An individual or a people can be special in a positive or a
negative way. Black America has a special, positive and increasingly
important role to fulfill both nationally and globally.
Switch with me now to a somewhat philosophical mode.
As a child I saw, or at least sensed, that Black people were
special. As I grew a bit older I realized that Brown and Red
peoples were special too. I
could never quite put my finger on our "specialness" until, in the
early 60's, I found myself visiting Copenhagen, Denmark, where smiling white
kids my same age were literally coming up to me on the street and gently rubbing
my skin and then looking at their hands to see if my color would be imparted
and rub off on them. I shall always remember the look of disappointment - almost
despair - on their pale, young faces when they realized that my color belonged
to me alone.
Those Danish kids astounded me with their
humor and simple humility. They were in awe of my Blackness,
transfixed by what they termed
my "nobility." Indeed, if there was any "nobility" at
all, it was the innocence and openness of being, as the late
Nina Simone would put it, "young, gifted, and Black." I,
a Black child from mean, cruel, racist white America, had been
strangely awakened to the specialness of Blackness for just an
instant, in, of all places, Copenhagen, Denmark. And then it
was over. I was back in mean, cruel, white racist America, being
instilled by the "educational" system with self hatred
and loathing for all that was truly beautiful: Black, Red, and
Brown. I never forgot.
This was all far deeper than merely the physical. It entailed
intangibles that to this day are significant to the essence of
Black people and other people of color.
The next time I experienced this "specialness" was
less than ten years later, in 1969, when I literally touched
down on the shores of mother Africa for the first time. When
my feet touched the soil of the African continent the tears flowed
uncontrollably. Once again I could sense that "specialness." In
that instant I felt the indescribable agony of my ancestors,
torn away from their / my / our motherland by demonic, pale pillagers
from across the waters of the North. The rage flared and tears
flowed. Simultaneously, however, the strength, calm and dignity
of thousands of years of science, beauty, and creativity emanating
from the peoples of mother Africa passed through my consciousness,
and the joy and laughter within my being flowed without restraint.
What specialness has mother Africa imbued to Black America.
Even as white America collectively continues
to make a mockery of even its own humanity, Black America must
keep holding on
to those intangible experiences that reinforce our humanity and
that of this planet's. Our "specialness" is not one
based upon ego, material wealth, or domination. Our "specialness" as
Black Americans is that which binds us together collectively
and nurtures our humanity with a view toward honoring and respecting
this earth and its diverse peoples.
Ah...how does one explain that "specialness" of
being Black in America? Is it the horn of Miles or the soul
Is it the poetry of Langston, the rap of Tupac, or the caged
roar of Huey? Perhaps it's just the fact that come what may,
Blacks aren't about to go away. No indeed, we're here to stay!
I suppose I don't know the answer to all
those questions. But what I do know is that though there may
be those who declare
that political and social doom await us Black folks in America,
and that all is lost. They are wrong. For Blackness is that "specialness," that
powerful rainbow of colored consciousness that is inextricably
linked to and with the struggle to benefit and uplift humanity.
We must collectively fulfill this destiny, for literally everything
is at stake.
We must continually strive to keep it real. Stay strong, maintain,
and carry on.
Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party,
the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New
Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American
to have successfully self-authored his civil/political
rights case to the United Nations under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Click
here to contact Mr. Pinkney.