I generally have no idea what my weekly column is going to focus on. However, the other day I happened to watch a television movie that focused on six Black youths developing into a championship swimming team. They became champions because there happened to be a person in their lives who was able to change their mindset. He replaced the mindset, “What they won’t allow us to do,” and instilled in them P.D.R.
For generations we have heard the expression that “they won’t allow us” and history indicates they have done everything possible to dehumanize Blacks. They brought us from the motherland, Africa, shackled in the bowels of slave ships. They enslaved us, raped our women, castrated our men, lynched us and separated the families. They gave us their family names, they made it illegal to learn how to read and write. They separated us—there was the house nigg__ and the field nigg___ and this mentality existed for hundreds of years and created distrust of each other. In the year of 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed which, in theory, made us free people. They, the descendants of the slave masters by law, could control and profit of untold numbers of inventions of slaves and even former slaves. They instilled in the world the image of Blacks as Uncle Remus, Step in Fetchit, Sambo, shuffling, “yassa boss,” “we tired boss,” “we sick boss”…all of this tried to destroy our self-esteem.
They were able to brainwash untold numbers that education was not important. The counselors in public school would emphasize that Black females should put an extra focus on cooking and sewing, and that they would be domestics. They would tell the Black males you will not join the unions of skill crafts, so just learn how to sign a paycheck on whatever menial job you get.
They said that Blacks lack the intelligence and skill to play in the NBA, NFL, and NHL and definitely lack the intelligence to play certain positions. They denied Blacks admission to certain colleges. They took prayer out of schools and discipline out of the parents’ control. They focused on how they treated Japanese citizens during World War II, but never how they mistreated Black American soldiers during every war we were involved in. I served in the Army during the Korean War and discrimination was still rampant, and my being in uniform made absolutely no difference. A perfect example: I was stationed in Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky, and on federal land I was denied service in the restaurant, but I could have take out. I challenged being denied service and was informed by superior officers that state laws of Kentucky supersede federal laws.
As I close this week’s column, it is with an immense sense of pride, because with all of their tremendous attempts to stifle us, THEY could not suffocate our P.D.R.—Pride, Determination, Resilience.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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