"Hopped off the Amistad and made I'm A God." --Kanyé West
Because recognizing your genius, the God in you, is better than slavery!
I've been having many debates over my all-time favorite artist, Yé. My inner circle knows that I'm very passionate about his artistry and his influence on the World. I'm not going to delve into his "Slavery is a Choice" comment because it overshadows some other great points Ye's made in the past week. While I believe that our own ancestors, Africans of the motherland, selling us into slavery was a CHOICE, I don't believe that anyone born into slavery was a choice. Last thing, if slavery for 400 years was a choice, it was either IT or DIE. But our ancestors chose SACRIFICE to preserve our bloodlines making it possible for me to write this blog and for you to read it (even if you're white).
However, on another note, I want to touch base on Kanyé's comment about how his daughter's teacher felt compelled to give his daughter an identity in her formative years. Kanyé explained to TMZ recently that his daughter's white teacher told his two year old daughter that she is black and her mom is white. Kanyé goes on to say that the teacher felt warranted to make such a comment because the class was celebrating Martin Luther King Jr..
Kanyé then poses: "So what does it mean to be black in America if her white teacher tells her that she's black?"
Having thoroughly debated this ... The question is at what age do you teach your kid to identify as black if you're a black parent? And how would you feel if a white person tells your child before you do? We can tell of the identity of black, from a white supremacist perspective, from a Sojourner Truth perspective, from a Tina Knowles Lawson perspective, etc. There are so many interpretations of blackness depending the speaker. There would be some lappage, I guess; but from whose perspective does your black child deserve to hear it from and at what age?
We've all, now grown and educated, had that teacher/professor who told us that we had to work twice as hard because we are BLACK. We most likely had a mentor that warned us of our disadvantaged position in society, however on cue, during a difficult moment of time in our lives where we experienced racism/disparate treatment because we are black. We were likely taught how to defeat the social construct of racism in our formative years.
As I explained to a friend, "I never knew how BLACK I was until I attended Appalachian State University." My high school was very diverse. There, in the mall, hung 50 flags of different countries represented by our student body population. I don't remember experiencing much disparity in those times. We were just kids ... athletes ... student government members ... AP scholars trying to be GREAT.
But at the tender age of 2 years old, no child deserves to have an adult impose upon them an identity. Children are natural free thinkers, born with blank canvases. Sure they are impressionable, but without an adult's opinion, they are able to observe the World and (sub)consciously put ideas together without an adult's direct influence of dialogue.
That teacher, North's teacher, had no right to impose a social construct of racism upon her. At two years old, a child should not have to decipher between whiteness and blackness in America before having chosen an identity for herself (having learned that she's an artist, an athlete, loves the color purple, wants to be an attorney when she grows up :) before she has to face the social construct of racism).
In other words, telling a two year old girl that she's black in America and closely associating her blackness with a superhero of our community--Martin Luther King Jr.--a man who fought peacefully against racism--forces a child to escape from an identity her malleable mind cannot yet fathom. That's the problem. When we introduce our children too soon to ideas before we allow them to form their own opinions of self, we intercept their free thinking. We destroy their fantasies, interfering with their creativity.
This isn't a hard concept to follow. In Genesis (yeah ... the Bible), God forbade Adam and Eve from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, for they would surely die. They could eat anything else. That is to say that the consumption of good and evil would somehow intercept Adam and Eve's enjoyment of the World around them. It would also provide Adam and Eve with knowledge that prevents self-identification outside of good and evil. Now how many days was Adam on this Earth before he and Eve both ate of the tree of knowledge? I'm guessing they were still God's babes, of formative years, still learning--impressionable. But they ate. Look at the mess we're in now!
I'm no preacher. I'm only making analogy.
On the extreme (bare with me), when one doesn't know of itself and allows others around them to tell him of himself, they are surely dead to self. In the words of Audre Lorde, "if I did not define myself for myself, I'd be crunched in other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." That's exactly what this white teacher did for this little girl's spirit. She ate her alive before it was time to, defining the child for herself before the young girl could define herself for herself. Is not a label, a social construct of what you are in this World, provided prematurely, not a form of death?
What does Kanyé West's daughter and Audre Lorde have in common? The need to define themselves for themselves or be eaten alive.