.

Cam Newton is a “thug”  (more on that later) but Johnny Manziel needs help? Let’s line this up. Cam Newton is a premier QB. He has maintained pretty much a squeaky clean image since entering the league. He routinely does charitable work for kids and is an obvious role model but for some reason, the media wants to talk about a stolen laptop allegation from Cam’s undergrad years or talk down about him for celebrating when he wins. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning’s sexual assault case from undergrad has been top secret in the media for almost 20 years. Cam is an elite QB, and earned MVP honor’s this past season but yet still he is still compared to his peers and criticized because everything about him differs. He’s black, he has a huge stature, he has gifted legs and an equally gifted arm, he loves to smile and most hated of all, he dabs when he invades the end zone. Cam was verbally crucified all through the playoffs but in contrast, “Johnny Football” has done nothing his first few years in the league but Party and Bulls**t. Word to Biggie. Let’s not forget the current domestic abuse situation that he is currently in and how can we forget his stint in rehab? The same people that feel sorry for Manziel are the same people that condemned Josh Gordon for his bad decisions even though Josh play was superior to the former’s. There STILL hasn’t been an official word saying the Browns dropped Johnny for his domestic violence case. I wonder how Ray Rice feels about that. Compare what Michael Vick did to what Ben Roethlisberger did. The actions though both wrong and immoral, the consequences lacked similarities and I cannot find any other reason other than the power of white forgiveness and privilege. Us black folks that are not well-known celebrities know a bit about this in our everyday lives. The pressures to dot every i and cross every t. The unforgiving element in the workplace, when you are tardy or you do something wrong. The forgiveness that your white colleague receives is nonqualifying for you as a black worker. You all can do the same jobs but the level of room in those positions are drastically different. This is a reality that seemingly proves that no matter how big you get, no matter how fast you are, how educated you are, or how rich you are, you are still BLACK, therefore, you will be reminded of the rules. If you ever forget. Ask Kanye West.

The rules have gotten so bad that it has influenced many to rebuke their association from us and themselves. The introduction to black disassociation. I was previously a fan of Raven Simone and Stacy Dash that was until they spoke. Granted, they have a right to their opinion like everyone else but their opinion draws many concerns and disappointments. Stacy Dash said that America needs to get rid of BET and Black History Month. Her reasonings was because she felt that blacks can’t demand inclusion and integration but still have separatism that leads to racial division. I wonder if that means that channels like CMT, Telemundo, Lifetime, WE, and Logo have to go to? You know channels based on gender, sexuality and race? Should we also rid ourselves of months like, Arab American Month (April),  and Asian, Haitian and Jewish Heritage Month (May). Did you know they even have a Black History Month in the UK in October? I digress. Do you know why we have platforms like BET and black award shows? The reason is because black acts were ignored and they continue to be ignored by mainstream award shows. Ex. Grammy awards and The Oscars. It took years for hip hop to be noticed at the Grammy’s. Do you remember when Jay-z boycotted the Grammy’s? We are still fighting to be (properly) noticed by the Oscars and that racial improvement is moving slower than the Cleveland Brown’s delivering a super bowl to Cleveland. So instead of going without, yes we created award shows that allow us to celebrate ourselves. The Image Awards, Soul Train Awards, and BET Awards were meant to do exactly that. Ms. Stacy Dash have you noticed that we are not the only race to have our own channels, award shows, magazines and other forms of media? We actually clearly need more. What we want more so than integration is recognition and equality. BLACK ART MATTER! If Leonardo’s performance can be recognized for excelling in his craft why can’t Idris performance be praised as well? If it’s not about color and it’s about art, why then is the art only respected if the color is white? 

What’s funny is our culture makes the world spin and white people profit tremendously from it. Their kids buy our music, buy clothing to imitate the culture, bite our language and style but when it’s time to recognize the black content creators for that inspiration and greatness, the recognition is skipped and denied. But should not feel a way about it? Makes no sense or cents!

Speaking of the Oscars and entertainment. How is it that there is always such an uproar when we reprise roles that were originally white but are expected to hush or suck it up? Example, The Wiz reappeared last year. A black version of the Wizard of Oz, and because the cast was black, it caught backlash from many. I actually saw someone ask why there wasn’t a white version made instead? Someone apparently didn’t do the history and jumped the gun. There was also backlash for the black version of Annie and loud outcry when word got out that James Bond would be played by a black actor. On the flip side they don’t expect us to get angry when the cast white people to play Egyptians or when they get a white guy to play Michael Jackson. Allow me to insert a Paul Mooney joke here. “The last n*gga on earth, staring Tom Hanks.”

“If racism is something you’re tired of hearing, imagine how exhausting it is living it everyday.” -Jon Stewart

For the rest of this Black History month please, un-cock your gun and unlock your mind for now to the rest of time. Find your potential and own it. They are afraid of us physically, but let’s scare them mentally. Own your art, use it to make an impact and love your blackness. Dab when you want, get into formation even if it makes them uncomfortable. Love yourself. Love your skin, and find some Jordan’s to match your melanin like an outfit. Whatever you do, never apologize for being black. Never hide it, turn it down, bleach it, or attempt to make it something that it is not. Know yourself, know you worth n*gga (Non Immigrant Gaining Gathering Achieving.)

~Gene Stamper

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