June 19, 2014
Celebrating culture became part of the overall mission of the conference call and this month the discussion concentrated on how we as a people can again gain the dignity and the respect that once prevailed in our community, and how do we recapture the pride and reverence we once commanded.
The central point was made that many African American women are returning to their natural hair styles and abandoning the Asian additions and weaves. Many have noted that, the different hair textures of African people ranges from deep ebony, kinky curl of the Mandingos, to the loosely curled flowing locks of the Ashanti. They accept that Africa has much to offer the world and we all agreed that this could be a movement encouraging people to take pride in being black.
Self- respect is essential because if you lack self-respect, you will allow others to trample on your dignity which will perpetuate the cycle, making you hate yourself and hate the person doing the trampling even more. On the other hand, when you have self-respect, you really, truly like yourself and have dignity. Karenga mentioned Malcom X who said ‘you can't hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can't hate Africa and not hate yourself.’
The exchange revealed that the rapper and actor Calvin Broadus known as ‘Snoop Dogg’ is changing his name to Snoop Lion, and hopefully will influence other rappers and entertainers to adopt his ‘No Guns Allowed’ campaign. From his website he proclaims ‘gun violence is affecting every community around the nation and many big names are supporting major initiatives to curb the epidemic.’ Snoop said he does not want to be considered a dog anymore.
It was asked how sagging pants, that was once a mark of shame in prison has become a fashion statement? It was also noted that the entire purpose of the way a baseball cap is made is specifically engineered to provide a shady area for the eyes, and yet many people, primarily young guys, insist on turning their baseball caps around backwards. This also has become a fashion statement, but does it show dignity or reflect pride?
Cultural awareness becomes central when we have to interact with people from other cultures, and these images are of misunderstood and misinterpretations occur primarily when we lack awareness of our own behavioral rules and project them on others. Some law enforcement department and agencies interpret these symbols in stereotypical ways and often young men and women lose their lives or are detained or incarcerated simply because of their attire or hair style. Many departments hold hidden assumptions or stereotypes.
People see, interpret and evaluate things in a different ways. What is considered an appropriate behavior in one culture is frequently inappropriate in another one. Do you remember the way Bob Law signed off of his radio program “Night Talk”? He would always end by saying “respect yourself’’.
So as a process for community-building and empowerment; promoting, perpetuating, and preserving the dignity and respect we are worthy of, let us again ‘respect ourselves’.
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Be Ever Wonderful!