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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/2/21

Black "Americans"?

Message Rohn Kenyatta
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Metal heads of African royalty
Metal heads of African royalty
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Today kicks off Black History Month in the United States of America and, as such, the nation will acquiesce to gratuitous memes of "the contributions of African-Americans". And, like the MLK holiday that precedes it by a few weeks, it will be an exercise in both denial and self-appeasement on the part of most European-Americans as well as many Black People in the United States. The multitudes and the media will act like it is a splendid thing, but at the same time will be glad when it is over; a forced error so to speak. February is the shortest month of the year.

It is not a question as to whether the contributions of Black People in the United States are substantive and relevant, for the query itself is insulting. The fact of the matter is that more so than any other group of people, the United States would not exist as we know it without the Black Man and Woman for they were the "capital" that gave rise to capitalism. Point blank, full stop.

Four years ago, I spoke to America's number one progressive talk show host and asked the question if Black People in the United States were "Americans". Mr. Hartmann was clearly taken aback by the question and the clip of that conversation garnered hundreds of comments as well as thousands of views. A lively discussion ensued. There was a great deal of ire from European-Americans as well as Black People in the United States; It was, indeed, a profound moment. As we once again in perpetuity, reflect on the history of African-Americans I dare to revisit the question. click here

I am not of the opinion that African-Americans, Negroes, Colored folks, Afro-Americans or "Blacks" are not Americans anymore than I am of the opinion that we are. My totally intellectual quandary is that if we are, then we are unlike any other so-called "American". The mere fact that this nation still struggles to define/label us tells the tale. By the by, let us examine the very term "American".

There is the isthmus of Central America; are they not Americans? To the south of said isthmus is South America; are they not Americans? The so-called Native-Americans (whose blood courses through my veins) in North America are the only real Americans in the United States as far as my logic dictates, as virtually everyone else is an interloper. To this very day there are signs along the Interstate-5 freeway outside of San Diego, California warning of pedestrians from Mexico running across the freeway. Asian-Americans came, and come, to the United States voluntarily risking, at times, life and limb. Arab-Americans come to the United States, often with incredible wealth and speak of the "land of opportunity". And, finally (or firstly) there are the European-Americans who engaged in genocide, theft, rape, murder and enslaved others yet feel they are the "regular/real" Americans. The only group of so-called Americans that were shackled, chained, forced to come to its shores, forced to work for free, considered not as humans but as property are Black People in the United States. The proclamation penned by Thomas Jefferson in the hallowed Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" meant everyone but the Black Man and those like him; let us not get it twisted.

My trademark as an author is dealing with the uncomfortable and confronting the hypocrisy that is the United States. And though it does quite little for my popularity, the catharsis that accompanies is most valuable. The reason that "racism" or, more specifically, Blackism constantly haunts this nation is because of its denial and cowardice in confronting it and this is a phenomena that happens on all sides. Americans do not cotton to dealing with the uncomfortable and the truth is often uncomfortable as any person past the age of eight should know. Before pondering the secondary and tertiary, we must ponder the primary.

Many will read this column and state (while unwittingly proving my point) if you are born in the United States then you are an American. However, that is a slippery slope because if that is the societal metric (aka Birthright Citizenry) then Black People in the United States can not be citizens predicated upon the fact that their ancestors were not humans, but property. Perhaps there is a nexus between this fact and the continued and horrific societal outcomes in the lives of Black People in the United States. Where is the European-American Breonna Taylor? Where is the Asian-American Trayvon Martin? Where is the Arab-American George Floyd? Why is it that Black People in America rank dead last (no pun intended) in every negative health care outcome recorded, and have for centuries? Why is it that Black People in America are incarcerated at disproportionate rates compared to the rest of the society? Why is it that a European-American family of four that have never graduated from high school have a higher annual/familial income than that of a family of four that are college educated Black People in the United States? The fact that nothing exists, from a legal standpoint, declaring Black People in the United States as people or humans is both baleful and ominous; it also explains why the societal, economic, psychological and political maladies that affect this group of people prevail and will continue to.

So, as we embark upon the annual group-grope known as Black History Month, let us have the courage and intellect to ask the most fundamental of questions. If Black People in the United States are Americans then they are vastly different from other so-called Americans. Thusly, they deserve and, in fact, are required to have vastly different governmental policies or they will never, ever, be on a level playing field.

As Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently stated: "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds".

There are thousands of venues in the United States where people are prosecuted and jailed for passing bad checks and prosecution as well as retribution is due. Until then, in the words of Led Zeppelin " The Song Remains the Same".

(Article changed on February 3, 2021 at 00:49)

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Rohn Kenyatta is a contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report, the Los Angeles Sentinel as well as other media outlets international and domestic.

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