I think I must be suffering from PRSD (Post Roots Stress Disorder). After watching the series, I went into mourning from the loss of my authentic African identity, including my name. But I’ve gotten some small relief from that violation.
Just the other day, I was visiting with some African folk from the region that includes Ghana, and they suggested that I adopt the name Arama, a word from the Ga language which simply means a lady born on Saturday. It’s a beginning. Sounds okay- easy to spell and pronounce. Not too exotic, etc.
Feeling a little better, I turned on my nightly viewing of the news.
Just when I thought that Donald Trump had already said the worst about every other racial/ethnic minority group in this country, during this past week he was downright giddy at his rally in San Jose pointing out the sole black man in his audience, and announced, “There is my African American”.
Did you hear the collective, national gasp?
I am less troubled by that pronouncement from Trump – I expect nothing better-but the oddest reaction is from that particular black man who declared on national television that he was thrilled that Trump called him out, and further described him as the greatest.
No. We just lost the greatest: Muhammed Ali. We watched Ali mature on the world stage; growing in stature from being a young, brash, but principled angry black man, to a learned, thoughtful, spiritual, loving black man. He overcame any limitations and conditions of birth imposed by being a black man in America, to become a world-wide hero. A leader of with ideas, and ideals.
In response to a question from a young man about what he would do after retirement from boxing, Ali answered that he would spend his time preparing to meet his God. I have no doubt that is what he was doing with all his humanitarian efforts.
And so, I mourn the loss of Muhammed Ali, so unlike that African American man who belongs to Trump, a black conservative Republican politician, and, who I imagine, is looking to get elected and/or appointed to some position under Trump.
The political process has devolved into a stadium-size barroom brawl and has lost the little credulity left behind after Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee.
Duck! Trump has loaded, aimed, and fired his dangerous weapons of fear, small-mindedness, out right hatred of ‘others’, and the shrapnel is wounding us all. And, he has killed the American dream by his very declaration of making “America Great Again.”
In this presidential campaign, I mourn the death of certain ideals so beautifully expressed in Langston Hughes’ poem, America. It was written in the mid-1930s, and in his poetry he laments that, while this country was never meant for him, he could at least dream:
“O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, and yet I swear this oathAmerica will be.”
He reminds of what/who America really is:
“…the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, and Poland’s plain, and England’s greasy lea, and torn from Black Africa’s strand… ..to build a homeland of the free.” Alas, he was a visionary who anticipated the current state of affairs, thus concluding his magnificent cry for sanity with this last stanza:
“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, the rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, we the people, must redeem the land, the mines, the plants, the rivers, the mountains and the endless plain-all, all the stretch of these great green states- and make America (great?) again!
Fifteen years later, Hughes had had it. So little had changed in America; conditions for black folk worsened. The Harlem Renaissance was ending and he was no longer hopeful, so in 1951 he wrote:
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
The dreams are exploding throughout the Presidential campaign. Watch out for the debris from the debacle of Donald Trump’s hostility and holding the American dreams and ideals hostage.
Antonia Williams-Gary may be reached at Toniwg1@gmail.com