August 9, 2007 - Issue 241

Understanding Our Specialness And Role In Humanity's Struggle
Keeping It Real
By Larry Pinkney
BC Columnist

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. does one explain that "specialness" of being Black in America? Is it the horn of Miles or the soul of Aretha? 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. Columnist 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. 


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