“I Know Why the caged bird sings” “Today”

The myth of the happy Negro is one that is fanciful at best and derogatory on its face. Portrayed throughout the years as the old slave uncle Tom, Ben, Uncle Remus, and Aunt Jemimah. Let’s not forget about Huck Fins N_ _ _ _ _ _ Jim. 

The never fully understood African American experience is oblivious even to the most well-intended members of the dominant culture. The happy-go-lucky slow-talking, ignorant, greasy, lazy, yet happy negro caricatures are forever attached to white’s acceptance or lack thereof at any given time.

A smile is opaque for tears of the marginalized, while Americans lament in saying “It’s just not right”. This is the standard response to atrocities against African Americans by bad actors and government officials. Numerous members of the dominant culture are moved to action on behalf of the oppressed.” Yet, many remain on the fence, while offering themselves personal reassurance that they’re not a bad person and that a few bad actors do not reveal a wider systemic problem. 

When black people begin to assert themselves, they suddenly become the uppity N_ _ _ _ _ _ “These uppity N_ _ _ _ _ _s need to be put in their place” would be the standard response by some. The gauntlet of this kind of social acceptance is the navigational terrain of the African American experience.

Somewhere in between, one will find a teardrop moistened by pangs of a wail that deepens to a groan buried within the “spirit murdered” soul. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “In Know Why the caged bird sings.” To answer that today, all one needs to do is to listen to what the bird is singing. What are these songs, and what do they mean? 

I know little of music and can say nothing in technical phrase, but I know something of men, and knowing of men, and knowing them, I know that these songs are the articulate message of the slave to the world…They are the music of an unhappy people, of the children of disappointment; they tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wanderings and hidden ways.” W. E. B. Du Boise, Sorrow Songs. 

Music today articulates those corresponding ThruLines. Hip Hop/R&B songs such as Faith Under Jay Z’s Spiritual, Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage (Sketch). Furthermore, voices grow through songs like, John Legend, “Glory”, Jamila Woods,“White Privilege II”, H.E.R. – “I Can’t Breathe,” , and “I Can’t Breathe (Again) Produced by Mic Coats, to name a few, become 21st-century anthems of the children of disappointment.

The sorrow voiced by NBA Basketball Coach Doc Rivers further declares this reality. 

“We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better. But we got to demand better.”

Only two years removed from when a Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham Told LeBron James To “Shut Up And Dribble,” The caged birds are all singing from the NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLB, etc. These men and women are not allowing themselves to be The happy-go-lucky slow-talking, ignorant, greasy, lazy, yet happy negro entertainers of old. African Americans are not allowing the negativity of xenophobia and attempts to be defined as terrorists or radicals to stop them from speaking truth to power.

There is a saying “bring it like you sing it”. Dr. Cornell West Ph.D. sounds the warm melodic tones of hope upon the hearts in his infamous quote

“Hope is not abstract; it’s a verb. It’s motion, it’s movement, it’s deep, it’s praxis. You’ve got to be improvisational about it, you’ve got to be jazz-like about it you’ve got to be blues-like. You better re-invent that thing every day.”

Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

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