Sunday, November 9, 2014
READ or DIE TRYING!
Whew! I guess I should come up for air now. It has been a YouTube Black movie marathon Sunday for me and I am still debriefing and deconstructing Black people's struggle and survival. It all started with a desire to revisit Maya Angelou's, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" film before reading her latest collection of works, Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou. That, however, led to the films: "Rolling Thunder Hear My Cry", "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "The Slave Narratives". You know how YouTube can get you caught up! So much so, I have yet to get pass the first few pages of the book. Since it is a pretty quick read, I thought I might drop a blog post first.
Rather than explore and explain all the the thoughts that trampled across my mind after hours of viewing cinematic displays of black folks' spirit, faith, intelligence, endurance, forgiveness, love, and solidarity during the most horrific times in history, I have narrowed them down to the most blog- appropriate theme and common thread running through all of the movies: Black peoples' undying love for READING....but dying for reading. The ability to decipher the written word was literally a life or death making decision!
Then I got to thinking. Given all our post-slavery accomplishments and integrated "luxuries", why is the historical reminder of slaves being blinded or killed if caught learning to read not motivating enough to drive a thirst for high literacy-- like for so many other freedoms and liberties denied us. Take the recent campaigns to "guilt" black folks into voting because black people historically fought for the right to vote. What kind of LITERACY campaign would it take to promote reading as important as voting? And might I add, there already exist a historical connection between the two: Literacy Codes.
Shamefully, we still hear it riddled that the best way to hide something from a Black person is to place it inside a book. But why? We have fought fearlessly against so many injustices. Why are today's low literacy rates among Blacks, particularly males, considered comparable to modern-day lynchings? Something as free, personal and non-combative as READING? If the ropes of lynchings planted as seeds of fear within black men who even thought about looking at white women...let alone dating them... do not prevent black men from dating/marrying white women today, what could explain lacking a proclivity for reading? We often use historical deprivations and inequities to justify or explain our zest for various current achievements, so why are books still considered safety boxes to protect one's valuables from black folks?
Hopefully our desire to fight illiteracy will soon become just as fierce as our determination to love who we want. Especially since, black people have died for both!