My #1 Highlight: Dave Chappelle's interview on Inside The Actor's Studio. You can love him or hate him, but don't let the jokes fool you. Dude is definitely not a joke. Bravo is running the interview regularly so check it out when you can.
Highlight #2: Tavis Smiley's State of Black America Forum on CSPAN. While I didn't see it from the beginning, what I did see was compelling - especially the discussions surrounding the best-selling book, The Covenant with Black America. I recently ordered my copy and hope to address it right here with you in the near future.
For a gathering of intellectuals, the forum was also quite funny. Something about Black History Month ensures that there will be a plethora of panelists rhyming and reasoning in their best "I Have A Dream" cadence. When the debate shifted from think tank-speak to offering "What Would Dr. King Do," the forum morphed into classic Greek theater, complete with the requisite elements of comedy and tragedy.
If the Forum panelist were at times mildly irritating, then the Black History Month contribution that set me off was a much-forwarded email which enlisted the help of Mrs. Coretta Scott King to convey a message of apology to Dr. King for the shortcomings of black folk and, specifically, the hip hop generation. I ain't never seen so many folks responding with exaltations of amen and hallelujah. I admit the email was well-crafted, but in the end it felt off-base.
Do you honestly believe Dr. King would condemn the hip hop generation or any generation for their failings? Do you? How prepared are you to open that door? What I mean is... what if Dr. King's 2006 assessment ran contrary to the state of affairs detailed in the email? Could you handle that? Consider this:
- What would you think if Dr. King surveyed the 2006 landscape and concluded that integration wasn't the best thing? Unclench your teeth... breathe... ponder.
- How would your views change should he declare these facts: today's crack is yesterday's heroin, preceded by alcohol and centuries earlier, the dynasty destroyer known as opium. As for the drug boys on the corner? They call themselves soldiers, and ironically, the U.S. Government treats them as such. Whether it's Operation Freedom, the Vietnam War, or the War on Drugs, America has always conjured up wars in which it's minority citizenry are expendable casualties of war.
- What if Dr. King reminded you that your disdain for the doo-rag sportin' cornrow wearin' youngsta's compares favorably to the condemnation leveled against the original afro/bush-wearin' cornrow sportin' dashiki-clad generation? You declare "it's not the same." Sure it is. Rebellious behavior - even under the guise of fashion - is rebellious behavior. And who were these denouncers of Black Power? They were the once upon a time fried-dyed-laid to the side conk generation.
- Would you lose all respect for Dr. King if he informed you that this generation's liberal use of the "N" word, while subjectively deplorable, isn't unique to the hip hop generation? Indeed, many who detest its usage have been known to utter the "N" or two in closed quarters. Think the "N" word is offensive? Let me transport you back to a period between 1940 and 1968. Now run up to the first colored person you see and yell out, "Hey Blackie." Go ahead, I dare you. Nope, I double dare you. Just remember I told you that Black wasn't cool until James Brown said it was cool.
As my dad often states, "There's Nothing New Under The Sun." The problems so apologetically detailed in the email first sprouted as weeds in the Garden of Eden. Each generation has a distinct variation of the same ole weed. The achievements of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement were obtained, not in the absence of our weeds, but in spite of them. Believe that. FYI: Horticulturally speaking, a weed is a plant that is "held to have no value, especially one growing detrimentally in one's lawn." God created every plant on this earth. Man determines which are weeds. Sound familiar? Oh, Gatekeeper... where art thou?
In closing, neither myself or anyone else can elaborate on what Dr. King would or would not say in regards to the state of black america in 2006. But, I can tell you in no uncertain terms what I strongly believe in regards to this matter.
Let the spirit of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., Rest In Peace. He, along with all of the soldiers in the Civil Rights struggle, have earned that right. The real question that you and I must answer is a two-headed monster of enormous personal and universal ramifications:
What will you SAY? What will you DO?
Part II is coming in two weeks. It'll be a doozy... trust me. Until then, may God bless you and keep you - keep you from going upside my head! And if anybody ask you the source of this insanity, you tell them That Johnson Boy Said It!