Every year, Asian-American families send their young to community centers to study their native tongue and immerse them in the culture and customs of their land of origin. They do this so that they can still maintain a connection to their roots and be just as versed in life as an Asian as they are as an American. I think this is a commendable practice, and one that Black people ought to consider emulating.
There ought to be a School for Blackness.
More and more, Black people are eschewing certain customs that identify them as “Black”. As we toss away names like “Jodecia” and “Jayqwuan” for more resume friendly names like “Ashley” and “Brandon” and move further and further away from urban centers, we are leaving certain key elements of “Blackness” behind…sometimes at the risk of losing them forever.
I spoke to a lady last night – who is at least 2 shades darker than me – who simply does not hang around where large numbers of Black folk congregate.
“It’s just to risky, huh,” I teased. “4 in a crowd of 100 hundred is good enough for you?”
“Yes,” she laughed, well aware that I was mocking her.
The more we conversed, more shocking revelations came to light. I discovered that she did not know how to do the electric slide. Come on now. Every Black person on the planet knows how to do the slide, and it’s bastard cousin: the Cupid Shuffle! She named 2 other mutual acquaintances who couldn’t slide either. Fascinating!
I will readily admit that my own children are prime candidates for an academy excelling in Black tutelage. I have always taught my children to speak with proper grammar and diction, but when White people comment on how “well” they speak (meaning how ‘white’ they speak), then it gives me pause. Perhaps I should encourage them to drop an ‘ain’t’ or ‘nern’ in their vocabulary once in a while…just to show they have some roots.
All Black people should be able to roller skate. It’s just what we do. You don’t have to do tricks and back flips like the brothers at Cascade do, but you should at the very least be able to push and glide with grace while swaying to the bass of a notable hip-hop beat. Too many Black folk that are growing up in this generation can’t!
Also, I’m not saying by any means that you have to become a fan of hip hop or R&B… but perhaps the Academy can tutor the students on matching song titles to artists – just in case it’s a question on Jeopardy or something. Where ever Black people go, they become the representative of ALL Black people in a given scenario. How awful would it be if you called upon to answer a question for the big win at your office’s trivia night and this happened:
“Who sang Every Girl?” the game host would ask with bravado.
“Every Girl? Allan Jackson!” you cry with confidence.
The crowd murmurs. “Allan Jackson?” you hear somewhere ask in disbelief.
“Err…no,” says the host. “But I’ll give you a hint. They’re Black.”
“Ohhhh…!” Now you’re sure of yourself. “I know the answer. Darius Rucker. You know? Hootie? From Hootie and the Blowfish?”
And then just like that, your team loses the round, your ignorance dashing the hope of taking home the $50 grand prize that was meant to split between the four of you.
When I enroll my kids into the School for Blackness, the first class I’m going to insist they take is a rhythm course. Because one day, it’s not going to be cute for my little girl to hysterically jerk with spastics, her little belly leading the way to the dance floor when Single Ladies blasts in the auditorium. Not cute at all. She can keep the sassy look on her face though (the that says she just knows she’s wrecking the dance floor). That on the other hand IS cute.