By ANTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
Do you realize that our history is, at best, being rewritten? At worst, it is being erased. And how is that happening?
For one, we are not writing our own stories! Maya Angelou often instructed all of us to write our own stories: Growing up stories, barbershop stories and stories about our societies, our churches, our schools, our heroes and ‘sheroes,’ our love stories, our sad stories and our glad stories.
Unlike the modern day Griots – songwriters, popular stage and street poets who get precious space in the public arena – their flames burn bright but that doesn’t last too long; the rest of us sing, rap and dance to their words until the next hit comes along.
Important but transient.
Where are you on that story-telling journey?
Are you still thinking about it?
Or, are you still getting mad when the other side keeps telling your story, and constantly getting it all wrong?
Well, what are you waiting for? I urge you to begin. Now!
Especially now that the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ and the discussion of it has taken all the air out of any reasonable debate about what is real, or not.
Everything that we know is being questioned, and, given the speed at which the ‘known’ is being denied, reversed, re-packaged, and plumb thrown out of consideration (there is no such thing as facts anymore), it becomes even more imperative that we get our stories ‘told’ and preserved for the future.
Uncomfortable about the current state of affairs under “45”?
Don’t make the mistake thinking that this too shall pass. (We are on the brink of another ‘war’ with North Korea. “45”‘s war of words with Kim has escalated beyond any measure of playground posturing, when one opponent may have pronounced, “I take it back”).
No. “45” has a scorched earth mentality, and he has no qualms about sending my sons, your daughters (as long as they are not transgendered) into battle for his own glorification.
“45” has a clear agenda: to make himself the chief architect of a new era, by first, burning every single foundation for peaceful coexistence. He obviously has no patience with building allies across internal party lines, nor is he extending his hand of friendship to must be told our ‘friends’ across the borders. This is a short game for “45,” and sadly, many of us may not all be around to see it to the end.
Even more reasons to tell your story before you leave this earth, and before the reversals of all we know becomes erroneously etched in the ‘his story’ books.
Maya also said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
But what about so many other untold stories?
For instance, we will never know the full truth about Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamar Rice, to name just a few lost to police (or racially motivated) violence.
Or of Michael Jackson. Prince. Whitney. Or, fill in the blank about some favorite celebrities.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read what Colin Kaepernick has to say, in his own words, about taking a knee- already recognized as a time-honored form of black protest before he took that action.
That list is only the tip of the iceberg of the stories we need to write for ourselves, and specifically about the many and various forms of protests we have adopted over the past 400+ years: from slave ship rebellions (The Amistad was only one), to plantation uprisings (Nat Turner is only one), to resisting Jim Crow laws and other illegal treatment (Rosa Parks was only one), to more subtle sick-outs, sit-ins, street marches, chants, our lives as slaves, then coloreds, Negroes, blacks, becoming African-Americans and, yes, to the near-universal acceptance that black lives matter.
Heck, our material would fill a library with fresh stories.
In the meantime, black media, black historians, commentators and pundits are under tremendous pressure to ‘keep it real’ and to get it right-with every story, every tweet, and every comment coming to our attentiondaily.
So, even if we are busy writing our own story, we still have to keep those who look like us who have been offered a public platform under close scrutiny, and not let any one of them slip into a semi-coma, induced by the euphoria of being accepted by the establishment. We know who they are, and they should immediately be corrected for speaking, writing and declaring untruths about the state of black folk in America.
Once again, I take instruction from Maya who said, “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
Stay wise, my friends. Stay woke. Toniwg1@gmail.com