Why are we still begging in 2021?
Why are we still defining ourselves by others?
Why are we still begging others to love us… to accept us…. to validate us?
Why do we need them to be us?
Why do we need their certificates, their diplomas, their awards, their praise, and their accolades to feel worthy?
Why must we adopt their religion, their culture, their habits, their vices?
Why must we pay for their sins, their missteps, their insecurities, their hatreds?
Why are we still begging when we created the first civilizations, spoke the first languages, made the first tools, and created the first sacred spirit?
Why are we still begging when we tamed the Nile, conquered the Jungle, followed the rivers and the pathways and populated the world?
Why are we still begging when we discovered spirit in matter, venerated Nature, honored life, developed the extended family, championed community, and respected all creatures, big and small?
Why do we still feel unworthy when our ancient ancestors in Africa developed many of the tools, processes, and social systems that not only helped the human species survive and progress, but aided humans in populating the entire planet and developing the first civilizations?
Why are we still begging when our strength and perseverance saved the world, made the world, changed the world?
Why are we still seeking acceptance when we shed our blood in conflicts that were not ours, for causes that were not ours, against enemies that were not ours, for freedoms and profits that were not ours?
Why do we still need to prove ourselves when we’ve given them Harriet, Ida B., Frederick, W.E.B., Fannie Lou, Rosa, Thurgood, Adam Clayton, Martin and Medgar, Malcolm, John, Harry, Mahalia and Shirley, Marian, Satchmo, “Lady Day” and Bessie, The Duke, Sammy, Muddy and Howlin’, John Lee and B.B., Aretha and Patti, The Temptations and the Supremes, Lena, Diahann, Ossie and Ruby, Baldwin, Lorraine and Langston, Zora and Toni, Alice and Maya, Mandela, Kenyatta, Jesse and Wilma, Althea and Arthur, Jackie, Willie and Hammering Hank, Ali and Frazier, Sweetness and Emmitt, Big Bill and Kareem, MJ and Lebron, Barack and Michelle, Oprah and Gayle, and a multitude of others giants too numerous to name?
What more do we have to prove when we gave them the toilet, laser eye surgery, the refrigerator, the home security system, the traffic light, the ironing board, the potato chip, the carbon-filament light bulb, the blood bank, the gas mask, synthesized hormones, the super soaker, the x-ray, brain tumor surgery, the pacemaker, sickle cell anemia studies, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, dry cleaning, the dust pan, the folding chair, the ice cream scooper, the lawn mower, the touch-tone telephone, electric elevator doors, the hot comb, the automatic gear shift, the blimp, and a host of other products and processes to numerous to list?
Why do we hunger for their culture when we gave them fried chicken and barbecue ribs, fried green tomatoes, grits n’ gravy, mac and cheese, okra, black-eyed peas, candied yams and cabbage, pound cake, potato salad, sweet potato and pecan pies, cobblers and puddings, and hot water cornbread?
Why do we need their validation when they copy our way of talking, our way of walking, our way of dancing?
Do we not realize it was us who gave swag its swag, put the cool in cool, the smooth in smooth, the ‘tude in attitude?
Why are we still seeking validation when we gave them rhythm and soul? When, from the drums of Africa, to the banjos of the plantation, we brought style and grace to the human race?
Why are we still seeking acceptance when our culture permeates the globe? When our music is the soundtrack to virility? When our athletic prowess awes the world?
Why do we doubt ourselves still when our passion is the definition of love? When our hardships and suffering epitomize struggle… And nobility? And perseverance… and righteousness?
Why are we still begging for respect when we’ve created and built, crafted and invented, toiled and sweated, cried and died so others could prosper?
Why after we’ve run, jumped, thrown, raced, batted, dribbled, smashed, and putted for the world’s enjoyment must we be quiet in the face of injustice?
How much more must we give when we’ve given them Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop, the Cha Cha, the twist, the boogaloo, the Electric Slide, the Dougie?
Why must be continue to beg when we are copied, emulated, appropriated, and assimilated the world over?
Why must we still beg for equality after Harriet risked it all for us, Frederic advocated for us, Martin and Malcolm died for us, Thurgood ruled for us, Rosa held her ground for us, and Mandela humanized us?